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A child that has problems in the Kindergarten is a five-year-old boy Jackson who lies with his mother and her boyfriend while his grandmother and two older sisters aged eight and twelve live in the neighborhood. I, as a social worker, am going to identify the difficulties Jackson currently encounters and suggest a few recommendations to treat him adequately and persuade his other of necessary changes in his socioeconomic environment.
As such, it is necessary to analyze the situation from different perspectives and provide profound theoretical framework so that his mother could not deny the problems a child experiences after being introduced with this report. The current analysis is aimed at exploring the problems Jackson has with regard to the biological, psychological, and psychosocial perspectives.
In addition, it is important to know how Jackson interacts with the members of his family to see if his alienation is reflected only at school or it is observable at home. Moreover, conflicts and stress can be results of the diseases, abnormalities, and hence difficulties a child would have becoming older and facing further difficulties. As such, it is necessary to explain Jackson’s mother potential consequences of this ill environment and suggest ways for solving this problem.
Biological perspective entails a broad range of aspects including genetic, nervous, and developmental ones. From a biological perspective, the social problems are viewed within a disease framework. There exists a close relationship between the physical and psychological health of an individual and external environment.
Biology forms a fundamental aspect of human behavior and understanding the interior environment is core to social work. Social workers must also openly discuss intimate details of human biology and relate it to appearance or an experience that an individual is going through (Hutchison, 2008, p. 88). Biological perspective enhances the understanding of human behavior, social, and psychological dimensions of an individual.
In addition, through the biological perspective, a social worker is able to understand the medical condition of a child and therefore appropriately refer an individual to a physician. Understanding the interior environment of human biology is important for understanding the exterior social problems such as poverty, disease, drug/alcohol addiction, infertility, and child abuse.
Jackson, unlike other children of his age, appears sluggish and tired, which is reported by his educators. Abnormal and greatly affected physiological functioning can be results of inappropriate environment at home and difficulties he may thus experience in socialization. At the age of five, a healthy child should be active and playful. As the case study illustrates, Jackson’s family income is insufficient to satisfy the basic family needs.
This may expose Jackson to poor health including chronic diseases such as asthma in combination with lack of proper medical care. As a result, this situation forces Jackson’s mother to take an extra job in the evenings to supplement the earnings from her full-time job. Moreover, Jackson’s stepfather, who works as a mechanic, does not share the responsibility of providing for the family; instead, he spends most of his earnings on drinking.
Little income may not meet adequately the nutritional needs of the family, thereby subjecting Jackson and his siblings to malnutrition. Denial, self-critique or hesitation can be considered exterior responses to stress encountered at home though he is not able to analyze his problems and cope with them independently.
As such, a social worker should identify the stressful factors in Jackson’s environment and solve this problem through talking about this problem to Jackson, his mother, and the mother’s boyfriend, if needed. If theoretical approach does not work, it is necessary to take alternative measures such as social child care.
Jackson may face difficulties related to physical problems caused by psychological aspects that are results of the inappropriate external environment. In addition, given that the family income was not sufficient to cater for the needs, must have exposed Jackson and his siblings to more stressors, which they had fewer resources to cope with.
Because of these events, Jackson must have been under stress. To overcome this, lifestyle changes including possible transfer of Jackson and his siblings to a different social and economic environment would help lower their level of stress.
From a psychological perspective, emotions and cognition have a high influence on human behavior. A child suffers from emotional conflict whenever anything limits the child from satisfying his/her instincts and as a result becomes frustrated (Hutchison, 2008, p. 121). The child under emotional conflict appears distressed and ill hence being predisposed to depression and in the need for a treatment therapy.
An effective treatment therapy for an emotionally conflicted child should aim at reducing insecurity, anxiety, fear and help the child to relate well with himself/herself as well as with the other children he/she plays with. It should aim at encouraging the child to accept himself/herself as a worthy and capable individual.
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Parent-child relationship including frequent involvement of both parents is important for a child’s emotional and cognitive development. In Jackson’s case, the lack of parent-child relationship, greatly interfered with his emotional development and learning in school. Jackson was poorly attached to either of his parents and was stressed and anxious as his mother barely spent time with him.
Being the only male figure that Jackson interacted with, he served as a poor role model to Jackson due to his drinking habits. According to Piaget’s cognitive stages, Jackson may currently tend to overgeneralize rules and make errors related to perception and inferring (Hutchison, 2008, p. 123). As such, it is necessary to make Jackson understand that the situation with his family is not normal and a man in the family (referring to his mother’s boyfriend) should not abuse alcohol, have a part-time job, and not have stable source of income.
To allow for the cognitive and emotional development, social learning through modeling is important. In Jackson’s case, the drinking habits by his stepfather are likely to influence his behavior later in life. To prevent this from happening, self-efficacy approaches are important. By encouraging him to engage in certain good behaviors, he can develop self-confidence towards learning moral behaviors and develop high self-efficacy behaviors in spite of the bad drinking habits of his stepfather.
According to the social identity theory, Jackson is too small to have social identity though what he sees in his life right away may influence his perception of the ‘self’ when he is in the stage of identifying his social belonging (Hutchison, 2008, p. 156). Psychosocial factors such as the child’s interaction with the social environment and the conflict between the parent and the child influence the child’s development and may extend into his/her later life.
