Child Psychology- Chapter One: Intro to Child Development
Child Psychology- Chapter One: Intro to Child Development PSY 335
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Chapter 1 Introduction to Child Development Why Study Child Development Raising Children Choosing Social Policies Understanding Human Nature Raising Children Research and studies on child development help parents and teachers meet challenges of rearing and educating children For example how can parents promote their children s anger management and other negative emotions They can express sympathy towards the child then the child can cope with situations better They can also nd positive alternatives to expressing their angen Babysitters and teachers can use these methods as well 0 This method helped preschool children who were angry and out of control It was a 32week program Various pre school teachers helped their children recognize their own and their children s emotions It taught the children techniques for controlling their anger and guided them in resolving con icts with other children When the children were angry they had to move away from other children and go to a quotturtle shellquot position where they could think through the situation until they were ready Now those children are more skillful in recognizing and regulating their anger Similar programs are valuable for improving emotional understanding and social interaction skills in elementary school children Choosing Social Policies Choosing social policies permit informed decisions about social policy questions that affect children Child testimony can take place even from preschool children The stakes are high in cases like sexual abuse trials If the juries believed the children who falsely testify that they are abused then innocent people can spend years in jail and their reputations are ruined forever But if the juries don t believe the children who accurately report the abuse the perpetrators can go free and may abuse other children There was a study where researchers told 36 year old children to play a similar game to Simon Says where the children had to touch their bodies and other children s bodies One month later a social worker interviewed the children about the experiences But before that she was given accurate and inaccurate information of experiences but she didn t know that Then she had to quotfind out what each child remembersquot The versions of events she heard in uenced her questions like quotAre you sure you touched his foot Is it possible you touched some other part of his bodyquot The social worker would also repeat some of these questions and with the repetitive questions came changed responses and children became more con dent about their inaccurate memories with repetitive questioning The children were then led to remember plausible events that didn t happen and they were unlikely ones Thus an interrogator questioning his or her beliefs about what happened can in uence how children answer their ques ons When shielded from leading questions in cases 35 year old children can be witnesses The younger the child the more susceptible they are to questions and the more their recall re ects the biases of the interviewer s questions Realistic props like anatomically correct dolls and drawings that are often used to improve the recall of sexual abuse can effect increasing the number of inaccurate claims by blurring the line between fantasy play and reality In conclusion in order to get a more accurate testimony especially from children questions should be stated in a neutral way that doesn t presuppose the answer Questions that the child already answered shouldn t be repeated and props associated with fantasy play shouldn t be used Researchbased conclusions illustrate how knowledge of child development can inform social policies Understanding Human Nature Understanding human nature provides some insight into really intriguing questions regarding human nature One illustration of the way scienti c research can increase the understanding of human nature comes from studies of how children s ability to overcome the effects of maltreatment are affected by timing the age at which maltreatment occurs and ends o For example in the late 19805 and early 19905 the early lives of Romanian children were spent in poor orphanages 0 Children had almost no contact with caregivers because they were instructed by the Communist dictatorship to not interact with the children even when giving them their bottles 0 After the Communist rule collapsed the Romanian children were adopted by British families 0 When the children arrived in Great Britain most of them were malnourished had varying degrees of mental retardation and were socially immature o The British families who adopted these children were determined to provide the most loving care to these children as possible 0 The early experiences of deprivation of these Romanian children in uenced their development with the extent of negative events depending on how long the children had been institutionalized o If a Romanian child was adopted before 6 months they usually weighed as much as British children at 6 years If a Romanian child was adopted between 6 and 24 months they usually weighed less than British children at 6 years because most of their early lives were spent at an orphanage If a Romanian child was adopted between 24 and 42 months they usually weighed even less than British children at 6 years 0 A sense of the magnitude of the longterm effects of institutionalization was conveyed by the percentage of the Romanian children with intellectual retardation o If a child was adopted before 6 months 2 of them scored in the retarded range at 6 years old If a child was adopted between 24 and 42 months 33 of them scored in the retarded range at 6 years old 0 20 of the Romanian children who were adopted after age 6 months showed abnormal behavior including not differentiating their parents from strangers not forming friendships as well They were willing to go off with strangers They didn t look to parents for reassurance in anxietyprovoking situations 0 The length of time spent in Romanian orphanages continued to in uence their development 0 Timing of experience in uences development If kids lived in those orphanages for at most 6 months they could overcome orphanage effects But this wasn t the case if they lived there beyond 6 months Historical Foundations of the Study of Child Development 0 Early Philosophers Views