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Child Development Case study

Child Development

Student’s Name

Institution of Affiliation

Part I:

Introduction to Child’s Background and Environment

The case study in the video begins when SB, a male child living with his mum is 2 years and 11 months old and ends when he is 4 years old. When the video starts, the child is seen to be involved in learning through playing in various situations with his friend while his mother is close by to give support, bring out the child’s knowledge and skills. The setting of the observation is naturalistic. Throughout this observation, all details which could be used to identify the child and family have been replaced with letters due to confidentiality purpose.

The observation can be focused in many areas as the child interacts with the toy dog and dough in his family kitchen. As the child interacts with his toy dog and mum, he becomes very happy. In this video, the key areas of observation included gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language development, and cognitive, social, and psychological development. Observing these areas of development helps in understanding the domains of child development using research and theories. A three-generation genogram and ecomap of the family are then completed with the help of the keys. The genogram and ecomap will be based on family members and the surroundings of the child.

Genogram and Ecomap

Figure 1: Genogram

  In the genogram, SB’s genogram explains his family relationship and history over three generations. His paternal grandparents were in love, got married, and later died. Before they passed away, they had four children including SB’s father. His maternal grandparents were married and in love and had four children including SB’s mother. His grandfather later passed away. His aunt EDN had two children a boy and a girl. The girl (RS) had a boyfriend and they were in love and had three girls. SB’s uncle JY had no child and aunt QT had two boys and two girls.

SB lived like a lone child because his sister is all grown up and moved out of the house. His aunties and uncles all lived in different countries, so hardly does he see them. His mother and dad were in love but later separated when he was very young. SB knows little or nothing about his father and has no male figure in his life.

Figure 2: Ecomap

In the ecomap, several people and play instruments surround SB. The most important person in his environment is his mum, with whom he spends most of his time while playing. There are also a group of friends SB is playing with in various scenes. There are those groups of children he plays with when he is baking, flying a rocket, and making bricsk. SB is also seen playing with his female cousin, JS With whom he plays in the garden. SB has a female friend who is 4 years and 2 months old known as CS, who acts as his girl and is later involved in a fight. There is also a playground with several playing equipment. There is also sand, containers, utensils, baking tin, and spoon in another playground. SB is in the company of a group of small children who are his friends. There is also a TL, SB friend who has a birthday party. Three adults are nearby watching SB and other children play, but do not intervene only when necessary. There is a scene when SB  is in the company of older girls. Most importantly, SB has a toy dog that he likes playing with so much.

Evaluating Theories and Models of Child Development in the Video Case Scenario

Social Development

Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development: According to Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, SB is in the second stage which is preoperative because he can perform difficult tasks in which he gives dough to the dog to eat. In this stage, Piaget believes that the child begins to think symbolically and learns to utilize words and pictures to represents objects (McLeod, 2018). The child also tends to be egocentric and struggles to look at things from the perspective of other people. Besides, Piaget believes that while children are getting better with language and thinking at this stage, he still tends to think about things in a very concrete way. The child is seen to communicate actively with his mother while giving the dog dough. In this stage, the child also becomes much more skilled at pretend play yet continues to think concretively concerning the world around him, as seen in SB ho pretends to make breakfast for his dog (McLeod, 2018). When his mother asked him if he should prepare lunch, he can reason that it is morning and people take breakfast and not lunch. SB thinks concretively and engages in a lot of pretend play with his mother and friends. 

Operant Conditioning Theory: SB showed the characteristic of an operant stage in a scene where he was involved in the building of bricks. SB mention colors and shapes when his mother asked him the various colors to use when building the bricks. In this scene, SB uses symbolism to build a police station, thus applying Piaget’s theory. Further, SB also learns through operant conditioning, which is a method that involves rewards and punishments for behaviors.  Through operant conditioning, SB makes an association between a behavior and a consequence for the particular behavior. When a child’s behavior is reinforced, there is an increase in the likelihood of the child to repeat the favorable behavior or refrain from the unfavorable behavior when punishment is applied (Domjan, 2018). For instance, SB did some play during the toy dough scene and his mother encouraged (reward) him.  At the age of 3 years, SB repeated this act of baking that his mother encouraged him earlier where he was in the kitchen and his mother was close by as he makes play dough for his mother and mum’s friend ER. Again, at the playground where he was playing with other children with sand and various wooden boxes, he pretended to be baking cakes. SB received a positive reinforcement from his mother to bake cake through encouragement and he repeated this act in several occasions.  Again, SB felt secure during play and was confident and felt free to explore his emotions without fear of being rejected or punished. As a result, he used his attachment figure (his mum) as a safe base to explore his environment and no specific support is needed for him.

