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Verbal rationales and modeling as adjuncts to a parenting technique for child noncompliance Davies, Glen Robert

Abstract

Clinical child psychology supposedly bridges the gap between clinical and developmental psychology. Nonetheless, there has been a dearth of communication between the two disciplines. For example, there have been no investigations as to whether various behavioral parenting techniques are differentially effective with children of different ages or whether the developmental literature on the use of rationales and modeling with children might be relevant for behavioral parent training. The purpose of this study was to examine whether maternal use of an extinction (ignoring) procedure was differentially effective depending upon the age of the child and whether its effectiveness could be enhanced by the use of verbal rationales and/or modeling procedures. Experimental sessions took place in a laboratory playroom where the mother issued a set of 20 standard commands to the child. Eighty mother-child pairs were recruited through advertisement and randomly assigned to one of four conditions: Ignoring (mothers implemented an ignoring procedure contingent upon child noncompliance), Rationale (in addition to the above, mothers provided the children with a standardized verbal rationale prior to the session), Modeling (in addition to the ignoring procedure and the rationale, mothers demonstrated the procedure to the child prior to the session), and Control (no consequences for noncompliance). Children were from one of two age ranges: 3-4% years or 5%-7% years. Observational measures of child behavior included initiated compliance (within 5 seconds), completed compliance (within 1 minute), and inappropriate behavior (whining, crying, etc.)- Interobserver agreement was at least 8770 for each behavior. A Parental Satisfaction Questionnaire was developed to assess the social validity of the various procedures. Data were analyzed by analyses of variance. With respect to both measures of compliance, children in the Rationale and Modeling groups were more compliant than children in the Control or Ignoring groups. Older children were more compliant than younger children, regardless of group. With respect to inappropriate behavior, children in the Ignoring group were significantly more inappropriate than children in the other three groups. There were no systematic effects of age. On the Parental Satisfaction Questionnaire, mothers in the Rationale and Modeling Groups were more satisfied with the parenting procedure than mothers in the Ignoring group. These results indicate that having parents provide a verbal rationale and/or model ignoring prior to its use enhances child compliance to maternal commands, reduces the extinction burst phenomenon associated with ignoring, and enhances parental satisfaction with the ignoring procedure. The procedures were equally effective with children of different ages. More generally, the results indicate the relevance of empirical research in developmental psychology for enhancing the effects of child behavior therapy.

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