Child Observation

Subject: Psychology
Type: Evaluation Essay
Pages: 15
Word count: 3796
Topics: Childhood Trauma, Childhood


The psychology concerning parent-child relationship is highly vital to understand as the development process of the child can be determined. The interactions between mother and child can have the potential to shape the behaviour of the child which can also comprise mutual adjustments even in emotional aspects. Hence, in psychology, it is believed that this interaction is developed from both sides and one’s behaviour will affect the other thereby adjusting to the situations (Aoki, 2003). In terms of the goal, this is a summative assessment report in which two videos will be compared and contrasted considering the parent-child relationships with the help of structured observation. In addition, the relationship’s quality has been critically analysed in terms of parental as well as child’s behaviour thereby relating it to relevant theories. According to O’Connor & Scott (2007), the theories that can be linked with parent-child relationship and the outcome of the children may include attachment theory, social learning theory as well as parenting styles. It was further stated that parents shape the developmental processes of the children which has been linked to psychology, criminology and sociology for better understanding. The main concern was that children were having an increasing amount of health problems, social and educational issues. It was further observed that children’s lives improved with the development of positive environment in the family (O’Connor & Scott, 2007). 

Furthermore, in this assessment paper recommendations will also be provided with regard to the improvements of developmental and social outcomes for the children. Thus, this report will comprise a brief description regarding the responsibility study along with the speech procedures in the first part of the paper. In addition, ethical considerations and coding scales related to both the cases will be discussed. In the later part of this paper, comparing both the videos, contrasting elements will be analysed. Moreover, detailed descriptions will be provided regarding the behaviours, their effects and the meaning of such behaviours on each other thereby evaluating the links between behaviour, antecedents as well as consequences. Furthermore, appropriate suggestions for both the cases will be underpinned. Thereafter, having an overall understanding of the differences or similarities between the two mother-child pairs, a brief discussion is provided in the conclusion section. In addition, a reflection of the appropriateness of choice of observation over questionnaire for the investigation is also included. 

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Background of the Videos

The background of the study involves basic understanding of the parental behaviours and cognition along with its effects on the children as well as the study of parental anxiety in a high level. According to Apetroaia, Hill & Creswell (2015), high levels of anxiety were associated with the outcomes of the children and their proper development. It was observed that parental responsibilities were higher when the interactions between the parent-child were more intrusive along with having less warm behaviours. It was also noted that due to the beliefs of the parental responsibilities, it was observed that there was indirect relationship between maternal behaviours in an intrusive manner and the anxiety (Apetroaia, Hill & Creswell, 2015). Hence, having in-depth knowledge of the background of the study, the videos examined the relationship between parenting behaviours, maternal anxiety as well as the responsibility beliefs of the parents especially in the context of mothers. 

Specifically, mother-child pairs were taken in each video wherein the parental responsibilities were given, according to which their beliefs, anxieties and its effects on the particular child were observed. In this observation method of the study, the parental behaviours were put to test while carrying out a task which shall be measured according to the coding scale in this paper. However, the observations taken into consideration were limited to only two videos or cases which can affect the findings of the paper. Therefore, there may be a possibility that the assessment of children and mothers’ behaviours may not be done appropriately with the usage of the tasks involved. Thus, in this context, the attachment theory can be related considering the relationship between the parent and the child which was evident along with the critical understanding of the parenting styles portrayed by the mothers. According to O’Connor & Scott (2007), the theory of social learning involved influential level of parent-child relationship and the effect of poor parenting in the social settings. In addition, the attachment theory involved cognitive psychology considering the abnormal or normal developments of the child and the emotional security provided by the parents. Furthermore, considering the parenting style, it encompassed the study of interactions between the parent and the child. These include authoritative (with high warmth and control), permissive (with high warmth and low control), neglectful (with low control and low warmth) and authoritarian (with low warmth, control and high conflict) type of parenting (O’Connor & Scott, 2007). 

Description of Speech Procedure

According to Schriefers & Vigliocco (2015), a psychological research regarding the speech production involves the process of investigating cognitive behaviour wherein thoughts are transformed into speech. There are four basic stages of speech production namely, ‘conceptual preparation’, ‘grammatical encoding’, ‘phonological encoding’ and articulation. Conceptual preparation stage is the stage in which thoughts are transformed into a verbal message. Thereafter, grammatical encoding involves the process of converting the message into well-formed sentences which is followed by ‘phonological encoding’ in which these sentences and words are incorporated with information. Lastly, articulation means the stage in which phonetic contents are implemented to form a perfect speech (Schriefers & Vigliocco, 2015).

