Parental behavioural control in adolescence: How does it affect self-esteem and self-criticism?

Catherine B. Gittins, Caroline Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Parental behavioural control is believed to be beneficial for young children. However, with increased need for independence during adolescence, parental rules may undermine self-beliefs. 

Methods: The current study examined the effect of behavioural control, plus parental support and psychological control, on the self-esteem and self-criticism of 243 Australian adolescents (mean age = 12.08, 52% female) over two years. 

Results: Behavioural control largely did not predict self-esteem. Furthermore, in girls it predicted higher self-criticism 12 and 24 months later. Behavioural control does not appear to benefit adolescents’ self-cognitions and, in fact, increases self-criticism in girls. 

Conclusions: By providing copious rules around appropriate behaviours, parents may possibly indicate to girls that they are not capable of becoming independent, thus reducing feelings of competence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-35
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


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