Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 642–659 | Cite as

Parenting Cognitions Associated with the Use of Psychological Control

  • Bobbi R. Walling
  • Rosemary S. L. Mills
  • Wendy S. Freeman
Original Paper


Psychological control is a pattern of parenting that is intrusive and manipulative of children's thoughts, feelings, and attachment to parents. Although little is known about the determinants of psychological control, it has been linked to the psychological status of the parent. We hypothesized that several parenting cognitions reflecting personal concerns would be associated with the use of psychological control: low perceived control, sensitivity to hurt, and a disapproving attitude to negative emotion. We also examined moderating associations with child temperament and child gender. Participants were 198 mothers and fathers of 3- and 4-year-olds (106 boys, 92 girls; M age = 4.10 years, SD = 0.26). Parents completed self- and spouse-report measures of psychological control, rated their child's temperamental characteristics, and completed measures of parenting cognitions. Predictions were generally supported for two of the three cognitions. Sensitivity to hurt and disapproval of negative emotion were associated with more frequent reported use of psychological control. There were some moderating effects of child characteristics.


Parenting Parental control Psychological control Parenting cognitions 



This research was supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant MOP-57670 awarded to R.S.L. Mills. Special thanks are extended to the children and parents who made this research possible and to research assistants Sabrina Berry, Deanna Embry, Tara Haynes, Nadine Sigvaldason, Brooke Singer, and Nathan Wilson. The assistance of Manitoba Health is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bobbi R. Walling
    • 1
  • Rosemary S. L. Mills
    • 2
  • Wendy S. Freeman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Department of Family Social SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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