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Child Development Theories And Impact Social Work Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 3282 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This is paper details the effects of social, economic and environmental conditions on the development of children. This paper analyzes a hypothetical family at 13 Cherry Blossom Street. The paper focuses on Jane Robertson, and her family of four children. The Children are, Susan, Jermaine, Mark and Cary. Susan is 8 years old; Mark is 14 years, Jermaine 3 years, while Cary is 18 months.

The four children undergo a lot of social problems, Mark is rude and depicts some anti-social behavior, while is less concerned about her health, emotional and ashamed of her family. Jermaine is malnourished, depicting some unwarranted behaviors while Cary never goes out of the house.

This paper outlines how the overall health and development of these children is affected, and it highlights the measures that health practitioners should take for purposes of rectifying their problems, and working in partnership with the family to find an acceptable solution.

It will describe the development milestones for these children, and compare different theoretical approaches to child development. This study gives a description of the impact facing children who are neglected and abused, and explain the principles of partnership between families and social workers in regard rectifying social problems affecting these children. It has an assessment, and a plan in which the family ought to take in rectifying the problems affecting their children, and a conclusion.

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Child development is a process that children undergo from the periods of their infancy, to adolescence (Kenner, 2004). The process involves changes in their biological make up, emotional and psychological characteristics, to the time they are independent and autonomous. Genetic make-up of the child may influence his/her emotional and psychological situation (Altmann, 2006). Basing on this analysis, genetics and pre-natal development make part of the study of child development.

Developmental changes occur because of a process controlled by the genetic make-up of the child, and as a result of human interactions and the ability of learning from the environment. Child development involves the ability of a child to learn from the environment; therefore children will struggle to find culture and identity during this process of development.

In relation to age, the following are stages of child development. Children under the ages 0 to 4 weeks are newborn babies, while those between 4 weeks to 1 year are toddlers. Social workers refer to children under the age of 1 to 3 years as preschoolers, while those under the age of 6 to 13 years as age schooled children.

The adolescents are children between the ages of 13 to 20 years. In the case study above, Mark is an adolescent, while Cary and Jermaine are preschoolers. Susan is an aged school child, and it is important to study their developmental stage because of how it affects their social, emotional and educative development.

Mark is a 14 year old child, and there are certain developmental milestones associated with children of his age. One of the development milestones for adolescents is rapid growth in weight and height. During this period, male children normally gain an average of 3 to 4 inches in height, and a gain in weight usually results from the growth of their development muscles.

From the case study, we do not know the weight and height of Mark, but we are told that is weight does not reflect those of his age. In other word, he is underweight. This is probably because he doesn’t eat properly. Another development milestone for this age is a growth in their brain capacity.

This results to changes in their emotional, physical and psychological capabilities. For example, Mark is always concerned about his mother’s alcoholic condition. This reflects an emotive element in the sense that he is worried that the mother might abuse alcohol, and results to illness or possibly death.

He is also unable to control his temper in regard to his father, since he fights against him on most occasions. He shows love to his brother, but he is never kind to Susan because of her mental superiority, compared to hers. Mark sleeps less because of the problems affecting him, and this is not a development milestone among teenagers, since they require longer time of sleep to cope with changes in their body mechanism.

Susan on the other hand portrays characteristics of development milestones that affect 8 year old children. At this stage, children develop friendships outside their family arena. This is portrayed in Susan when she leaves for school. She is picked by a neighbor friend and her two daughters. This is because a child of her age develops friendship with their teachers, other parents or children of the same age as themselves.

Another development milestone affecting children at the age of Susan is that they view themselves in relation to their appearance, items under their possession, and the activities they are most proficient in (Altmann,2006) . For instance, Susan is so much concerned about her dressing, and she takes good care of herself in regard to the food she eats. She also covers her inability to read the school board, protecting her dignity.

At this stage, children develop an attitude of self-consciousness, and they take note of every little detail surrounding their environment. For instance, Susan fears taking her friends to her house fearing that they may find her mother drunk. Cary and Jermaine on the other hand are preschoolers.

At the age of 18 months, most children learn how to walk without getting help. However, Cary is unable to portray this characteristic. Another main development milestone at this age is the ability of a child to play with items such as pens, dolls, blocks and any other thing he/ he lays a hand on. However, Cary is unable to do this; instead she is seen always sitting on his chair, with sleepy eyes. She has a runny nose, and a dirty nappy, a general characteristic of children falling in this age group (Kock, 2006).

Jermaine on the other hand is a 3 year old preschooler. At this age, children are able to hop, stand, use items such as scissors, and they gain an ability to draw sketches. At this age, children have an interest in gaining new experiences, and they liaise with their peers (Kenner et al, 2004). According to the case study, the only characteristic Jermaine shows of the children under his age, is the ability his ability to speak a few words.

