How do highly sensitive persons parent their adolescent children? The role of sensory processing sensitivity in parenting practices

Alon Goldberg, Miri Scharf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This research examines whether sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) in parents is associated with their parenting practices toward their adolescent children and whether attachment insecurity mediates the associations between SPS and parenting practices. One hundred twenty-one parent–adolescent dyads completed self-report questionnaires assessing parents’ SPS, parents’ adult attachment, and parenting practices. Results showed that SPS was positively associated with inconsistency, psychological intrusiveness, and attachment anxiety. Further, attachment anxiety mediated the association between parents’ SPS and harsh parenting and partially mediated the association between parents’ SPS and parental psychological intrusiveness. There is very little research on how highly sensitive individuals parent their children in general and none regarding the parenting of high-SPS individuals during challenging developmental periods such as their children’s adolescence. Findings suggest that parents high in SPS may experience this period as especially stressful and high SPS might contribute to the use of negative parenting. Interventions focused on regulating high-SPS parents’ stress and on facilitating parents in practicing separating their own and their children’s emotions could promote their use of more positive parenting practices.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1825-1842
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Volume37
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • attachment
  • parenting
  • parenting practices
  • sensory processing sensitivity

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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