Lifespan Development and Learning
Dr Patrick O’Brien
Ms Linda De George Walker
Critical review of
Society begins at home
By Sally Weale
May 30, 2011
The article, Society begins at home, written by Sally Weale for The Age on May 9 2010, takes an objective look at two books written by author Sue Gerherdt, Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain and The Selfish Society. Weale emphasizes Gerherdt’s main objectives of both books, being how environment and experience at the start of life and through early childhood, namely childcare, effect a child’s development and ultimately society. This essay will analyse and evaluate four issues raised throughout the article with the intention of answering the question “is our future shaped by our childhood?” The issues that will be addressed include: children’s development in response to environment and care received at birth; the importance of parent relationships on emotional development; non parental childcare and the effects on development; how society affects development. Children who experience an environment enabling them to explore emotionally, cognitively and socially, have greater opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of their world, assisting them to develop normally. There is no doubt that our genes play a major role in providing a path for cell migration, however research today is revealing that experiences shape our brains physically (Zigler, Finn-Stevenson, Hall, 2002). Cognitive developmental theorist Jean Piaget theorized species adapted to their environment in order to survive. He believed children to be active agents in their own development (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). If a child is brought up in an emotionally lax environment, the child will adapt to that environment by becoming needy in order to survive.
Albert Bandura, a social cognitive theorist, strongly believed in observational learning. Through observational learning children acquire social behaviours, sex roles and standards of conscience (Peterson, 2010). The world is full of opportunity for children to observe others and learn, parents and siblings are major influences, as are teachers and peers as children observe their environment and learn from experiences. Studies by Bandura show that aggression can also be acquired through observational learning, and that observational learning occurs even when no reward accrues to either the model or the observer (Peterson, 2010). Observed behaviour either at home or in the playground can have both negative and positive effects on a child’s development, this justifying Gerherdt’s concerns that the wrong sort of early care can be detrimental to development.
Sigmond Freud was one of the first theorists to believe that a stable mother-child relationship is essential for normal personality development (Sigelman & Rider 2009). Freud believed children developed through five psychosexual stages that are primarily biologically driven however influenced by social conflicts. In the first stage, the oral stage, starting from birth to 1 year, Freud argued that children use their mouths to gain pleasure, for example eating, if this basic need was not fulfilled this created conflict, conflict that would be carried through subsequent stages thus having long-term effects on personality development (Sigelman & Rider, 2009). Similar to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory was theorist Erik Erikson. Erikson placed more emphasis than Freud on the sociocultural influences on development (Peterson, 2009). Erikson theorized children’s developmental changes occurred through eight conflicting stages, starting at trust versus mistrust. Children learn to trust and rely on their primary care giver to be responsive to their basic needs, if neglected a cause for mistrust is established (Sigelman & Rider, 2009). Both Erikson and Freud’s theories would...
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