Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Message to moms

17.05.2004


Let go, kids will do better in school



What can parents do to help children who are doing poorly in school? To investigate this question, we conducted two studies examining interactions between mothers and their elementary school-aged children over simulated schoolwork and after real-life failures.

In the first study, we evaluated 110 mothers’ use of control and their support of autonomy as they assisted their children with a simulated homework task. When the mothers assisted in a controlling manner, such as directing their children’s behavior, children who initially did poorly at the tasks became disengaged, showing a lack of concentration. In contrast, when mothers supported their child’s autonomy, such as offering nods of approval for their children’s independent work, the struggling child’s performance improved.


Such an "autonomy-support" approach allows children to explore their environment independently. For instance, parents may discuss a situation, but the children must decide for themselves what is important and generate their own problem-solving strategies. Such experiences may be especially likely to benefit children who are struggling.

In the second study, we examined the mothers’ use of control and autonomy support when they responded to their children’s real life failures. Here, 121 mothers reported every night for two weeks on whether their children did poorly on something that day--such as struggling with a school assignment, fighting at school, or not doing chores at home--and how they (the mothers) responded.

When mothers used controlling responses, such as punishing children or saying they were disappointed, children doing poorly in school performed poorly again the next day, and their grades declined six months later. When mothers used the autonomy-supportive response of discussing failures with their children, children doing poorly in school improved the next day and their grades improved six months later.

The findings send a poignant message: If parents intervene in a controlling way by issuing commands, doing assigned tasks for their kids, or rushing their children, struggling children become disengaged. They may then do even more poorly at school over time. It appears that when mothers respond to their children in a manner that supports autonomy, it results in increases in the children’s performance immediately. Perhaps most importantly, children’s school grades improve over time.

These two studies suggest that if parents want to help their low-achieving children improve their school performance, taking an autonomy-supportive approach rather than a controlling approach is vital. This may be of particular importance when interacting with low-achieving children because they already receive feedback in school that they lack competence.

As a consequence, children may look to their parents to help them feel more competent. When parents are controlling, they may inhibit children from developing important abilities and convey to children that they lack competence. In contrast, when parents are autonomy-supportive, they may aid children in building their competencies while also letting them know that they are capable of independent work.

In both studies, we found that mothers’ responses made no difference in children who were doing well, regardless of the approach. However, we emphasize that parents of high-achieving children should not avoid involvement in their children’s lives. Current work suggests that when mothers are present to assist high-achieving children, it results in fewer negative emotions, such as depression.


Summarized from Child Development, Vol. 75, Issue 3, Children’s Achievement Moderates the Effects of Mothers’ Use of Control and Autonomy Support by F.F. Ng, G.A. Kenney-Benson, and E.M. Pomerantz. Copyright 2004 The Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. All rights reserved.

Karen Melnyk | EurekAlert!

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>