Erickson’s Eight-Stage Theory of Development: According to Erickson’s eight-stage theory of development, a child is faced with developmental conflicts that influence how a child functions and grows throughout life (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2018). At 3 years and 5 months, SB is in stage 3 of Erickson’s initiative vs. guilt. At this stage, SB interacts socially and plays with his friends, and learns that he can take the initiative and control what happens. For instance, when trying to firing a rocket, SB instructs his friend to fit in the head and continues to tell her that if grabs him on his leg while he flies the rocket, they can both fly up. In this stage, SB should be left to explore the world within his limits the parent sets up. The parent can also be a playmate as seen in the scene where SB cooks supper and serves his mother who responds by saying that she is hungry and eagerly waiting for the meal. In this stage, if the parent fails to control or support the child when he makes decisions, the child may not be well equipped to take initiatives and may lack ambition, and could be filled with guilt. According to Erickson, overpowering feelings of guilt may deter a child from interacting with other people and prevent creativity. 

John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory: John Bowlby’s attachment theory suggests that babies are born pre-programmed to develop attachments with other people, which then assist them to survive. According to Bowlby, mental health and behavioral issues are connected to an individual’s childhood experiences (Crain, 2015). According to Bowlby, deprivation, or separation in the early stages of a child’s life may cause permanent emotional damage (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2018). This theory also maintains that providing security during childhood is important. In the video, the SB’s mother offers security as she is always by her son during his playtime. Another scenario was seen at the park where SB’s mum is always around when he plays, thus helping to bring a strong relations with his mother.

Bandura’s Social Learning Theory: Another important theory that is important to consider in this scenario is Bandura’s social learning theory, which states that children learn through observing others as opposed to being taught. In the video case scenario, SB observes other children and what they do during baking and imitates. According to Bandura, the people the child observes are known as the models and are people in the community that surround the child and can be anyone including the parents, uncles, grandparents, and members of the society as well as characters from television and persons they see on the streets (Crain, 2015). These models can display various behaviors that the child can learn from and can be both bad and good. 

The Importance of Diversity in Human Identity and Experience

Research indicates that adults who engage in culturally responsive educational experiences help the child to build self-confidence and increases the child’s awareness, appreciation, and inclusion in the diverse beliefs and cultures (Genishi & Dyson, 2015). In the case scenario video, SB lives in a diverse community with different cultural backgrounds, which could potentially motivate the child to act and be like everyone else in the community. Through cultural diversity, the child will learn about the aspects of diversity that also embrace gender differences, disabilities, age, social, and economic backgrounds (Genishi & Dyson, 2015). By interacting with girls and boys, SB learns the importance of gender differences and roles in his community. 

Physical Development

Physical development incorporates both growth and the ability of the child to utilize muscles and body parts for specific skills. Both gross and fine motor skills have significantly contributed to the physical development of SB in the case scenario. Gross motor skills are the abilities acquired during childhood years as part of the child’s motor learning and involve large muscle movement. 

In the case scenario, SB can stand up, walk, run, and play with various play tools including swings. He can walk up the stairs. On the other hand, fine motor skills are the child’s ability to make movements by using small muscles in their hands and wrists. In the case scenario, SB uses fine motor skills to bake a cake and building bricks. He can hold playing equipment and perform various activities that require fine motor skills.

Reflection on the Process of Observation

After watching the video and taking observation notes of SB playing with his mother and other children, I noticed the difficulty in attempting to observe everything that was happening. It was quite a problematic zoning in on anyone in particular because many things were happening simultaneously and several voices of the children could be heard speaking at the same time. I found myself rewinding and replaying the video several times, which is cannot be applied in a real-life situation when taking observational notes because you cannot rewind what has passed. 

