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Different parenting styles and child rearing

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 3233 words Published: 2nd May 2017

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Since 1930, scientists have been concerned with questions like “What is the best way to educate children?” and “What are the consequences that may be caused in the development of children raised by different parenting styles?” (Darling and Steinberg,1993).

During the early 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study on more than 100 preschool-age children (Baumrind, 1967). Using naturalistic observation, parental interviews and other research methods, she identified four important dimensions of parenting: Disciplinary strategies, warmth and nurturance, communication styles and expectations of maturity and control. The theoretical model of Baumrind (1966) about the types of parental styles was a landmark on the studies that have been made about the parent-child education, serving as the basis for a new concept of parenting style that integrates emotional and behavioural aspects. From her research, Baumrind (1966) proposed a model for classification of parents with three prototypes of control: authoritative, authoritarian and permissive. He proposed the authoritative parental style as being more effective than the others parental styles.

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This author defined the authoritative parents as those who try to direct the activities of their children in a rational and focused, encourage dialogue, sharing with the child the reasoning behind the way they act, they ask their objections when they refuses to agree, exert firm control at points of divergence, putting their adult perspective, without restricting the child, recognizing they have interests and particular ways, not base decisions on consensus or the desire of the child. When there is a problem, the authoritative parent sits down with the child and explores choices, allowing the child to express her or his thoughts and feelings, knowing that the parents have the final word. This model aims at mutual respect. Both the power of the parent and the child is utilized in the problem solving process.

According with Baumrind (1966) the Authoritarian parents, always try to be in control and exert their control on the children. These parents set strict rules to try to keep order, and they usually do this without much expression of warmth and affection. They attempt to set strict standards of conduct and are usually very critical of children for not meeting those standards. They tell children what to do and they usually do not provide children with choices or options and they tend to not explain why they want their children to do things. At the extreme, some highly authoritarian parents resort to physical or emotional abuse in their attempts to control their children, which obviously can cause lasting psychological damage.

Permissive parents try to behave in a non-punitive and receptive before the desires and actions of the child, presented to her as a resource for achieving your desires and not as a model or as agent responsible for shaping or directing their behaviour. They give up most control to their children and make few, if any, rules, and the rules that they make are usually not consistently enforced. They don’t want to be tied down to routines and they want their children to feel free. They do not set clear boundaries or expectations for their children’s behaviour and tend to accept in a warm and loving way, however the child behaves.

The uninvolved parenting style was suggested by Maccoby and Martin (1983).The uninvolved parents are unresponsive, undemanding, and permissive and set few clear boundaries, largely because they don’t really care very much. Unlike authoritative parents, they are neither warm nor firm and they do not monitor their children. Instead, they are laid-back and unresponsive to an extent that can sometimes seem reckless. In extreme cases, uninvolved parenting may stray into outright neglect.

The impact of Parenting styles

Children of the authoritative teacher model grow up feeling loved, recpected, have high self-esteem, and learn to be cooperative and respectful with others. This iq a recipe for adult success.

Children raiced by authoritarian parants tend to grow up as fearful, overly submissive, low-esteemed adults. The other response is to retaliate against parents as they get older and bigger, sometimes becoming unmanageable when children strike back, using their power against their parents. These children feel unloved and rejected.

Children of permissive parents often grow up selfish, uncooperative and demanding in all their relationships. They, too, feel unloved because there is no love in the parents who are victims. Parents feel no love but feel tons of resentment. When these children grow up, they can become violent to their spouses and children.

Uninvolved parenting, as a result, teens generally show similar patterns of behaviour as adolescents raised in permissive homes and they may also demonstrate impulsive behaviours due to issues with self-regulation. They have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.

Why do parenting styles differ?

The parents are bringing their experiences, cultural differences, background, socio-economic status, education level and religion. Child behaviour and temper could influences parenting style as well. Whereas a cooperative, motivated, and responsible teen might be more likely to have parents who exercise an authoritative parenting style, an uncooperative, immature, and irresponsible teen may be more likely to elicit a parenting style that is authoritarian or uninvolved. Parenting styles might also differ between parents (e.g. one parent could be permissive while the other parent is authoritarian). In this situation, parents should discuss, in private, acceptable and unacceptable child behaviours and those areas where they can reach agreement in parenting their child to avoid favouritism for one of the parents, conflict and argument between the couple.

Learning Theories

According with psychologists learning is a relatively change in behaviour, which is the result of experience, this is a fundamental process in all animals.

