Development in Early Childhood Social emotional development Has been defined in many ways. All of these definitions focus on a child’s ability to control and manage their emotions in a manner that makes them a positive asset to society. A child should be able to develop the skills needed ” to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others”(Cohen). As well as have empathy for their peers. There are many factors that can effect a child’s social emotional development. There are genetic, prenatal, maternal and environmental issues that can predisposition a child for poor ocial emotional development.
Current research has shown In todays society the largest risk factors are environmental. Environmental factors include, poverty, family substance abuse, domestic violence and maternal depression. Unlike genetic and some prenatal risk factors, environmental risk factors are the most preventable with the right interventions. Early relationships are the root of healthy social emotional development in young children. These early relationships form a base upon which all future relationships will be formed.
Many children that live in poverty do not form these relation ships ecause their parents are unavailable or emotionally detached. Their parents spend long hours working to provide for their family making them physically unavailable. When the parents are at home they are preoccupied with worry about financial situations, this stress can also make the parent mentally unavailable for a child. Though many people have hardships in life, such as job loss this should not be confused with chronic strains such as struggling to meet a families daily needs. This difference is outlined in Pearlin’s Stress Coping Theory.
Pearlin’s heory states that while a discrete life event, such as loss of employment, can cause disruptions in activities of daily living and psychological stress, chronic strain leads to higher levels of stress and are more likely to cause depression then discrete stressors and are more likely to have social emotional effects on young children. “Parents who abuse drugs are often unable to create nurturing relationships and a stable home environment”(green). Many times drug addicted parents will fail to provide for their children. Addicts tend to put their addiction above providing food, ousing and clothing for their children.
Children will learn from an early age that they cannot depend on their parent to provide for their essential emotional and physical needs, this will cause a barrier to parent-child bonding. This essential bonding can be damaged even more if a child is being placed in danger or severally neglected and has to be removed from their parents by child protective services. Children with parents that abuse drugs are also at increased risk of becoming drug abusers themselves. They may begin to view drug use as a normal activity eal with the social and emotional problems associated with the effects of drug addiction on their family.
Children that come from a home with drug abuse are at higher risk of being victims of violence or witnessing domestic violence. they may turn to drug use as a coping mechanism to Children who witnessing domestic violence are at risk of becoming withdrawn and aggressive. They can suffer for a wide range of psychological, emotional, behavioral, social and academic problems. ” When exposed to domestic violence, infants and toddlers learn that parents may be incapable of onsistently responding to their needs, which interferes with the development of a strong infant-parent bond”(Tiret).
Not all children exposed to domestic violence show clinically signs and symptoms of maladjustment. However, some of these children may still experience less severe problems that put them at risk for future psychological or interpersonal problems. These children may show examples of inappropriate and violent attitudes. They may resort to violence as a from of conflict resolution and internally struggle with guilt that they are omehow responsible for the domestic violence, this belief can put them at a higher risk of adolescent depression.
According to the study published by the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Effects of Maternal Depression on Child Behavior: A Sensitive Period? infants that are exposed to a mothers depression are at risk of ineffective attachment patterns, avoidant behaviors and poor mother baby interaction. By preschool age the study showed children had difficulty socializing with peers and continued to have behavior issues. Other data used in this study shower that the behavior issues of children with mothers that suffered from depression carried over into adolescences.
The study also found that a mothers depression effected her children more, the younger the mother was when she was raising her children. This is alarming when other data find maternal depression “effects nearly 10% of young mothers”(Melmed). To foster social emotional development children need “a positive, supportive climate where they feel safe to express emotions, take risks and seek help”(Berger). Children need a are give that makes them feel safe, engages with them and clearly models acceptable behaviors even from an early age.
A care giver needs to set clear limits and give constant reminders in a no demeaning way. Empathy is the root of social emotional behavior. Being a good model of empathy is essential in development. If risk factors that will effect social emotional development are identified in early childhood/infancy then early interventions can be put into place and a better outcome can be expected. Many organizations have recognized poor social emotional evelopment as a growing concern in todays society.
ADHD, Autism and behavior problems are on the rise. If poverty, drug addiction, domestic violence and depression are the leading causes of poor social emotional development then the only way to improve child development is to provide education and employment opportunities to those living in poverty, drug counseling for those suffering from addiction, anger management for those in need or assistance for victims of violence to gain safety and offer early intervention and treatment to mothers suffering from depression especially young mothers.