Arvind Otta, 18 Jan, 2022
As the child grows and makes further advances in ability and understanding, his interactions with his parents become more extensive, more complex, and subtler. By the time the child is in nursery school, parental handling of specific needs such as hunger is less salient in determining the child's personality and behaviours. But general global features of the home atmosphere and parental attitudes become more critical. We refer to qualities like warmth, protectiveness, acceptance, criticism, affectionateness, punitiveness, friction, permissiveness (or restrictiveness), democracy (or authoritarian control), firmness of discipline, and parental involvement with the child. These home and family variables significantly influence children's social behaviour, personality characteristics, and attitudes, as a number of investigations demonstrate.
In one study, conducted at the Fels Institute in Yellow Springs, Ohio, subjects were carefully observed in nursery school and then rated on a wide variety of personality characteristics, such as aggression, dependency, creativity, cooperation, leadership, and originality. A home visitor visited each subject's home, saw him in interactions with his parents, and assessed the home atmosphere on thirty carefully defined scales, for example, protectiveness, affectionateness, acceptance, and severity of penalties. These home ratings fell into clusters or groups of related variables - democracy in the home, control, indulgence, restrictiveness, and activity.
In democratic homes, parents are characteristically permissive, encouraging their children's curiosity and self-expression. Family decisions and rules are generally formulated on the basis of family discussions. In contrast, homes high in control are restrictive and rules are formulated and communicated by the parents. There is little discussion of problems or disciplinary procedures. As you might anticipate, children from these two types of homes showed profound contrasts in personality. Democratic homes produced outgoing, active, competitive, original, curious, planful, self-assertive, and aggressive children. In nursery school, they tended to be leaders, participating energetically in activities, expressing themselves freely, and occasionally behaving in nonconforming ways. Children from highly controlled homes were conforming, socially unaggressive, well-behaved, quiet, lacking in curiosity and originality, and inhibited in self-expression.
Clearly the behaviour that the children manifested in school was a generalization of the responses rewarded and learned at home. Curiosity and spontaneity, rewarded by democratic parents, were carried over into nursery school. And so were the conformity and acquiescence to parental demands, as well as suppression of curiosity learned at home. and self-expression, that the children of highly controlling parents
In another study, conducted by Baumrind, nursery-school children were intensively observed and then rated on self-control, curiosity about new and exciting stimuli, self-reliance, warmth, and general mood.