Habit Formation and Learning in Young Children – Conditioned Psychomotor Responses

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In the first days of life, conditioned responses appear in the child’s psychomotor skills – it learns to respond act with innate mechanisms of behavior and to stimuli that are not the original causes of such behavior. In this example, calming hunger cries is an unconditional motor response to receiving food, and a conditioned psychical response to the mother’s custom of taking the child in her arms while feeding.

Experiments of Marquis D. P.: Learning in the neonate: the modification of behavior under three feeding schedules, especially Russian researchers Osipova V. N., Ivanov – Smolensky A, G., Denisova M. P., showed that infants and young children are very approachable in acquiring conditioned psychomotor responses. In the experiment, they managed to provoke numerous responses in the infant with very different and unusual stimuli, such as sucking, blinking, pulling limbs, increased breathing, crying, general restlessness, fear and others.

In the first 4 years of life, a child’s ability to acquire conditioned psychomotor responses grows; later it gradually decreases. This points to the need for various forms of behavior, which we want to turn into habits, to begin to develop and condition as soon as possible. Patient and persistent training of the child is needed, because these conditioned behaviors will take root in the nervous system the deeper it is repeated.

Interestingly enough, some authors have been able to free children from some diseased behaviors, such as unreasonable fear, by persistently practicing conditioned psychomotor responses (Jones M. C.: The elimination of children’s fears, or bed-wetting, Morgan J. J.: Treatment of enuresis by the conditioned responses technique). In the presence of various children’s neuroses, we often use the introduction of new stimuli into the mechanism of children’s speech. Their purpose is to stop and remove the effect of earlier, diseased stimuli that caused the neurosis.