Observation in the case scenario is an effective exercise since it trained me to observe what I think is important and leaves out any biases. It is vital to take notes only on what is happening without including our personal opinions in the observation because it could alter the observational information collected. For example, I could have noted that SB was tired from the activities, but because I did not know whether he was tired, I could not include this information in the observational data because I was not sure whether it would be considered as my own biased opinion that results from being with children. 

Part 2

Introduction to Child’s background and Environment

The case scenario involves an 18 months old British toddler KL in distress condition, especially when in the company of her mother LU. Baby KL stays with her mother in a one-bedroom flat with no garden where she can play. Besides, KL does not have close contact with her dad. The only family she sees around is her mother, grandmother, and uncle LY. The last time she saw her dad, she was very young, and she cannot remember how her dad looks. KL family is represented in the genogram as shown below:

Figure 3: KL Family Genogram

Potential Risk Factors/Safeguarding Concerns

The risk factors imply the elements that predispose a person to dysfunction, even though being at risk does not necessarily mean that the dysfunction cannot be avoided.  Risk factors in this case scenario include both environmental and individual. 

  1. Separation of Parents and Lack of Parental Love

The toddler faces the most risks of all family members. According to Fahlberg (2012), a child’s early childhood experiences and attachment bonding with a career depends on the child’s needs and at that stage, children need food. They need someone who is going to care for them and satisfy their needs and if it is not provided they experience displeasure. In the case scenario, KL does not have access to basic needs like clothing and parental love. Due to the lack of parental love, KL seems to dislike her mother. KL needs love, care, assurances, and security, which her mother is not providing her. At her age, there is much going on in her development. At 18 months to 3 years, children expect big feelings, tantrums, simple sensations; pretend play, independence, new thinking skills, and many more. However, the mother is not providing either of KL’s needs. 

  1. Risk of Neglect

KL also risks getting sick because her mother does not provide her with protective clothing from the cold during winter. When parents separate or are always in constant fight, children such as KL become very insecure. The insecurity can make the toddler have negative behaviors like disobedience (Clément, Bérubé, & Chamberland, 2016). Besides, due to a lack of parental attention, KL risks having low self-esteem.  Further, KL is an anxious insecure avoidant child because she does not orientate herself to her attachment figure, in this case her mum. She always feels independent emotionally and physically as seen when she was left alone in front of TV in her grandmother’s house and at her mother’s house when she was climbing up stairs without anyone to assist her. According to Ainsworth et al. (2015), children with an anxious insecure avoidant attachment are likely to have a caregiver who is not sensitive to or rejects the child’s needs as seen in the case scenario where KL’s mother gives her unresponsive primary care.

  1. Delayed Language

Further, the toddler risks delayed language development because her mother has exposed her to constant television watching at a very young age. According to Genishi & Dyson (2015), exposure to television is directly linked to delay in language development and kindergarten readiness skills. Again, according to cognitive development theory by Jean Piaget show that development occurs through senses, touching, watching, and listening. However, this fact is opposite with KL because she is not given the opportunity to touch as she is seen put on her chair in front of the TV to keep her rest and stay put and her mother pushes her around asking her not to touch her. She also hardly speaks to her mother, which gives her less opportunity to develop listening skills because her mother who is the primary caregiver is always very busy and has little or no time for her. 

  1. Poor Development

The toddler also risks having poor development that may lead to depression, difficulty adapting to change, poor self-control, and shallow interpersonal relationships because her mother deprives her of the right to play and become creative. Play deprivation also leads to a decline in communication, problem-solving, and social skills. 

  1. Self-actualization

As seen from the case, KL will not be able to achieve self-actualization because of her environment and upbringing. She has not had a secured best environment and upbringing and she will probably find it difficult to achieve self-actualization because her environment and upbringing will influence her ways of life. An example is seen Bowlby’s social learning theory which states that the model children get from their caregivers can also affect how they develop into healthy individuals. KL can find it difficult because her model who is her mother has no time for her.

