1. An infant’s perceptions of the world are completely different from the views of a grown person. For example, and adult sees the world as something completely external, and they see themselves as an individual within this world. They have a sense of their self. For an infant, there is no such a sense. A baby is not aware that they are a separate person; this awareness is a result of a separation-individuation process which begins when the infant finds out that they cannot always be with their mother, and that they are not the same with her (Mahler, Pine and Bergman 3-4). The child has no knowledge of their body first; it also takes time to achieve (Bernfeld 264).
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As a result, the infant has no social awareness at all. It is hard to fully imagine what is happening in their head, but I understand that at the beginning they only see the world as a set of visually (or via other senses) familiar objects, and alien objects. The social awareness only comes much later, with age, when the baby learns to distinguish their body from the world, and learns to realize that other people are separate individuals who constitute an important part of the outer world.
2. When a child develops from an infant (birth – 18 months) and reaches early childhood (2-5 years), many important changes occur. A very young child has rather poor vision and hearing; while vision becomes adult-like at the age of 4 months, hearing reaches the adult level at the age of 18 months only (Anand 32-33). The developing hearing allows the child to learn the language. While they start babbling at the age of around six months, the ability to recognize objects when they are named develops at the age of nearly 18 months. 2-year-old toddlers can use simple phrases, 3-year-olds have words for most objects that surround them, and can talk about things in 2-3 words. 4-year-olds use many sentences longer than four words, and children of 5 can tell short stories (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association par. 3-6).
Also, as toddlers learn to distinguish themselves from the surrounding world, they become rather egocentric. I understand now that this happens, among other reasons, because they do not have any social awareness yet; they have just developed the sense of their self. They also explore, experiment, and learn self-control. Children gradually learn to recognize other people around them; during early childhood, social awareness develops. Kids start to realize the significance of people around them. Preschools help with this, giving then a social environment where they can play with other children and learn to interact with them (Anand 33-34).
3. During the course, I was able to learn how important it is to interact with a small baby properly, and what vast amounts of information they receive during their babyhood. I had understood before the class that infants learn a lot in this age, but I did not fully realize that the way the baby is interacted with is so crucial for the child’s further development (DelCarmen-Wiggins and Carter 26). For example, Gerhardt writes that an individual’s personality and their behavior as adult are often shaped in their infancy, and that many problems in schools, such as hyperactivity, depression, and even obesity, are to a large extent formed during their babyhood (81).
I also now understand that babies learn how to do something not because they are being told how to do it, but because of experiences of doing something with other people (Gerhardt 85). It means that in the future I will pay more attention to my interactions with babies and to my behavior towards them, and will try to teach them by doing things together.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. How Does Your Child Hear and Talk? n.d. Web.
Anand, K. V. Infant and Child Psychology. 2010. Web.
Bernfeld, Siegfried. The Psychology of the Infant. Abingdon, UK : Routledge, 2013. Print.
DelCarmen-Wiggins, Rebecca, and Alice S. Carter, eds. Handbook of Infant, Toddler, and Preschool Mental Health Assessment. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.
Gerhardt, Sue. Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain. n.d. Web.
Mahler, Margaret S., Fred Pine, and Anni Bergman. The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant: Symbiosis and Individuation. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2008. Print.