The effectiveness of programmed material as a method for assisting parents in regulating consummatory behavior in children
Riebold, Floyd Edmond
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Behavior modification programs have been abundantly demonstrated in clinics and institutions. However, few investigators have extended such programs into the home. The trend of these investigations is to train the parents to be the modifiers of the child's behavior and to use the home as the therapeutic setting. These parents have been trained for this purpose by such methods as experimenter demonstrations, group training sessions in the clinic, video tape feedback, and programmed textbooks. Although investigators have demonstrated the effectiveness of the technique, they have done so by using one or a few subjects; furthermore, they have been directly involved with the parent and subject. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the means of effecting, by correspondence, a behavior modification program in the home that would not directly involve the experimenter. This method necessitated the development of correspondence materials. The Behavior Identification Scale (BIS) was developed to identify troublesome behavior in children. The BIS was sent to 95 parents of children attending the Institute of Logopedics. Of the 19 parent-child units who met the selection criteria, ten and nine were assigned to Experimental and Control Groups, respectively. The Experimental subjects received two independent variables: (1) a programmed text, Programmed Instructions For Regulating Consummatory Behavior In Children, written especially for the study (the basic proposition was that preparatory behavior would be easily regulated by parents who control consummatory-setting events in the home); and (2) a treatment plan, with step-by-step instruction on how to modify a specific, troublesome behavior. Both groups received and returned weekly record sheets from which behavioral results were graphically plotted. An attitude measure was obtained from the parents' rating of the child's behavior before and after the experiment. Other data consisted of a distribution analysis made from BIS responses for levels of concern and categories of consummatory behavior, and a compliance measure obtained from the extent to which parents returned materials. Several conclusions were drawn from the results of the study. (1) Parents of the children attending an habilitative institution showed a willingness to participate in a hometype behavior modification program. Well over 50% of the parents responded to survey materials and agreed to participate in the program. (2) Target behaviors were easily identified by the correspondence method. (3) Parents were taught by the correspondence method to observe their child's behavior, effect the treatment plan, and record the behavior. However, additional means of motivating the parents to follow instructions and return the materials are needed. (4) Parents made use of the programmed material, agreed with its principles, but tended not to write in their responses. (5) Overall, parents were negligent in returning the correspondence materials. The parents' failure to return the materials proved to be a serious shortcoming for a home-type behavior modification program. However, positive results were obtained when parents complied with the conditions of the program and returned the materials. (6) Record keeping alone tended to change the parent's attitude, but not the child's behavior. Under control conditions, parents' attitudes decreased in strength toward the troublesome behavior, but the decrease was relatively small when compared to attitude changes of parents under the experimental conditions. Only minor or no behavioral changes occurred under control conditions. (7) Only Experimental subjects showed a pronounced behavioral change. The expected change occurred when parents complied with conditions of the program.