- All parents experience some problems with their children and may
look to various parenting resources for guidance and reassurance
(Stoltz, 1967). The literature on the problems parents experience,
including tantrums, bedwetting, whining/crying, has not
comprehensively explored the range and co-occurrence of child
behavior problems across all ages (Kanoy and Schroeder, 1985). Many
resources are available to parents experiencing difficulties; these
include books and magazines, parenting classes, and other health
professionals. The role of the pediatrician as a resource for
information and guidance has received minimal attention.
Two hundred parents and ten pediatricians served as respondents
in this study. Of the parents, 94% were female and 97% were white.
Ages of the children ranged from 9 months to 13 years. The parents'
questionnaire explored the types of child behavior problems perceived
by parents, their attitudes concerning the use of resources including
the pediatrician, and demographic information about the structure of
the family. The pediatricians themselves reported on their
backgrounds and their attitudes about providing parenting assistance.
A principal components factor analysis reveals that the child
behavior problems group into two factors. Assertiveness includes
problems such as talking back and destructiveness. Reliance includes
problems during mealtime and bedtime. Age is related to
assertiveness and reliance; in general younger children are viewed by
their parents as more assertive and more reliant (ANOVA for
assertiveness, F = 2.34, df = 4, E < .05) (ANOVA for reliance, F =
4.11, df = 4, p < .01). Families with lower income and single parent
families reported more assertive children as well.
The next step of data analysis was to examine the resources
parents use when faced with child behavior problems. Relatives (99%)
are the most frequently used resources. Consulting friends (98%) and
reading books and magazines (93%) were also frequently reported.
However, when parents were asked the value of resources, the
pediatrician was ranked as the most valuable. Pediatrician
characteristics, including the number of years in practice and number
of patients per day, are positively related to the parents' rating of
pediatricians as a valued resource for parenting information.
It appears that parents tend to consult resources, not solely on
value, but instead on convenience. Characteristics of the
pediatricians' background and work schedules seem to influence how
valuable their guidance is to parents. This study answers the
questions of which problems occur together, and which resources are
used by parents to aid them with child behavior problems. The results provide valuable information for pediatricians and other
family health professionals interested in becoming more active in