Confident Mothers, Easier Children: A Quasi-experimental Manipulation of Mothers’ Self-efficacy

Abstract

This randomized micro-trial aims at testing the relationship between mothers’ self-efficacy and children’s behavior in a quasi-experimental design. It assesses if mothers’ self-efficacy can be improved using the social learning theory processes of social comparison and positive feedback on parenting experience. In this theory-based experiment, mothers’ self-efficacy was manipulated in a convenience sample of 42 mothers and their 4–5 year-old preschoolers. Mothers’ and children’s behaviors were assessed during a 45-min mother–child interaction session with free-play, frustration and problem-solving tasks. Both observational and self-report measures were used. Results show that mothers who received a positive feedback to reinforce their self-efficacy had more positive parenting behaviors with their children than non-reinforced mothers in the control group. Children whose mothers had been reinforced in their self-efficacy were more positive with their mothers. This quasi-experimental micro-trial contributes to discuss the quite complex causal nature of the relation between parents’ self-efficacy, parenting and child behavior. First, its results confirm that mothers’ self-efficacy could be improved using the social learning theory processes of social comparison and positive feedback. Second, this study documents the positive impact of a positive feedback to mothers, on both mothers and children, contributing in this way to parenting research and intervention design.

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Acknowledgments

This research has been funded by the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research. Sponsors provided rewards to the participants. Thanks to Laurie Loop for her support in coding videos.

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Correspondence to Benedicte Mouton.

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Mouton, B., Roskam, I. Confident Mothers, Easier Children: A Quasi-experimental Manipulation of Mothers’ Self-efficacy. J Child Fam Stud 24, 2485–2495 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-014-0051-0

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Keywords

  • Parenting
  • Preschoolers
  • Mother
  • Self-efficacy
  • Experimental manipulation