Research Key

family interactions and the influence it has on the behaviour of adolescent students in some schools in Buea

Project Details

Guidance and Counselling
Project ID
International: $20
No of pages
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
 MS Word & PDF

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The aim of this study titled, Family interactions and their influence on the behaviour of adolescent students in the school milieu is to find out what influence family interactions have on the behaviour of the adolescent student in the school milieu.

By using the theories of behaviourism (operant conditioning) by B.F Skinner and the social learning theory by Albert Bandura, we understand that family interactions can greatly influence the adolescent child especially because of the vulnerability of this developmental stage of growth.

The research question which is how far family interactions influence the behaviour of the adolescent student leads us to the responses in the four hypotheses’; parents interactions can influence the behaviour of the adolescent child. Parent-child interactions can influence the adolescent student.

Sibling-sibling interactions can affect the adolescent student. Immediate and extended family interactions can affect the behaviour of the adolescent student.

The research design used for this study is the descriptive survey design. Two schools were selected and about 100 students answered a Likert scale type questionnaire telling us how the different family interactions affect them.

This research shows that family interactions often have a negative impact on an adolescent child causing them to act out in diverse negative manners in the school milieu.


                                                          CHAPTER ONE

                                                              GENERAL INTRODUCTION


In this chapter of the research project on the influence of family interactions on the behaviour of adolescents in some selected schools in the Buea municipality, we will see the historical, conceptual, theoretical and contextual background, the statement of the problem, the objectives of this research and the definition of key terms.


The family is instrumental in shaping the kind of person one becomes. The shaping occurs as family members interact with one another in work and play, joy and sorrow, routine and nonroutine activities in the daily arena of life.

Here, as goals are decided upon and affected in relation to the welfare of family members, personalities are developed. Such decision making is social in nature. Social decisions involve people in joint or shared action.

People who constantly share action and experience are interdependent in the sense that a change in one produces an answer change in the others (diesing, 1962, p. 236).

The quality, hence the effectiveness, of decision making in the family is, in part, dependent upon the quality of the interaction between and among family members. A critical condition for the existence of quality is the sharing of time, space, and activity by family members i.e. interaction and exchange.

Through developing a way to assess quantitatively family interaction by examining everyday activities in the family, the relations between family interaction and certain characteristics of the family environment were investigated.

This study identified the significant relations that existed between total family interaction and those activities categorized as social, eating, and care of family members. The time mothers shared with their children provided major input into total family interaction.

A young child’s relationships and interactions with the important adults in her life have a great impact on her early brain development and ongoing learning. For most children, family members are the primary caregivers who provide this important foundation. When children enter preschool programs, strong partnerships between home and school can support positive family relationships and promote learning at home.

One way to encourage positive connections within families is by teaching adult family members to use the Powerful Interaction framework with their children. Developed by Amy Dombro, Judy Jablon, and Charlotte Stetson, this approach encourages early childhood educators to intentionally create opportunities to interact with young children. 

Interaction is not the mere verbal exchange of information in the families. It is the expression of respect, affection and concern. Interaction doesn’t refer to the verbal alone in the family, but physical expressions, gestures and even an affectionate look can be communicative in the family.

It is through communication that the members of the family express their requirements, love, desires, advice etc., to each other person in the family.

Family communication is very much different from formal communication.

Experts say that there are four styles of family communication. Clear and direct communication, clear and indirect communication, masked and direct communication and masked and indirect communication.

Each of these styles has benefits and disadvantages; thus, it is the communicator who has to decide which style to be used according to the situations.

Whatever are the styles of communication and modes of it, people agree on a point that communication is the essential instrument or bonding factor in family life.

There are few theories that will guide our work on families and their interactions within the family. Over the years researchers have found the necessity to develop theories of behaviour that are specific to family settings.

These theories have been developed by people with a variety of areas of emphasis, from family therapists to gerontologists to child development specialists. We will see six such theories: Family Systems theory, behaviourism and operant conditioning, Ecological theory, and social learning theory.

African society has undergone profound changes surrounding various aspects underlining its understanding of traditional life, in particular family life.

The concept of family is one of universal precedence amongst all Africans, whether they belong to the west, east, central or southern regions.

Family is a vital aspect of African livelihood. It is what unifies us. It has been said that family is the foundation on which our society is built, and is proven by the fact that all over the world, every society is structured around a family unit. In the African context, family interactions are generally formal.

And these vary in intensity depending on the culture. Originally parents and children had a formal way of interacting with one another, where parents would call their parents ‘father’ and ‘mother’ instead of mummy or daddy. With time and modernization, parents and children have become friendlier and have more easy relationship.

A family unit is constructed within the extended family and most aspects of family life are shared by both, extended and immediate family members. An example of this would be if I were to get in trouble with my parents, I would also have to deal with my aunts, uncles and even grandparents.

Family issues do not stay within the confines of the household, but rather they are extended and dealt with by all members.

Now, imagine trying to explain this to your non-African friends. “Oh, yeah I got grounded by my aunt last night.” They would look at you in complete and utter shock at the thought a family member other than your mom or dad has the power to ground or punish you.

You can appreciate the African understanding of family as it is rather important as well as beneficial to be able to develop a lasting bond and relationship with your cousins, aunts and uncles, but when it comes to dealing with household issues, I can’t help but find myself gravitating towards the Euro-Canadian concept of family life.

The Western notions of isolating the family dynamic to solely include the main actors, i.e. mother, father and children help build a stronger bond amongst the immediate family.

In this research, our focus will be to see how family interactions can affect adolescents’ behaviour. Adolescence is a delicate stage; it is a challenging stage of growth for most individuals according to Krugerrand Burger [2002]. It is a period of storm and stress.

It is confusing because at this stage one is no longer a child but one is not an adult either. The adjustments are peculiar for each child. They can be extremist as well. This is when real values that a child has learned can guide a child through this stage successfully.

This research seeks to find out the dynamics of family life and its role in character development which is exhibited in the school environment, given that bad behaviour causes have no definitive answer. Our focus will be on the role of the primary origin of every child; the family.


Family is a vital part of every individual. It plays a huge role in the person we become. The study of human behaviour or how behaviour is formed can also be looked at from the point of family influence and role. The family as an emotional unit shapes the behaviour of individuals within that family.

How people feel and are treated within the family context will determine how easily or hardly they interact with their surroundings. This is the case of secondary school children, who are mostly adolescents with a vulnerable emotional aspect about them.

The interactions at home usually determine the mindset of most school children. It shapes them. How communication or interactions within the family influence personality development in adolescents is the focus of our study.


General objectives

This study aims at understanding the influence family interactions or relationships within the family have on adolescent children’s behaviour. That is, the cause and effect relationship those children learn from home and their behaviour in the school environment.

Specific objectives

  • To find out how parents relationship/interaction impact the behaviour of the adolescent child.
  • To find out how parents and children interactions affect the adolescent child.
  • To find out how sibling-sibling interaction affects the behaviour of the adolescent child.
  • To find out how the immediate and extended family relations affect the behaviour of the adolescent child.



Do family interactions influence the behaviour of the adolescent student?


  • Do parents interactions with one another affect the behaviour development of their observant adolescents?
  • Does the interaction between parents and children affect the adolescent’s behaviour?
  • Does the interaction between siblings affect the behaviour of the adolescent in the school milieu?
  • Does the interaction between the immediate and extended family affect the behaviour of the adolescent in the school milieu?
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