A child’s familial relationship and their environment has a great impact on a child’s development. Unfortunately, some of this influence can result in a negative outcome. Children experience the most physical growth during their first year of life, their brain development experiencing tremendous growth up until age three (Child Poverty, 2014). Some children do not receive the proper care that they need, subjected to poverty, abuse, maltreatment, and other environmental factors that lead to developmental problems.
One only has to examine the frequency of poverty in the United States to recognize problems that need to be fixed. In 2012, approximately 16 million children lived in poverty. Children in poverty are not as likely to receive the proper nourishment and conditions needed to thrive and become a healthy successful adult. Poverty can interfere with a children’s ability to learn and can cause social, emotional, and behavioral problems, poverty also contribute to poor physical and mental health. Unfulfilled emotional and physical needs can cause developmental delays in children as young as nine months (Child Poverty, 2014).
Children exposed to trauma and neglect also experience problems, the effects enduring throughout adulthood. An aggressive child in the classroom may have been exposed to trauma. Aggression is an emotional state that can lead to other behaviors. The brain appears to play a significant role in aggression. Interestingly, research by Amen (1998) showed that 70% of individuals who were involved in assaults or damaged property had some type of temporal lobe brain damage that occurred in youth or later. Knowing how to keep emotions regulated and at proper levels is important. The dysregulation of emotions, such as fear, anxiety, and aggression, can also result in long-term issues, such as depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and mood disorders in youth and adults (Twardosz & Lutzker, 2010).
However, aggression and violence are not the same thing, aggression defined by Dr. Bruce Perry as “a behavior characterized by verbal or physical attack, yet it may be appropriate and self-protective or destructive and violent” (Perry, 2014, paragraph 4). Aggression in toddlers can result in kicking, biting, crying, and screaming. However, a youth can react differently, choosing to punch or bully somebody or swear at people in positions of authority, such as teachers. If a teacher notices these reactions, it could be a sign that something is wrong at home.
However, a child who comes from a stable, loving home often fares better academically. Individuals who have formed a secure attachment style with their parents are often less anxious and fearful (Schenck, 2012), which can result in less classroom aggression. They also trust that their parents will consistently be there for them, increasing one’s emotionally security and confidence, including the academic arena. On the contrary, avoidant, anxious, and fearful attachment styles are usually not as emotionally secure, which can negatively affect a youth’s self-esteem and self-worth. People who have these type of styles are more prone to acting out behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use (Schenck, 2012), which can impact one’s physical, emotional, and academic development.
A child’s family and social environment can impact a child’s development, issues such as poverty, malnourishment, and neglect making a negative impact. Fortunately, some positive outcomes also come from a good family environment, a secure attachment style giving children a solid, trusting foundation that helps youth in the future, including their academic performance.
Cedric and Barbara Jennings Case Study
After reading the case study of Cedric and Barbara Jennings, it is apparent that Barbara instilled some good values in her son Cedric, one of these being honesty. Unlike most students in his physics class, Cedric did not cheat on his physics tests, Cedric earning a grade of B. Unfortunately, students who did cheat earned higher grades than Cedric. This is where both Cedric and Barbara’s intrinsic values of justice needing to be served came into play.
The fact that Cedric did go to his mother for assistance shows that he has great trust in her and that he is probably accustomed to her standing behind him and providing a strong foundation for him. He also learned to stand up for justice from her. This strong foundation starts in childhood. Research shows that attachment styles are important. It seems as if Cedric and his mother developed a secure attachment style, signified by a youth feeling secure in the relationship with his caregivers.
Schenck states the following about people who have secure attachment styles, “. . .they tend to not experience intense anxiety or fear when loved ones are not readily available, as they trust that they will be there when they need them” (Schenck, 2012, paragraph 3). Cedric did not hesitate about asking his mother for assistance when discussing the issue of cheating with his physics teacher, trusting in her support, which shows evidence of secure attachment.
- Amen, D. (1998). Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. New York: Three Rivers Press.
- Child Poverty. (2014). Retrieved from The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York: National Center for Children in Poverty: http://nccp.org/topics/childpoverty.html
- Perry, B. D. (2014). Aggression and violence: the neurobiology of experience . Retrieved from Scholastic Inc.: http://teacher.scholastic.com/professional/bruceperry/aggression_violence.htm
- Schenck, L. (2012, February 19). How does your “attachment style” Impact Your Adult Relationships? Retrieved from Mindfulness Muse website: http://www.mindfulnessmuse.com/individual-differences/how-does-your-attachment-style-impact-your-adult-relationships
- Twardosz, S., & Lutzker, J. R. (2010). Child maltreatment and the developing brain: a review of neurscience perspectives. Aggression and Violence , 59-68.