Advertisement

Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 1310–1324 | Cite as

What Parents Do When Children are Good: Parent Reports of Strategies for Reinforcing Early Childhood Prosocial Behaviors

  • Alicia A. BowerEmail author
  • Juan F. Casas
Original Paper

Abstract

This exploratory study utilized a concurrent triangulation mixed methods design to investigate how parents respond to considerate and engaging forms of children’s prosocial behavior, whether some prosocial behaviors are more likely to receive reinforcement, and whether reinforcement is associated with specific types of prosocial behavior. Parents of 74 preschoolers completed a questionnaire regarding their child’s general prosociality, provided open-ended responses to prosocial vignettes, and completed a questionnaire assessing reinforcement. Open-ended responses showed reinforcement was highly variable across parents and prosocial behaviors. Across open-ended and response-option formats, social reinforcement responses of parent approval, character attributions, and showing love emerged as common reinforcement responses to prosocial behavior, and evidencing similar relationships with comforting and cooperating behaviors. These results suggest that there are multiple ways parents respond to child prosocial behaviors, many of which seem to be attempts to encourage prosociality.

Keywords

Prosocial behavior Parents/parenting Social learning Reinforcement Parent–child communication Mixed methods 

References

  1. Batson, C. D., & Powell, A. A. (2003). Altruism and prosocial behavior. In T. Millon, M. J. Lerner, & I. B. Weiner (Eds.), The handbook of psychology (Vol. 5, pp. 463–484)., Personality and social psychology Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bernard, H. R. (2006). Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar
  4. Brophy, J. (1981). Teacher praise: A functional analysis. Review of Educational Research, 51, 5–32. doi: 10.3102/00346543051001005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carlo, G. (2006). Care-based and altruistically based morality. In M. Killen & J. Smetana (Eds.), Handbook of moral development (pp. 551–579). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  6. Catania, A. C. (2007). Learning, fourth interim edition. Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY: Sloan Publishing.Google Scholar
  7. Coie, J. D., Dodge, K. A., & Copotelli, H. (1982). Dimensions and types of social status: A cross-age perspective. Developmental Psychology, 18(4), 557–570. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.18.4.557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Creswell, J. W., Plano Clark, V. L., Gutmann, M. L., & Hanson, W. E. (2003). Advanced mixed methods research designs. In A. Tashakkori & C. Teddlie (Eds.), Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research (pp. 209–240). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Crick, N. R. (1996). The role of overt aggression, relational aggression, and prosocial behavior in the prediction of children’s future social adjustment. Child Development, 67, 2317–2327. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.ep9706060169.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Dodge, K. A. (1983). Behavioral antecedents of peer social status. Child Development, 54(6), 1386–1399. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129802.
  11. Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., Carlo, G., Troyer, D., Speer, A. L., Karbon, M., & Switzer, G. (1992). The relations of maternal practices and characteristics to children’s vicarious emotional responsiveness. Child Development, 63, 583–602.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., & Spinrad, T. L. (2006). Prosocial development. In W. Damon, R. M. Lerner, & N. Eisenberg (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology, Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (6th ed., pp. 646–718). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  13. Eisenberg, N., Guthrie, I. K., Murphy, B. C., Shepard, S. A., Cumberland, A., & Carlo, G. (1999). Consistency and development of prosocial dispositions: A longitudinal study. Child Development, 70, 1360–1372. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.leo.lib.unomaha.edu/stable/1132312.
  14. Follette, W. C., Linnerooth, P. J. N., & Ruckstuhl, L. E, Jr. (2001). Positive psychology: A clinical behavior analytic perspective. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 41, 102–134. doi: 10.1177/0022167801411007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Greener, S., & Crick, N. R. (1999). Normative beliefs about prosocial behavior in middle childhood: What does it mean to be nice? Social Development, 8, 349–363. doi: 10.1111/1467-9507.00100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grusec, J. E. (1991). Socializing concern for others in the home. Developmental Psychology, 27, 338–342. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.27.2.338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grusec, J. E., Davidov, M., & Lundell, L. (2002). Prosocial and helping behavior. In P. K. Smith & C. H. Hart (Eds.), Handbook of childhood social development (pp. 457–474). Boston: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  18. Grusec, J. E., & Redler, E. (1980). Attribution, reinforcement, and altruism: A developmental analysis. Developmental Psychology, 16, 525–534. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.16.5.525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hallgren, K. A. (2012). Computing inter-rater reliability for observational data: An overview and tutorial. Tutor Quant Methods Psychology, 1, 23–34.Google Scholar
