How to Raise a Moral Child

Annabelle Cella, Ford Martin, Marielle Cohen


According to research scientist Diana Baumrind, there are four parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and rejecting-neglecting.  Authoritative parents are demanding yet responsive, authoritarian parents are demanding but lack the responsive quality, permissive parents are responsive but not demanding and rejecting-neglecting parents are neither demanding nor responsive.  While many parents do not fit cleanly into just one of these categories at all times, it is believed that overall authoritative parenting rears the most self-confident and motivated child.  A recently released New York Times article titled “Raising a Moral Child,” defends this point entirely.  The article claims that the most effective parenting included praising the child in response to good behavior as well as giving consequences out for bad behavior (Grant).  This encompasses the qualities of an authoritative parent, as the parents are supposed to be responsive and praising to the child when he or she is good but stern and demanding when he or she is not. An adolescent who was praised when good and punished when bad growing up is believed be higher in social and academic competence, self-reliant, and have relatively lower drug and alcohol abuse problems.

In the article, Grant points out that research has indicated that in children as young as two years old, praise is more effective than rewards. He says that with rewards, parents run the risk leading children to be kind and do what they are told only when there is a reward such as a treat. Praise, on the other hand, shows that sharing is essentially worth it for its own sake. The key is to figure out which type of praise parents should give when children show early signs of generosity, as well as finding a balance between giving rewards for certain actions without the children expecting them for every action.

On the topic of praise, Research scientist B. F. Skinner conducted a study that concurs with this idea of Grant’s. Skinner believed that operant conditioning, or the use of reinforcements, is the best approach to behavior modification, which is the change of undesirable behaviors in children.  According to Skinner “attention can by itself serve as a powerful reinforcer” (Seigler, DeLoache, Eisenberg). While Skinner believed in reinforcements, he believed that reinforcements did not have to be a treat or something of that sort, but that attention in and of itself is one of the best reinforcements.  This coincides with the article’s claim that praise is the best way to get a child to behave in a certain way, because attention is a for of praise.

While Watson has proved that rewards can be used positively as a form of therapy or systematic desensitization, he also points out how it is very important that parents not reward their children with stimuli after every positive occurrence. Skinner also talks about how intermittent reinforcement, which is inconsistent response to the behavior of another person i.e. rewarding a child for a certain action sometimes and not others. This reinforcement confuses children and will lead them to expect rewards after everything they do. This research further confirms Grant’s article that reinforcements can, in many cases, do more harm than good.  If children expect a reward every time they do something good, they start doing good things just for the reward rather than because it is the right thing to do.

Research conducted by Claudia Mueller and Carol Dweck in 1998 revealed that not only are parents supposed to praise their children rather than offer them reinforcements for good behavior, but they are supposed to praise effort rather than ability. According to the textbook, there are two achievement motivation orientations: entity/helpless orientation and incremental/mastery orientation. People with the entity/helpless orientation tend to attribute success and failure to aspects of the self and believe intelligence is fixed, so they give up in the face of failure.  People with incremental/mastery orientation, on the other hand, tend to attribute success and failure to the amount of effort expended and view intelligence as ever growing instead of fixed. When faced with failure, they tend to persist.  Praising efforts rather than ability, as Mueller and Dweck suggest, allows children to develop an incremental/mastery orientation, because they are taught to focus more on effort rather than the outcome.  This allows them to see more room for growth and persist in the face of failure.

Praising and punishing children in the correct way for their actions can shape their development of self in several ways, one of the main being that it teaches them to feel guilt rather than shame. According to Grant, “Shame is the feeling that I am a bad person,  whereas guilt is the feeling that I have done a bad thing,” (Grant).  While the two emotions typically get mixed up, one is much worse than the other.  Shame is a negative judgment about the core self, while guilt is just a negative judgment of a certain action.  In a study conducted by Karen Caplovitz Barrett that was outlined in the textbook and touched upon in the article children were given a doll that was fixed to break when played with.  When the experimenter left the room, the doll’s leg broke off and the children who felt guilt acted very different than the children who felt shame.  The guilty children tried to fix the doll and told the experimenter what happened right when she returned, while the shameful children avoided the researcher and did not tell her what happened. The children who acted more admirably and owned up to the mistake were those who experienced guilt rather than shame, and guilt is emphasized over shame when a parent praises the efforts of a child rather than their overall abilities.

To conclude, the textbook outlines several aspects of raising a moral child that are corroborated by the New York Times article as well as several scientific studies.  The general consensus of psychologists and researches alike is that praising children rather than rewarding them is more beneficial for their overall behaviors, and praising effort rather than ability is more beneficial for the character of the child. All of this stems back to the type of parenting that the parents conduct, which is outlined by Baumrind’s parenting chart.



Baumrind’s Parenting Styles [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from   

Grant, A. (2014, April 11). Raising a Moral Child. Retrieved April 17, 2014, from The New York Times website: child.html?_r=0guilty-looking-boy [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from 250×250-682321.jpg?w=225&h=225

Praise for intelligence can undermine children’s motivation and performance. Mueller, Claudia M.; Dweck, Carol S.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 75(1), Jul 1998, 33-52.   doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.75.1.33

Praising-Child [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from content/uploads/2010/07/praising-child.jpg

Siegler, R., DeLoache, J., & Eisenberg, N. (2011). How Children Develop (3rd ed.). New York City:  Worth Publishers.



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Facial Expressions and Emotions

By: Claire Nassif & Greer Shellow


When given an array of pictures with human faces, many people can distinguish the emotions that are associated with different facial expressions. However, there has been much debate in recent years over how we can distinguish these different emotions by one’s facial expression and whether these facial expressions necessarily link to emotion or if they simply appear to. Even more, recent research has exposed that there may be more discernible categories of emotions than originally conceived to be seen through facial expressions. Until recently, scientists believed that there are six basic categories of emotion, including happiness, surprise, anger, sadness, fear, and disgust. However, new research suggest that there are many more categories that encompass human emotion. This article will explore the connection between facial expression and true emotion and the variability in discernible emotions from facial expressions.


The History

Paul Ekman and Carroll Izard pioneered the study of facial expressions in the late 1960s. Their work investigated the link between facial expressions and basic emotions. From their research, Ekman and Izard conceived that one can tell a person’s true emotions based on their facial expression. Others disagreed with these findings, including Fridlund, who contended that facial expressions have more to do with those who perceive the facial expressions rather than those who present them. Therefore, Fridlund disagreed that facial expression shows the feelings of the person, but instead catalyzes action based on the person viewing the facial expression. For example, when a person smiles, this initiates further social interaction with another because that other person conceives the interaction positively. However, the smile on this person’s face may not entail true happiness. Further, Fridlund found that facial expressions facilitated pivotal points in social interaction, such as during social greetings.


Is there more to basic emotions than we think?

In a recent study by Du, Tao and Martinez, they found that the six basic categories of emotion that are known to be differentiable through facial expression may not be enough to cover all of the visible emotion categories. The study included 230 human subjects and a Facial Action Coding System analyzed the facial expressions of these participants through pictures. The study resulted in 15 new found emotion categories that each represent a specific configuration of certain facial muscles that can be differentiated between. However, these new emotion categories are not basic, such as happiness, surprise, anger, sadness, fear, and disgust, but instead compound emotions. They include a basic emotion as well as a subordinate category, resulting in categories such as happily disgusted, sadly fearful, and angrily surprised, etc. These are significant findings because science for the most part has accepted the six basic categories, which may have limited other important research about humans and how we process emotions. By defining these new categories of emotion, this may lead to new ways of researching psychiatric disorders, such as PTSD and schizophrenia. Further, there may be technological implications, such as improving human-computer interaction systems.





