About this sample
About this sample
Words: 2509 |
13 min read
Published: Aug 4, 2023
Words: 2509|Pages: 6|13 min read
Young children develop knowledge of religious beliefs and practices throughout their childhood (Bartkowski et al., 2008) In order to allow children to fully develop to their full potential, they must be given the opportunity to participate in religious activities (Smith & Mcsherry, 2004). Research surrounding religion and child development has fallen short throughout the years, even though interest in religion among children development has increased (Bartkowski et al., 2008). Prior studies have suggested that religion may aid parents in developing supportive techniques and may aid children in development (Petts, 2012). In addition, current research provides information that states how religious beliefs and behaviors in parents are correlational to stronger well-being in children (Petts, 2012). Religion has also been proven to have positive benefits towards psychological health (Chiswick & Mirtcheva, 2013). Family diversity is lacking from research on this topic, as research has not included diversity in any other type of relationship other than heterosexual parents. However, this is because heterosexual couples are more directly related to religious institutions (Petts, 2012). The goal of this paper, in light of these findings, is to argue how does religion affect your life, both in terms of mental health and behavior.
In regard to child development, the most recent studies suggest that religion has a significant impact on children’s behavioural, emotional, and cognitive development (Bartkowski et al., 2008) Children will experience these benefits from religion due to the attendance of both parents, and the close religious community (Bartkowski et al., 2008). The benefits from religion continue to increase as a child grows into an adolescence and adult, as the child will continue to understand more about their own morals (Mahoney, 2010). This is due to the previous findings, as mentioned before, that have linked religion with positive associations to child health (Mahoney, 2010). Children are often born into their families religion, thus having the ability to grow and learn into their religion during their early development.
Behaviour is how individuals react in regard to their actions and reactions to things happening around them. Children are constantly developing their behaviour, for good or bad, over their younger years. In some cases, children with problem behaviour can lead to parent stress and children externalizing their problems (Petts, 2012). However, according to research, if parents and children are more active into a religious environment, then it will reduce problem behaviour and decrease parental stress (Petts, 2012). In addition, religion is associated with self-control, self-monitoring, self-regulation, health, social behaviour, and well-being (Guajardo et al., 2009).
Self-control, self-regulation, and self-monitoring all revolve around being able to cope with one’s personal behaviour and emotions in a well mannered and healthy way. For children, learning how to use self-control is crucial to their development in social behaviour and to positively internalize their problems as these learnt outcomes will have a significant impact on their adult life (Tao et al., 2014)
Recent research suggests that engaging in a religious environment as a child will increase their ability to self-control and to encourage better behaviour. This is mainly because of religion having a community supporting the children together as a whole, instead of the child only having their parents to support them, as well as religion has a known impact for parent presence in a child’s life which also will aid in the child’s development (Petts, 2012). When religion is a factor in incorporation self control, it was found in a series of four experiments, that it was a continuous factor that replenished low self-control or added self-control (Rounding, Lee, Jacobson, & Ji, 2012). Bartkowski et al. (2008) continues by demonstrating that both teachers and parents predict children’s self-control due to the religious attendance of both mothers and fathers of the child. In their longitudinal study, they used data previously found from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class, in which they had 21, 260 young children who were all in grade one or lower and their parents and teachers. The teachers and parents were asked to provide information about the overall behaviour of the children in regards to behaviour and other factors. To which they found that the amount of religion in a family is the contributing factor to healthy child development (Bartkowski et al., 2008) As such, self-control is directly related to child development into positive behaviour outcomes that are important even through adult life.
Another form in which religion impacts a child’s behaviour is through the development of interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills relate to the many ways in which children can develop correct and healthy ways of communicating well with other people. These skills can range from leadership to communication from children to those around them. Research suggests that when both parents regularly attend religious services, their child is more efficient in interpersonal skills both at school and at home (Bartkowski et al., 2008). Bartkowski et al. (2008) again found that parents who attend religious services semi regularly have children who have stronger interpersonal skills.
Developing strong interpersonal skills is beneficial to child development due to the fact that it will help them better in their adolescence and their adult life. People are always needing to speak to and interact with other people, so when this skill is developed at a young age then it will be more prominent in their later life skills. Through parents attending religious services, the children will be born into this environment and will be likely to continue with the same religious beliefs leading into their adolescence. Studies on only single mothers attending religious services has also shown to be beneficial to the development of children, since previous research was only conducted on couples (Petts, 2012). It is proven that religion aids in child development by the age of eight years old (Bartkowski et al., 2008). In another study the research also shows that children with lower interpersonal skills before at a lower level on cognitive assessments that children with strong interpersonal skills (Guajardo et al., 2009). This is due to the social competence associated with interpersonal skills, and the ability to perform better on similar tasks. In all research done on the relation between interpersonal skills and religion, there is a strong correlation between parents attendance in children’s lives to children’s positive development due to the participation in religion.
