Programme: Foundation Degree in Health and Social care (AP)
Module Title: Children and Families
Module Tutor: Joey Weber
Essay Title: Child Development
Student Number: 1609030
This child development case study will be based around a situation that arose on a postnatal ward. In accordance with the General Data Protection Act (2018), the identity of the patients will be changed to Miss X and Baby X, this will allow for the patient’s confidentiality. The case study will be studied in a holistic manner, where child development theories will be examined.
Miss X, who had been admitted to the postnatal ward after giving birth to her second child. Miss X had been incarcerated for the last 5 months and had a further 12 months left of her sentence to carry out. Due to Miss X’s life style and reasons for being incarcerated, Miss X’s first child had been removed and now lived with maternal grandparents. Baby X had been made a ward of the state and adopted parents had been chosen.
The care plan was for Baby X to spend a few days with Miss X and then be removed. Health care professional were also aware that Baby X would be on a withdrawal care plan so would need extra medical help and care. Due to medical reasons Baby X withdrawal took longer than was excepted. It was decided by the neonatal team, specialised midwives and doctors that’s mum and baby should be together until the withdrawal plan had finished. After 24 days of mother and baby being together and Miss X doing all of Baby X care, it was decided that Baby X was well enough to go the adopted parents. During this time Baby X had spent 24 days in a room with Miss x. due to Miss X being incarcerated, she was not allowed out the room, so for 24 days both Miss X and Baby X had not been outside so had no fresh air, had no visitors.
Psychologists have suggested that there are two main theories that are believed to be important in forming attachments, The development of a newborn is vital in the first few weeks of life, in the first few weeks of life a newborn develops attachments to their care givers and depend on the care giver for all their needs. Oates (1996) suggest what happens in the first months of life plays a significant part throughout the child’s childhood. In early childhood, children who grow up in environment where their developmental needs are not met are at an increased risk for development delays in one or more areas, such as learning and language. Early childhood is mainly referring to the period from birth through to the age of five years old. Therefore, parents are a child’s first and most important educators.
According to Bowlby (1976) Infants who experience warmth and consistency from their mother or primary caregiver are likely to think of themselves as being warm and reliable and in turn, this will then progress onto others. Infants who have experienced coldness and dejection may see themselves as being ‘unlovable’ and think others, as being unreliable and incompetent. Therefore, is believed that the availability of the caregiver develops during infancy, childhood and adolescence and persists relatively unchanged throughout life. It can be further argued, expectations about accessibility and responsiveness of the primary caregiver are generally accurate representations of the individual’s experience. When looking at a child’s attachment or development, social and environmental factors must be also considered (Bowlby, 1976). These findings were contradicted by behavioural theory of attachment which was shown to underestimate the Infants bond with their mother/care giver.
The behaviour theory of attachment suggests Infants become more attached to the mother/care giver because they have fed the infant so the foundation of the attachment is provision of food Infants form several attachments by ten months old, including attachments to mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings. The learning/behaviourist theory of attachment puts forward that attachment is a set of learned behaviours therefor the infant will initially form an attachment to whoever feeds them. They learn to associate the feeder usually the mother or care giver with the comfort of being fed and through the process of classical conditioning and Infants come to find contact with the mother comforting. Certain behaviours such as smiling and crying, brings desirable responses of attention and comfort from others. Through this process of operant conditioning they learn to repeat these behaviours to get the responses they desire (Dollard and Miller, 1950).
The evolutionary theory of attachment suggests that infant entry the world biologically pre-programmed to form attachments with others, because this will help them to survive and the basis of attachment is not food, but care and responsiveness. The infant produces essential ‘social releaser’ behaviours such as crying and smiling that stimulate innate caregiving responses from adults. Bowlby (1976) suggested that a child initially forms only one primary attachment (monotropy) and that the attachment figure acts as a secure base for exploring the world. The attachment relationship acts as a prototype for all future social relationships so disrupting it can have severe consequences on attachment. The theory also suggests that the age of 0 to 5 is a critical period for developing attachments. If an infant as not form an attachment during this period, then the Infant may suffer from irreversible developmental consequences, such as reduced intelligence and increased aggression (Bowlby, Harlow, Lorenz, 1976).