Can Facial Expressions Elicit Emotion?

One point of controversy arouse around Ekman’s discovery that voluntarily making a facial expression could prompt an emotion. Have you ever heard that smiling will make you happier? Well, studies show it’s true. At least, manipulating your facial muscles into a smile can create a subjective feeling of happiness. Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as the “facial feedback hypothesis.” Multiple studies have tested this hypothesis, one of which is the pen in mouth test. Research participants were told to hold a pen using different parts of their body, as if they were disabled. First, the participants had to hold a pen with their lips, which inhibited the zygomaticus major or risorius muscles associated with smiling, and were asked to write using their mouths. Then, they had to hold the pen with strictly their teeth, creating a smile on the participants’ faces, though they were not aware. When asked to rate the funniness of cartoons after the experiment, the cartoons seemed funnier when the participated rated them with the pen in between their teeth. So, if you’re ever feeling down, just smile (or hold a pen in between your teeth) and you will make yourself happier. Happiness is that easy.



Facial Expressions and Language

In a study by David Havas, researchers tested whether or not facial expressions affect one’s emotional interpretation of written language. 40 participants were given Botox treatments to inhibit the movement of the forehead muscles that cause brow-furrowing involved in frowning. The participants then had to read different “happy” or “sad” emotions. Those with the inability to furrow their brows took longer to process the sad or angry sentences after Botox treatment than before. However, the Botox did not affect their ability to process the happy sentences at the same speed. The finding that facial expression can be linked to language comprehension was groundbreaking to the study of emotions.



Works Cited

Azar, Beth. “What’s in a Face?” Monitor 31.1 (2000): n. pag. Jan. 2000. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

Du, Shichuan, Yong Tau, and Aleix M. Martinez. “Compound Facial Expressions of Emotion.” PNAS (2014): n. pag. Mar.-Apr. 2014. Web. Mar.-Apr. 2014.

Nauert, Rick. “Facial Expressions Control Emotions – Psych Central News. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Strack, Fritz, Leonard L. Martin, and Sabine Stepper. “Inhibiting and Facilitating Conditions of the Human Smile: A Nonobtrusive Test of the Facial Feedback Hypothesis.” Journal of personality and social psychology 54.5 (1988): 768-77. ProQuest. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Wilson, Jacque. “Happily Disgusted? 15 New Emotions ID’d.” CNN. Cable News Network, 01. Jan. 1970. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.


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Traditional Parenting Styles: Tried and True? Or Dated? An Analysis Baumrind’s Parenting Styles and Modern Parenting Advice

By Emmanuel Boateng and Brent Cleveland


A parent is one of the most significant influences in child development.  One area of a child development in which a parent has a great deal of influence is the socialization of the child.  Parental socialization is responsible for teaching children the values, skills, knowledge, and behavior that are considered appropriate for the present and future within a given culture (Siegler et al., 469).  Children experience parental socialization via 3 broad practices: direct instruction by parents, indirect socialization through parents’ own behavior, and social management by parents (Siegler et al., 469).  Although parental socialization seems straightforward according to these 3 categories, it becomes increasingly complex when one considers the various parenting styles and techniques. Parenting practices are different within each family, thus when parents struggle to raise their children, identifying their mistakes, seeking assistance, and incorporating new practices can be a daunting task.  The aim of this article is to compare and contrast the Diana Baumrind’s four traditional parenting styles with the advice of more recent media in the hopes of identifying the foundation for healthy, successful parenting techniques. Are Baumrind’s ideas dated?  Are the new perspectives misleading?  Are the concepts of modern parenting advice merely disguised versions of Baumrind’s original theory?  What can be learned from both sources of parenting techniques?  These questions and more will be considered going forward.

Diana Baumrind conducted pioneering research on parenting styles. In her research, she found four basic elements that helped create her parenting styles: responsiveness vs. unresponsiveness and demanding vs. undemanding. Using this idea, Baumrind differentiated between four parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and rejecting-neglecting. The authoritative style is high in demandingness and responsiveness. Measured and consistent in disciple, parents who employ this style set clear cut standards for their children and are very firm about enforcing them. However, they allow their children autonomy within the limits, are not intrusive or restrictive, and are able to engage in calm conversation and reasoning with their children. Moreover, they are responsive to their children’s needs and communicate openly with them. An example of authoritative parenting is as follows: When Kareem takes away Troy’s toy, Kareem’s mother takes him aside, points out that the toy belongs to Troy and that Kareem has made Troy upset. She also says, “Remember our rule about taking others’ things. Now think about how to make things right with Troy.” Her tone is firm but not hostile, and she waits to see if Kareem returns the toy (Siegler et al., 469-471). In contrast to authoritative, authoritarian parenting is high in demandingness and low in responsiveness. Parents who use this type of parenting are unresponsive to their children’s needs and not open to communication. They employ and enforce strict rules and demands using parental power and threats. They expect their children to comply with their rules without questions or explanations and require complete obedience from their children. An example of authoritarian parenting is as follows: When Elene takes Mark’s toy, Elene’s mother comes over, grabs her arm, and says in an angry voice, “Haven’t I warned you about taking others’ things? Return that toy now or you will not be able to watch TV tonight. I’m tired of you disobeying me!” (Siegler et al., 471).

As the complete opposite of authoritarian, permissive parenting is high in responsiveness and low in demandingness. Permissive parents are responsive to their children; however, they do not set limits for them and do not try to regulate their behavior or control them. A scenario of permissive parenting is as follows: When Jeff takes away Angelina’s toy, Jeff ’s mother does not intervene. She doesn’t like to discipline her son and usually does not try to control his actions, even though she is affectionate with him in other situations (Siegler et al., 471). Finally, the last type of parenting style discovered by Baumrind was the rejecting-neglecting style. This style of parenting is low in both demandingness and responsiveness. Rejecting-neglecting parents do not set limits for their children and are unresponsive to their needs. They are unresponsive, focused more on themselves and their needs, often times rejecting or neglecting their child as a whole. An example of this parenting is as follows: When Heather takes away Alonzo’s toy, Heather’s mother, as she does in most situations, pays no attention. She generally is not very involved with her child and would prefer that her husband deal with disciplining Heather. Even when Heather behaves well, her mother rarely hugs her or expresses approval of Heather or her behavior (Siegler et al., 471).





Diana Baumrind’s groundbreaking work has helped many parents identify their parental styles and adjust accordingly for the betterment of their children. However, her ideas were developed in 1973, three decades ago and with time things change and new ideas are created; parenting styles are no exception. Helicopter, instinctive, gentle, free range, faith-based, and the American dreamer parenting are all modern styles that have sprung up in addition to Baumrind’s parental styles.


  • Helicopter parenting, as its name suggests, involves the parent’s constant interaction and often interference in their children’s lives. While this type of parenting is used to ensure the safety of their children, it has side effects. “Too much of this style of parenting and children can become dependent on their parents’ money, time and advice past their college years and into their professional careers,” (McGolerick, Parenting Styles of the New Generation)
  • Instinctive Parenting is when parents use their gut to parent. The instinctive parent uses their own personal flavor of parenting, usually influenced by their own style of upbringing. “In other words, as an instinctive parent you’re more likely to teach what you know and parent the way you were parented” (McGolerick, Parenting Styles of the New Generation)
  • Gentle Parenting involves “raising children with kindness and respect, with an emphasis on natural family issues, such as extended breastfeeding” (Cortes, 8 Controversial Styles)
  • Free Range parenting is a hands-off approach to parenting that involves stepping back and giving your children great autonomy and freedom, along with its responsibilities.
  • Faith-based parenting is a type of style in which parents rely on their religious teachings and parent based on moralities.
  • American Dreamer parenting involves being optimistic about your children’s opportunities and schooling. Parents in this group “tend to share their emotions with their children, and are likely to hope they’ll one day be ‘best friends’ with their adult kids” (Krueger, Parenting Styles in U.S.).

