Four Years Old in an Urban Community

Front Cover
Transaction Publishers, 1968 - Social Science - 570 pages
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Although psychologists by training, John and Elizabeth Newson have more aptly been described as pioneers in social ecology; they work from the conviction that the causes and the consequences of child-rearing attitudes can fruitfully be investigated only in the framework of the total social environment in which they occur. This book continues their analysis of child rearing in an English urban setting.

To this project the Newsons have brought the rigorous research techniques of their scientific background; but they do not undervalue the practical experience of parenthood which has taught them to distrust the magical short cuts to "understanding" child development offered by the various theoretical schools of thought. They believe that much of the theory-building has been premature and that there is an urgent need for detailed descriptive studies of how parents do in fact treat their, children and, equally important, how children treat their parents: the constant two-way interaction through which the pattern of family life is evolved.

The four-year-old child has been much discussed from the angle of nursery school education: this book breaks new ground in its description of nursery-age children in the much more basic and intimate context of the home. Written without recourse to unnecessary technical jargon, it will be of absorbing interest to every intelligent parent and indeed to anyone looking for new insights into the working of our society. For teachers, doctors, nurses, and all whose profession it is to work with young children or with their families, it will be both essential and enjoyable reading.

John Newson and Elizabeth Newson in addition to this book are authors of The Family and the Handicapped Child: A Study of Cerebral Palsied Children in Their Homes and Infant Care in an Urban Community. They were professors of psychology at the University of Nottingham.


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Background and introduction
The child in his context
Focus on fouryearolds
Pressures for independence
Social learning and the control of aggression
Rights and privileges of property and play
Shared and private worlds
Mealtimes and manners
Who told thee that thou wast naked
Patterns of persuasion and compulsion
Verbalization and the question of truth
Satisfaction and doubt in the parental role
Appendix I The interview schedule
Appendix II Sampling and statistical procedures
Appendix III Interview with a fouryearold
List of references

Must we to bed indeed?
Rituals and comfort habits
Coda to toilet training

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