There are various theoretical approaches to child development studies. One of the theories that explain the development of a child is the ecological systems theory. This theory denotes that, the ecological development of a human being greatly influences his growth and development (Kock, 2006).

This theory observes the development of a child in relation to his social, economic and political environment, and denotes that they are part and parcel of the child’s development, and they shape the characteristic of the child. Another theory that explains the process of child development is the behavioral theory (Knefelkamp et al, 1978).

John Watson is the main proponent of this theory, and it denotes that a child develops his trait by learning from the environment. John Watson is of the opinion that a child will make an extra effort on whatever he does to gain recognition.

A better example is reflected when a school going child works hard in class for purposes of getting approval from the teacher concerned. Another theoretical framework explaining the development of a child is the cognitive development theory. This theory believes that a child contributes to his or her own development by use of his intellect.

It denotes that in circumstance when a child faces conflict, he/she will arrange his intellect and devise ways and means of coping with the situation. This is mostly applied in mathematical situations, where a child learns numbers, and will develop mechanisms of ensuring that he or she remembers every detail correctly.

In our case study, there are numerous consequences of abusing and neglecting these four children. The consequences of this action fall under the following categories, behavioral, psychological, cognitive and physical consequences.

Abusing these children will lower their self-esteem, leading to insecurity and lack of attachment to their primary providers. They may develop physical illnesses, such as brain damage or even speech difficulties. These children will develop depression and other psychological incapability’s.

This is because of stress and the stigma they face. They will become underachievers in school and develop anti-social behaviors such as prostitution, drug abuse, engaging in crime like activities, etc (Masling et al, 1996).


The main idea of partnering with parents is to protect the interests and the welfare of the children. Parents look for social workers who have an interest in them, and when they work in partnership with them, contributing some specific skills and knowledge, it will assist in ensuring that their children are safe. One of the principles in partnering with a family organization is adopting a strength based approach.

Parents know the character traits of their children, and while working with them, social workers should avoid judging them (Salkind, 2002). They should initiate measures of building upon the various strengths of the parents in question, sharing their experience in relation to child development and knowledge.

Another principle is respect and accountability (Sundberg, 2008). Social workers should respect the views of the parents they work with, and avail social services to them without prejudice and discrimination. They should respect their cultural, religious and gender views as this will ensure effective cooperation between them and the parents in question. This would develop trust, and therefore a better working relationship.

Social workers must possess skills that will effectively enable them interact with parents for the purposes of finding a solution for proper development of their children. They should observe proper ethics procedures, in relation to parenting, and parent-practioner relationship, depicting decency and honesty while dealing with these people.

This will develop trust, and a good working relationship, enabling a practitioner to diagnose the problem affecting the specific family set up (Masling et al, 1996). Another principle is to develop a listening ear to the views of the parents in question. This will enable them to reveal their desires, creating a sense of openness, therefore finding a solution for the problems affecting their children.

It is the duty of the social worker to initiate and maintain the partnership, because partnership is a process (Gurian, 1999). This principle acknowledges that partnering with parents requires attention and patient, since some parents are reluctant to cooperate with third parties in relation to parenting their children.

In this case study, the importance of inter-agency communication is important because these three children require different help, that one agency cannot provide. For instance Mark involves himself in criminal and anti-social behavior. There is the need of the police to stop these behaviors, and a psychologist to counsel Mark.

Communication between the psychologist and the police will help them gather information for the purposes of helping Mark overcome his social problems (LeComer, 2006). Cooperating with each other, will enable these social organizations to gather information relevant for their cases and use for purposes of protecting the needs of this children and enhancing their welfare.


This is an assessment framework for the family of Jane, and it includes appropriate services these children and their mother needs. In assessing the child’s welfare and needs, this paper takes a three tier approach, and it looks at their environmental and family set up, the parenting capacity of Jane, and the development needs of the four children.

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Assessing the Development Needs of the Four Children in the Case Study:

Health Needs

Jermaine is a three year old child with health problems. She is malnourished, with hollow eyes, a sign of starvation. She also wets the bed, a bad development for children under the age of 3 years. In assessing her health condition, it is poor, and she needs medical attention.

Mark is a 14 year old child, and he has sores and cold, meaning he is on immunization. Mark rarely sleeps and worry’s a lot about the alcoholic condition of his mother. Children under his age increase in height and weight, while Mark is under weight for his age.

Mark needs medical attention to treat the cold and the sores he has, and a psychological help for enable him overcome worries, emanating from his mother’s alcoholic problems.

Susan does not have a serious health problem, while Cary cannot walk, and has a running nose. This is a serious problem at her age, since children of her age learn to walk, and therefore she needs medical attention to care for the running nose, and diagnose why she is unable to walk.