In our search of different parenting styles, we came across the same styles under different names. Although some of these modern parenting styles seem different, such as the faith-based parenting, they all reflect and build off of Baumrind’s four parenting styles. Furthermore some of these styles should not even be called a type of parenting. Our critiques and comments are as follows:


  • The helicopter style of parenting seems to be a type of authoritative parenting, in which parents actively interfere with their children’s lives. However, I disagree with the article’s critique of the style; unless the children have developed an insecure/resistant type of attachment, the clinginess aspect should not develop.
  • Instinctive parenting should not be classified as another style.  Developmental concepts have shown that most parents will parent similar to how they parent and develop attachment types with their children similar to the type they had with their own parents. Therefore, a style of parenting based on something most parents do habitually is not needed.
  • Gentle and American Dreamer parenting both seem to fall under authoritative with a greater emphasis on responsiveness than demandingness. Both of these styles emphasize emotion and sensitivity to children.
  • Free Range parenting appears to be a less extreme version of rejecting-neglecting parenting.

What the lack of ingenuity says is that Baumrind’s styles were revolutionary. They are so great at representing modern parents today that, the so-called “new modern parenting styles” are either renamed Baumrind’s parenting styles or are heavily influenced by them. Is there a lack development since Baumrind’s era? Perhaps. However, this lack of development or difference can only be attributed to how developed Baumrind’s ideas were at the time.

In conclusion, the simplicity of the Baumrind’s two measures of parenting styles, responsiveness and demandingness, are the ideal factors for struggling parents to consider.  They are not only at the core of Baumrind’s traditional styles, but they are also the basis for the more modern styles discussed in the media today.  One cannot expect to find a “secret” to good parenting; however, parents who strive to be both responsive and demanding, albeit in a supportive manner, will have a solid foundation for their children’s development.

Works Cited

Cortes, Denise. “8 Controversial Parenting Styles.” BabyCenter Blog. N.p., 17 Aug. 2012. Web.18 Apr. 2014.

Krueger, Megan. “Researchers Identify Four New Parenting Styles in U.S.” Featured Articles. N.p., 26dec Dec. 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

McGolerick, Elizabeth W. “5 Parenting Styles for a New Generation.” Parenting RSS. N.p., 13 Sept. 2011. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Siegler, Robert S., Judy S. DeLoache, and Nancy Eisenberg. How Children Develop. New York:Worth, 2006. Print.


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Sugar and Spice and Every Not Nice

Sugar and Spice and Every Not Nice

By Amanda Mannis and Sophia Premji

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We’ve all seen pictures of ultrasounds where the fetus tends to resemble more of a creature from another planet than a human. Despite this, fetuses in the womb develop and experience the very basic, essential things humans do. Fetuses in the womb experience stimulation through the external stimuli of the five senses very early on. So from where do the stimuli originate? None other than external factors through the mother! This is why it is essential that mothers take care of themselves and don’t allow harmful external factors to interfere with the development of their baby.

Teratogens Hazardous to Prenatal Development

●       According to Siegler, DeLoache, and Eisenberg (2011), “Teratogens are external agents that can cause damage or even death during prenatal development” (p 59).

Legal Drugs

Despite being legal, many over-the-counter (OTC) drugs have harmful side effects that can cause much damage to the fetus. This is why it is vital for women who are pregnant (or think they might be pregnant) to talk to her physician before taking any prescription drug.

Two popular legal “drugs” that have destructive side effects are cigarettes and alcohol. Cigarettes are harmful because they contain the toxin nicotine. Nicotine decreases the amount of oxygen one’s body is able to consume. Research done by Ernst, Moolchan, and Robinson (2009) shows that prenatal exposure to nicotine may lead to deregulation in neurodevelopment and indicate higher risk for psychiatric problems, including substance abuse. Nicotine may also cause retarded growth and increased risk of the fetus developing SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Despite the knowledge of the harmful effects of cigarettes, about thirteen percent of women continue to smoke during pregnancy (Siegler, DeLoache, and Eisenberg, 2011).

Alcohol is one of the most common teratogens during pregnancy. According to the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, eighteen percent of women drink alcohol during early   pregnancy (2011, 2012). [See Chart 1]

Chart 1

When a pregnant woman drinks, the alcohol in her blood crosses with the placenta, a blood vessel rich organ that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake. Repeated abuse of drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in the fetus. FAS can cause facial deformities, retardation, attention problems, and hyperactivity (Siegler, DeLoache, and Eisenberg, 2011). [See Figure 2]

Illegal drugs

Approximately four percent of women in the United States use illegal drugs while pregnant (DHHS, 2006). Some of these illegal drugs include cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and marijuana. Exposure to cocaine can cause growth retardation and premature birth in the fetus (Hawley & Disney 1992; Singer et al., 2002), while marijuana can affect memory and visual skills (Fried & Smith, 2001; Mereu et al. 2003). Mothers should not only stay away from harmful drugs while not pregnant, but even more so while they are impregnated.

Environmental Pollutants

Although humans are naturally exposed to toxins such as the plastic in cups one drinks from or factories around homes, these pollutants can still have an effect on prenatal development. In a study in California, researchers evaluated the effect of air pollution on the occurrence of birth defects ascertained by the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program in neonates and fetuses delivered in 1987–1993. The results found that there was a sensitive period where exposure to these pollutants caused birth defects in these fetuses (Ritz et., al. 2001). However, one cannot all avoid pollutants in the earth’s atmosphere.

Occupational Hazards

Environmental influences in the workplace are another hazard imposed on fetuses. Many women have jobs that force them to be in contact with harmful chemicals, around loud noises, etc. Although this might have been a concern in past decades, today workplaces usually offer a 6-8 week maternity leave.

Maternal Hazards to Prenatal Development


It is important for women to be cognizant of how the age at which they are having their child will impact their pregnancy. Infants born to mothers who are aged fifteen or younger are three to four times more likely to die before their first birthday. On the other hand, infants born to older mothers are likely to have a greater risk for abnormalities and birth complications (Siegler, DeLoache, and Eisenberg, 2011). According to a study done to test the impact of advance maternal on fetuses, it was determined that women above the age of forty-five should take special precautions due to the increased risk of complications for their fetuses. Infants born to mothers of this age group are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic hypertension, hypothyroidism, karotype abnormalities, and gestational diabetes (Dildy et al., 1996).


It is also important for soon-to-be mothers to remember the importance of remaining healthy during their pregnancies! Your fetus will be entirely dependent on you to provide all the necessary nutrients, and it is important for your growing baby to get those nutrients! Malnutrition during pregnancy can have a dramatic on the infant’s brain development; infants who have been malnourished while in the womb are more likely to have smaller brains and are more unresponsive and irritable (Siegler, DeLoache, and Eisenberg, 2011). A study done in 2003 gave proof of the negative outcomes that result from under-nutrition of mothers due to the fact that fetuses do not simply take necessary nutrients from its mother, but rather depend on their mothers to provide a steady supply of nutrients. The study showed that an inadequate intake of essential nutrients might compromise the health of the fetus, the mother, or both (King, 2003).


