Purpose of the study
The primary purpose of the study was to establish whether the availability and engagement in distracting activities increase a parent’s or caregiver’s tolerance for an infant’s cry. The article recognizes while crying is developmentally emblematic, inconsolable crying might have adverse effects not only on the caregiver but also to the child (Glodowski & Thompson, 2017). Many parents identify crying as a significant source of concern which often results in frustrations and guilt when caring for the children under the age of one year. Distress associated with managing a crying child might prompt adverse reactions from parents often resulting in child neglect and maltreatment. The rationale of the study is grounded on the fact that inconsolable crying is the primary precursor for infant maltreatment. Therefore, there is validation on conducting research aimed at establishing whether and how distracting activities such as squeezing a soft material decreases the aversiveness of inconsolable crying. Primarily, the availability and engagement in distracting activities is intended to minimize parents’ distress while facilitating infant safety.
Participants and Settings
The study examined the availability and effects of distracting activities on six undergraduate students for a recorded infant cry. The study was conducted in a small research center in the Psychology department in Western New England University (Glodowski & Thompson, 2017). Thirty-seven undergraduate students at the Western New England University completed the screening process to identify eligible individuals for the study. The screening process encompassed the no activities condition to establish the respondents who terminated the session within five minutes of the assigned ten minutes session as such providing a ground for the introduction of an escape through the distracting activities. Six individuals, three male and three female of an average age of 19 and half years old were identified as eligible respondents. While none of the participants was a parent, all participants reported having babysitting experience with young infants.
The dependent variable in the study is the tolerance rate of a parent or caregiver to an infant’s cry subject the availability of distracting activities. The tolerance rate was measured in terms of the duration that the participants could withstand the recorded infant cry. The measurement of latency to stop the recorded cry involved the application of a computer program that subtracted the time when the start button was clicked from the time the stop button was clicked (Glodowski & Thompson, 2017). For accuracy, an independent individual used a stopwatch to measure the variable for the first participant to validate the computer program. The respondents were instructed to click start on the laptop which initiated the recorded version of the crying baby and to click the stop when they could no longer withstand the crying.
The independent variable is the distracting activities that the researcher provided to increase tolerance to the recorded cry. These activities included a stress ball, crossword puzzle and an iPhone that was loaded with various electronic games. A laptop was utilized to record each participant’s duration of engagement with each activity. An observer recorded the onset of involvement in the alternative activity when the participant was involved in the event for three consecutive seconds and offset when the participants stop distracting him or herself for three successive seconds (Glodowski & Thompson, 2017). The observation associated with the stress ball was grounded on contact with one hand; the puzzle involved holding a writing material in one hand while looking at the puzzle while the iPhone encompassed contact with one hand while looking at the screen.
The study utilizes a mixed-method research design since the research is grounded on both qualitative and quantitative characteristics. The measurement of the variables utilizes both research designs where numbers are used to account for the duration while descriptions provide for explanations on what the researchers observed.
Results and Discussion
The results indicate distracting activities are applicable in increasing the tolerance of inconsolable crying in some individuals. Through comparing sessions with the availability of alternative activities and no distracting activities, three participants tolerated the crying longer when there were distracting activities. The three participants that endured the crying for a longer duration showcased a high engagement with the alternative actions available (Glodowski & Thompson, 2017). The remaining three respondents tolerated the cry for similar duration irrespective of whether there were alternative activities or not.
Additionally, the three participants illustrated varying levels of engagement with alternative activities. However, the results did not provide a conclusion on the relevance and impact of the level of involvement in distracting activities and ability to tolerate inconsolable crying. Indeed, the data of one participant illustrate a high level of engagement which unfortunately did not increase the tolerance to inconsolable crying (Glodowski & Thompson, 2017).
However, the lack of a definite conclusion on the impact of engagement on the duration of tolerance to inconsolable crying might be grounded on the undefined functional properties of the distracting activity since there is an aspect of a lack of experimental evidence. Indeed, it is possible that the distracting activities would have appealed to many participants had the researcher selected a broader range of activities or selected the events based on individual preferences (Glodowski & Thompson, 2017). Essentially, the results of the study indicate the availability and engagement in distracting activities increase some individuals’ tolerance to infant crying as evident in half of the participants in the survey who tolerated the crying for more extended periods with the availability of distracting activities. The research provides preliminary evidence to parents and caregivers to engage in alternative activities in the event they are distressed in periods of inconsolable crying.
Analysis and Critique
Research in efforts of decreasing children maltreatment relies on the aspect of parental knowledge; therefore, validating efforts of recommending specific strategies to caregivers. While the study emphasizes the importance of compassionate care and sensitivity to a child’s needs, it suggests distracting activities for caregivers who have tried and failed to meet the expectation of the infants and are feeling frustrated. However, as mentioned, the researcher was unable to experiment to determine the functional characteristics of the distracting activities. Individuals across the globe have different personalities and as such different tastes and preferences. It is deductible that the distracting activities might have appealed to more participants if the researcher provided a wide variety of choices or if the alternative activities provided to each was grounded on their tastes and preferences.
Moreover, the preparation and subsequently the research conducted did not capture all the variables that encompass the behavior and reactions of parents during an inconsolable crying episode. Therefore, for valid and reliable conclusions, it is necessary for the research to be replicated with infants and young mothers under the standard caregiving situations. Undeniably, it is premature to make recommendations to caregivers based on the results of the study which showcased that availability of distracting activities provided relatively small increases in latency to infant crying and for only half of the respondents in the survey. Another study in a regular caregiving environment is necessary for generalizing the findings and pinpointing as to whether, indeed, distracting activities improve the caregivers’ social behavior and subsequently increasing the infant’s safety. In conclusion, while laboratory studies such as the current one on whether distracting activities increases the tolerance to inconsolable crying are a good starting point, there is a necessity of surveys that focus on measuring behavior directly.
Glodowski, K., & Thompson, R. (2017). Do distracting activities increase tolerance for an infant cry? Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 50(1), 159-164.