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Child Care in Infancy: Characteristic and Preference Coursework

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Introduction

In the last forty years or so, the employment rates of women have gone up considerably, and in the current world, more and more women are competing and finding employment at par with their male counterparts. This has also been the subject of a great deal of debate on whether the employment characteristics, such as pay, education, work culture, and environment, have had a detrimental effect on a child’s outcome. This could mean a variety of outcomes such as inability to read, lower birth weights, premature delivery of infants, and spontaneous abortion. The aim of this study, in the context of Maternal Job Characteristics and Preference for Child Care during Infancy, is to determine whether the findings of previous literature were accurate or had been accurate for the demographic surveyed upon previously and was thus applicable to certain demographics only. This study is extremely important because if the development factors in a child are of extreme importance, as these are instrumental in the construction of the mental framework of a child or influence the emotional intelligence of the child. A child is a future citizen, and to have a proper citizen; it is important to have proper formulation during infancy.

Established literature has been conflicting in this case. While some researchers have concluded that job characteristics can have a detrimental effect on the child in general, others have differed and have concluded that there has been no significant variation due to pre maternal employment or jobs undertaken in infant care. The findings of Jacobs and Gerson in 2004 have been significant contributing literature in this field. The theses of Coleman in 1988 established the fact that maternal employment may have detrimental effects on a child’s welfare and also the family as a whole, a thought that was seconded by Ruhm in 2004. Other researchers such as Muller, in 1995, however, concluded that a mother’s employment has no direct bearing on the outcome of her offspring in areas such as reading capabilities, and researchers such as McGroder have concluded that maternal employment has a significant positive effect on children.

Therefore, it would be necessary to ascertain which of the theories have been closer to the fact, and therefore the need for such a survey arises. An attempt has been made to understand and establish the various variables involved. Additionally, as more women join our workforces, the need for such research increases so as to establish the reasons for the effects, if any, and help establish possible safeguards.

The main objectives of the research were to determine whether employment characteristics could have a detrimental effect on certain areas of Maternal Job Characteristics and Preference for Child Care during Infancy. Additionally, the demographic, which was selected, had a mix of professionals ranging from teachers, medical personnel, bank clerks, civil servants, company employees, business and unemployed women. The research details and variables used are dealt with in the following sections individually. A clear and new set of variables have been established, and the research conducted has made an attempt to identify as many variables as are relevant to the study.

Methodology

A Qualitative method of study differs from the usual quantitative methods in the sense that it tends to be far more subjective. This is in sharp contrast to the methods used in pure sciences, which are exclusively objective. The research methods for marketing are a combination of both quantitative and qualitative methods. Being open to qualitative methods of study also allows social scientists to incorporate non-quantitative data (i.e., non-numerical data, such as words, images, gestures, impressions, etc.) in their study. Since human beings tend to operate in terms of such data and not in terms of the terminology used in ordinary sciences, this broader outlook is far more applicable in the study of social sciences. In keeping with the methodology employed in marketing researches, the theories to are formulated and used, keeping in mind that they are not necessarily applicable to all conditions. Be it psychology, history, political science, or economics; human events are most likely to influence the rules which define the basic theories of a marketing subject. Success in the field of researches can therefore be achieved if and only if it is understood that the subject has no space or opportunity for watertight methodologies or theories.

It can always be stated that Qualitative research is a process that includes an interpretative paradigm under the measures of theoretical assumptions, and the entire approach is based on sustainability that is dependent on people’s experience in terms of communication. It can also be mentioned that the total approach is because reality is created on social formulations. It can also be mentioned that the basic target of qualitative research is instrumented towards social context under normal circumstances where it would be possible to interpret, decode and describe the significances of a phenomenon. The entire process is operational under the parameter of interpretative paradigm that can minimize illusion and share subjectivity under contextualization, authenticity, and complexity of the investigation.

The basic advantages of qualitative measures are multifold. Firstly, it presents a completely realistic approach that the statistical analysis and numerical data used in research based on quantitative research cannot provide. Another advantage of qualitative measures is that it is more flexible in nature in terms of collected information interpretation, subsequent analysis, and data collection. It also presents a holistic point of view of the investigation. Furthermore, this approach of research allows the subjects to be comfortable thus be more accurate as research is carried on in accordance with the subject’s own terms.