It is essential that all mothers ensure that they are up-to-date on all of their vaccines before becoming pregnant. Any disease contracted during the development of the fetus can lead to devastating developmental issues for the fetus, including deformations and mental retardation. Given the prevalence of STDs, women should ensure that they are tested due to the dangers they can impose on the developing fetus. Often times the infection from an STD can be passed on to the infant in the womb, during birth, or through breast milk after birth (Siegler, DeLoache, and Eisenberg, 2011). A study done on pregnant adolescents living in inner-city areas showed six major sexually transmitted diseases have severe and negative consequences on fetal development. Especially since the prevalence of STDs is rising among the younger population, it is important that mothers-to-be take precautions to ensure that they are visiting their doctors regularly and are being checked for diseases that they could potentially pass on to their infant (Hardy et al., 1984)

Maternal emotional state:

It has been proven that a mother’s emotional state will impact her fetus. A recent study has shown that infants born to mothers who were highly distressed during their pregnancy had more behavioral problems, higher levels of inattention, and more emotional problems. It is important that mothers remain positive and healthy during their pregnancies in order to ensure their children will not develop any behavioral issues later on (Siegler, DeLoache, and Eisenberg, 2011). For many mothers it is easy to forget to remain relaxed during pregnancy especially in making sure that

everything is prepared for when your newborn child arrives! However, it is absolutely essential for mothers to be calm throughout their pregnancy so as to prevent later issues that could have been completely avoided.


As a soon-to-be mother it is important to remember that you are providing your fetus with all the stimuli that they will experience during your pregnancy. It is important to be mindful of dangers that you can impose on your fetus with hazardous legal and illegal drugs, pollutants, and occupational hazards. Furthermore, it is also important for mothers to remain cognizant of underlying hazards that their fetus is subject to such as maternal age, nutrition, disease, and emotional state. As long as you stay happy, healthy, and safe during your pregnancy, you will be well on your way to motherhood in nine short months!



18 Percent of Pregnant Women Drink Alcohol during Early Pregnancy. (2013, September 10). . Retrieved April 15, 2014, from

Dildy, G. A., Jackson, M. G., Fowers, G. K., Oshiro, B. T., Varner, M. W., & Clark, S. L. (1996). Very advanced maternal age: Pregnancy after age 45. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology,175, 668-674.

Hardy, P. H., Nell, E. E., Spence, M. R., Hardy, J. B., Graham, D. A., & Rosenbaum, R. C. (1984). Prevalence of Six Sexually Transmitted Disease Agents Among Pregnant Inner-City Adolescents and Pregnancy Outcome .The Lancelet, , 333-337.

King, J. C. (2003). The Risk of Maternal Nutritional Depletion and Poor Outcomes Increases in Early or Closely Spaced Pregnancies. The Journal of Nutrition, 1732-1736.

Ritz, B., Yu, F., Fruin, S., Chapa, G., Shaw, G., & Harris, J. (2001). Ambient Air Pollution and Risk of Birth Defects in Southern California. American Journal of Epidemiology, 155, 17-25.

Robinson, M. L., Moolchan, E., & Ernst, M. (2009). Behavioral And Neural Consequences Of Prenatal Exposure To Nicotine. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 630-641.

Siegler, R. S., DeLoache, J. S., & Eisenberg, N. (2011). How children develop (3rd ed.). New         York: Worth Publishers.


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Views on parenting

by Aidan Moretti and Shirlene Wang


Ask Americans what is most important in their lives, and it’s clear that families come first. In a November 2010 Pew Research study, 76% of adults say that their family is the single most important element of their lives. This is a value that remains true across key demographic characteristics such as gender, age, and race.


Traditionally, we define a family a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. Now, the definition of family is changing to include family types such as unmarried parents, gay parents, couples without children, and single parents. An interesting piece of data from the Pew Research study conducted in collaboration with Time magazine shows that when analyzing what Americans constitute as a family, people believe the presence of children made a non-traditional family model seem more family like. According to the survey, “Virtually all respondents (99%) agree that a married couple with children fit in their definition of family.” However, only 88% agree that a married couple without children is a family. The people polled were more accepting of a gay couple if the couple had adopted a child. 63% of the population agrees that a same-sex couple with children is a family while only 45% agree a same-sex couple without children constitutes a family. The modern definition of family revolves around the presence of children.


For many Americans, being a good parent is “one of the most important things in their life,” more so than “having a successful marriage”. But parenthood correlates with the value that people place on family. 82% of all parents say family is the most important part of their lives, compared with 60% of adults who are not parents. No matter what the family type is, adults in families that include children place a higher value on family than do those in families without children.


It is obvious why we as humans value parenting; the biological purpose of life is to reproduce. But as individuals, reasons for parenting are more varied. Members of the Yahoo! Answers community reasons such as “Because it is what life is all about,” “As an expression of love between two people,” “To add great richness to your life,” and “To pass on your own genes”. America is obsessed with the idea and image of parenting. Our current interest in kids and parenting is neither normal nor historical. The “parenthood” concept is, in fact, a recent invention, a type of obsession, and even a form of insanity. Magazines and experts, like in Parenting magazine, arrived on the scene about a century ago and turned child care into a science. Parenthood has become a kind of magical ideal—a role impossible to actually fulfill due to time, personality, or financial constraints—think June Cleaver, or her modern equivalent, Angelina Jolie. Parenthood is not only supposed to take over our schedules and bank accounts, but transform our identities. When you have a kid, you are no longer an adult or an individual—you are a parent.


Many people now are becoming parents because they assume becoming a parent will make them happy. When mothers who gave birth in 2008 were asked why they decided to have their first (or only) child, the overwhelming majority of parents (87%) answered, “They joy of having children.” The image of the joy of parenting is constantly illuminated in the media. In a guest post for “Motherlode: Adventures in Parenting” a side blog of The New York Times, Anna Quindlen looks back on all the chapters of parenting. As she describes:


“And toddlers — they were great, too. The way they would march across the lawn once they acquired motor skills, then run back to the shelter of mom legs, then sally forth again. The way they would mangle their words and chew their consonants and name things obsessively: Hot dog. Big bird. Good boy. The way they would dress themselves and then wind up looking as though they’d done so in the dark, color-blind.”


These positive images of the exploration and wonder of toddlers have been observed by all of us. However, the article leaves out details of the pains of parenting. Biased articles only highlighting the joys of parenting do not present a realistic image for young impressionable people. Happiness should not factor prominently into people’s decisions to have children. Americans choose to have children for many reasons, but the presence of children in a family always makes life more difficult as it is more responsibility. Children may provide moments of joy, but they also provide frustration, anxiety, and heartbreak.


When asked characteristics of a good parent, people often list characteristics such as “responsive, involved, supportive, flexible, nurturing, patient, loving, and balanced.” Parenting style is defined as behaviors and actions that determine parent-child interactions. According to psychologist Diana Baumrind, the best parents have two aspects that are particularly important: the degree of parental warmth (support and acceptance) and parental expectations. Parents who do not have time for their children are failing them.


Attachment style influences a child’s internal working model. Their relationship with their caregiver influences their future attachments. One of the factors that influence a child’s identity formation is parenting. Neglect and feelings of rejection lead to an identity diffusion status. The child has no sense of his or her identity but doesn’t make an effort or commitment to develop one.


Everyone should be able to be a parent. However, being a parent is a privilege that people should never enter blindly. Becoming a parent is a serious commitment. Parents have a responsibility to develop a relationship with their child. But it takes work—in more ways than just financial. Children are more than happiness and fun and being loved.  If one is not ready to take on the responsibility, one should not take on the task. It is unfair to children to live an unfulfilled life because their parents aren’t prepared for the responsibility.