In the case of the two videos, the task that was taken into consideration in both the cases was primarily to prepare and deliver speeches by the children with the help or assistance of the mothers. Among all the participants of the video observations, only two were taken into consideration, which was observations number 54 and 56 to be specific. The procedure of the speech comprised two stages namely, the speech preparation stage and the actual delivery stage which will be further discussed in details. The speech topic chosen by the first participant number 56 was the favourite book and that of the second participant number 54, was the ideal day (best day). This infers that the level of speech production was observed in the speech preparation stage itself and then the final speech delivery was observed to determine the cognitive behaviour that depicted the parent-child relationship. 

Speech preparation. This was the first or the preliminary stage of the observation study in which the mother and the child were given a task to prepare a speech regarding an interesting topic of the child. Both of them were allowed to have conversations and to decide the contents of the speech for which they were given five minutes. From this stage, the parent-child relationship and the behaviours that affected the actions of others can be inferred along with the type of assistance mothers provided to the children could be evaluated. 

Actual speech. After the completion of the preparation time, the final speech was to be delivered for which the children were allowed to speak for minimum three minutes. In this phase, the ability of the child to deliver a speech with the help of the guidance of the mothers was observed. According to which, the behaviour and the cognition of the mothers and the actual outcomes of the children will be evaluated in the later part of this paper. Considering both the cases, there were various contrasting elements which will be identified and evaluated further.

Ethical Consideration

In a psychological research, ethics are those rules which the researchers must comply with while conducting their research. The basic ethical consideration that must be followed is the protection of the participants from any sort of harm along with the protection of their personal information. Hence, the compliance of predetermined rules and moral principles is the main ethical consideration. Considerably, informed consent must be obtained from the participants so that researchers can utilize the information generated from the study informing all the procedures to the participants. Debriefing is the other such ethical consideration, which ensures that the participants must not suffer from mental or physical harm and they must not be dishonest. Moreover, the confidentiality issue is also another important ethical consideration and the participants may have the right to withdraw from the investigation as well. These are some of the basic ethical issues that must be addressed properly in order to conduct the research in an ethical manner (McLeod, 2015). For this study, ethical considerations were undertaken with respect to parents and the children’s privacy and hence, proper consents were taken from the mothers. To comply with the legal formalities, the participants were made to sign consent for conducting and video-tapping the task. Furthermore, these participants also granted the permission of the usage of these videos for the purpose of the study, future research and educational purposes. 

Evaluation of Coding Scale

In accordance with Apetroaia et al. (2015), considering the beliefs of parental responsibility, it was associated with the parental anxiety and the related cognitive behaviour. Thus, it was observed that the dimensions of the behaviour were assessed by linking parental anxiety through a coding scheme. Hence, similar coding scheme can be used for this research paper which may involve, the Parental Responsibility Scale (PRS), ‘Anxiety and Depression subscale’, ‘Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale’. For measuring the maternal behaviour, ‘negative behaviour’ and ‘positive behaviour’ shall be observed and accordingly rated considering the coding scale. In addition, the anxious responses of the children towards handling the stressor task shall also be observed and rated according to the coding scale (Apetroaia et al., 2015). Thus, taking these scales into consideration, the scales which are feasible to the study being conducted are ‘maternal behaviour’ and ‘Children’s anxious response to the stressor task’. Therefore, having a detailed understanding of these coding scales, both the videos have been rated and accordingly the evaluation has been done. Correspondingly, the scale was considered from 1-5 scale rated wherein 1 inferred that the behaviour is absent and for the maternal positive behaviours, rating of 3 meant that the behaviour observed was neutral which will be further discussed in details. Hence, it can be noted that the attachment theory can be evident in the case of the first participants wherein the parenting style adapted by the first mother (participant number 56) was more of friendly in nature inferring to a permissive style. Whereas, the second mother (participant number 54) was more filled with responsibility and was manipulative in nature depicting the authoritative style. Therefore, it can be inferred that the attachment visible in the relationship was more evident in the first participant than the second participant. In the first case, the child stated that she learnt how to cope  with the situations in life taking the instance of her and her brother’s relationship whereas, in the second case, the child did not learn any lessons. However, in both the cases, children somehow connected with their social lives such as their family and friends which can be linked with the social learning theory. 

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Maternal behaviours. Considering the maternal behaviours, there are two different types of scales used to gather information regarding maternal behaviours which included the negative behaviours and the positive behaviours. This coding scale examines the behaviour of mothers during the stressor task which shall be rated and is suitable for children who are 7-12 years old. Considering these constraints, mother-child interactions were rated for each minute and for which variations were observed in the interaction hence the mean scores were later calculated (Apetroaia et al., 2015). According to Murray, Lau, Arteche, Creswell, Russ, Zoppa….. & Cooper (2012), the behaviour of the mothers was segmented and rated for each minute and was rated on the scale of 5 point wherein, 1 inferred that the maternal behaviour was not present and then gradually increasing, 3 was a neutral behaviour with the presence of promotional avoidance and 5 represented strong pervasive behaviours. These behaviours were rated as per the negative behaviour and positive behaviour of the mother towards the child. These negative behaviours could include, expressing anxiety, passivity, avoidance, overprotection and intrusiveness whereas the positive type involved modelling, encouragement, maternal-child relationship quality and warmth (Murray et al., 2012, Apetroaia et al., 2015).