Thus, Quantitative analysis of the collected data had to be done. This became previous researches had all used qualitative analysis. Additionally, a new approach had to be used to weigh the pros and cons based on contemporary trends. Additionally, it was seen that a new approach could also allow all such variables as having been used in the research could be used.

Literature Review

Literature in the realm of research performed on the issue and their use would be quite numerous and diverse in their content and methodology. In the different separate studies located, only a few would have spanned a time beyond a decade. The majority of research pieces, which focus on the inclusion of theoretical and technological advances in the medication process, would actually focus on the overall segments through fundamental levels. The fact that there are not very many advanced research items specifically directed toward the issue would be the focus of this paper.

The need was ascertained to study the relevance of promoting the parent-child relationship at an early stage, and thus a significant review for the same is available through the literature. CINAHL, OVID, and RCN library databases of late have been used to make this happen. There appears to be a general agreement within the literature that secure attachments can protect a child against mental health difficulties and can provide a buffer in the event of adverse life events (Svanberg, 1998, 254). Similarly, Rutter (1995) argues that although insecure attachment cannot be equated with psychopathology, it must be regarded as an important vulnerability factor. A number of follow-up studies have added to the weight of this argument, their conclusions are out with the scope of this project. Bonding and attachment have a definite role to play from the prenatal period to the ripe adulthood of a child. Literature is rife with issues on bonding, attachment, and subsequent emotional evolution of a child. A great deal of literature focuses on the pitfalls encountered in nurturing a child, yet another portion of literature focuses on the right approaches to bonding and attachment. A growing body of literature has examined the so-called early intervention extensively in situations where bonding and attachment may be a casualty of neglect, oversight, or even deliberate and intended abuse. Before examining such literature, an important step is to examine the concept of bonding and attachment as defined etymologically and as found clinically and chemically. (Lorenz, 1998, 117)

For a woman who is in the stages of maintaining an infant, employment is not only regular working hours. They tend to face more stress than regular workers. Regular work and responsibility affect the quality of taking care of the child and also the relationship with the child. After careful examination of existing points of view, one could infer that there were varied differences in research patterns, and the results tended to differ from one school of thought to another. Interestingly the choices of variables also differed greatly.

However, in accordance with different researches, it can be ascertained that lack of proper nursing by the mother leads to aggressiveness and low emotional intelligence in the child in the long run. Thus, it can be stated that violence and lack of EI are the effects of low nursing or, in other words, maternal job characteristics and preference for child care during infancy leads to the future development of the infant. Here the nature of the mother’s job is important because, in relation to the job, a mother is able to provide quality time to the child.

Sears (2007) defines the process of bonding as follows,” Bonding–the term for the close emotional tie that develops between parents and baby at birth–was the buzzword of the 1980s. Doctors Marshall H. Klaus and John H. Kennell explored the concept of bonding in their classic book Maternal-Infant Bonding. These researchers speculated that for humans, just as for other types of animals, a “sensitive period” occurs at birth when mothers and newborns are uniquely programmed to be in contact with each other and do good things to each other. By comparing mother-infant pairs who bonded immediately after birth with those who did not, they concluded that the early-contact mother-infant pairs later developed a closer attachment. (Sears, 2007, para 1)