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Parental Influence on the Emotional Development of Children

Parental Influence on the Emotional Development of Children

by Bethel Moges and Kristi Weber

When most people think of parenting, they picture changing diapers, messy feeding times, and chasing a screaming child through a crowded grocery store. But parenting goes far beyond the requirements for meeting the basic survival needs of the child, and parents have a significant influence on how children turn out, including their personality, emotional development, and behavioral habits, as well as a host of other factors. It is important for the overall development of children that parents be present enough to support them, and this support fosters confidence and growth in many areas. Here we will explore the ways parents can impact the emotional development of their children.

Sometimes, just being physically present is not enough. Parents that may be nearby but that are not emotionally invested or responsive tend to raise children that are more distressed and less engaged with their play or activities. A study investigating the connection between parent’s investment and children’s competence suggests that the emotional involvement of parents really does matter and affects the outcome of their child’s emotional competence and regulation (Volling, 458). Parents should keep this in mind when considering the quality of the time they spend with their children, because if they do not invest enough of their time and commitment into pouring emotionally into their child, the child will struggle to learn how to regulate his emotions and interact with others appropriately.

In studying the outcomes of Ainsworth’s Strange Situation experiments, L. Alan Sroufe found that the style of early attachment relationships predicts later emotional development of children. Sroufe asserts that, “Such variations [of relationship quality] are not reflections of genetically based traits of the infant but of the history of interaction with the parent” (188). This suggests that attachment styles are not inborn but are driven by how parents interact with their infant from birth. Longitudinal attachment studies show that children with anxious attachment were likely to be emotionally disturbed and have low self-esteem (Sroufe 190). If the form of attachment has such long-lasting impacts on children, it is clear that parents must treat their children in ways that foster secure attachment in order for the children to grow into emotionally stable adolescents and adults.

An important factor in the emotional development of children is how warm caregivers are, and studies have been done to find the effects of depressed mothers on the emotional development of children. Depressed mothers have maladaptive thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors, and these, along with being in a similarly stressful environment as the mother, put a child at risk of developing his own emotional problems (Sroufe 204). The fact that depressed mothers are likely to be indifferent towards their children, put them in less social situations, and generally provide less stimulation for their children, puts the children at a disadvantage for achieving normal emotional development.

A key aspect of emotional development in children is learning how to regulate emotions. Children see how their parents display emotions and interact with other people, and they imitate what they see their parents do to regulate emotions (Sheffield Morris et. al). A child’s temperament also plays a role in their emotion regulation, guided by the parenting style they receive (Belsky et al). For example, children more prone to negative emotions or episodes of anger are deeply affected by hostile and neglectful parenting, often leading to even more behavioral problems. Difficult temperaments can become a bidirectional problem that evokes even more negative emotions from the parent if not monitored. Parents should be aware that not only do their own emotions and parenting style affect the emotional outcomes of their children, but if they are not aware of how their children’s tempers affect them, they could fall into a spiral of ineffective and indifferent parenting which further contributes to negative behaviors from the children.

Furthermore, how parents address the emotions of their children and respond to them affects how expressive the children feel they can be. Reacting with criticism or dismissing the sadness or anger of a child communicates that their emotions are not valid or appropriate, which can cause children to be even more prone to those negative emotions and less able to cope with stress (Siegler et. al). Instead, guiding children’s emotions and helping them find ways to express themselves in a healthy manner helps them continue regulating their responses to challenges and even aids their academic and social competence. This sort of emotion coaching greatly helps in reducing future problem behavior in children.

In addition to being able to express their own emotions, it is important in social situations for children to be able to identify and deal with the emotions of those around them. Parents model for their children how to comfort someone who is crying or smile at someone who is smiling, but other parental behaviors also influence how their children learn to understand the emotions of others. It has been found that the interaction between parents affects a child’s emotional and social development, and marital conflict contributes to problems in these developmental areas (Sheffield Morris et. al). The biggest contributing factor in marital relations affecting children’s emotional development is whether the child hears the parents fighting. This is referred to as “background anger” in the child’s environment and if the child is exposed to it, even though it is not directed at the child, problems with emotional security and regulation are likely to result from it (Sheffield Morris et. al). Coming from a family with divorced parents, I (Kristi) can relate to this issue of background anger being a factor, because although my parents split when I was at a vulnerable age, they made sure not to fight in front of my sister and I, and I think that allowed us to have a healthier reaction to the divorce and to be emotionally well-adjusted in social interactions.

Parenting decisions affect how children turn out physically, socially, and emotionally, but that is not to say parents should be obsessed with following certain steps to have a perfectly well-adjusted child. We accept that there is no perfect formula for parents to model behavior or speak to children in certain ways to make them have a perfect emotional development experience, and that places a limit on our exploration of this subject. Parents can help their children develop into emotionally stable people by giving them a supportive environment, positive feedback, role models of healthy behavior and interactions, and someone to talk to about their emotional reactions to their experiences.


Sheffield Morris, A., Silk, J. S., Steinberg, L., Myers, S. S., & Robinson, L. R. (2007). The role of the family context in the development of emotional regulation.Social Development, 16(2), pp 361-388.

Siegler, R., DeLoache, J., & Eisenberg, N. (2011). How children develop. (3rd ed.). New York: Worth Publishers.

Sroufe, L. A. (2001). From infant attachment to promotion of adolescent autonomy: Prospective, longitudinal data on the role of parents in development. In J. G. Borkowski, S. L. Ramey & M. Bristol-Power (Eds.), Parenting and the Child’s World: Influences on Academic, Intellectual, and Social-emotional Development. Psychology Press.

Volling, B., McElwain, N., Notaro, P., & Herrera, C. (2002). Parents’ emotional availability and infant emotional competence: Predictors of parent-infant attachment and emerging self-regulation. Journal of family psychology, 16, pp 447-465.


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The Ferber Method: Gain Sleep Now but Lose Sleep Later

The Ferber Method:  Gain Sleep Now but Lose Sleep Later

A. Moss and M. Martin

In this clip from a season one episode of Modern Family, Mitchell decides to “Ferberize” daughter Lily against his partner Cameron’s will.  Mitchell succinctly describes the Ferber Method as a “method for getting the baby to sleep through the night by, yes, basically letting her cry herself to sleep,” but this particular and popular facet of the “cry it out” approach is slightly more complicated.  Dr. Richard Ferber’s 1985 book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems advocates an incremental approach to training children to go to sleep on their own in which parents increase the amount of time they wait to respond to their children’s cries from bed each night.  There is some evidence from Reid, Walter, and O’Leary (1999) supporting Ferber’s essential claim that children trained in his method sleep more soundly and regularly.  These researchers found that children in an incremental sleep training group slept through the night without waking significantly more often than children in a control group during a six week period.  Additionally, it seems reasonable to assume that a child’s ability to sleep through the night would lead to better rested and less stressed parents more able to provide engaging stimulation for their child when he or she was awake.

