In this article articlePosted February 09, 2018 07:11:38A young child may not know what a reward is or whether he or she deserves it.
A new study has found that children who are exposed to positive reinforcement from their parents’ faces are more likely to learn from them.
The findings, published in the journal Psychological Science, were based on a series of experiments that asked preschoolers to play games that rewarded them with prizes, such as a “pink” balloon or a “black box”.
Participants in the studies were instructed to show their parents a picture of a pink balloon that would drop into a black box, and to then choose whether to try to catch the balloon or not.
Participants were also given instructions to show a picture that their parents were happy to see in the picture and to choose whether they would try to retrieve it from the black box.
The children were then shown a video of the parent and child laughing together, with the parents laughing more often and the child laughing less often.
The researchers found that the children who received positive reinforcement showed an increase in their ability to identify the parent’s happiness and reward themselves with a reward when they were in the group, but that they were more likely not to recover from the experience when they had not received positive rewards.
This is because they had been taught to associate positive reinforcement with positive rewards, which may not have been the case when they played the games, the researchers said.
“Children who had been exposed to parents who are happy are more apt to learn when they’re in the right conditions,” said Dr Rebecca Knecht, who led the study from the University of California, San Diego, and is an associate professor of developmental psychology at UC San Diego.
“This suggests that parents who reward their children by rewarding them with rewards may encourage children to take on more tasks in which they are not rewarded.”
This effect was especially apparent in children who were exposed to parental praise, which is when parents praise their children for doing something good.
Dr Knech and her colleagues also found that parents did not appear to influence their children’s expectations of rewards, such that children in the control group were still more likely than those in the reward group to expect that the parent would receive a reward if they chose to catch a balloon.
“Parents who reward children with rewards for good behavior tend to be more positive about their children, which suggests that they are more attuned to the experiences of children in their care,” Dr Kneoch said.
The results suggest that parents may provide a positive environment for children in need of positive reinforcement, such in helping them to develop a sense of self, she added.
“Although parents might not always be doing it for the good of their child, they may be doing so because it is part of their parental relationship,” Dr Wiebes said.
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