Compliance is a word described as the willingness of a person to follow an instruction from another person at a given time. It is a major concern of children’s parents and teachers because compliance will help a child follow simple orders at home by his or her parents and follow rules and regulations in the school.
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There are two kinds of compliance according to the book of Kochanska and Aksan, the “situational compliance” and the “committed or receptive compliance”; however these kinds of compliance have various distinctions. Situational compliance is based on an expectation of reward and punishment that is why a child obeys the parent even without the sincere commitment and obligation because the child is either afraid of the punishment for not obeying or the child is eager of the reward for obeying. On the other hand committed or receptive compliance is based on the child’s willingness to cooperate; it is of his or her freewill to do what is asked for him or her to do. Furthermore, the committed or receptive compliance is the more advanced form of compliance and it is associated with the child’s internalization.
In the compliance study of Kochanska and Aksan they found out that children found it easier to comply with “don’t touch” instructions that “clean up” instructions. The development of compliance is of important value because of its role in the internalization of a child’s moral value, self-control, autonomy and socialization. The second and the third year of a persons life is important for developing these skills, the child’s ability to develop self-regulation starts at this age.
This skill of a child comes along with the cognitive capability to understand commands made by their parents and the ability to carry the commands. And there is such a time that when a child becomes more able to comply he or she would be less willing to comply, a function of the child’s increasing autonomy. As the child grows older, he or she becomes more cooperative but with an increasing skill in the use of negotiation strategies, this is to get what he or she wants (Kochanska 1995).
In another study it shows that fathers are more direct in their request for compliance; let’s say for example a father will say “pick up your toys” directly to the child, in this way the children are likely to oblige because of the authority over them. On the other hand mothers are more indirect and more affectionate with regards to their requests for compliance, and they make use of bargain system to make the child obey to what they are requesting; for example mothers would say “please go to bed now”, “if you clean your room I will buy the toy that you want”, these are some of the requests mothers make. In this manner the children will likely to comply with their mothers request because of the reward waiting for them or the affection that they felt (1995).
There are various thoughts that I want to propose in the findings of Kochanska and Aksan; why the children find it easier to comply with the “don’t touch” instructions than “cleaning up” instructions. The reasons I think are as follows.
A. it is easier to command a child not to touch things rather than cleaning things up because children do not want to be manipulated and given instructions as of to fix things or to clean things up.
B. another aspect is because children thinks it is better not to touch things rather than to bother fixing them and putting them in place after because it is a lot of work to do. Children are of course some kind of lazy and they think that these little tasks are big deal and that they cannot do it.
C. Third aspect of this is that children make use of the bargain system to get what they want; for example they would only clean things up if they are given a reward for the task they did. This is situational compliance, in which the child is expecting for something in return for the price of complying.
With regards to the proposed explanations above, a test is to be designed to be able to test if the proposed explanations are true or not and if the explanations are accurate or not.
In this test we are going to need 20 children of the same age, children who are in the pre-school because children of this stage are more able to comply but less willing to comply. The children would be asked to do 2 things also, either to “fix their toys and get a reward” or just simply “sit down and play”. In this way we would be able to know if the children wanted to comply with things because they are going to get something out of it, more likely a situation compliance or if children just simply comply with things because it is what they wanted to do or what we call committed compliance. We ought to ask the 20 children individually which of the choices they want to oblige.
This study aims to know if children of this stage are more of a situation compliance or committed compliance, and this also aims to measure the willingness of the children to comply with little tasks.
In the end of the study we would be able to know if the proposed explanations are true if more children fixed their toys for the reward they are going to get.
1. Kochanska, G., Aksan, N., (1995). Mother–child mutually positive
affect, the quality of child compliance to requests and
prohibitions, and maternal control as correlates of early internalization.
2. Kochanska, G., Aksan, N., & Koenig, A. L. ( 1995). A longitudinal
study of the roots of preschoolers’ conscience: Committed compliance
and emerging internalization. Child Development, 66,
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