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Causes of Disturbed and Disturbing Behaviour in Children
Within our culture, it is a belief that is commonly held that parents are accountable for the development of the disturbing as well as disturbed behaviours in their progenies. In fact, psychological research has actually stimulated this belief whereby from the historical perspective, children have been perceived as innocent and passive recipients of the surrounding environments where they reside and develop.
Much focus has almost been absolutely on the significance of the infant-mother association. In general, both the parenting styles model developed by Diana Baumrind and the attachment theory of John Bowlby laid much emphasis on the effects of caregivers on children but they failed to embrace the effects that children have on their caregivers (Ding and Caren, 51). More recently, both the children roles and other major associations have been studied with respect to how they shape family interactions.
The 1975 transactional development model of Michael Chandler and Arnold Sameroff offers a theory that recognizes the active role that children play in modeling their surroundings. The theorists argue that the outcomes of kids’ development come because of the incessant dynamic interplay amid the environmental variables, the caregivers’ response and the children behaviours which might influence both the caregiver and the child.
It is argued that children tend to form the bidirectional component of the mutual relations that influence their growth and development (Sameroff, 33). Thus, to explore the extent at which parents ought to be held accountable for the primary development of disturbed as well as disturbing behaviours in their kids, it necessitates reviewing applicable research literature and theories.
From this review, it is evident that focusing on a solitary causative explanation could be both inadequate and misleading. Besides, it is apparent that manifold factors seem to significantly impact on a usually multifaceted series of events.
Some theories that are used to provide arguments against and for the claim include Bowlby attachment theory, Baumrind theory and the transactional model.
Bowlby attachment theory
Akin to other early development theories, the attachment theory developed by Bowlby exclusively focused on the quality of parenting by the biological mothers and the accruing effects it might have on their children. Bowlby (1973, p.67) as cited in Oates, Lewis and Lamb (2005) argued that such a correlation determined the emotional and behavioral development of a kid (p.47).
In an early research piece, Bowlby established that the delinquent children he researched on had an apparent upsetting background and upbringing which made this theorist to use such a proof in supporting the theory he developed.
Whereas Bowlby established the relationship amid the experienced maternal deprivation and their delinquencies, he however accredited the causative accounts to such findings which basically were not there. By doing so, Bowlby failed to give due recognition to the effects children might have on the caregivers.
More productive research on the attachment styles have been stimulated by the Bowlby theory. Of great significance is the insecure attachment style that has constantly been associated with the later childhood psychological difficulties (Henry et al., 97).
Baumrind in 1960s, researched on the probable associations amid the styles of parenting and their respective developmental outcomes. According to Baumrind (1975) claims, four different kinds of parents do exist (p.101).
These include nonconformist parents who are more controlling and less passive than permissive parents but are opposed to authority; permissive parents believing that they must be available but non-intrusive; authoritative parents who facilitate and are sensitive to the children’s change of self-sense and the authoritarian parents imposing their wills on their children and seem to value obedience.
When compared to other parenting styles, it is through responsive but firm parenting that authoritative parents are able to make their children less prone to delinquency and more socially responsible.
Some researchers have refuted the conclusions drawn by Baumrind while others have supported her findings. For instance, Anderson et al. (1986) established that the disordered teenagers conduct usually reflects on their parents coercive behaviours (p.29).
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The findings by Andrews and Dishion (1994) showed that most parents innocently encourage problematic conducts in their children. MacKinnon-Lewis et al. (2001) in their studies established that the children and their parents’ behaviors are not only influenced by their earlier interactions, but also by what each one of them expects from the other. Like Bowlby, Baumrind failed to identify the reciprocated effect that children and parents have on the behaviours of each one of them.
Richard Bell in 1968 was regarded to be amongst the earliest psychologists who acknowledged children’s effects on their caregivers. Sears et al. (1957) conducted a piece of research study whose interpretations were later on disputed by Bell. In their study, Sears et al. (1957) established that there was a correlation amid children’s aggressive behaviors and the parental style (p.71).
The suggestions made by Bell were that the results interpretations were not merely incorrect since the relationship hardly offered a causative account, but similarly because the effect of the direction ought to have been reversed to reflect on the fact that the aggressive behaviors of the children might have affected the parenting styles. This concept was further developed in 1975 by Sameroff and Chandler in their transactional model.
