An investigation of mothers attributions and affective and behavioural responses to pre-school childrens problem behaviour: a group comparative study

Lorenc, Diana (1997). An investigation of mothers attributions and affective and behavioural responses to pre-school childrens problem behaviour: a group comparative study. PhD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

An independent groups comparative design was used to investigate mothers' attributions and affective-behavioural responses in relation to their pre-school child's problem behaviour. Mothers' beliefs about the age at which children develop aspects of social understanding and skills was also investigated. One group involved mothers whose pre-school child was identified as presenting with a behaviour problem, a second group involved' mothers of a 'non-problem' pre-school child. A premise of the research, however, was that all young children will at times present their parents with behaviour management problems. Participants were recruited from a number of sources, predominantly within community settings. Twenty-one participants were assigned to each group.

The main findings were that groups differed significantly in terms of the extent to which participants believed their child had misbehaved in order to deliberately upset them, with problem group participants rating their child as having acted more intentionally. There was some evidence that groups also differed in relation to the extent to which they believed their cnild had control over the causes of their misbehaviour, with non-problem group participants rating their child as having more control. No group differences were found in terms of mothers' estimates of the age at which children develop a range of skills and understanding.

Groups were also found to differ significantly in the number of child misbehaviour incidents they resolved and the type of behaviour response strategies used. Participants in the non-problem group were more likely to use 'co-operative' responses than those in the problem group. There was also a suggestion of some differences between groups in terms of reported affective responses to child misbehaviour.

Results are discussed in relation to previous research and relevant theoretical literature. Implications for clinical practice and directions for future research are suggested.

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