Childrearing and Helping Behaviors in Young Children
Batory, Anne Heineman
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the parental socialization practices which may be associated with helping behaviors in young children. Symbolic interaction theory and the identification/internalization approach postulate that parental support, discipline style, and focus on responsibility are influential in the socialization process. The research was designed to explore both the simple association between each parental variable and the children's helping behaviors and the effective patterning of these parental influences. The sample for the study consisted of 53 children (22 boys; 31 girls) and their parents. The volunteer families were middle class, mostly two-parent, and affiliated with a college sponsored preschool. The parents completed a Parent Interview Questionnaire which consisted of a measure of parental support (Parental Acceptance – Rejection Questionnaire), discipline style (Hoffman discipline measure), and focus on responsibility (constructed for the study). The naturally occurring behaviors of the children were observed in their preschool and instances of aiding, comforting, sociability, and other behaviors were coded. The findings indicate that there is an association between parental focus on responsibility in the home and young children's helping behaviors. The findings concerning the relationship of parental support and discipline style to children's helping behaviors were more tentative. There was no evidence of a predictive or interactive influence of the parenting variables on young children's helping behaviors. The results were discussed in relation to theoretical predictions and previous research.