However, our analysis indicates that sleep training a child using the Ferber Method or any similar sleep training program incurs both immediate and delayed costs that ultimately outweigh such benefits.  According to Middlemiss, Granger, Goldberg, and Nathans (2012), infants experienced immediate cortisol elevation when placed on a sleep training schedule.  These authors reported physiological asynchrony between mothers and infants on the third day of a training program.  Mothers experienced significantly decreased salivary cortisol, but infants continued to exhibit significantly increased levels of this stress hormone despite the disappearance of their previous outward suffering.  Granger et al. raised the possibility that the stress associated with sleep training would modify the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the physiological system that manages stress, in genetically vulnerable infants in this group who would consequently continue to show elevated stress responses and have difficulty regulating stress in the future.  We advocate parents not rely on sleep training methods like the Ferber Method given infants’ physiological distress and this potential long-term impact of sleep training as well as the likelihood that the benefits of training programs are only temporary.  The regularity of infant sleep relates to the rhythmicity dimension of infant temperament (Siegler, DeLoache, & Eisenberg, 2011).  Siegler et al. note that this dimension is neither especially important in predicting future behavior nor particularly stable.  We argue this instability indicates that parents using the Ferber Method cannot at all be sure that the stress their infants experience as a result will lead to a greater good of consistent future sleeping. Conversely, it is likely parents whose infants are irregular sleepers can hope for more regular sleeping in the future and thus do not need to use the Ferber Method to prompt it in infants’ early lives.

It is during the early life, particularly the first two years, that infants form attachment relationships with their primary caregivers, usually the parents.  Attachment relationships involve a close emotional bond that provides infants with a sense of security as well as with an internal working model of attachment.  The internal working model includes an infant’s representation of the self, the caregivers, and how relationships in general work and shapes the infant’s expectations of and behaviors in relationships in the future (Siegler et al., 2011).  Mary Ainsworth’s attachment classification system places infants who form positive internal working models in the secure attachment category.  These infants, usually classified before twenty-four months based on Ainsworth’s Strange Situation test of attachment quality, are able to explore new environments because of the security their caregivers provide them.  They also expect high-quality responses to their behavior from their caregivers and positive interactions in their other relationships because of their beneficial interactions with caregivers. In contrast, insecurely attached infants have more negative internal working models and attachment to their caregivers and may either cling to caregivers who cannot easily comfort them or show no special distress when separated from their caregivers.

Ainsworth and colleagues concluded that sensitivity on the part of caregivers, which centers on responsiveness to infants’ signals like laughing and crying, is the most important predictor of secure attachment (Siegler et al., 2011). Thus, the first two years, when attachment relationships are formed and when parents often turn to sleep training programs like the Ferber Method, are a critical time for parents to show responsiveness to their crying infants and offer comfort.  Unfortunately, the Ferber Method and other training schedules of its kind that instruct parents to avoid responding to their infants’ cues of distress deliberately encourage a lack of parental sensitivity.  The insecure attachment that we assert can follow is not merely a theoretical issue, as insecure attachment in infancy predicts a host of later undesirable outcomes.  Jacobsen’s and Hofmann’s (1997) longitudinal study suggested that insecure attachment classification significantly predicted lower attention in school, higher insecurity about the self, and lower GPA at age fifteen.  Furthermore, Dallaire’s and Weinraub’s (2007) work demonstrated that insecurely attached fifteen-month-olds were more likely to experience anxiety symptoms at 4.5 years than their securely attached peers who had weathered equivalent stressors. Finally, DeMulder, Denham, Schmidt, and Mitchell (2000) found that insecurely attached preschool boys and girls exhibited significantly more anger and aggression outside the home.  Parents may gain sleep in the short-term after Ferberizing their infants, but they can expect to lose sleep as their children age and engage in these negative behaviors associated with lack of parental sensitivity.



Dallaire, D. H., & Weinraub, M. (2007). Infant-mother attachment security and children’s anxiety and aggression at first grade. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 28(5-6), 477-492. Retrieved from

DeMulder, E. K., Denham, S., Schmidt, M., & Mitchell, J. (2000). Q-sort assessment of attachment security during the preschool years: Links from home to school. Developmental Psychology, 36(2), 274-282. Retrieved from

Ferber, R. (1985). Solve your child’s sleep problems. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Jacobsen, T., & Hofmann, V. (1997). Children’s attachment representations: Longitudinal relations to school behavior and academic competency in middle childhood and adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 33(4), 703-710. Retrieved from

Middlemiss, W., Granger, D. A., Goldberg, W. A., & Nathans, L. (2012). Asynchrony of mother-infant hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity following extinction of infant crying responses induced during the transition to sleep. Early Human Development, 88, 227-232. Retrieved from

Modern Family S01E11:Up all night [Video file]. (n.d.) Retrieved from

Reid, M. J., Walter, A. L., & O’Leary, S. G. (1999). Treatment of young children’s bedtime refusal and nighttime wakings: A comparison of ‘standard’ and graduated ignoring procedures. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 27(1), 5-16. Retrieved from

Siegler, R., DeLoache, J., & Eisenberg, N. (2011). How children develop (Third ed.). New York: Worth.







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Combining Parenting Styles


Combining Parenting Styles


By Lillian Funkhouser and Woody Griffin


Dear Readers,


Today we would like to discuss parenting styles. Over the course of our lives, we have been exposed to many different parenting styles. Our parents greatly influence our social development and interactions as we grow up. In today’s article, we will discuss how our parents have raised us and its effects on our development as well as different types of parenting that we have experienced and studied. Some parenting styles have been shown to produce more positive outcomes in the social development of kids. Though most of our experiences have corresponded with the results of research in this area, we have also found that a combination of parenting styles can still produce positive social development. In fact, in some situations, different parenting styles are more effective than others. In general, there are four prominent styles of parenting, but we will mainly focus on authoritative and permissive.

Lillian’s Personal Experiences:

For the most part, my parents raised me using an authoritative style. When I would get in fights with my siblings or try to hurt them, my mom would take me aside, ask me what I did wrong, discipline me based on my actions, and then we would discuss how to behave better next time. My father would also use this tactic if I wanted to do something outside of the norm. For instance, I asked to dye my hair pink in 10th grade and he responded by discussing the possible repercussions with me. He didn’t directly reject the idea but through our dialog, I sensed his disapproval. These situations demonstrate my parents care and expectations of me through the way they dealt with my behavior.

Other situations also demonstrate this care and sense of expectation but through different parenting styles. Through most of my youth, my parents never set a curfew for me or my siblings, which would be classified in the permissive parenting style. Although this does seem passive, it worked in my family to cultivate good communication and trust because my parents expected us to tell them where we were and when we planned on coming home instead of just demanding we come home at certain time.

Despite the lack of rules for bedtimes, they did have a few rules for us as children that erred on the authoritarian side of parenting. Sleepovers, for example, were not permitted until we turned 10 years old. This rule was taken seriously and only allowed to be broken for necessary situations like my parents going out of town. Another rule they had was that we could not chew gum until we turned 4 years old. My mom enforced this less strictly than my dad but they generally held fast to the “no chewing gum until you’re 4” rule.

Woody’s Personal Experiences:

My mom and dad were authoritative parents. Being the middle child, I was always in the middle of fights between my siblings. I did not get in trouble very often, but I watched my parents critique my sibling’s bad behavior. As I grew older and got more rebellious, my parents had to stop me from doing every crazy idea I thought up and they would explain the repercussions of each situation. Although they were restrictive, I also was very close to both my parents. I feel like their parenting style has shown positive effects in my social development, as I know how to act in tough situations and set standards for myself. Baumrind found that, “As adolescents, they tend to be relatively high in… self-reliance, and coping skills, and relatively low in… problem behavior.” I have grown to solve problems on my own due to my upbringing.

