IS SHAMING OR GIVING KIDS THE SILENT TREATMENT EFFECTIVE?

Educazione dei bambini - Paginemamma

The Answer Depends on Parents' Religiosity Level, Surprising Hebrew U. Study Finds

(Jerusalem, December 21, 2021)—What do you think is the best way to raise children?  One method is psychological control where parents attempt to improve their children’s behavior by making them feel shame or guilt about their actions.  Another form of psychological control is the "silent treatment", where parents ignore their kids following bad behavior in order to discourage future undesirable behavior.  These methods may sound excessively strict and it’s often assumed that they will have a negative impact on a child's social behavior – for example, making them less willing to help or to care for other people. 

 

However, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) have revealed a more complex picture.  Studies led by Professor Maayan Davidov at HU’s Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare have shown that a child's response to such stern discipline can depend on the religious commitment of the parent.  Her research, in collaboration with Maya Oren-Gabai and Dr. Islam Abu-Asaad, assessed the social behavior of children aged between 6 and 12 years old in 300+ secular and religious Israeli Jewish and Muslim families.  The findings were published in Child Development.

 

The results showed that in secular Jewish families, mothers’ use of psychological control did appear to have a negative effect on their kids, making them less likely to help others.  However, in religious Jewish families, there was no such “cost” to this parenting style.  Furthermore, in religious Muslim families, this style of parenting actually appeared to have a positive effect: it was associated with more helpful behavior on the part of the child, while among secular Muslims there was no discernible effect either way. 

 

For the purposes of this study, more than 315 parents filled out a detailed questionnaire to assess their religiosity level, parenting style, and use of psychological control in everyday situations. Their children were then given tests to assess their social behavior, especially their willingness to help a stranger with the simple task of picking up paperclips that had been "accidentally dropped” by a lab assistant.