Preschoolers who take responsibility do better later on

08/02/05

A new study published in Journal of Personality finds that parents who provide their preschoolers with choices and encourage them to take on responsibilities were helping their children in the long run. This pattern of parenting called "autonomy supportive" was shown to lead to high academic and social adjustment in eight-year-olds. Teacher reports and standardized tests showed that this flexible and responsive parenting technique that focused on the child's perspective, explaining the rationale for requests, providing choices, and not using controlling language lead to better outcomes. "Autonomy support was found to increase the odds of children being both high in social and academic adjustment, as well as high in both social adjustment and in reading achievement," the authors state. The results held true regardless of socio-economic status, gender, or IQ.

The study interviewed the mothers of five-year-olds to measure the level of autonomy support and other parenting dimensions. Three years later, the study looked at the children's social adjustment and achievement in reading and math in grade three. "Maternal autonomy support measured in kindergarten was positively associated with social adjustment, academic adjustment, and reading achievement in third grade," the authors cite as their most important finding.

This article is published in the August issue of the Journal of Personality. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net

Journal of Personality publishes scientific investigations in the field of personality. It focuses particularly on personality and behavior dynamics, personality development, and individual differences in the cognitive, affective, and interpersonal domains.

Mireille Joussemet is an assistant professor in Child Clinical Psychology at the University of Montreal. She has extensively examined the role of parents and teachers in promoting children's internalization of values and guidelines. She has recently focused on the role of parents in teaching children to inhibit their aggression. Dr. Joussemet is available for questions and interviews.

Richard Koestner is a professor of psychology at McGill University. His graduate research focused on the motivational effects of rewards and praise. He has published over 80 scientific articles in the areas of human motivation and personality. Dr. Koestner is available for questions and interviews.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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