Bidirectional processes: Can a broader perspective aid in understanding unintentional injuries for school-age children?
The notion of bidirectionality (i.e., parents not only influence children's behaviour but children also influence parents' behaviour) was examined by exploring whether consistency in children's risk-taking related to mothers' accuracy in predicting children's behaviour in injury-risk situations, and if mothers' accuracy scores, in turn, related to rate of unintentional injury for their school-age children. Child and maternal responses to questionnaires and injury-risky situations were compared to estimate maternal accuracy in predicting children's risk-taking. Relations between child risk-taking and parental accuracy, and parental accuracy and children's rate of injury, were examined. Child consistency in risk-taking related to parental accuracy in judging children's risk-taking, and degree and direction of accuracy related to child injury rates. Thus, consistent with the notion of bidirectional processes, a child characteristic (consistency in risk-taking) related to a parent characteristic (accuracy in predicting children's behavior in injury-risk situations). Contrary to expectations, however, increased parental accuracy did not predict lower injury rates. This suggests the need to bridge a gap that appears to exist between parental knowledge and application of that knowledge to ensure their child's safety.