Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Document Type


Date of this Version



Thesis (M.S.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1962. Department of Home Economics.


Copyright 1962, the author. Used by permission.


The purpose of the present study was to determine whether mothers of three-year-old children were able to differentiate between “most important” and “least important” behaviors of their children. The second purpose was to determine whether or not agreement exists between mothers of three-year-old children and Child Development educators.

To establish behaviors which were most important and least important to the overall normal development of the three-year-old child, five judges were selected and were asked to rank 74 behaviors in their order of importance.From the approximate upper one-third and lower one-third of the 74 behaviors, two categories—“most important” behavior items and “least important” behavior items, were derived.

Data for the present study were obtained from 37 middle and upper-middle class mothers of three-year-old children by interview-questionnaire method.The information from 37 completed questionnaires yielded six specific types of data from which the following six variables were established: desirability of behavior, priority of behavior problem, number of methods used to try to change behavior, severity of methods used to try to change behavior, number of successful methods used in changing behavior and severity of successful methods of changing behavior.

Mothers’ ratings of “most important” and “least important” behaviors were compared on the basis of each of the six variables using the Mann-Whitney U test, a rank ordering of all scores within each variable.

Mothers agree, in general, with Child Development educators, on the basis of their ratings of most important and least important behaviors, as to the desirability of behavior and priority of behavior problems.

Mothers in this study appear to know which behaviors are most important and which are least important to the development of their children.Mothers may be using fewer methods to try to change most important behaviors.

The results of this study can be explained, in part, by the frequency of the occurrence of least important behaviors and the irritation they cause to the mother who is involved in other household tasks.

Advisor:Harold Abel