Parents having more than a single child normally say that every child tends to provoke different reactions and evoke dissimilar feelings. Abraham Maslow was completely changed as a psychologist when his children were born. Maslow (1973) asserted that, he realized that his kids were extremely different from each other prior to being born.
This implied that he had to cull the behavioral framework that he was drawing on. In their 2002 research study, Sund and Wichstron claimed that the temperament of an individual is anchored biologically on the differences which create an inclination to act in a certain manner (Oates and Stevenson 17).
Parents normally feel that such behavioral inclinations are observable immediately after the birth of the child. Using the transaction model, it is argued that because of their personal experiences and temperament, parents usually respond to the requirements of their children in special ways.
The behaviours of children might as result get subjective to the responses of the parents. The manner in which the temperament of a child interrelates with other individuals temperaments to which the kid communicates is deemed as a perfect fit. Lerner et al. (1989) cited in Oates and Stevenson (2005) that a better temperament fit normally yields optimistic interactions.
According to the transactional model, the development of relationships between the parents and the child is facilitated by both the directional and reciprocal interactions (Woodhead, Rhodes and Oates 60).
The proposal advanced by the transactional model is that the development comes about because of the constant self-motivated interactions between the children, the significant others and the environment. The environmental variables comprises of the strains that the family may experience including death of one of the most important family member, separation, birth of the other child, divorce as well as financial problems.
The model emphasizes on the importance of environmental influence on the development of the child. Moreover, the child’s contribution to his personal development is equally essential. This kind of development is influenced by the child’s own experiences or the information that originates from the environment where the child lives. Experiences are as a result of the child interaction with the environment, significant others, peers as well as other social groups.
Risk factors associated with low social behavior
There are basically several risk factors that are related to behavioral problems. In fact, this gives a strong correlation between anti-social behavior and low social status (Henry et al., 44). In addition, strong correlation is also seen between maternal mental illness and the child underdeveloped social behavior.
Children whose parents have suffered PND tend to develop temper tantrums, difficulties in eating and sleep disturbances which are clear indications of insecure social attachment (Henry et al., 44). Under these circumstances, the mother’s response to the child is often poor. Nevertheless, PND is considered as a risk factor and is as a result of poor marital relationships. PND provides an explanation for the single parent causal relationships between child development and behavior.
The other important risk factor is the attitude that parents have of their children. The way parents perceive the behavior of their children may contribute to the poor development of their social behavior. In both bidirectional and reciprocal relationships, both the child and the parents may influence the attitude of each other (Woodhead, Rhodes and Oates 61).
In situations where the child is observed to be having some mental disturbance behavior, the parent response to such a behavior might be more or less negative. However, the direction of this response is not linear.
On the other hand, children whose backgrounds are coupled with poor family relationships have high chances of developing anti-social behavior. According to Fergusson et al. (1995), children whose parents have problems associated with marital status are twelve times more likely to develop antisocial behaviors (p.51). This problem can further be exacerbated by strong temperament, disability and other stresses that the parents may have.
Though the contribution of the parents’ relationship to a child’s behavior is vital, the role of the father in the child behavior development has not been thoroughly examined. Few researches indicate that children who grow without male figurehead are more likely to develop anti-social behaviors (Ding and Caren 56). Moreover, there is a link between the male figurehead anti-social behavior and the child poor behavior development (Greenberg et al., 61).
However, the poor behavioral development of the child has strongly been linked to other social factors that relate to economic and social statuses. This clearly indicates that there is no model that can claim full explanations to the child behavioral development. In other words, the child poor behavioral development is caused by several factors that are closely related (Ding and Caren 2005).
Therefore, the conclusion that can be drawn is that a child is not just an inert receiver of what the environment provides as advanced by the traditional theories. In reality, children are rather active participants in their own development as advanced by the transactional theory.
Transactional theory suggests that the behavioral development of a child is enhanced by both directional and reciprocal interactions between the child, significant others as well as the environment. Besides, there are multiple risk factors that have strong influence on the development of the child behavior. Hence, a model that focuses only on one causal explanation of the child behavior is deemed to be inadequate.
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