Patterns of compliance from eighteen to thirty months of age

Karen L. Schneider-Rosen, Boston College
Melodie Wenz-Gross, University of Massachusetts Medical School

At the time of publication, Melodie Wenz-Gross was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


31 children at 18 months, 32 children at 24 months, and 36 children at 30 months of age were observed in 2 separate 2-hour laboratory sessions with their mother and father to study behavioral responses to demands for compliance. Patterns of compliance to parental commands and requests were examined in 5 laboratory situations. The data revealed no differences in compliance depending upon which parent was present or across the 2-week time interval between the 2 visits, although there was considerable variability in behavior across the 5 situations. Developmental analyses revealed few linear progressions with age, with 24 months signaling an important transition characterized by behavioral reorganization. Taken together, the results encourage reexamining traditional assumptions regarding the development of compliance since it may be most adaptive for children to be responsive to environmental demands and interpersonal constraints.