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Child psychology deals with how children grow not only physically but encompasses their mental, emotional, and social development. Historically, children were often viewed simply as smaller versions of adults however Jean Piaget suggested that children actually think differently than adults. There is several school of thoughts as to whether early experiences matter more than later ones or whether nature or nurture plays a greater role in certain aspects of development.
Serious mental illness in adulthood has been linked to certain childhood factors, although these precursors are described as complex, varied and usually multi-factorial. These factors could encompasses elements such as genetic constitution, economic and social situation , childhood experience, significant events of life, characteristics of personality, the quality of relationships, life-style choices including alcohol and other drugs.
I am particularly interested in childhood experiences as this plays such an important role in the course of the rest of our lives both physically and mentally. It has been reported that poor coping skills and low self-esteem in early childhood have both been claimed as antecedents of adult major depression. Other factors will include school, parenting styles , social pressures etc. Environmental factors such as social relationships and the culture in which we live can affect how a child sees the world they live in and how they react to situations / events that crop up in their journey to adulthood. Some of the major contexts that we need to consider in our analysis of child psychology include: social, cultural and socioeconomic contexts.
Relationships with peers and adults have an effect on how children think, learn and develop. Children tend to pick role models as they grow up and this is why as parents we need to learn and adopt appropriate parenting styles and try to be good role models for our children. Also schools and peer groups all make up an important part of the social context. We should try and speak to our children, ask their opinion and try to see things and reason from their perspective, look out for signs bullying which includes unexplained injuries, desire to avoid school, frequent night mares, low self esteem. We should not ignore this signs and remember bullying could be from other children but also from teachers, other family members including extended families.
The culture a child lives in contributes a set of values, customs, shared assumptions and ways of living that influence development throughout their lifespan. Teach your children their history, teach them to identify who they are, teach them reality of what is acceptable culturally and where they live in. Most children live and learn a false identity and as they grow up they get confused in life and somehow feel they don’t fit into the society properly and this can lead
Social class can also play a major role in child development and is based upon a number of different factors including how much education people have, how much money they earn, the job they hold and where they live. Children raised in households with a high socioeconomic status tend to have greater access to opportunities, while those from households with lower socioeconomic status may have less access to such things as health care, quality nutrition, and education. Such factors can have a major impact on child psychology.
Remember, all three of these contexts are constantly interacting. While a child may have fewer opportunities due to a low socioeconomic status, enriching social relationships and strong cultural ties may help correct this imbalance.
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