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Parental Perspectives on Disciplining Children

Research Staff

Dr. Elizabeth Nixon, (Co-Investigator), Dr. Ann Marie Halpenny (DIT – Principal Investigator), Dorothy Watson (ESRI, Co-Investigator)

About the Project


This study is the first national survey of parenting styles and discipline conducted in Ireland The primary aims of this research were to identify the main parenting styles and forms of discipline used by parents in Ireland with children up to 18 years.  A further aim of the research was to identify parental attitudes to the legislative position in relation to physical chastisement and children.  Specifically, the following questions were addressed:

  • What parenting styles and discipline strategies do parents use? To what extent do parents use physical punishment as a method of discipline?
  • Under what circumstances do parents employ certain approaches to discipline?
  • What are parents’ attitudes towards physical punishment?
  • What do parents know about the legislation relating to physical punishment in Ireland?

What did the research involve?

A telephone survey methodology was adopted and data collection was carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute.  A total of 1,353 parents participated in the survey. Topics covered in the survey included background information on participating households, general views on parenting in Ireland, attitudes towards physical punishment and contexts in which it occurs, parenting styles adopted by parents, discipline strategies used by parents in the past year, discipline strategies experienced by parents in childhood and attitudes towards legislation on physical punishment in Ireland.  The questionnaire also included extracts from a number of standardised measures which tapped into parenting styles, child behaviour and child temperament.

Final products of the research

The report has been completed and is with the OMCYA.

Funded By

Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (OMCYA)

Last updated 15 March 2010 by The Children′s Research Centre (Email).