Praising child compliance is a common therapeutic recommendation to parents with noncompliant children. There are currently no studies documenting the independent contribution of the praise component to successful parent training programs. Three projects were designed to evaluate the hypotheses underlying the use of contingent praise routines. Namely, it has been suggested that conduct-disordered children are relatively unresponsive to adult approval at pretreatment, yet become responsive by posttreatment. In contrast to the hypotheses, data indicated that child compliance levels were not associated with child responsivity to maternal social reinforces; noncompliant children were responsive to maternal praise both before and after treatment; child responsivity to maternal praise did not covary with successful treatment; previously noncompliant but successfully treated children continued to comply to maternal instructions after contingent praise was withdrawn; a nonclinic child demonstrated extensive compliance persistence in the absence of contingent praise. Praising child compliance appeared to be more of a polite ritual than an active therapeutic component for altering noncompliance.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Bean, A. W., & Roberts, M. W. (1981). The effect of time-out release contingencies on changes in child noncompliance.Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 9, 95–105.
Bernhardt, A. J., & Forehand, R. (1975). The effects of labeled and unlabeled praise upon lower and middle class children.Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 19, 536–543.
Budd, K. S., Green, D. R., & Baer, D. M. (1976). An analysis of multiple misplaced social contingencies.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 9, 459–470.
Day, D. E., & Roberts, M. W. (1983). An analysis of the physical punishment component of a parent training program.Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 11, 141–152.
Eisenberger, R. (1970). Is there a deprivation-satiation function for social approval?Psychological Bulletin, 74, 255–275.
Forehand, R. (1977). Child noncompliance to parental requests: Behavioral analysis and treatment. In M. Hersen, R. M. Eisler, & P. M. Miller (Eds.),Progress in behavior modification (pp. 111–147). New York: Academic Press.
Forehand, R. L., & McMahon, R. J. (1981).Helping the noncompliant child: A clinician's guide to parent training. New York: Guilford.
Forehand, R., & Peed, S. (1979). Training parents to modify noncompliant behavior of their children. In A. J. Finch, Jr., & P. C. Kendall (Eds.),Treatment and research in child psychopathology (pp. 159–185). New York: Spectrum.
Forehand, R., Wells, K. C., & Griest, D. L. (1980). An examination of the social validity of a parent training program.Behavior Therapy, 11, 488–502.
Gewirtz, J. L., & Baer, D. M. (1958). The effect of brief social deprivation on behaviors for a social reinforcer.Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 56, 49–56.
Green, K. D., Forehand, R., & McMahon, R. J. (1979). Parental manipulation of compliance and noncompliance in normal and deviant children.Behavior Modification, 3, 245–266.
Griest, D. L., Forehand, R., Wells, K. C., & McMahon, R. J. (1980). An examination of differences between nonclinic and behavior problem clinic-referred children and their mothers.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89, 497–500.
Levin, G. R., & Simmons, S. (1962). Response to praise by emotionally disturbed boys.Psychological Reports, 11, 10.
Lobitz, W. C., & Johnson, S. M. (1975). Parental manipulation of the behavior of normal and deviant children.Child Development, 46, 719–726.
Mash, E. J., & Terdal, L. (1973). Modification of mother-child interactions: Playing with children.Mental Retardation, 11, 44–49.
McMahon, R. J., Forehand, R., & Griest, D. L. (1981). Effects of knowledge of social learning principles on enhancing treatment outcome and generalization in a parent training program.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 49, 526–532.
Meyers, J. K., & Bean, L. L. (1968).A decade later: A follow-up of social class and mental illness. New York: Wiley.
Nordquist, V. M. (1971). The modification of a child's enuresis: Some response-response relationships.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 4, 241–247.
Patterson, G. R. (1965a). Responsiveness to social stimuli. In L. Krasner & L. P. Ullmann (Eds.),Research in behavior modification (157–178). New York: Holt, Rinehard & Winston.
Patterson, G. R. (1965b). A learning theory approach to the treatment of the school phobic child. In L. P. Ullmann & L. Krasner (Eds.),Case studies in behavior modification (pp. 279–284). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Patterson, G. R., McNeal, S. A., Hawkins, N., & Phelps, R. (1967). Reprogramming the social environment.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 8, 181–195.
Patterson, G. R., Reid, J. B., Jones, R. R., & Conger, R. E. (1975).A social learning approach to family intervention, Vol. 1. Families with aggressive children. Eugene, Oregon: Castalia.
Roberts, M. W. (1984). An attempt to reduce time-out resistance in young children.Behavior Therapy, 15, 210–216.
Roberts, M. W., Hatzenbuehler, L. C., & Bean, A. W. (1981). The effects of differential attention and time out on child noncompliance.Behavior Therapy, 12, 93–99.
Roberts, M. W., McMahon, R. J., Forehand, R., & Humphreys, L. (1978). The effect of parental instruction-giving on child compliance.Behavior Therapy, 9, 793–798.
Sajwaj, T., & Dillon, A. (1977). Complexities of an “elementary” behavior modification procedure: Differential adult attention used for children's behavior disorders. In B. C. Etzel, J. M. LeBlanc, & D. M. Baer (Eds.),New developments in behavioral research: Theory, method, and application (pp. 303–315). New York: Wiley.
Solomon, R. L., Kamin, L. J., & Wynne, L. C. (1953). Traumatic avoidance learning: The outcomes of several extinction procedures with dogs.Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 48, 291–302.
Wahler, R. G. (1968).Behavior therapy for oppositional children: Love is not enough. Paper presented at the meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association.
Wahler, R. G. (1969). Oppositional children: A quest for parental reinforcement control.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 2, 159–170.
Wahler, R. G., Winkel, G. H., Peterson, R. F., & Morrison, D. C. (1965). Mothers as behavior therapists for their own children.Behaviour Research and Therapy, 3, 113–124.
Wells, K. C., & Forehand, R. (1981). Childhood behavior problems in the home. In S. M. Turner, K. S. Calhoun, & H. E. Adams (Eds.),Handbook of clinical behavior therapy (pp. 527–567). New York: Wiley.
The author is grateful to the many students who have participated in these projects. Special thanks go to Lynn McIsaac, Lisa Grange, and Dan Anderson for their assistance with Project 3.
About this article
Cite this article
Roberts, M.W. Praising child compliance: Reinforcement or ritual?. J Abnorm Child Psychol 13, 611–629 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00923145
- Training Program
- Successful Treatment
- Maternal Instruction
- Parent Training
- Independent Contribution