Moms & Tots Research Project
Starting February 18 through the 22, OSU will hold its annual Research Week where students and faculty will present their findings on various projects with one of those projects focused specifically on the different types of behavioral modeling mothers use with their young children.
“The paper I’m presenting for research week is actually part of a larger study out of the HDFS department called the “Moms & Tots Project,” OSU Ph.D. Student and College of Human Sciences Researcher Sada Knowles said. ”I’m kind of spearheaded by Dr. Bob Larzelere.”
Larzelere originally collected data from 105 mother and toddler pairs, but for this specific analysis, Knowles used video observations of 87 mothers and toddlers during a five-minute clean up task.
“Primarily the mothers were white, and they were mostly married, and toddlers were a pretty good split of boys and girls – moms were average age, about 30, and then toddlers – I think the average age was about 23-24 months,” Knowles said.
For the task, the mothers and toddlers were taken to an observational lab on campus where the mother was asked to fill out research questionnaires while there toddler played with a bucket of toys strategically placed in the room.
“After the mom finished her part with the researchers, we said, ‘Ok, we’d like you to give some instructions to your toddler to clean up the toys and after a minute if they’re having trouble, you’re welcome to help them or kind of give them some additional instruction or encouragement,’” Knowles said.
The five-minute period was then broken down into five-second intervals where researchers identified which different type of behavioral modeling the mother used.
“We called those complete modeling, helpful modeling, and independent modeling,” Knowles said.
The only type of behavioral modeling technique that appeared to predict subsequent compliance from the toddler during the analysis was the helpful modeling method.
“So, a child 18 to 30 months of age – mom picks up the toy and hands it to me and says, “Now go put this in the bin,” – that was most effective in getting the toddler to cooperate with the task,” Knowles said.
Knowles would like for future research to be replicated over a larger age span.
“To see if it maybe is that developmental component that kind of contributes to why helpful modeling – actually assisting with the task seemed to work better in this instance,” Knowles said.
Knowles believes that this specific type of analysis is on the cutting edge of applying multilevel modeling in human research.
“You know, if parents really want their toddler to comply and to be helpful and to kind of learn how to do these tasks like picking up around the house, it’s important that you practice that with your child,” Knowles said.
For more information about Research Week, click here.