of Child Development 0 Plato and Aristotle believed that the longterm welfare of society depends on kids being raised properly but they differed in their approaches They were also similar because they weren t scienti c but philosophical o Careful upbringing is essential because the nature of kids would otherwise lead to their becoming rebellious o Plato viewed rearing of boys as a demanding challenge for parents and teachers He emphasized selfcontrol and discipline rearing as the most important goals of education He also believed that kids are born with innate knowledge Plato also believed that kids are born with a concept of an animal that from birth onward automatically allows them to recognize that the dogs cats and other animals they encounter are animals 0 Aristotle agreed with Plato but was more concerned with tting childrearing to the needs of the individual child humanitarian He also believed that all knowledge came from experience and that kids are like a blackboard on which nothing has been written 0 John Locke and JeanJacques Rousseau focused on how parents and society can best promote children development 0 Locke believed in discipline before freedom He also viewed children as a tabula rasa whose development re ects the nurture provided by the children s parents and society He also felt that the most important goal of childrearing was the growth of character He believed that parents need to set good examples of honesty stability and gentleness to build a child s character and that the parent shouldn t indulge their child 0 On the other hand Rousseau believed in freedom from the start He also believed that kids learned from their own spontaneous interactions with objects and other people rather than through instruction by parents and teachers Before a child reaches the age of 12 Rousseau felt that a child needs freedom to explore different interests When they reach the quotage of reasonquot they can judge for themselves the worth of what they are told Social Reform Movements In the nineteenth century research was conducted for the bene t of children and it provided some of the earliest descriptions of the adverse effects that harsh environments can have on kids These movements were devoted to improving children s lives by changing the conditions in which they live Darwin s Theory of Evolution Charles Darwin s work on evolution inspired many scientists to propose that an intensive study of children s development might lead to important insights into human nature Darwin s article quotA Biological Sketch of an Infantquot was about his observations of the motor sensory and emotional growth of his infant son William Studies on individual children s growth continue to be a distinctive feature of the modern eld of child development Darwin s evolution theory continues to in uence thinking of modern developmentalists on various topics infants attachment to their mothers innate fear of natural dangers sexual differences aggression and altruism and mechanisms underlying learning Freud and Watson Sigmund Freud believed that biological drives exerted important in uences on development This notion is called the John Watson believed that a child s development is determined by environmental factors especially the rewards and punishment that follow the child s actions This notion is called the Research methods are limited but theories are better grounded in research and have inspired more sophisticated thinking Enduring Theories FP P W39 l 39 Nature and Nurture Active Child Continuity and Discontinuity Mechanisms of Development The Sociocultural Context Individual Differences Research and Child s Welfare 1 Nature and Nurture The single most basic question about child development is how nature and nurture interact to shape the development process 0 The biological environment especially genes we receive from our parents o A wide range of environments physical and social that in uence our development How were you raised Did you cuddle or cry it out Developmental scientists recognize that every characteristic we possess are created through the joint workings of nature and nurture They ask how nature and nurture work together to shape development For example if one is raised in a stressful and or troubled family the risk for schizophrenia is higher especially with schizophrenia themes In regards to nature the genetic inheritance in uences every aspect of our makeup from broad characteristics like physical appearance and personality to speci c preferences like political beliefs and thrill seeking All human characteristics are created through the joint workings of nature and nurture and through the interaction of our genes and environment 2 The Active Child Children contribute to their own developmental course from early in their life and it increases as they grow older 3 of the most important contributions during a child s rst year are their attention patterns language use and play Older children and adolescents choose many environments friends and activities for themselves Their choices can exert a bug impact on their future Children rst begin to shape their own development through their selection of what to pay attention to Newborns prefer to look at things that move and make sounds It helps them learn about important parts of the world like people animals and inanimate moving objects When looking at people infants attention is drawn to their mother s face Toddlers often talk to themselves alone in a room It helps them improve their speech Only if children are internally motivated to learn language would they practice talking when no one present to react to what they are saying Babies learn about the noises made by colliding objects the speed at which objects fall and limits of his or her parents patience Play contributes to knowledge of themselves and others It teaches kids valuable lessons like how to cope with fears how to interact with others turntaking following rules and controlling emotions when faced with setbacks 3 ContinuityDiscontinuity changes with age occur gradually in small increments like a tree growing taller and taller changes with age include occasional big shifts like transition from a caterpillar to a cocoon to a butter y Four and six year olds differ in how much they know and in the whole way they think about the world Agerelated differences in understanding pervade children s thinking 0 For example two glasses have the same amount of water in them But let s say someone pours one