Hence, in the case of the observation study, a team of 5 members was taken and the participants selected were two pairs. The mean score of the first pair of mother-child which was participant number 56 would be that the negative behaviour was 2 and the positive behaviour was 5. In contrast to this, the mean score of the second participant number 54 would be, the positive behaviour was 3 and the negative one was observed to be 4. 

Children’s anxious response to the stressor task. This coding scale was used to rate the behaviour of the children while performing the task assigned. This was also rated out of 5 points in which 1 referred to the response being absent and 5 inferred the strong presence of the responses. These responses could include facial expressions (such as fear, anxiety), body movements (such as rigid posture, touching face etc) and content (wherein the child expresses his/her fear in the task). The child avoidance was also rated according to the same rating scale basing on the level of avoidance shown by the children for the completion of the task (Apetroaia et al., 2015). The average score rating for the first videotape which was of participant number 56 would be 2 for facial expressions, 2 for body movement, 1 for the content and for child avoidance score was 1. In contrast, the second participant numbered 54 had comparatively opposite score, such as 4 for facial expressions, 5 for body movements, 1 for content and 3 for child avoidance. 

Compare and Contrast 

Preparation. The observations from both the participants were extracted from two videotapes which included the speech preparation and the actual speech videos. In the first instance, the comparison shall be considering the speech preparation videos in which both the participants were allotted a time interval of 5 minutes for the preparation of the actual speech. Both the participants were given options for their speech topic, which the pair of mother-child had to decide first and then prepare for the presentation of the task. The first video was of the duration of 10 minutes and 8 seconds comprising  the first pair (participant number 56), which showed strong bonding with each other and the child was given the full liberty to choose between the topics and prepare for her speech. However, the guidance provided by the mother was not much prominent in the preparation phase as the child was given the complete liberty to prepare the speech by herself. The speech was not fully ready within 5 minutes and the child did not have the time to practice for her speech whereas the second participant had ample time to prepare for her speech. 

The second video was of the duration of 12 minutes and 3 seconds in which the mother was observed to be little dominant towards the decision of the topic selection as a result of which the mother chose the topic of ‘the ideal day’. The child was confused between her birthday and Christmas for which the mother chose her birthday without knowing her favourite choice. In writing the content also, the mother had framed the sentences and after completing 5 minutes of the preparation, the child had little time for preparing her speech.

Actual speech. The actual speech of the participants was varying by few seconds and both perspectives were examined including the actual speech of the children and the behaviour of mothers while they were delivering the actual speech. Both the participants were given minimum 3 minutes for delivering their speech and the duration of the video of the first participant numbered 56 was 3 minutes and 18 seconds whereas that of the second participant numbered 54 was 3 minutes and 36 seconds. After the introduction of the first mother, the child started with her speech with confidence but towards the end of her speech, she had stopped because of the unavailability of her content. Thereafter, the mother was observed to be guiding the child as a result of which, the child completed 3 minutes of her speech without any fear but at the time of unavailability of the content, it can be noted that she was a little anxious about what more to say. After which, she followed the hints and instructions provided by her mother in a friendly manner which depicted high level of positive behaviour of her mother and a good relationship between the mother and the child. On the other hand, the second participant was hesitant to start the speech itself. She had a stiff posture which showed that the child was a bit anxious about the whole speech. 

However, after her mother clarified that her ideal day was her birthday she initiated her speech remembering what was decided to be included in the speech. Even though the child was a little hesitant at the first, she did not depict any avoidance of completing the given task and similar was the observation of the first child. Hence, it can be stated that both the children did not avoid the completion of the task. Therefore, it can be inferred relating to the attachment theory that the attachment depicted in the first case was not as prominent as in the second case. Moreover, considering the social learning theory, it can be stated that the first child related her speech with her family by which she learnt that she should let go all her differences with her brother and move on in her life as the characters in her book did. In the second case, she did not prominently learn anything but her speech depicted that she socialised with her friends and family quite well on her birthday. 

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Antecedents. The presence of antecedents is observed in both the cases but in the second case, the conjunction ‘and’ is repetitively used depicting that she was thinking of how to proceed with her speech. This was natural to happen because she was not prepared for the speech and she was not reading her speech as done by the first child. Hence, the second child lacked proper formation of sentences in her speech, the main reason being her age in comparison with the first child. Whereas, the first child was able to grammatically encode the message she and her mother wanted to deliver which was lacking in the second child. 

Behaviours and its Consequences. The maternal behaviour while preparing the speech was examined according to which the second mother was seen to be motivating the child to start the speech and was guiding her throughout the speech. She provided hints such as before the beginning of her speech with “my best day”. However, she motivated her child to complete her speech but the child was unable to understand the hints as a result of which, she was notably silent for quite a long time. While the first mother was observed to be relaxed throughout the speech and when the child stopped for a moment, she guided her and gave hints for the content of the speech. Therefore, on an overall basis, it can be suggested that the behaviour of the first child instigated the mother to give hints for her speech but the second mother was giving hints from the beginning of her speech. This shows that the behaviour of the children positively affected mothers. The maternal behaviour when put to examination throughout the task, it can be observed that the first mother was less involved in the preparation of the speech when compared to the second mother. In addition, while delivering the actual speech, the first mother was silently listening to her daughter until she stopped and then she guided the child for example, “Did you read the book reviews?” after which the child was able to continue her speech. Therefore, on an overall basis, it is evident that considering the attachment theory, the first participant showed more attachment with her mother than the second. In addition, considering the social learning theory, the first participant could be more related than the second one. However, the parenting styles of both the mothers were different from each other, wherein the permissive style was shown by the first mother whereas authoritative one by the second. 

Conclusion and Recommendation

Critically analysing the observations of both the participants and relating the observations with the theories and functional elements, it can be concluded that all the theories were to some extent related to both the cases. Considering the quality of the relationship portrayed by the two pairs, it can be stated that quality seems to be high in the first case than in the second wherein, the first participants could understand and comply with each others’ requirements more than the second participants. Moreover, the parent behaviour was observed to be highly positive in the first participant than the second participants. In contrast, the behaviour of children was more conscious and anxious in the second participant than the first participant depicting that the anxiousness of the mother in the second case did negatively affect the actual delivery of speech for the second child. However, the causal nature of the first mother in the second case was seen to be motivating the child for her actual delivery of the speech.

Considering all the aspects, it can be suggested that the first child should be motivated to develop more social learning because it was verbally evident that her relationship with her brother was not so good and she did not relate anything with her friends as done by the second child. Having an understanding of the attachment theory, it can be suggested that the attachment of a child with her family and friends was more evident in the second case than the first case. In addition, the parenting style of the first mother was permissive hence in order to develop the outcome of the child a little strictness should be implemented with more control attempts. In accordance with the second case, it seems that the mother was manipulating the thoughts of the child which resulted in unsatisfactory outcome of the child. Hence, it can be advised that the mother should deal with the child with more care, and warmth. She should also reduce her control over the child and should allow her thoughts to be transferred into the speech which could have made her speech a lot more interesting. Therefore, in both the cases, there are certain changes that the mothers need to consider in their parenting styles and behaviours which shall result in more fruitful outcomes of the child considering the developmental and social aspects. 

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Appendix 1: Maternal Behaviour Evaluation 

Maternal Behaviour (time interval of 3 minutes of actual speech)Participant No. 56 (per minute)Participant No. 56 (per minute)
1st2nd3rd Mean Score1st2nd3rd Mean Score
Negative Behaviour13225434
Positive Behaviour54552333

Figure 1: Maternal Behaviour Evaluation

Appendix 2: Evaluation of Children’s Anxious Responses

Children’s Anxious Response (time interval of 3 minutes of actual speech)Participant No. 56 (per minute)Participant No. 56 (per minute)
1st2nd3rd Mean Score1st2nd3rd Mean Score
Facial Expressions12225444
Body Movements31125545
Child Avoidance11113233

Figure 2: Evaluation of Children’s Anxious Responses

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  1. Aoki, K. (2003). Psychology of parent-child relationship. JMAJ, 46(2), 75-79.
  2. Apetroaia, A., Hill, C., & Creswell, C. (2015). Parental responsibility beliefs: Associations with parental anxiety and behaviours in the context of childhood anxiety disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders 188, 127-133.
  3. McLeod, S. (2015). Psychology research ethics. Retrieved from
  4. Murray, L., Lau, P. Y., Arteche, A., Creswell, C., Russ, S., Zoppa, L. D., … & Cooper, P. (2012). Parenting by anxious mothers: Effects of disorder subtype, context and child characteristics. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53(2), 188-196.
  5. O’Connor, T.G., & Scott, S. BC. (2007). Parenting and outcomes for children. Kings College London, 1-51.
  6. Schriefers, H., & Vigliocco, G. (2015). Speech production, psychology of. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 23, 255- 258.
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