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Proximate Regulation by Mothers: A Demonstration of How Differing Styles Affect Young Children's Behavior

George W. Holden and Meredith J. West
Child Development
Vol. 60, No. 1 (Feb., 1989), pp. 64-69
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131071
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131071
Page Count: 6
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Proximate Regulation by Mothers: A Demonstration of How Differing Styles Affect Young Children's Behavior
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Abstract

An earlier observational study of mothers and toddlers in the supermarket revealed differential success of 2 styles of maternal behavior. A proactive style of preempting opportunities for misbehavior, in contrast to a reactive style of responding only after misbehavior occurred, was correlated with a lower incidence of undesirable child acts. Here, the 2 styles were studied in the laboratory to explore their function further. In an analog of the supermarket situation, mothers behaved proactively and reactively in trials in which the task was to prevent their 2- or 3-year-old children from playing with desirable toys. Children responded to proactive behavior by engaging in acceptable behaviors longer and by violating fewer rules. The 2-year-old children were less able to comply with the rules. The data illustrate the role parents play in promoting and supporting the development of compliance and self-regulation in children.

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