The psychosocial perspective focuses on the biological nature of the social factors and the conflicts that shape an individual’s external environment. If the parental relationship with the child is dysfunctional, the child becomes distrustful to the social environment and people around. The child can also express the same sense of mistrust in adulthood because caregivers that provide support enable the child to develop trust in others and form healthy relationships with the people surrounding him/her.
Negative caregiver behavior can influence the child to mistrust the people surrounding him/her. In Jackson’s case, his father’s involvement with drugs and the stepfather’s drinking habits can influence Jackson not to trust people including other children or teachers at school.
In addition, Jackson lacked affection, as his parents did not spend much time with him. His mother’s boyfriend was a poor role model because of his drinking habits. To help him learn to trust other people, social modeling would allow him to develop a sense of ‘self’, which is important in psychological development.
Cognitive developmental perspectives argue that as children experience problems or conflicts, they develop different approaches of handling the conflict and challenges. According to this perspective, child’s development is dependent on the experiences or challenges that the child faces.
In the case study, although Jackson experiences problems in learning, with time he will be able to figure out his learning problems and develop a system of coping with the situation. The conflict in the social arena of Jackson’s life can be considered the cause of his behavior (Hutchison, 2008, p. 47). As such, it is necessary to transfer Jackson from the external environment he is currently in and remove all the stressful factors that may remind him of the conflicts he experienced at home.
However, this does not mean that Jackson’s mother should not see him anymore. The only thing I try to say is that persuading her to apply for some social childcare programs would make her life easier a well as lives of her children so that she could spend more time with them and take care of them properly without her alcohol-abusing boyfriend.
The case study relates with Kozol’s description of the experiences most children from disadvantaged backgrounds go through. Just like Jackson, whom the teachers report as being unable to learn properly, the students in P.S.65 School also are unable to learn properly because of hardships they experience. The principal of this school reported to have disfigured four children from burns (Kozol, 1995, p. 64).
Self-efficacy, which closely relates to child’s cognitive development, is lacking in the children of this school. The children in this school do not feel that they are getting quality education like their peers in other schools. As a result, they have a low sense of self-esteem to an extent that they even ridicule themselves and do not regard themselves as receiving equal education as the other students in the city (Kozol, 1995, p. 152).
Another theoretical perspective with which Jackson’s case should be analyzed is the systems perspective where a human being is perceived as a unit that interacts with other units that come from the same or from other social environments making up the external environment. The system of feedback mechanisms was introduced in the study by Hutchison (2008) to visualize the interactions between individuals (p. 43) while this system can also be useful for making sure that a child feels great about himself, the environment he comes from, and the environments he encounters.
As a social worker, I can view Jackson’s case from a psychological perspective. Human emotions and cognition have a high influence on individual behavior and Jackson’s seemingly lack of interest in learning is due to the inability of his parents and the other caregivers to provide for his psychological needs making him distressed, frustrated and disillusioned.
I would undertake a treatment therapy whereby I would encourage Jackson to develop a sense of self-worthy and self-esteem. This would enable him to relate well with other children and the parents or caregivers in his environment. I feel that working with Jackson will require a multidisciplinary approach involving psychological and emotional support to enable him develop a sense of self-worthy that can promote his learning and development and help him to cope with the distressful social environment he is going through.
I would encourage Jackson’s mother to spare some time with him and pay attention to his emotional needs. Jackson’s experience especially with the stepfather is quite disturbing. The absence of his biological father due to imprisonment over drug sales is also unfortunate. However, by encouraging Jackson to develop a sense of self-worthy and self-esteem, he will become independent and learn to avoid such stressors. To achieve this, I would work with Jackson’s mother, the stepfather, the grandmother, and the siblings who often interact with him.
Jackson is a five-year-old boy who faces difficulties related to the external environment that may lead to problems with physical and psychological health. I believe that Jackson should be transferred to another external environment after examination by a social worker.
The first factor that plays a crucial role in Jackson’s behavior, which is not typical of a child of his age, is the psychosocial aspect that should be taken into account while analyzing the situation in the family. As Jackson has two older sisters, his mother seems not to find it necessary to spend time with her child whereas she does not seem to care about his physical and psychological development.
At the same time, she does not have courage to leave her alcohol-abusing boyfriend who spends on alcohol everything he gains on his part-time job. The most apparent problems Jackson may have remaining in such an external environment include a number of physical problems related to biology of the organism: malnutrition leads to abnormalities in the musculoskeletal system, endocrine system, nervous system, and digestion system.
As such, I think it is necessary to provide social childcare to Jackson and isolate him from economically and social unstable environment that is typical of his family. Moreover, psychological problems may lead to lack of socialization and inappropriate identification of the ‘self’ resulting in isolation, misperception, and expression of aggressive emotions as a reflection of the socio-economic problems in the family.
I see Jackson as potentially joyful child who still can change his perception of the world when allocated into positive environment without stress factors he had before. However, I do not insist on making his mother unparented, it is desirable to talk to her and explain the range of consequences such environment may have on this child.
Hutchison, E. (2008). Dimensions of human behavior: Person in environment (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Kozol, J. (1995). Amazing Grace: The lives of children and the conscience of a nation. New York, NY: Crown Publishers.