of the glasses of water into a taller slimmer one A three or four year old may think that the taller glass has more water in it but a six year old may think differently The six year old may say that the tall glass and the other gass have the same amount of water 0 development occurs in a progression of distinct age related stages 0 A child s entry into a new stage involves sudden qualitative changes that affect the child s thinking and or behavior in broad uni ed ways and it moves the child from one coherent way of experiencing the world to a different coherent way of thinking 0 the development of thinking and reasoning 25 year old children tend to focus on one aspect of an event or one type of information at a time 7 year old children simultaneously focus on two or more aspects at a time and can do so on many different tasks 0 Most development changes are gradual and aren t sudden Development occurs skil by skill task by task but not in one broad uni ed way 0 For example in regards to a boy s height from birth to his current age 18 his development at each age was smooth and continuous with growth occurring quick early in life and then slowing down He grew every year but grew the most during 2 different periods 4 Mechanisms of Development 0 Genome interactions and environments determine both what changes occur and when these changes occur roles of brain activity genes and learning experiences in the development of effortful attention o The mechanisms of voluntary control of one s emotions and thoughts include processes like inhibiting impulses controlling emotions and focusing attention 0 Difficulty in exerting effortful attention is associated with behavioral problems mental illness and mental retardation 0 People performing tasks that require control of thoughts and emotions show that connections are active between anterior cingulate and limbic area 0 the brain structure involved in setting and attending to goals 0 the brain part involved in emotional reactions 0 The anterior cingulated and limbic area develop during childhood Development improves effortful attention during childhood 0 Genes in uence the product of neurotransmitters and variations in these genes are associated with performances on tasks of effortful attention 0 they re chemicals involved in communication among brain cells 0 Children s experiences can change the wring of the brain system that produces effortful attention 0 Experiences that children encounter in uence their brain processes gene expression and their reactions to experiences 5 Sociocultural Context 0 Physical social cultural economic and historical circumstances that make up any kid s environment 0 The most important component of a child s sociocultural contexts are the people with whom they interactparents brothers sisters teachers friends etc and the physical environment in which they live house daycare center school etc Sociocultural context institutions that can in uence children s lives education systems sports leagues etc 0 Characteristics of the child s society that are in uential include economic and technological advancement its values attitudes beliefs traditions etc o comparing the lives of kids who grow up in different cultures Practices that are rare or nonexistent in one s own culture are common in other cultures 0 Interviews with the Mayan and American parents indicated that the reason for them in deciding sleeping arrangements is cultural values measure of social class that s based on income and education Many context differences are related to ethnicity race and socioeconomic status Development is affected by ethnicity race and socioeconomic status Kids from poor families tend to do less well than others They are more likely to have health problems in infancy ln childhood they re more likely to have socialemotional and behavioral problems In adolescence they re more likely to have a kid andor drop out Parents talk and read to them less and they re less involved in their schooling The child is more likely to grow up in a singleparent home or be raised by neither of his or her biological parents But many resilient children do overcome these obstacles They have these characteristics 1 a positive personal qualities like high intelligence a nice personality an optimistic outlook on the future 2 a close relationship with at least one parent and 3 a close relationship with one other adult other than their parents 6 Individual Differences Individual differences among kids arise very fast during development Children s genes their treatment by other people their subjective reactions to other people s treatment of them and their choices of environments all contribute to differences among kids even those within the same family A more detailed source of variation is the differences in treatment the child receives from his or her parent and other people For example parents tend to provide more sensitive care to easygoing infants than to difficult ones By the second year parents of difficult children are often angry with them even when the children didn t do anything wrong in the immediate situation Children are also in uenced by their subjective interpretations of the treatment For example when a child feels that their parents favor their other sibling Another more detailed source of variation relates to the overall theme the quotactive childquot As the child grows older they increasingly choose which activities to be involved in and the friends they want to hang out with They also choose or accept niches for themselves like quotthe smart onequot or quotthe popular onequot 7 Research and Children s Welfare Childdeveloped research yields practical bene ts in diagnosing children s problems and in helping children to overcome them Research methods and preferential looking have enabled the diagnosis of the effects of cataracts in infants Improved understanding of child development education innovations are bene ts People who believe that intelligence increased with learning tend to react to failure in effective ways Persistence in the face of failure is key But people who believe that intelligence is a xed entity give up when they fail because the problem is too hard Methods for Studying Child Development F1909 gt Scienti c Methods Contexts for Gathering Data About Children Correlation and Causation Designs for Examining Development Ethical Problems in Child Development Research Scienti c Methods an approach to testing beliefs that involves 1 Pick a question