Family Interactional Theory (FIT)

There is a significant acceptance for the psychological importance of self-esteem. Self-esteem is described as the “overall affective and cognitive self-appraisal of one’s own worth, value, and importance (Brook, Saar, & Brook, 2010, p. 2).  Family Interaction Theory (FIT) operates under the major mechanisms of social modeling, attachment, the emulation, and the identification with values and behaviors, as a result of attachment.  The child’s attachment to the family of origin and social institutions, such as their experiences in school are believed to be central to the child.

FIT stems from symbolic interactions that are applied to the family. This approach focuses on the way by which family members relate to one another. The family is viewed as a set of interacting personalities. The family dynamics and the relationships of the child to the family significantly affects the emotional development (Brook et al., 2010).  This approach interpretes family phenomenon, such as parenting styles in the internal dynamics, which included status relation, communication patterns, decision-making, coping patterns, socialization, and the assessment of roles and communication processes that frames for child-rearing. According to Brook et al. (2010), the parent-child relationship is perceived in the FIT to influence the important aspects of the child’s personality. In this case, parenting styles is believed to impact the self-esteem of the child.  Moreover, parental satisfaction and low parent-child conflict are also perceived to influence the well-being of the child.

The parent-child interactions can significantly impact the development of the child’s emotional competence, which specifically includes self-esteem. One of the studies that reveales the impact of the parents’ involvement with their children were conducted by Stormshak, Bierman, McMahon, and Lengua (2000).  Stormshak et al. (2000) presented a study of 631 behaviorally disruptive children and described the extent by which they experienced warm and involved interactions with their children. Punitive interactions were associated with the elevated rates of disruptive behavior problems.  Moreover, low levels of the parents’ warm involvement with their children led to low levels of oppositional behaviors. Physically aggressive parenting was observed to cause aggressive behavior in their children. Thus, punitive discipline practices could be associated with elevated rates of hyperactivity, oppositional and aggressive behaviors.  Moreover, negative parenting practices, in the form of low levels of parental warmth contributed to problem behaviors in the child.

This is an extract from Influence of Parenting Styles and Bullying Experiences on a Child’s Mental Health


Brook, J., Saar, N., & Brook, D. (2010). Development pathways from parental substance use to childhood academic achievement. American Journal of Addiction 19(3), 270-276.

Stormshak, E. A., Bierman, K. L., McMahon, R. J., Lengua, L.J. & Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2000). ‘Parenting practices and child disruptive behavior problems in early elementary school.’ Journal Clinical Child Psychology, 29(1), pp.17+.


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