Although they were authoritative while I was young, I feel like my parents have slipped into being more permissive. Once I went off to college, it seemed like my parents let me do whatever I pleased and did not give me any rules to follow. I know this is because I am no longer at home, but even when I am, they let me do what I want. I do not have a curfew anymore and there are really no rules for me to obey around the house. Driscoll and Lamborn researched permissive parenting and found that, “As adolescents, they engage in more school misconduct and drug or alcohol use than do peers with authoritative parents (et al., 2008 and 2009).” This description does not follow my personality at all, but I think that is because the basis of the parenting I experienced was authoritative and the permissive parenting came later on. I think the mix of these two parenting styles has benefited me immensely, as my base parenting has allowed me to rely on myself, slowly pushing me into living under a permissive parenting style without experiencing the negative results

From the personal experiences that we have shared with you, it is obvious that there are different ways to raise a child, each with varied outcomes. However, our friends with parents that used different styles from our own (permissive being the most prominent) still ended up developing into self-relying, positive adults. We have both found that although our parents were mainly authoritative while we were growing up, they have adapted a more permissive parenting style. We are now experiencing the real world on our own and have more freedom to make choices and live with the consequences.

Works Cited


Siegler, Robert S. How Children Develop. New York: Worth Publishers, 2010. Texbook.


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Should the tiger mom be tamed?

Should the Tiger Mother be Tamed?

by Gideon Ticho and James Scalfani

Yes – Gideon Ticho

A few years ago, Yale law professor Amy Chua caused a national sensation with the publication of her memoir, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” in which she recounts the upbringing of her children according to the strict, demanding principles traditionally associated with Asian culture.  She furthermore asserts that this approach is superior to the more relaxed, hands-off one employed by many Western parents.  Plenty of readers were appalled by some of the extreme examples of discipline that characterized much of the book, from calling one daughter a “piece of garbage,” to throwing the other one out of the house at age three, and even threatening to cancel Christmas (the horror!).  As a result, her parenting style was regarded by many as rigorous at best, and downright cruel at worst.

However, the proper designation for Chua’s parenting style, at least in academic terms, is “authoritarian,” as described in developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind’s 1966 parenting styles matrix.  By combining what she saw as the two greatest variables in raising children – parental responsiveness and demandingness – Baumrind was able to articulate four principal styles of parenting which are still widely recognized today: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful.  The ideal, or authoritative, parent lies at the intersection of responsive and demanding.  They expect a lot from their child and demand respect for parental authority, but are receptive to the child’s demands and willing to compromise or negotiate.  This, according to Baumrind, will be the most likely parenting style to guide a child towards a happy, successful and well-adjusted life.  An authoritarian parent, like Chua, is just as demanding as an authoritative one, but much less responsive to their child’s emotions and desires.  They are singularly focused on their child’s obedience, even at the expense of happiness.  Inversely, a permissive parent, which Chua insinuates that many Americans are, is very responsive, but not demanding.  These are the parents who often give rise to spoiled, bratty children.  And then there are the neglectful parents, who are neither responsive nor demanding; essentially, they just couldn’t care less about their child.

So is there any validity to Chua’s claim that her authoritarian, “tiger mom” parenting style is the best way to go about raising kids?  The short answer: it depends on what your definition of “best” is.

If happiness and fulfillment are the most desirable goals for your child, then the answer is certainly no.  One of the beliefs that Chua repeatedly asserts is that “Chinese parents understand that nothing is fun until you’re good at it” (Chua, 2011).  This notion takes the concept of operant conditioning to an extreme.  To a Chinese parent, according to Chua, the reward for a child working hard and succeeding at a task is simply their increased aptitude for that task as a result.  This indirectly leads to other rewards, like peer recognition, which make the activity “fun.”  However, the punishment for failure at a task is usually harsh, swift and non-negotiable discipline.  Through this conditioning, a Chinese parent instills in their child a drive to succeed at the highest level in everything he/she does.  But do success and happiness really correlate that simply?  Is being forced by one’s parents to be good at something enough to make a child satisfied in life?  Extensive evidence indicates that this is not the case.  Children of authoritarian parents are significantly more likely than others to develop depression or anxiety, along with an increased propensity for substance abuse (Driscoll et al., 2008).  Why is this?  For the most part, it’s due to internal conflict within the family.  A recent study by Desiree Qin of Michigan State University compared Asian and white 9th-graders at a highly competitive private school, polling them on their grades, their mental states, and their levels of “family cohesion” (Qin et al., 2008).  She found that Asian children reported significantly higher levels of internal tension within the family, often as a result of parent-child conflict over academics.  They were also more frequent to report difficulties in social situations, and displayed higher rates of depressive symptoms.  Clearly, the authoritarian style of parenting does not consistently produce happy kids.

However, it’s undeniable that tiger moms do tend to produce successful kids, at least in the sense that they are generally very talented academically.  So if this is your definition of “best,” then perhaps the answer to the previous question might be yes.  As explained before, operant conditioning, specifically positive punishment, is used extensively by authoritarian parents to push their children to work hard at mastering certain tasks.  In addition, studies like one conducted by Kristie Neumeister of Ball State University have indicated that authoritarian parenting can promote a desire for perfection and mastery in children, in order to live up to their parents’ incredibly high standards (Neumeister et al., 2006).  However, in the same study, Neumeister notes that “desire for mastery” is a healthier motivation than “fear of failure.”  For children of authoritarian parents, though, the latter would logically be a greater motivator than the former, which may also explain some of the trends in depression and anxiety.

Ultimately, the question of which parenting style is best is somewhat of a shot in the dark.  There are so many additional variables that affect parenting styles outside of the ones examined by Diana Baumrind in her matrix (such as socioeconomic status, family size, etc.), and these obviously account for a significant part of how a child is raised.  Even so, the evidence does generally seem to tip the scales against authoritarian parenting, especially if, like the majority of parents, you value your children’s mental wellbeing.  Would you rather have a depressed, alcoholic genius for a kid, or a happy, stable, average member of society?  I’m no tiger mom, of course, but I’d choose the latter any day of the week.




Works Cited


Chua, Amy. “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.”, 2011. Web. 15 Apr 2014. <



Driscoll, A. K., Russell, S. T., Crockett, L. J. (2008).  Parenting styles and youth well-being across immigrant generations.  Journal of Family Issues, 29, 185-209.


Neumeister, Kristie L. Speirs, and Holmes Finch. “Perfectionism in high-ability students: Relational precursors and influences on achievement motivation.” Gifted child quarterly 50.3 (2006): 238-251.


Qin, Desirée Boalian, Niobe Way, and Preetika Mukherjee. “The other side of the model minority story the familial and peer challenges faced by Chinese American adolescents.” Youth & Society 39.4 (2008): 480-506.



No – James Sclafani

The term “tiger mother”, recently popularized by law professor Amy Chua, concerns an Asian mother that is extremely demanding. This terminology can be applied universally: “tiger mom” is to Asian culture as “authoritarian parent” is to the world. Authoritarian parents are defined by their tendencies to be highly demanding and not adequately supportive to the child’s needs. Chua asserted that this parenting style was the best. She claimed that western cultures place to high a priority on a child’s self-esteem. Research has highly supported the notion that Chua is incorrect- authoritative parents, who are demanding but also highly responsive to a child’s needs, yield the best results in terms of the child’s future success and mental health. However, it is important to note that the results of authoritarian parenting are not universally negative. It’s important to examine instances in which authoritarian parenting yields positive results. In these select cases, it can be argued that Chua is correct in her assertions that authoritarian parents are better.

Overall, in the vast majority of cases, scientific data shows that Chua is wrong. She claimed that academic success is more important that emotional health for children- a common viewpoint of authoritarian parents. However, many studies, including a study done by Snarey & Valiant (1985) showed that emotional intelligence, one’s ability to regulate their emotional response to stimuli, was the most reliant indicator of future success. The child’s IQ had almost no relation to their future success. This strongly supports that notion that authoritative parenting is the best parenting style, as authoritative parents provide emotional support that authoritarian parents do not provide.

