, Research Paper
Child Compliance and Maternal Control Techniques. The Impact of Maternal Control Techniques on Children s Participation in tasks.
One of the most important questions facing parents is what level of control promotes the greatest development of self-regulation in children. Kopp (1987) defined self-regulation as an abstraction that subsumes behaviors as diverse as compliance, delay of gratification, control of impulses and affect, modulation of motor and linguistic activities, and ability to act in accordance with social norms in the absence of social monitors. It is quite clear to understand that a self-regulated child is well adjusted in all areas from the classroom to the recess yard. This theory leaves mothers to question what level of control is appropriate in rearing a well-adjusted child.
Research on the topic of maternal control and self-regulation in children is plentiful. During the course of research for my own study, I found three studies in which I choose to base my study on that are clearly related and supported by the same theoretical ideas.
Hudson & Blane (1985) studied mother and child communication in reference to compliance issues. They videotaped interactions between eight mothers and their noncompliance children ages 3-7 years and eight mothers and their compliant children ages 4-6 years to access five non verbal components of instruction giving, including distance of the mother from the child, degree of eye contact between mother and child, mother s tone of voice, and the mothers orientation to any object involved in the instruction. Overall, results indicate a relationship between nonverbal components of a mother s instruction and compliance to that instruction by the child. Noncompliant children s (NCC) mothers issued about twice as many commands as did mothers of compliant children (CC). However, the compliance rate of the NCC s was only about half that of the CC s. NCC mothers gave their instructions at a greater distance from the child, engaged in less eye contact, and used a less pleasant tone of voice. Successful instructions were given at a closer distance to the child, were given by a mother who was squatting or kneeling, were associated with greater eye contact, were given with a more pleasant tone of voice, and involved some physical orientation by the mother to the objects involved in the instruction.
Schaffer and Crook also studied child compliance and maternal control techniques in 1980. This study involved the observance of twenty-four children aged fifteen months and twenty-four months with their mothers in a directed play situation. Mothers were asked to take an active role by ensuring that the children played with the full range of toys available. The children s responses to the mothers control directives were assessed in terms of three types of compliance: orientation, contact and task compliance. Differences in the overall rate for these three were examined. Considerable variations occurred in compliance rate according to the type of response requires. Maternal controls were most likely to succeed if they formed part of a sequential attention-action strategy designed to manipulate the child s involvement state. The findings bear on a view of socialization that stresses the mutuality of the parent-child relationship. They also have implications for the concept and the assessment of compliance.
In 1979, Green and McMahon studied parental manipulation of compliance and noncompliance in normal and deviant children in order to learn if parents can manipulate child compliance and, if they can, to determine what parental behaviors changes occur to accomplish this child behavior change. In addition, they also wanted to see if parents of deviant and normal children could equally and effectively manipulate child compliance. Ten mothers and their clinic-referred children and ten mothers and their nonclinic children served as subjects. Children were aged three to eight years. All mothers were seen in a laboratory setting and instructed in one phase to make their children look compliant and in another phase to make their children look noncompliant. All parents issued twenty standard commands to their children. Results indicate that mothers could manipulate child compliance. Mothers of deviant and normal children did not differ in their ability to change child compliance or in the behaviors they used to obtain compliance and noncompliance. Clinic referred children were perceived as more deviant by their mothers and displayed less compliance and more general deviant behavior during the standard command situation.
The 67 children and their mothers in this study also were participants in a larger longitudinal investigation systematically exploring the development of self-regulation in young children. Two cohorts were formed. Children in the younger cohort (n=30, n of males = 16) were observes at 18, 21, 24, and 30 months of age. Children in the older cohort (n = 37; n of males = 16) were observed at 30, 36, 42 and 48 moths of age. Within each of the two cohorts; three subdivisions were formed. In the first subdivision, mothers were asked to direct the task with a strong maternal control style. In the second subdivision, mothers would direct with a lax control style. Finally, in the third subdivision, mothers would direct with a moderate level of control. Children and mothers were recruited from local toddler and nursery school programs in the Los Angles Metropolitan area. The children were developing normally; the older cohort s average verbal intelligence was in the high average range (Vocabulary Subtest, Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale IV; Thorndike, Hagen, & Sattler, 1986). The sample was comprised of 59 European American, 4 Hispanic, 3 Asian American, and 1 African American children. They came from middle- to upper-middle-class families. Mothers in both groups were well educated (79% had a bachelor s or an advanced degree). The mean ages of mothers of children in the younger and older cohort were 32.8 and 35.7 years, respectively. The majority of mothers were primiparous; 70% of the children in the younger cohort and 51% of the children in the older cohort had no siblings at the time of their initial visit.
Observation of a child-mother conflict was made during toy cleanup, which was the final interactive activity of the home and laboratory visit. The cleanup followed a brief (approximately 5 minute) free-play session. Upon a signal from the experimenter, the mother was instructed to initiate cleanup by asking her child to place the toys in a large basket or on shelves of a bookcase. Mothers in the strong control subdivision were instructed to voice a verbal command to clean up from a standing position every 15 seconds and do nothing else. Mothers in the moderate control group were asked to voice a verbal command kneeling by their child every minute. In addition, they were asked to keep eye contact with their child and to remain in close proximity to their child. Mothers in the third subdivision were told to do nothing but sit in a chair in the same room as their child. The toy clean up lasted