to be answered 2 Forming a hypothesis regarding the question 3 Making a method for testing the hypothesis 4 Draw a conclusion The importance of appropriate measurement the measure must be directly relevant to the hypothesis 0 degree to which independent measurements of a behavior under study are consistent is referred indicates how much agreement there s in the observations of different raters who witness the same behavior gt Observations can be qualitative raters classify a baby s attachment as secure or insecure or quantitative raters score on a scale of 110 gt lnterrater reliability is attained when the rater s observations are in close agreement For example the score for Baby A is 67 the score for Baby B is 34 and the score for Baby C is 89 when the measures of child s performance on the same test which was taken by the child twice and administered under the same conditions are similar on 2 or more occasions For example a vocabulary test is administered to a group of kids on two separate occasions with one week in between the two occasions The kids who scored the highest on the rst test will score the highest on the second test 0 the degree to which it measures what its intended to measure the effects observed within experiments can be attributed with con dence to the factor that the researcher is testing the degree to which results can be generalized beyond the particulars of the research Additional studies with participants from different backgrounds and research methods are invariably needed to establish the external validity of the ndings B Contexts for Gathering Data about Children 0 Researchers receive data about kids through 3 main contexts 1 Interviews 2 Naturalistic observation 3 Structured observation 1 Interviews 0 all participants are asked to answer the same questions 0 questions are adjusted in accord with the answers the interviews provides They re good for getting in depth information 0 Interviews give a lot of information quickly and provide indepth information about individual children 0 Caveat the answers to interview questions are often biased Children like adults often avoid disclosing facts that show them in a bad light distort the way that events happened and fail to understand their own motivations 2 0 Goal to describe how children behave in their usual environments It s also used to illuminate social interactions 0 Limits It s hard to know which context in uenced the behavior of interest Many behaviors occur only occasionally it involves presenting an identical situation to each child and recording the child s behavior Researchers relate 3 observed behaviors to child characteristics like age sex personality etc 0 Goal It allows a controlled comparison of a child s behavior in different situations 0 Limit It reveals less about the subjective experience than interviews C Correlation and Causation attributes that vary across individuals and situations like age sex and popularity 0 Major goal to determine how these and other major variables are related to one another association and cause and effect 0 they determine whether kids who differ in one variable also differ in predictable ways in other variables 0 the association between two variables 0 Correlation doesn t equal causation because of the following two reasons 1 a correlation doesn t indicate which variable is the cause and which variable is the effect 2 the correlation between two variables may be the result of some third unspeci ed variable 0 So why do researchers use correlation designs even though correlation doesn t imply causation o The in uence of many variables of great interest can t be studied experimentally because researchers can t manipulate them They can t assign participants to one sex or another to one socioeconomic status or another and so on These variables can only be studied through correlation methods 0 Goal to describe relations among variables instead of identifying causeeffect relations among them 0 approaches that allow inferences about cause and effects to be drawn Two techniques are important to experimental designs 1 assigning the participants to one experimental group or another according to chance so that the groups are comparable at the outset 2 the ability of the researcher to determine the speci c experiences that children in each group encounter during the study a group of kids in an experimental design who are presented the experience of interest a group of kids who are treated similarly to the experimental group except that they aren t presented with the experience of interest or are presented with a different experience that s expected to have less effect on the variables being tested 0 the experience that kids in the experimental group receive and those kids in the control group don t receive 0 a behavior that s measured to determine whether it s affected by exposure to the independent variable 0 methods of choice for establishing causal relations a central goal of scienti c research Designs for Examining Development 1 Children of different ages are compared on a given behavior or characteristic over a short period of time It reveals similarities and differences between older and younger kids But they don t yield information about the stability of behavior over time or about the patterns of change shown by individual kids 2 It involves following a group of kids over a substantial period of time usually a year and observing changes and continuities in these children s development at regular intervals during that time It s not as popular as crosssectional designs because of locating children for reexamining Some children move away or stop participating Also the children can familiarize themselves with repeated questions and the types of items on the tests 3 The same child is being studied repeatedly over a short period while change is occurring lntense observation of changes while they re occurring can clarify process of change It reveals individual change patterns over short periods in detail It doesn t provide information about typical patterns of change over long periods It doesn t yield data regarding change patterns over long periods 0 Counting up from the larger addend the number of times indicated by the smaller addend Ethical Problems in ChildDevelopment Research 0 Researchers have responsibilities to anticipate potential risks that the kids in their studies may encounter to minimize risks and to make sure that the benefits of the research outweigh the potential harm