Social Interactions of Normal Preschool Children: Using Normative Data for Subject and Target Behavior Selection

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The purpose of this observational study on preschool children's interactive behaviors was to produce a set of normative data that could be directly used for the identification of socially withdrawn children and the empirical selection of target behaviors for intervention. A total of 60 children, evenly distributed across three-, four-, and five-year-old subject groups, were observed for 10 six-minute sessions across a two-month period. A 14-item observational system was used to assess the frequency of specific social initiations by these children as well as the responses of peers. The results indicate that, in setting the occasion for positive peer responding: (a) specific social initiations varied considerably in frequency of occurrence and effectiveness; (b) frequency of occurrence for specific initiations was negatively correlated (r = -.36) with effectiveness; and (c) motor/gestural initiations were generally more effective than vocal/verbal initiations.

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