Emotional Development

Mark is concerned on the welfare of the mother, and has affection for his brother Jermaine. This child needs a psychological help to overcome the problems the worries he has concerning the mother.

Susan on the other hand is ashamed of her mother’s alcoholic behavior, and she can’t invite friends over, because she fears they may encounter her. She covers up for her inability to read the schools board. Susan needs a counselor to highlight this problem, so that she can obtain help.

Jermaine is clingy to Jane, while Cary is unable to portray any emotional development because of his age. Jermaine needs an extra social care, that’s full of love and warmth, as opposed to shouting’s that come from Jane.

Educational Development

Mark performs poorly in class, and is unable to attend all his session; therefore a doubt arises whether he will finish his GCSE exams. Mark needs proper tutorship and counseling in regard to his educational problems. The school needs to report his situation to concerned authorities, and measures put in place to ensure that the child develops a proper attitude towards schooling and education.

Susan performs well in class, and she is bright, and the only problem she has, is her inability to read the schools board. The needs to put an extra effort on learning how to read the board, as this will enhance her self-esteem.

Jermaine attends a nursery, and because of his nutritional status, teachers concentrate on giving him food. Jermaine needs attention in regard to his nutritional status, and this will enhance his academic person. Cary is still young to attend school, and therefore she doesn’t need any educational attention.

Family and Social Relationships.

Susan is popular in school, and she has friends on the neighborhood. This is a sign of a healthy development milestone to Susan, and since children of her age experience the desire to make friends and associations. Her relationship with the brother is not stable, because they argue a lot.

This is because she wants to take the role of a parent towards the brother. Jane needs to get concerned on the conflict between Susan and Mark. She has to create boundaries for their interaction based on respect and understanding. Mark on the other hand is greatly attracted to his brother Jermaine, taking the role of a nurse when his mother is away.

Mark has problems in his relation with the father. He fights with the father, and this is a social problem. There is a need to create a mechanism of advising Mark on the importance of respecting his father, despite his weaknesses. Mark forms an association with Thomas, who speaks to him concerning his situation.

Jermaine on the other hand is clingy to his mother, while Cary, is anti-social and unable to play. These children need a diagnosis from a psychologist on better ways to help them in their family relations.

Self-Care Skills

Susan cares for herself, and is concerned with her diet, and Mark is also clean and well dressed, with an interest of learning how to use the washing machine. This is a characteristic of the development milestone they face.

Jermaine on the other hand needs proper care and maintenance, since the nursery washes his clothes, and they give him new ones. This is a responsibility of his mother, and it portrays neglect and abuse. This situation also affects Cary, since she has a continually running nose, and wears dirty napkins. Children at this age cannot care for themselves.

Assessing the Development Needs of the Children in terms of Parental Capacity.

The children lack emotional support from their mother. Jane is always drank and shouts at the children. Jermaine suffers the most in regard to this situation. Mark always fights with the father, and Susan is ashamed of the mother due to her alcoholic conditions.

They lack basic care, such as clothing, and this is evidenced when Jermaine discreetly receives clothes from the nursery he attends. Cary is always dirty, with a continuous running nose, symbolizing neglect and lack of basic care.

Mark on numerous occasions fights with his father, and it is a sign that there is no social and physical security in terms of parenthood within Jane’s family. The mother has racist tendencies, and on most occasions, he abuses Mark because he is black. This shows lack of parental love and care towards Mark, from the mother.

Assessing the Development Needs of the Children in Terms of Family and Environmental Factors.

Mark faces social problem because of the set up his upbringing. He comes from a poor neighborhood, and he believes that his father is a petty drug dealer. There is an easy access of alcohol from the neighborhood of the family.

For example, the mother of Mark is alcoholic, while her father of Jermaine, Susan and Cary died of alcoholic related diseases. Marks father lives in the neighborhood, and he is a petty drug dealer. These environmental conditions play a role in the development of Marks anti-social behaviors.

Jane is unemployed, and she lives in a social institutions house. This status plays a role in bringing up her children. For instance Mark has a cold, and sores, and because of her unemployment status, Jane lacks money to take the child to the hospital.

Plan of Action:

The first stage is to convene a meeting of social workers responsible for providing care to vulnerable and abused children. This meeting is for purposes of looking at the information at hand, and makes recommendations and coordinated efforts for helping these children.

The next process is to establish a core group that will follow up the case, and initiate measures and mechanisms of helping the children out of their current state.

Finally, the social workers should identify the areas of needs, and irrespective of their skill, they should make a coordinated effort at helping Mark, Jermaine, Cary and Susan develop favorable developmental milestones.


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