  20. Hastings, P. D., McShane, K. E., Parker, R., & Ladha, F. (2007a). Ready to make nice: Parental socialization of young sons’ and daughters’ prosocial behaviors with peers. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 168, 177–200. doi: 10.3200/GNTP.168.2.177-200.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Hastings, P. D., Utendale, W. T., & Sullivan, C. (2007b). The socialization of prosocial development. In J. Grusec & P. D. Hastings (Eds.), Handbook of socialization (pp. 638–664). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  22. Hawley, P. (2003). Prosocial and coercive configurations of resource control in early adolescence: A case for the well-adapted Machiavellian. Merril-Palmer Quarterly, 49, 279–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Henderlong, J. (2000). Beneficial and detrimental effects of praise on children’s motivation: Performance versus person feedback. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Stanford University.Google Scholar
  24. Henderlong, J., & Lepper, M. R. (2002). The effects of praise on children’s intrinsic motivation: A review and synthesis. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 774–795. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.128.5.774.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Hoffman, M. L. (1970). Moral development. In P. H. Mussen (Ed.), Carmichael’s manual of child development (pp. 261–359). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  26. Holden, G. W. (2002). Perspectives on the effects of corporal punishment: Comment on Gershoff (2002). Psychological Bulletin, 128, 590–595. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.128.4.590.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Kazdin, A. E., Siegel, T. C., & Bass, D. (1992). Cognitive problem-solving skills training and parent management training in the treatment of antisocial behavior in children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60, 733–747. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.60.5.733.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Lepper, M. R., Greene, D., & Nisbett, R. E. (1973). Undermining children’s intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward: A test of the “overjustification” hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 28, 129–137. doi: 10.1037/h0035519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Locke, L. (2003). Parenting interactions and prosocial behavior in young children. Dissertation Abstracts International. 63(7-B), p. 3477.Google Scholar
  30. Mueller, C. M., & Dweck, C. S. (1998). Praise for intelligence can undermine children’s motivation and performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 33–52. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.75.1.33.
  31. Nelson, D. A., & Crick, N. R. (1999). Rose-colored glasses: Examining the social information-processing of prosocial young adolescents. Journal of Early Adolescence, 19, 17–38. doi: 10.1177/0272431699019001002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Parke, R. D. & Buriel, R. (2006). Socialization in the family, ethnic and ecological perspectives. In W. Damon, R. M. Lerner, & N. Eisenberg (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology, Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (6th edn, pp. 429–504). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  33. Rigby, K. E. (2005). Bullying in schools and the mental health of children. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counseling, 15(2), 195–208. doi: 10.1375/ajgc.15.2.195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rubin, K. H., Bukowski, W. M., & Parker, J. G. (2006). Peer interactions, relationships, and groups. In W. Damon, R. M. Lerner, & N. Eisenberg (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology, Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (6th edn., pp. 571–645). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  35. Smith, K. (1995). Positive reinforcement a proactive intervention for the classroom. Minneapolis, MN: Institute on Community Integration. Retrieved from http://www.cehd.umn.edu/ceed/publications/tipsheets/preschoolbehavior/posrein.pdf.
  36. Strayer, J. (1985). Child Rating Questionnaire. Unpublished manuscript, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.Google Scholar
  37. Thompson, R. A., & Goodvin, R. (2005). The individual child: Temperament, emotion, self, and personality. In M. H. Bornstein & M. E. Lamb (Eds.), Developmental Science (5th ed., pp. 391–428). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  38. Warren, S. F., Rogers-Warren, A., & Baer, D. M. (1976). The role of offer rates in controlling sharing by young children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 9, 491–497. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1976.9-491.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  39. Weir, K., Stevenson, J., & Graham, P. (1980). Behavioral deviance and teacher ratings of prosocial behavior. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 19, 68–77.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Berklee College of MusicBostonUSA
  2. 2.University of Nebraska at OmahaOmahaUSA

Personalised recommendations