In fact, even prior to the actual birth of a child, the foundation of its emotional development is already well-formed in course, the crucial nine months the child is carried within his mother’s womb. In this period, the child must have provision for adequate nutrition, which is free of harmful drugs and chemicals for an orderly growth into a healthy and bonny baby. A good proportion of children were damaged during their carriage period in their mothers’ wombs as the mothers were careless enough to indulge in drugs, alcohol, and substance consumption during pregnancy. Most appropriately, such children are to be reckoned as life’s earliest abuse victims, as under passive impact of harmful substance their systems failed to develop properly as they were delivered to this world. Often such children stand out as major averters of any kind of attachment and bonding, and they exhibit a rigid avoidance of a parental caregiver. These children have impaired or underdeveloped neurological frameworks and are oversensitive to most kinds of stimuli. Such children dislike exposure and may respond very negatively to any attempts for attachment touches; they instead correlate such touch and initiatives of the caregiver as events causing pain. With such a child, even a most affectionate and caring parent may have a tough time trying to initiate any attachment and bonding as the child’s chronic pain condition suppresses his ability to respond. Attachment disorders follow and may aggravate if the child is not counseled in time through appropriate intervention. An enhanced risk exists that such aggravation taking place in the case of these children as their parental caregiver is invariably the same person responsible for their earlier birth time, fetal alcohol syndrome, or drug-caused complications. The addictions of the parental caregiver outlast birth and often escalate, reducing such caregivers to a state whereby they are even unable to tend their special child even for basic care needs. This is kind of a vicious circle wherein the child, fragile and weak as he is, is unable to comprehend the crude and callous behavior on the part of the caregiver and transcends into confusion which works only to enhance his sensitivity and irritability. This may set up more and pronounced rounds of abuse or neglect from his parental caregiver. She attempts to bond to a child who is sensitive and complicated, showing recurrent irritability. The result is an attachment which can be best termed as a hostile detachment.

To comprehend the contribution of abuse and neglect in the overall emotional development of a child, parents and healthcare professionals must understand and chart out the “normal” developmental process of a child’s growth and cognitive development. Abuse and neglect work to intervene with and adversely impact the first and most primary developmental process for a child, i.e., the cycle of bonding, as explained above. Practitioners in child psychology, pediatricians, and other professionals who consult and help the process of bonding and attachment concur that a child’s first 18 to 36 months are most critical for his future emotional development. During this period, a child is expected to be given unqualified and most wholesome and affectionate care as his fragile and helpless state is a common environmental fact. This state makes him sensitive to the fact that he has several needs for which he needs attention and help from others, and gratification of such needs would help him develop natural trust and bonding with the caregiver. Thus the quality of care–which can be summarized as the fulfillment of physical and emotional needs–is a determining factor in classifying such care as either life making or life breaking care. The care received during these 36 months determines if the child would step into 37 months as a child-free of attachment and bonding scars. In addition, a child gets sensitized to the concept of need and gratification linked frustration during this 36 month period. All needs must be met normally and are not invariably even if direct abuse and neglect are not present. Lack of gratification and consequent frustration introduces the child o the most important concepts of delayed or denied gratification. These two concepts stand in life as cornerstone concepts for the child.

That the initial bonding and attachment cycle is complete in a healthy manner is vital before this cycle can be repeated. In case the initial bonding cycle is allowed to remain deficient, and that deficient cycle is allowed to repeat, then situations of vicious circle where corrections can forth only through timely intervention arise. Without such interventions, the emotional development of the child can be stunted, having lifelong behavioral implications. Failure to complete and repeat the healthy bonding cycle leads to serious problems in the following areas:

  • Emotional development.
  • Parenting.
  • Social/behavioral development.
  • Conscience development
  • Cognitive development.
  • Cause-and-effect thinking capability.
  • Responding to Reciprocal relationships.
  • Accepting responsibility.

Professionals intervening in the cases of child abuse and neglect, in an attempt to bring at par the attachment and bonding of such child-parent dyads, often begin with problem areas as listed above for clues of breaks in the bonding. Their approach is to link the environmental realities of abuse and neglect with the symptoms in the above problem areas and finally to clean the environment of abuse and neglect. Such interventions work to instill predictability in the child-parent bonding cycles. Such interventions must take specific care to examine the cultural context of the situation for a holistic solution. “The results of our research support our anecdotal program observation to indicate that there are similarities as well as differences in attachment beliefs, values, and practices amongst parents from different countries of origin. The discovery of similarities is not surprising as it is well accepted in attachment literature that the infant-caregiver attachment relationship, including children’s need for responsive parents, and parents’ desire for securely attached children, is universal. The specific attachment behaviors used by children to get the responses they need, and the attachment practices used by parents to promote secure attachment vary across cultures” (The Project, 2006, 20). Additionally, society no longer recognizes a child’s mother as the sole caregiver. Recent research has revealed substantially about fathers as caregivers.