Some psychologists believe that behaviour is the sum of many simple stimulus-response connections. However there are other psychologists who think that stimulus-response is too simplistic and that even simple responses to stimuli require the processing of a vast amount of information.

Classical conditioning

Pavlov developed the concept and the principles of classical conditioning; this approach also is referred to as stimulus substitution. Pavlov set up an experiment to find out if the dogs could be trained to salivate at other stimuli such as the sound of a bell or a light, normally, dogs only would salivate when food is presented.

The Classical Conditioning Procedure:

In scientific terms, the procedure for this is as follows.

1- Food is the unconditioned stimulus or UCS. By this, Pavlov meant that the stimulus that elicited the response occurred naturally.

2 -The salivation to the food is an unconditioned response (UCR) that is a response which occurs naturally.

3 -The bell is the conditioned stimulus (CS) because it will only produce salivation on condition that it is presented with the food.

4 -Salivation to the bell alone is the conditioned response (CR), a response to the conditioned stimulus.

Classical conditioning involves learning by association that is associating two events which happen at the same time.


John B. Watson, the father of behaviourism carried out a classical conditioning experiment with a child (Little Albert) by making a loud noise behind the child’s head (smashing two bars together) as the child was playing with a rabbit. Though the child was quite happy playing with the rabbit up until that time, he came to be terrified of the rabbit. Watson, demonstrated as well that a young child who had no fear of rats could be conditioned to fear rats (Hopko, Robertson, & Lejuez, 2006).

Another powerful example of classical conditioning is taste aversion. Taste aversion is a case where someone learns to have an aversion to the taste or smell or other characteristics of some food or drink.

Classical conditioning is very important in rearing children. For example:

When the parents are present so often when pleasant things happen, such the child feels warm, comfortable and cuddled, this works as a conditioned stimuli for pleasant feelings.

– If they do something wrong, and we present a negative stimulus by punishing them in some way, this will then lead to a lower frequency of the undesired behavior.

Positively if they do something we want them to do and you praise them for it, this will then lead to a higher frequency of the desired behavior.

Operant conditioning

B.F. Skinner developed operant conditioning and built on the classical conditioning work of Ivan Pavlov. Operant Conditioning involves learned behaviour; it associates a stimulus and a response. Skinner believed that behavior is a function of its consequences. The learner will repeat the desired behavior if positive reinforcement (a pleasant consequence) follows the behavior. Reinforcement is favourable circumstances that follows behaviour and causes it to be repeated, whilst unfavourable circumstances are known as a punishment which follows behaviour and causes it to stop.

Skinner carried an experiment where he puts rats and pigeons in a box, when the rats pressed a lever resulted in food being dispensed. Accidentally, they knocked on the lever and they quickly learned to deliberately press it to get food. Any others responses by the rats and pigeons would not be reinforced and therefore became extinguished.

In real life our behaviours are shaped by the connections of stimuli. For example when someone feels a scent, or hear a song could result in fairly intense feelings and emotions, although is not the scent or song that causes the emotions but the things that has been connected with, this could be a place, a loved one, a friend or a pet. Without realizing we do these connections and they have a great impact on us, that means that we have been classically conditioned.

Positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement, or ‘rewards’ can include verbal reinforcement such as ‘That’s great’ or ‘You’re certainly on the right track’ or providing a person with something that they like, want or need a: money, sweets, attention.

Negative reinforcement

Negative reinforcement also strengthens a behavior and refers to a situation when a negative condition is stopped or avoided as a consequence of the behavior. Punishment, on the other hand, weakens a behavior because a negative condition is introduced or experienced as a consequence of the behavior and teaches the individual not to repeat the behavior which was negatively reinforce.


People might think that, negative reinforcement and punishment are the same, although their purpose is different; punishment is used to stop the unwanted behavior, whereas negative reinforcement is to produce wanted behaviour.

We experience this every day in our lives. For example when we made a mistake, we most likely remember that mistake and try to do things in other way when the situation comes up again. In that sense, we have learned to act differently based on the natural consequences of ours previous actions. The same for positive action; If something we did results in a positive outcome, we are likely to do that same activity again.

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Positive reinforcement is the most powerful, researchers had found. Adding a positive to increase a response not only works better, but allows both parties to focus on the positive aspects of the situation. Punishment, when applied immediately following the negative behaviour can be effective, but results in extinction when it is not applied consistently. Punishment can also lead to other negative responses such as anger and resentment.

Strengths and limitations of behavioural methods

A strength of methods used in this approach is that they have been developed to be used in correcting poor behaviour of children, providing reinforcement, for example: building up play time- this is called token economy.

