"I’d really talk to him about manaakitanga, I’d actually talk to him about values and what he knows about it”: Contemporary Māori parenting practices centring on perceptions and responses to aggressive behaviour among preschool-aged children

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Theses / Dissertations
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Thesis discipline
Health Sciences
Degree name
Master of Arts
University of Canterbury
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Tierney, Courtney Wikitoria

There are limited studies in Aotearoa (New Zealand) which focus on physical aggression and relational aggression during early childhood. Of the few which do exist (e.g., Swit, 2018, 2019) the findings are predominantly based on perceptions of non-Māori parents/whānau. Therefore, to fill this gap, this Kaupapa Māori focussed study interviewed four urban Māori parents/whānau to assess their perceptions and responses to physical aggression and relational aggression displayed by preschool aged children. A main finding of this study found that Māori culture was incorporated into the general practices of contemporary Māori parents/whānau. The parents/whānau spoke about the importance of incorporating tikanga values such as whakapapa (heritage), te reo (Māori language), wairuatanga (spirituality), whānau (family) and more into their day-to-day parenting. Another key finding showed there were mixed parental perceptions of the seriousness of physical and relational aggression. Parents tended to hypothetically respond to physical aggression with more direct intervention methods (e.g., telling the child off), compared to intervention responses to relational aggression which tended to be more passive (e.g., talking to the child about their actions). The findings as well as the parents’ suggestions for additional caregiver resources (e.g., parenting classes and pamphlets on teaching children values) helped to identify areas to support their understanding of how to respond to physical and relational aggression in the future.

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