While common refrain in review thus far that human babies are born helpless, needing full care and protection; their natural embryonic development endows them with a neurological make up that comprises of full toolset and instructions repositories to obtain the needed support, security, and affection from their care givers-be it the mother or the father or even siblings. In fact, in attachment literature, the work of such tools and instructions is classed as instinctive. “There is a component to parenting that many parents from different countries expressed as being instinctive. This component of parenting does not involve consulting other people, whether family or professionals or literature. This instinct is part of a definition of attachment offered in theoretical literature Attachment is a reciprocal relationship between an infant and caregiver. Infants instinctively reach out to a caregiver for security and protection; caregivers instinctively protect and nurture infants. This mutual responsiveness is what creates the secure base for early development” (The Project, 2006, 21). The two instinctive approaches help to establish the bond and attachment, if not interrupted by abuse and neglect and neonatal birth damages, to the neurological resources of the child. Both states work to inhibit the natural instincts of both parent and child.

Human lives are woven around a complex web of relationships. These relationships start developing right during infancy and last until a person’s death. However, as has been noted above, the first and primary relationships with the caregiver assume critical importance for a child’s emotional and personality development. If the attachment and bonding cycle is either not completed or repeated properly, several personalities and emotional deficiencies in the child will result. Literature, as cited below, has confirmed the fact that a child’s first relationship with his caretakers is of fundamental importance. While earlier literature emphasized this point, a growing stream of second-generation literature on early intervention (EI) is more insistent on various services and supports for children from birth until the age of six, with a focus on families who maintain their core roles as caregivers. This literature also supports the view that caregiving families can acquire new knowledge and skills, which support that role. These bodies of EI literature also impress the issue that intervention in a child’s development and growth should be timely, appropriate, and as early as needed.

This second generation of EI literature builds on several other premises and assumptions. Chief among them can be obtained from the literature itself. The premise that children are active learners and actively influence their environment as well as being influenced by their environment and that development is influenced by family life, culture, health, and other environmental circumstances is one of the most critical premises (Innocenti 2001, pp. 2-6). Human societies do not have clear and prioritized human welfare goals. For instance, specific categories of individuals, such as physically disabled persons, have always remained on the peripheries of the main society. Physically disabled persons derive existence from others and depend on established systems. Largely physically disabled persons have been excluded from the activities and facilities of their society. Often, such handicapped persons carry demeaning branding like mad and fool. Situations have improved, and although still burdened with such demeaning labels, attitudes towards the physically disabled have changed for the better, and today they benefit like other human beings from advances in research and government legislation. A physically disabled child, who is born disabled, is the specific case in point. In this case, lack of affinity begins at the caregiver, which grows into a general societal aversion. In the case of such children, bonding and attachment can be a challenge both for the caregiver and the child. EI is urgently needed but is invariably much delayed in such cases.

Recent developments in neurobiological, behavioral, developmental, and social sciences within the last three decades have brought about a major incremental understanding of the conditions that affect the outcome of how well children fare in the world; this has led to the latest theory regarding early intervention: the second generation of EI (Shonkoff and Phillips 2001, p. 1; Sigurðsson 2001, p. 40; Rye 2001, p. 7). This theory discusses in detail the classical studies by Rene Spitz (1946), Harry Harlow (1962), John Bowlby (1969, 1980, 1988), Lev Vygotsky (1978), and Urie Bronfenbrenner (1979), as well as studies by Antonovsky (1987) and Rutter (1985); who had established that substantial human contact, care and learning in the early years of children’s development could be critical in the sense that such human contact would lay a solid foundation for future personality and emotional development.

While professionals have acknowledged that there is a multitude of factors influencing a child’s development in the early year, the specific importance to a child’s overall health and well-being seems to be devoted to his psychosocial development and learning, the quality of human relationships, and the care experienced by him. Today, concepts such as attachment and bonding are the terminology in which new literature is arriving in the area of child-caregiver interaction. For instance, during the 1980s, Colwyn Trevarthen (1993, 1995) and Daniel Stern (1998) gave an extraordinarily clear description of reciprocal communication between infants and their mothers through mutual use of sounds, mimicking, and movement. This was a core study in attachment and bonding–that such behaviours sought patterns within child-mother communication. Defined narrowly, the term “early intervention” implies all that can be done early in a child’s life to temper and enhance the child’s development as needed in the situation at hand. However, on a broader canvas, EI seeks to find answers to questions such as:

  • What can be done to improve the child development?
  • Which particular environmental factors could be influenced and modulated?
  • How such factors can be harnessed for a greater contribution in the child’s development?

