Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When will children disobey parents? It depends on the rule

Date:
March 26, 2010
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
A study of 60 4- to 7-year-olds that considers the connections between control over issues within children's personal domain, identity, and emotional well-being has found that children make important distinctions between different kinds of rules. Using role-playing situations, the researchers learned how children would act and feel when a parent forbids them from engaging in a desired activity. The findings suggest that children make important distinctions between different kinds of rules when reasoning about decisions and emotions.

As all parents know, children often want to do exactly what their parents don't want them to do. In three areas that children often consider parts of their personal domain -- clothing, friendship, and leisure activities -- having a degree of choice over decisions is important for children's sense of identity and mental health. A new study that considered connections between control over issues within children's personal domain, identity, and emotional well-being has found that children make important distinctions between different kinds of rules.

The study was carried out by researchers at the University of California, Davis, the University of Illinois, Chicago, and Brock University in Ontario, Canada. It is published in the March/April 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers looked at the beliefs of 60 4- to 7-year-olds about how child characters in role-playing situations would act and feel when a parent forbids them from engaging in a desired activity. At times, the parent's rule intruded on the child's personal domain (as in, you shouldn't play with a particular friend, take part in a certain activity, or wear certain clothes), while in others, the parent's rule fell within the moral domain (as in, you shouldn't hit or steal).

From ages 4 to 7, children's predictions that the characters would comply with moral rules (such as prohibitions against stealing) and feel good about doing so rose significantly, suggesting that between these ages, children become increasingly aware of the limits to legitimate disobedience. In stark contrast, children of all ages predicted that the characters would frequently break parents' rules when those rules intruded on the personal domain and that this disobedience would feel good, particularly when the desired activities were described as essential to the character's sense of identity.

"The findings suggest that children make important distinctions between different kinds of rules when reasoning about decisions and emotions," notes Kristin Hansen Lagattuta, associate professor of psychology and the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, who led the study. Previous research has shown that "although the particulars of what gets defined as the personal domain can vary across cultural settings, the establishment of a zone of personal choice and privacy appears to be culturally universal," she adds.

"These results have practical implications for parents and educators," Lagattuta suggests. "Foremost, they argue for balance in promoting morality in young children -- not only restricting actions that they shouldn't do, but helping them identify situations where they can assert personal control."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kristin Hansen Lagattuta, Larry Nucci, Sandra Leanne Bosacki. Bridging Theory of Mind and the Personal Domain: Children's Reasoning About Resistance to Parental Control (p 616-635). Child Development, 2010; 81 (2): 616 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01419.x

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "When will children disobey parents? It depends on the rule." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100325091419.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2010, March 26). When will children disobey parents? It depends on the rule. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100325091419.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "When will children disobey parents? It depends on the rule." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100325091419.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) A study for University College London suggests obese people who are discriminated against gain more weight than those who are not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins