As the Smith-Garcias are planning for their baby, they have to decide which principles from each of the theories they have researched that they will practice. The first of these theories is Skinner’s Operant Conditioning in which an element of reinforcement and punishment is utilized to shape the child’s social and behavioral skills. It will be the parent’s job to reinforce wanted behavior and punish unwanted behavior. For example, if the child throws a temper tantrum, her parents might put her in time out to show that this type of behavior is not acceptable. The punishment therefore reinforces that if she acts this way again, she knows she will be placed in time out. Essentially the child learns from these reinforcements and punishments. The second principle is Bandura’s social learning theory which deals with vicarious reinforcement and vicarious punishment.
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Essentially the child will learn by observing others and is not affected directly. Bandura believed that direct reinforcement could not account for all types of learning which explains why his theory is rooted in the idea of observation. Overall There are three core concepts at the heart of social learning theory. First is the idea that people can learn through observation. Next is the idea that internal mental states are an essential part of this process. Finally, this theory recognizes that just because something has been learned, it does not mean that it will result in a change in behavior. To illustrate Bandura’s theory in their parenting style, the Smith-Garcia’s might provide a model for sharing or even increase sharing through vicarious reinforcement.
The third theory they have studied is Ainsworth’s attachment research in which he addresses the idea of secure attachment, insecure attachment, and other such ideals. The idea is that securely attached children are more likely to perceive their primary caregiver as a secure base. This is illustrated in the fact that once this child is born, she will feel an emotional security and attachment to her parents who are her primary caregiver. She will feel most comfortable around them. An example of this would be if they were to promote secure attachment to increase self reliance. These behaviors may include nurturing, support, encouragement, and many more. The fourth and final theory they will address and practice is Baumrind’s research on parenting styles. In Baumrind’s research, he