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What is vicarious learning for children?


Have you ever heard of vicarious learning? It is a system of education for children based on observation. In other words, you, as a father or mother, are a role model for your child and you will have to teach them by example and using positive reinforcement.

We explain what is vicarious learning for children and what criticism this model has received.

We have always said that parents are the best teachers for their children. You know why? Because Children learn mostly from the example they see in their parents. They learn by observation. This is exactly what vicarious learning is based on, an educational system that focuses on setting a good example, serving as a model for the child, through observation and a series of reinforcements, to imitate.

Here are some characteristics of the vicarious learning model for children, proposed by Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura in the late 1970s:

1. It is a learning by imitation. Children imitate what they see. From there, we become aware that we, as parents, are the main reference for imitation of children.

2. Learning also in social relationships. Children, when interacting with other children, observe the consequences of their behaviors. If they see that another child is congratulated for having picked up the toys, he will tend to imitate it, seeking that same congratulation.

3. Motivation. The child will imitate the behavior of others if he is motivated to do so. Motivation and incentives play an essential role in this style of education.

4. The reinforcements. For a child to want to imitate a behavior, he will need to feel that he has served something. This is achieved through positive reinforcement. Congratulating a child for something they did is vitally important so that they know that it really is the way to go.

5. Attention. For the child to observe and learn from the example, he must pay attention and be concentrated. Therefore, another of the strengths in this educational system is to enhance and improve the attention of children, so that they can be more receptive to what they see.

This learning system, vicarious learning, is part of a social learning theory, and may be a transition between behaviorism and cognitive psychology. Children learn by observing their environment. Before testing, they observe what happens when others behave in one way or another. This avoids many stumbles and mistakes. We usually say that we learn from our own mistakes, but we get rid of other mistakes because we already saw what was happening in others.

In short, according to the theory of vicarious learning, children learn from 'models' educational (which may be their parents, teachers, relatives ...). And they not only learn behaviors to imitate, but those that will not bring them any benefits. They will also learn gender roles and certain values ‚Äč‚Äčthat will serve them throughout their lives. In addition, children will tend to imitate more the example of those with whom they identify more. According to this theory, boys tend to imitate their father's example more and girls to imitate their mothers' example.

This type of learning believes in punishment as a way of modeling children's behavior, and in the relevance of the example of those closest to him. However, there are many gaps. Not all children who have a violent parent have to be violent older. And yet, model families can grow aggressive children.

The vicar theory leaves quite apart an essential issue in children's learning: emotions. Emotional intelligence plays an essential role in the development of children. Not only do they imitate what they see, but they internalize certain feelings and emotions and channel them in many different ways.

Another criticism that this learning receives is the use of punishments to show a child why he should not repeat a behavior again. Many other psychologists have shown that punishments do not work, since all the child thinks is that he is 'bad', not that he has done something wrong.

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Video: Bandura and Social Learning Theory (January 2022).