Invariably, EI addresses the period in children’s lives from birth to the age of six; most definitions, in unison, recognize the importance of systematic, early and timely external intervention in the developmental process for those children who are at-risk, such as disabled children. Such interventions now include a variety of approaches and tools to assist a child’s developmental process. Representative interventions can be classed as educational, developmental and therapeutic activities as well as various services’ support networks run both in public and private domains. The focus of this system is on the fact that support from family, friends, and other professional relationships is critical to a child’s development and that this system would help families maintain their central role as caregivers and encourage the development of to develop new knowledge and skills (Sigurðsson 2001, pp.41; Shonkoff and Phillips 2001, p. 21).

Early Interventions to modulate the characteristics of interaction between parents and young children are formed on three primary knowledge bases. First, substantial literature has put on board relationships between particular characteristics of parent-child interaction and a wide spectrum of developmental outcomes in the child; the foundations for child development is premised to be put in place as parental caregivers and their children indulge in reciprocal, mutually satisfying interactions and as they adapt to one another’s individuality over a period of post partum time (Goldberg, 1977, 61; Sameroff & Fiese, 1990, 335). Secondly, the above observed characteristics of parent-child interaction vary substantially in consonance with unique child characteristics (e. g., disability, prematurity, affected delivery due to mother addictions), parent characteristics (e. g. , adolescent, clinically depressed, physically handicapped, stunted childhood record), and environmental characteristics (e. g. , poverty conditions) (Barnard, Morisset & Spieker, 1993, 33; McCollum, 1991, 87). These differences caused by unique characteristics in the child, parent and environment can affect substantially the child-parent interaction and place the child at the risk of suboptimal to deficient development. Lastly the literature also has support for the view that most of these characteristics’ differences can be resolved through early interventions enabling to place the child on normal developmental path. (Barnard, 1997, 223; Barnard, Morisset, & Spieker, 1993, 25; McCollum, 1991, 89; McCollum & Hemmeter, 1997, 167). This overall logic has attracted contributions from professionals from many disciplines in interaction intervention as a means of controlling the developmental outcomes of young children.

Interaction approaches may vary according to the theory on which they are based and according to the techniques and training traditions that underlie the system. Sameroff and Fiese (1990) have illustrated a 3-part framework of approaches to early intervention which premises in a transactional viewpoint. Of these three, the first is a remedial approach, in which the main object is to instil a change in the child. Interaction context focuses in this approach on changing the child’s ability to partake in the interaction. For instance, remediation may be deployed to re-energize the child’s ability to self-regulate or to react contingently. The second approach comprises in re-education, in which the intervention is pointed towards the parent’s ability to care for the child; in interaction context the object is to equip the parent with adequate knowledge and skills so as to make for a healthy child-parent interaction. For instance, the parent may be taught about other cases similar to his situation, or given a chemical and biological explanation for a child’s irritability; or she may be taught new behaviours and strategies, such as imitating the child or prompting new responses, to increase familiarity of the child with the parent. In the third and final approach of redefinition, the main objective is to change the way the parent thinks about the child and about her relationship with the child. In interaction intervention context, this may involve sessions in which a parent is helped in better interpretations of their child’s social and communicative cues and nonverbal cues. Given the situation at hand, each of these approaches can bring about the requisite interact ional change and when the transactional perspective, each approach is a legitimate one for bringing about change in the system (Sameroff & Fiese, 1990, 35).

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Barnard, K. E., Morisset, C. E., & Spieker, S. J. (1993). Preventive interventions: Enhancing parent-infant relationships. In C. Zeanah (Ed.), Handbook on infant mental health (pp. 386-401). New York: Guilford Press.

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