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Beginning in infancy, parents and caregivers provide experiences that differentially influence children’s self-efficacy. Home influences that help children interact effectively with the environment positively affect self-efficacy. Initial sources of self-efficacy are centered in the family, but the influence is bidirectional. Parents who provide an environment that stimulates youngsters’ curiosity and allows for mastery experiences helps to build children’s self-efficacy. In turn, children who display more curiosity and exploratory activities promote parental responsiveness.
Children are motivated to work on the activities, and thereby learn new information and skills when environments are rich in interesting activities that arouse children’s curiosity and offer challenges that can be met. There is much variability in home environments. Some contain materials such as computers, books, and puzzles that stimulate children’s thinking. Parents who are heavily invested in their children’s cognitive development may spend time with them on learning. Other homes do not have these resources, and adults may devote little time to children’s education
Parents who provide a warm, responsive, and supportive home environment, encourage exploration and stimulate curiosity, and provide play and learning materials accelerate their children’s intellectual development. Parents also are key providers of self-efficacy information when they arrange for varied mastery experiences. Such experiences occur in homes enriched with activities and in which children have the freedom to explore.
With respect to vicarious sources, parents who teach children ways to cope with difficulties and model persistence and effort strengthen children’s self-efficacy. As children grow, peers become increasingly important. Parents who steer their children toward efficacious peers provide further vicarious boosts in self-efficacy.
Homes also are prime sources of persuasive information. Parents who encourage their youngsters to try different activities and support their efforts help to develop children who feel more capable of meeting challenges
Peer Influence :
Peers influence children’s self-efficacy through model similarity, Observing similar others succeed can raise children’s self-efficacy and motivate them to perform the task if they believe that they, too, will be successful. Observing others fail can lead students to believe that they lack the competence to succeed and dissuade them from attempting the task. The model similarity is most influential for students uncertain about their performance capabilities, such as those lacking task familiarity and information to use in judging self-efficacy or those who have experienced difficulties and hold doubts. The model similarity is potent among children and adolescents because peers are similar in many ways and students at these developmental levels are unfamiliar with many tasks.
Peer influence also operates through peer networks or large groups of peers with whom students associate. Students in networks tend to be highly similar, which enhances the likelihood of influence by modeling. Networks help define students’ opportunities for interactions and observations of others’ interactions, as well as their access to activities. Over time, network members become more similar to one another. Discussions between friends influence their choices of activities and friends often make similar choices.
Peer groups promote motivational socialization. Changes in children’s motivational engagement across the school year are predicted accurately by their peer group membership at the start of the year. Children affiliated with highly motivated groups change positively; those in less motivated groups change negatively. Peer group academic socialization may influence the group’s academic self-efficacy and motivation.
Further support for these contentions comes from research by Steinberg et al, who tracked students from the entrance into high school until their senior year and found developmental patterns in the influence of peer pressure in many areas, including academic motivation and performance. Peer pressure rises during childhood and peaks around grade 8 or 9 but then declines through high school. A key time of influence is roughly between ages 12 and 16, during which, interestingly, parental involvement in children’s activities declines.
Steinberg et al. investigated whether students who began high school academically equivalent (i.e., with similar grades) but became affiliated with different peer crowds remained academically similar. Students in academically oriented crowds achieved better during high school than did students in less academically oriented crowds. It should be noted that although parental influence declines, it does not disappear. Parents can launch children onto a trajectory by establishing goals for them and by involving them in groups and activities.
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