How to rev kids up to do what you ask,” is the sample to be discussed.
The author, Hoffman introduces two experts, the magazine’s parenting columnist Lynn and
clinical psychologist, Phelan, to advise two families, the Ashworths, father Nigel and his three young children, Ben, one, Georgia, age three, and Liam, age five; the second family consists of Angela, a single parent and her twelve year old daughter, Nina. Parent/child interactions in regards to learning and embedding lifeskills and routines are addressed.
1. The article does not introduce research findings or mention the role of research.
Phelan and Lynn support two parenting skills, acknowledgement of the child’s good behaviour and the use of natural consequences technique. Suggested research to support these findings.
My hypothesis for research could be: would praise and consequences (reinforcement) work to increase a child’s compliance? Research required to support these generic findings would entail the test or measure of the same families or families with similar features i.e. socio-economic, cultural, age, sex, temperament, personalities, genetic make -up several times over a period of time, this longitudinal study might find correlations. The strong positive correlations can tell how consistent or inconsistent the childrens’ behaviour is on compliance as well as on parental behaviour. Experimental research gives more control and faster results however this method cannot provide findings to a broad range of family types. The questionaire and interview methods would yield the most control and allow for personal observations. Improved accuracy could be obtained with home visits. Also, I could observe a control group for even better understanding of the interplay between parent and child interactions. Extensive research is required to adequately support the findings. There are many variables: chores, routines, temperament, family dynamics, peer groups, other key players (piano teacher), social ecology aspects, just to list a few that can affect the family.
2. Advice in article compared to Course Reader and text
The advice given in the article is broad. The course material concurred with the experts’ two recommendations of praising good behaviour and natural consequences. I did not find any
direct discussion of natural consequences,from the dialogue on conditioning and reinforcement (Bee,18)I inferred this advice to be part of this method. Evidence to support parental discipline was found in the text on page 3, Bee informs the reader that the child’s “…temperamental patterns…can be and are modified by the parents’ style of caregiving.”
Our academic materials make specific reference to identified situations and circumstances i.e. Bee gives an example on page 260, “…he (Patterson) emphasizes that what happens in a given family, for a particular child, is a joint product of the child’s own temperament or response
tendencies, the parents’ discipline skills, the parents’..,” that is, Bee wants the student to understand from this description that generalizations often are over simplifications.
The background assumptions and stance on basic issues of these two recommendations can be seen to have been influenced by the major contemporary developmental psychology theories: psycho-analytical, cognitive, social, learning, ecological. Current schools of child development believe children are born with certain inherent genetic traits i.e. temperament but are affected by their circles of influences, especially their parents’ behaviour and their relationship. These advisors, quite likely, are trained in the current schools of child development. Their advice is general, the article short on details, but it is conceptually based on current frameworks of child development psychology. For example, in the cognitive developmental theories of Piaget and Erikson, children are directly affected by their (key people) parents’ actions and (adaptation) purposefully change their behaviours to comply (Bee, 22, 182). Freud, in his influential theory of the stages of personality provides the grounding for discussions in the science of developmental psychology. Other theorists, as well have synthesized ideas that begin with the child as an active player in her growth and development moving through her life making choices, allowing influences or not.
Research in these and other fields of child development support the article’s advice. According to Bowlby’s theory of attachment, praise good behaviour, would increase attachment to the child’s parents (Bee, 306). Vygotsky’s psycho-social theory, zone of proximal development, provides a base too for the advice, the child is interpreted as directly influenced through his parents activities (Bee,234 ). Temperament theorist, Patterson’s studies fall in the ecological sphere (Bronfenbrenner, Bee,366)and deals most immediately with learning and parent/child relationships. To illustrate Bee (11 ) provides a diagram(figure 1-2) that shows the parental influence-traits, discipline and monitoring, which help shape the child’s behaviour. Bandura and other learning development theorists work with operant conditioning: positive and negative reinforcement. Reinforcement is a conditioning stimuli, operant conditioning is the theoretical base for praise and natural consequences(causal factors), (Bee 18, 263 ). In relation to social learning theorists on page 260 in the text, Bee specifically addresses parental praise and influences on children in a dialogue box “Applying Learning Principles at Home”. Further support of positive parenting for the development of the child is provided in the Course Reader. For example, the Course Reader on page 81, Cole (1991;cited in Bee) states that children think of themselves as others do, thus according to this perspective, parents’ positive remarks would heightened a child’s self image and belief in her ability to perform tasks. It follows that this child with good self image would comply with parent imposed routines, schedules and wishes.
3. There are implications for parents and children, both positive and negative, if parents accept the article’s advice and assumptions. There are two techniques, both work when properly applied to the particular family circumstances. I will address each in turn. Praise, a good thing, can be misused, overused. Damon(1995), cited in the Course Reader, page 82, asserts that children can gain a false sense of self-esteem. The use of natural consequences is even more detrimental poorly applied. The results may cause unintentional harm, for example, a child told not to cross the street ignores the parent and crosses. The natural consequence could result in the child being hit by a passing car.
In summary, parents should be thoughtful when adopting advice in popular sources on child behaviour.