Despite this, there are instances when authoritarian parenting actually is the preferred parenting style. A study by Rudy & Gruesec (2006) indicated that in collectivist cultures, authoritarian parenting styles do not have the same negative effects that they do in individualist cultures. The self-esteem of children of authoritarian parents is not lower than the self-esteem and emotional health of children of authoritative parents in collectivist cultures. Instead, authoritarian parenting pushes children to seek out their full potential. The study postulated that the negative ideas surrounding authoritarian parenting in individualist cultures (such as in the U.S.) are the cause of the emotional damage in children.

Additionally, a study done by Pezzella (2010) found that authoritarian parenting has different affects on certain groups of children. Children at high risk for engaging in delinquent behavior, particularly high risk African- American children, were less likely to engage in such behavior compared to the children of parents with different parenting styles. This is significant- when children engage in violent or delinquent behavior, they are potentially destroying avenues for future success. In these cases especially, authoritarian parenting seems to be the preferred parenting style.

Parents who raise their children in collectivist societies or who raise their children in areas with a high propensity for delinquent juvenile behavior should consider adopting a more authoritarian style parenting approach. In these situations, their child may actually benefit from this parenting style in contrast to the traditionally preferred parenting style, authoritative parenting. While they may not be right for the entire world, in some places maybe Tiger Moms are better.



Works Cited


Pezzella, F. S. (2010). Authoritarian parenting: A race socializing protective factor that deters african american adolescents from delinquency and violence. (Order No. AAI3398173, Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, , 1451.

Rudy, D., & Grusec, J. E. (2006). Authoritarian parenting in individualist and collectivist groups: Associations with maternal emotion and cognition and children’s self-esteem. Journal of Family Psychology, 20(1), 68-78.


Snarey, J. R., & Vaillant, G. E. (1985). How lower- and working-class youth become middle-class adults: The association between ego defense mechanisms and upward social mobility. Child Development, 56(4), 899-910.


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Developing a child’s self esteem

Taylor Boothby and Angela Wang

Developing the self-esteem of children is a topic that generates a great deal of discussion, but one often overlooked aspect of this is the way in which praise influences the belief systems that children adopt.  Though it may seem that praise can only be a good thing, the way in which it is delivered can make a huge difference.  Whether children are praised for their enduring characteristics or their effort expended on a particular task can help to determine their beliefs about their ability to be successful, especially in school, as well as the main source of their self-esteem, both of which may influence children’s futures in a variety of ways.

The self-esteem of an individual who has an incremental/mastery orientation tends to be based on the effort they have expended and the learning that results, rather than the subjective evaluations of other people (Siegler et al 360).  Because these people are not only concerned with their success or failure on a task, but also with improving themselves through learning, they tend to enjoy challenges, persist when tasks are difficult, and focus on the process of learning over the end result.  They also view intelligence as something malleable, something that can be expanded and developed with effort over time.

In contrast, people who have an entity/helpless orientation generally base their self-worth on the approval of others.  To receive the praise they crave, they tend to intentionally place themselves in situations in which they know they can be successful, and avoid situations that may prove challenging (Siegler et al).  They generally view intellectual ability as something people are born with, something that cannot be improved regardless of effort.  Consequently, they believe that their success or failure in academic situations is directly dependent on their set intelligence level, and when they fail, they tend to quickly give up.

By the preschool years, children have already begun to behave in accordance with one of these motivational patterns, either engaging in play tasks that are challenging, or in activities they have already mastered (Smiley & Dweck, 1994).  Though there are many factors which may influence a child’s motivational pattern, an important aspect over which parents and teachers have considerable control is their praise and criticism of children.  Praising children for their effort, rather than for success, by saying something like “Good job for working so hard on your spelling test,” reinforces the development of an incremental/mastery motivational pattern (Siegler et al).  Such commentary drives home the concept that effort is more important than the end result, and will increase the likelihood that children will work hard in the future when faced with challenges.  However, praising children in ways that emphasize their enduring characteristics, as in “You’re such a great speller,” reinforces an entity/helpless orientation by sending children the message that their ultimate success is determined by unchanging traits.  Criticism works the same way, with incremental views being supported by statements such as “I know you’ll do better if you try harder next time,” and entity views being reinforced by criticisms along the lines of “You’re bad at spelling.”  Importantly, parents and teachers alike are more likely to praise girls for enduring traits, boys for their effort.

Motivational patterns and their related belief systems often shape the kinds of goals that students will strive towards for their future – students with an incremental conception of intelligence tend to have progressive learning goals while those with an entity view, commonly girls, prefer to demonstrate current capabilities (Simons 3784).  While boys generally strive to continually grow in their knowledge by challenging themselves, girls tend to fear these challenges and the possibility of failure that accompanies them.  With this evidence, it is no wonder why there is an 8:1 ratio of men to women in the engineering field.  Beyond basic sciences and mathematics, very little about this specialized field is introduced in high school curriculum.  Entering any engineering field is a huge commitment at the university level because the majority of the material is entirely new.  Boys may see this as a challenge to their intelligence and embrace the chance to learn something new.  Meanwhile, girls may be frightened by the prospect of having to learn the completely new language of computers and waver at the idea of failure.  Accordingly, only a few very ambitious women ever attempt to enter the fields of computer science and engineering.  Most of the women who do study engineering as a major believe their aptitude as engineers is a fixed ability, which causes them to drop classes or change majors when faced with difficulties (Heyman).

Even in today’s progressive society, women are too often overlooked and their intelligence undermined, especially in these male-dominated fields.  Many are accepting of the status quo; they don’t think anything of it because they have grown up being praised for permanent characteristics at a much higher rate than their male peers.  To make matters worse, the public school system tends to reinforce the idea that girls can’t do math and science as well as boys in a variety of ways, the most obvious being the fact that it is much more rare to find a female teaching math or science than any other subject.  As a result, many girls graduate believing that they are unable to brave such daunting fields, and never give themselves the opportunity to try.

What society must do to correct this is empower girls by encouraging their continued effort in all subjects.  If they are supported in the right way and develop more adaptive belief systems, they can become as competent as men in math, science and engineering.  Women like Debbie Sterling, creator of Goldiblox (an engineering toy for girls) are living proof that girls can do anything they set their minds to.  They lead by example, calling out to girls of all ages to pursue their passions, strive for excellence, and love learning for its own sake, even when others doubt their ability to achieve.  In order to help girls reach their full potential, parents, teachers, and peers must begin to encourage the females in their lives by praising their hard work, and refusing to let them continue to fall short of their true potential.




Boggiano, A. and Barrett, M.  Strategies to Motivate Helpless and Mastery-Oriented Children: The Effect of Gender-Based Expectancies.  Sex Roles, Volume 25: 1991.  Web.  16 Apr. 2014.

Gail D., Bryn Martyna, & Sangeeta Bhatia.  Gender and Achievement-Related Beliefs Among Engineering Students.  Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, Volume 8:  2002.  Web. 17 Apr 2014.

Siegler, Deloache, J., & Eisenberg N.  How Children Develop. Worth Publishers.  3rd Edition (2011).  Print.

Simons, P. R. “Metacognition.”  International Encyclopedia of Education, 1994.  3784-3788.  Web.  17 Apr. 2014.

Valian, Virginia.  “Why Aren’t More Women in Science?”  Women at the Top in Science–And Elsewhere.  27-37.  Web.  17 Apr. 2014.

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