In relation to child behaviour, religion also has a strong impact on child mental health. Mental health can be defined as the emotional, psychological, and overall health of one’s self. Recent studies have shown the religion directly impacts children’s mental health during development through creating life satisfaction and decreasing depression rates through childhood into adulthood.
Life satisfaction was described by recent research to answer the following question how satisfied one is with their life (Sinnewe et al., 2014). Participants in this study answered the question and had to rate their lives on a scale from completely dissatisfied (0) to completely satisfied (10). In a sample of 27,242 participants, the results found that people who were religious had a higher life satisfaction score than those who were not religious (Sinnewe et al., 2014). The reason they concluded this is due to the close community of those in religious communities, compared to the more secluded life if people were not religious.
In comparison with life satisfaction to religion in children’s development, it is also researched that religion is associated with decreased rates of depression in child development. A study researched by Svob (2016) shows that there were greater risks with depression and suicide if religion was not important in high risk children between the ages of six to eighteen. In another sense, if religion was important in their lives the children were less likely to be depressed or have suicidal tendencies. Depression in young children is detrimental to their development because it slows down the process, and will continue into their adulthood if not treated. The children who are at risk of depression, may be able to cope with these symptoms through religion, as well as other children may not become depressed in the future due to their importance on religion (Svob et al., 2016). The odds in the study suggested that forty percent of at risk children who identified religion as not being important were more likely to continue or become depressed than the rest of the children who identified religion as important (Svob et al., 2016). There has been previous research done on the impact of religion on all aspects of mental health and depression from children in high economic statues, to low economic statues, to children who suffer from disabilities. All of these previous studies have the same results in that religion decreases and have correlation to being beneficial to help reduce the presence of depression. Most studies have also stated that children who have parents that are depressed are at a higher risk of having depression themselves (Stearns & Mckinney, 2018). The study by Stearns & Mckinney (2018) also found that if mothers or parents were depressed it decreased the ability for their children to participate in religious activities due to the nature of the parents depression. Therefore, if the parents are depressed the children may not be open to experiencing religion until they are away from their parents in adult life, meaning that they may be more likely to become depressed themselves due to watching the nature of their parents depression and picking up on their habits. However, if the children are exposed to religion at a young age, then they will be less likely to become depressed in their later life (Svob et al., 2016).
Research conducted around the impact of religion on children suggest that the community associated with religious events, the attendance of both parents in the lives of children, and the positive benefits that come with active participation in religion are extremely important to the child’s behaviour and mental health. Precisely, religion will aid in reducing problem behaviour, reducing parental stress, increasing life satisfaction, decreasing likelihood of depression, and increasing strong interpersonal skills that are all crucial to the positive and healthy development of children. These results are detrimental to the progress of children through development in order to gain essential skills to be able to succeed in their life to the fullest abilities allowing them independence to be able to self-regulate themselves and decide what is best for them in life. In fact, these benefits of religion on child development are important to the extent that the children develop in a healthy environment and do not accumulate negative traits in their adult life, such as depression. The high importance on religion in a child’s development will aid them to overcome obstacles that they may otherwise be at high risk for, such as mental illnesses and behaviour problems. The main limitation of this paper is that it is on religion as a whole, and not specific to any kind of religion so it never addresses how different religions might impact child development differently, but only addresses the main impacts that most religions have on children. Different religions are important to consider since they may have more or less impact on child behaviour and mental health since some religions are more strict than others. Thus being said, it would be beneficial for future research to verify that they are studying the correct religion for their purpose of study. This paper was clear to identify common impacts on child development in all religions, however, future research might want to be more specific into identifying only one religion and direct impacts in more depth on child development.
My theory towards the impacts of religion on behaviour and mental health in child development are through psychological and behavioural perspectives. The learning theory and psychosocial theory are important because they allow for children to become who they want to be, and guide them in the correct paths. Throughout the course, I have strongly believed that Erikson’s theory of development was the closest to how I believed children developed. Erikson’s theory is related to the psychosocial aspects of child development, showing that there are eight stages of development throughout one’s lifespan that each of their own conflict and turning point. However, after further into the course, I realized that behaviourism is similar to the psychosocial theory and contributes to child development as well. Therefore, with my knowledge in the course, I have learnt that behaviourism aids people in observing those around them and creating their own behaviours is close in relation to the stages of development that individuals go through according to Erikson. Thus, I have combined both of these theories to my personal theory in order to describe the impacts of child development.
Religion and child development is significant because there is a lack of research on this topic, however, the topic provides insight into how children might be able to develop under better circumstances due to the inclusion of religious practices. The information included in this paper will help parents to indulge themselves into the possibility that incorporating religion into their child’s life may have a lot of benefits that were not previously known. This is due to the fact that religion incorporates a sense of community, family bonding, life satisfaction, lower rates of depression, and positive behavioural and interpersonal changes for children to develop positively over the course of their lifetime.
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