Observing Children

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Subjects:
Boy-3 years old, Girl-4 years old, Mother.
Hypothesis:
My hypothesis was to determine the effects of maternal presence versus absence on sibling behavior. Setting:
This observation took place in the children's home. As a playroom they used the living room because that is where all their toys are. For my observation I used both the siblings and their mother. During the observation I was present including the children and their mother. I am not related to those children. I happened to meet them a couple of times because they are related to my boyfriend. I do not see the children frequently. I will see them only when my boyfriend's family will invite us to a family get together. I did not interact with the children at all, only the mother interacted with them.

Methodology:
In my study I only observed a mixed sex pair of siblings. Where the sister was older than her brother. The mother and the two siblings were observed in the family's home, in their living room, instead of a playroom laboratory. I started the observation at 5:00 PM. Five minutes before I started my study I explained to the mother that she would have to interact with the children for almost an hour. Then I told her that she would have to leave the room for around the same time, so that the children may interact without her presence. I also explained that after the children were done playing together alone that she would have to come back and ask them to put their toys away. This was the order that the activities were executed and my observation was completed by 7:00 PM. I recorded all of their actions by keeping written notes. I had the mother's permission to record their activities. The mother was only aware of this, the children did not know that they were being observed.
The first chart I used was a checklist in which I observed "the behaviors (of siblings) during maternal absence versus presence." (Linda, Musun-Miller (1991). Effects of Maternal Presence on Sibling Behavior. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 12, see table 2, p. 150). In addition, I used a second chart as a checklist in order to record the children's interaction according to the sex of the child and the presence of the mother. The behavioral coding system for these charts was obtained "from one used in earlier research involving home observations of family interactions (Baskett, 1984, 1985; Baskett & Johnson, 1982) and was based in turn upon an earlier version of the Family Interaction Coding System (FICS; Patterson, Ray, Shaw, & Cobb, 1970; see Appendix for a complete listing of the codes used)." (Linda, Musun-Miller (1991). Effects of Maternal Presence on Sibling Behavior. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 12, see table 3, p. 151). The results in my charts do not show percentages, because it was not possible for me to use the multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVAs) in my study as in the article. Instead, I used "M" for more and "L" for less in order to explain which subject category displayed more or less of a specific behavioral code. This is shown by placing a check under "M" or "L" based on each type of behavior. I added these options to the charts so that my observations could be as precise as possible.

Toys and props that were used by the subjects were an alphabetical puzzle, a water gun, a Barbie doll, a table cloth and a toy cassette player, because those toys were available to them. The purpose of this observation was to see how children interact with each other when playing together alone versus the presence of an adult and specifically their mother.

Results:
The results of my studies were based on how the children's behavior during interaction was affected by the presence and absence of the mother. Below I will explain some of the results of the children's behaviors that were observed. According to my first chart, I noticed that when the mother was...
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