Positive parenting and early puberty in girls: Protective effects against aggressive behavior

Academic Article


  • Objective: To determine whether positive parenting practices are associated with less aggressive and delinquent behavior in early-maturing girls. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: Interviews with a community sample of children and their caregivers were conducted in their homes or in a research setting. Participants: An ethnically diverse cohort of 330 fifth-grade girls (mean age, 11.25 years) from 3 metropolitan areas. Main Exposure: Early onset of menarche, parental nurturance, knowledge of the child's activities, and communication. Main Outcome Measures: Physical, relational, and nonphysical aggression and delinquent behavior. Results: A total of 25% of girls could be reliably classified as early maturers. Early maturation was associated with delinquency (b = 0.53) but not aggression. Low levels of maternal nurturance were associated with delinquency and relational aggression (both b = -0.04). Early maturation was associated with higher relational aggression only at low levels of nurturance (b = 0.94), communication (b = 1.36), and knowledge (b = 1.06) (P < .05 for each interaction). Also, early maturation only predicted physical aggression when combined with low maternal nurturance (b = 0.93). Conclusions: Early puberty is a risk factor for delinquency, and early puberty combined with low parental nurturance, communication, or parental knowledge of the child's activities presents a risk for aggressive behavior in early adolescent girls. Early-maturing girls may benefit from increased parental nurturance, communication, and knowledge. ©2008 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • JAMA Pediatrics  Journal
  • JAMA Pediatrics  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mrug S; Elliott M; Gilliland MJ; Grunbaum JA; Tortolero SR; Cuccaro P; Schuster M
  • Start Page

  • 781
  • End Page

  • 786
  • Volume

  • 162
  • Issue

  • 8