A limitation – according with others researchers learning can happen just from observing others and not necessary by a reinforcement.

Behaviourism has also been criticised for being too deterministic and thus neglecting free will. This is because it makes humans appear to be controlled by their environment, rather than being free to choose their own behaviour. A deterministic view argues that a person does not have much choice over how they behave but that behaviour is a response to the environment.

Behaviourists relied heavily on the observational laboratory method of research. The direct strength of the experimental methods is controlled conditions: direct cause and effects but there are also limitations. You cannot apply it to the real world and it lacks ecological validity. Also, they often used animals in their studies and generalized the results to humans. This experiment has problems because it does not take into account individual differences between man and animal. On ethical consideration there was no informed consent or right to withdraw.

Power as means of Behaviour Modification and Moral Development

Moral development involves the formation of a system of values on which to base decisions concerning “right” and “wrong” or “good” and “bad.” Values are underlying assumptions about standards that govern moral decisions.

Hoffman reviewed a large number of correlational studies relating parental-rearing techniques with measures of either moral reasoning or moral behaviour. He categorized the dominant parental techniques into “love oriented discipline” or “love withdrawal which threatened withdrawal or affection or approval, “power assertive discipline” -using power to threaten, physical punishment or withholding privileges, and “induction”- explaining the consequences of actions and what should be change to emphasizing how it affects other people. Based in many studies we it seems that “induction” is associated with moral maturity, whereas “power assertion” tends to be associated with moral immaturity. Induction is similar to affective explanation as it is in the context of a close parental relationship. Research suggests that providing cognitive explanations enhances positive exhortation in inducing prosocial behaviour, and is also effective as a disciplinary technique. Similarly, experimental studies have suggested that the most effective way to induce resistance to temptation is to combine the threat of punishment with an explanation or cognitive rationale (Parke, 1977).

Hoffman ( 2000) believed that the winning formula is a mixture of frequent induction, power assertions and a lot of affection. Effective parents also use proactive strategies to prevent misbehaviour and reduce the need of correction or discipline-techniques such as distracting young children form temptations and explicitly older children values ( Thompson et al 2006).

Social learning

“Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behaviour is learned observationally through modelling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviours are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.”

-Albert Bandura, Social Learning Theory, 1977

The social learning theory proposed by Albert Bandura has become perhaps the most influential theory of learning and development. It emphasizes the importance of observing and modelling the behaviours, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Known as observational learning (or modelling), this type of learning can be used to explain a wide variety of behaviours.

Observational Learning

Modelling refers to imitating the behaviour of a person who acted as a role model. For example a teenager may start smoking because their favourite celebrity seen smoking a cigarette.

In his famous “Bobo doll” studies, Bandura demonstrated that children learn and imitate behaviours they have observed in other people. The children in Bandura’s studies observed an adult acting violently toward a Bobo doll. When the children were later allowed to play in a room with the Bobo doll, they began to imitate the aggressive actions they had previously observed. So we can say that mere exposure to a model behaving aggressively results in observational and aggressive behaviour.

All these variations allowed Bandura to establish that there were certain steps involved in the modelling process:

Attention- The learner have to pay attention to the model in order to be able to copy their behaviour. Some of the things that influence attention involve characteristics of the model. If the model is colourful and dramatic, we pay more attention. If the model is attractive, or prestigious, or appears to be particularly competent, you will pay more attention. These kinds of variables directed Bandura towards an examination of television and its effects on kids!

Retention – the observer must be able to retain, remember what the model has done. This is where imagery and language come in: we store what we have seen the model doing in the form of mental images or verbal descriptions. When stored, we can later “bring up” the image or description, so that we can reproduce it with our own behaviour.

Production- We have to translate the images or descriptions into actual behaviour. So we have to have the ability to reproduce the behaviour in the first place. We can watch Olympic ice skaters all day long, yet not be able to reproduce their jumps, because we can’t ice skate at all! On the other hand, if we could skate, our performance would in fact improve if we watch skaters who are better than I are.

Motivation- we need to be motivated to imitate, i.e. until we have some reason for doing it. Bandura mentions a number of motives: past reinforcement, promised reinforcements (incentives) or vicarious reinforcement. Obviously, the negative motivations are there as well, giving us reasons not to imitate someone, like: past punishment, promised punishment (threats), vicarious punishment.

Culture and environment have a huge impact on child development. The amount that either will impact will change over time. For example when a child is predominately surrounded by family at a young age, culture may have more of an impact. But as that child gets older other environmental factors such as peers relationships might have the bigger impact


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