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Academic Performance of Your Child – Should You Focus on Quality or Quantity of Parent-Child Communication?

Academic Performance of Your Child – Should You Focus on Quality or Quantity of Parent-Child Communication

It is common knowledge that parent-child interactions have a significant effect on the success of any child. But which features of this interaction are most important- quality or quantity?

Study Background

We find various studies that track the relationship between the frequency of parent-child communication and their academic achievements. Similarly, studies have found positive relationships between the effectiveness and trust in these communications and child’s achievements. Another group of studies has developed the stance that these interactions lead to a strong and healthy self-concept in children and, as a result, lead to higher chances of success at life in children.

However, there is another hypothesis indicating children’s perceived lack of autonomy that comes with increased frequency of these interactions among parents and children. These research conclude that increase in the quantity of parent-child interaction can lead to adverse impacts on the performance of youngsters. This controversy leads many parents to question the approach they should take to communicating with their children. Should they be more involved or should they appear cool parents?

The study under observation claims that it’s not the quantity of this interaction that should remain the primary focus of parents rather they should focus on quality.

Research Question

This study looked at different aspects of communication among parents and children to determine if the communication quality or quantity affected children’s self-concept more. In the end, it defined the correlation between this self-reported self-concept among subjects and their academic achievement.


Researchers selected 1815 eighth-graders from Early Childhood Longitudinal Study- Kindergarten (ECLS-K). They selected only those middle-schoolers who didn’t change school during the middle school years. They represented different family structures, parents’ educational levels, and ethnic backgrounds.

They, and their parents, filled out surveys about frequency, scope, environment, and trust of their communications.

Furthermore, the students reported about their self-concept. The study gathered data about academic performance from the ECLS-K dataset.


As expected, the quality of communication among parents and children showed a positive correlation with the academic performance of the former. But a novel result of this study appeared when the relationship between the quantity of these communication and academic performance was evaluated. This positive association was a result of a positive impact on children’s self-concept that comes from a higher quality of communication between parents and children.

The results indicated that an increase in the quantity of these communications could lead to deterioration in the academic achievement of these students. (The researchers explain this finding stating that teens and pre-teens view an increase in communication as a tool to surpass their autonomy.) However, the study found no impact on the frequency and time of communication self-concept of these kids.

Other findings include a positive relationship between parents’ academic achievements and children’s academic performance and no effect of family structure on students’ performance.

Take Away

If you are worried about the time you are spending with your kids, this study is for you. It shows that as long as you are using the right communication environment and emotions, the time you spend investigating their interests and lives doesn’t matter.

The key to parent-triggered success does not lie in repeated and long-lasting conversations. It lies in mutual trust, understanding, and acceptance.

Reference: Zhang, Y. (2020). Quality Matters More Than Quantity: Parent–Child Communication and Adolescents’ Academic Performance. Frontiers In Psychology11. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01203

Written by Aruba Arif

Aruba Arif, Msc Psychology, is a freelance blogger who is passionate about understanding people, writing, and connecting with herself. When she is not writing she is playing Mommy to her beloved son.

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