Positive and harmful effects of parental disciplinary tactics on dark trait development throughout childhood and adolescence.

Barbara De Clercq, Salome Vanwoerden, Raissa Franssens, Karla Van Leeuwen, Jasmine Vergauwe, Joeri Hofmans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Children exhibiting a constellation of dark traits may be particularly challenging to parents, because these traits are associated with an increased chance for parents to lose a supportive attitude in dealing with the child’s difficultness, and to turn instead towards punishing strategies. The present study looks with more detail into the construct of parental punishment, and examines differences and similarities in the effects of physical (harsh) versus non-physical (corrective) discipline on the developmental course of childhood FFM-based dark traits across a 10 year time span. Data were drawn from an ongoing Flemish longitudinal study, including 5 assessment points across 10 years (N time 1 = 720, 54.4% girls, age range T1 = 8-14.78 years, M = 10.73, SD = 1.39). Latent growth modeling suggested significant differences between both kinds of parental discipline in terms of contrasting effects on subsequent growth in dark traits, and also showed a number of age-and gender-specific effects of parental discipline on the developmental course of dark traits. These findings underscore the relevance of a more differentiated perspective on effects of parental punishment in understanding childhood maladaptive trait outcomes and may offer fruitful guidelines for the development of intervention programs targeting children that are difficult to manage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503–513
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • childhood
  • dark triad
  • parenting
  • trait development


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