Protective Factors

The protective factors are the positive influences that increase the life of the toddlers and ensure her safety. These factors may reduce the likelihood of the toddler becoming depressed, aggressive, and violent (Banyard, Hamby, & Grych, 2017). 

  1. Supportive Family Environment

The grandma offers to play with the toddler and as well as a conducive environment for enhancing creativity. The grandma is also protective of the toddler as she noticed that she is not wearing any coat and shoes during sinter. Not wearing a coat and shoes during winter may put the child at risk of falling ill due to cold. 

  1. Stable family relationship with her Uncle

The other protective factor is LY, the toddler’s uncle, who crosses pathways with the toddler’s mother on how she raises her. The uncle’s relationship with the toddler acts as a positive in the child’s life. LY thinks that he can take good care of the toddler than the mother does. When he found the toddler upstairs, he knew she was at risk of falling from the stairs and could probably get injured. His intervention drew the attention of the toddler’s mother on how uncaring she was at raising the toddler.

All these elements enable us to understand the ecological theory which is the social and personal element in a child’s social situation and seeing how these elements interacts with each other to make up the world as Payne (2005) ecological theory as seen below:

Ecological systems theory - Wikipedia

Figure 4: Payne (2005) Ecological Theory Diagram

Possible Interventions That May Improve Protective Factors

Parental Resilience 

Even though being a parent is often rung joy and excitement, it can sometimes bring stressful events, as seen in the toddler’s mother. The mother is stressed about being a parent because she has to take care of her daughter, single-handedly, without the father. By being resilient, the toddler’s mother will manage her stress and function well even when faced with challenges, adversity, and trauma that may put the toddler at risk of emotional trauma (Center for Family strengthening, 2020). Besides, parent resilience positively affects the parent, the toddler, and the toddler-mother relationship (Sciaraffa, Zeanah, & Zeanah, 2018). Moreover, getting nurturing attention and establishing a secure emotional attachment with her parent fosters the development of resilience in the toddler when she experiences stressful events. 

Social Connections

Without a doubt, people need people. The toddler’s mother needs people who care about her and her child, who can be good listeners, who they can turn to for well-informed advice, and whom they can call on for help to solve issues. In this case scenario, the toddler’s uncle, and grandma are valuable resources for social connection. These family members can provide emotional support like being empathic and nonjudgmental, information support like providing the mother with parental guidance, instrumental support, like providing financial assistance or links to jobs, and spiritual support like providing hope and encouragement (Center for Family strengthening, 2020). Moreover, social connections can help reduce social isolation, which is linked to disengaged parenting, maternal depression, and an elevated likelihood of child maltreatment. Therefore, increasing the number of persons offering constructive social support to LU would be the cure for social isolation and loneliness. 

Concrete Support

At some point, a parent may need help with the day-to-day care of the child, such as figuring out how to manage her temper whenever she gets upset. When a parent is faced with a trying situation like losing a job or becoming jobless, or not able to feed her family, she will need concrete support and services that will address her needs and assist in minimizing the stress caused by her difficulties and adversities (Center for Family strengthening, 2020). Therefore, helping the toddler’s mother to identify, find, and receive concrete support in times of need will help to ensure that she and her child receive the basic necessities the child needs to grow, as well as specialized medical, mental health, social, educational, or legal services. More often, it is embarrassing for some parents to ask for help since they perceive it as an admission of incompetence and that they do not know how to handle their own problems or even take good care of their families (Sciaraffa, Zeanah, & Zeanah, 2018).

Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

There is no perfect parent, and no parent knows everything. Therefore, a comprehension of parenting strategies and child development may help the toddler’s mother understand what to expect and how to provide what her child needs at each developmental stage. LU can increase her knowledge and comprehension of her child’s development incorporating cognitive, language, physical, social, and emotional development. LU will increase her understanding of the cultural factors that influence her parenting practices, her perception of children, and how to discipline and positively impact her child’s behaviors (Center for Family strengthening, 2020). LU must understand that developing brains require proper nutrition, regularly scheduled sleep durations, physical activities that include playing, and different stimulating experiences. 


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APPENDIX: Observational Notes