Title: Infant & Toddler Observation.................
This is a Sample Observation....
Anne A. Student
Infant: Development of Trust
My first subject is Ana, my neighbor who is 6 months old. Her father is African-American and her mother is Asian. It has been very interesting to see the cultural differences we have. Tyler, the father was born and raised in the United States. Marcie, the mother, was raised in the Philippines and has only been in the states about 5 years. I have been amazed at the accuracy of the book in relations to the socio cultural theory. Although, Tyler was raised in the U.S. his opinions in child rearing are very much in line with the descriptions portrayed in the African society. The same with Marcie, although I would have expected more of this from her since she was actually raised in the Asian culture.
FACT 1) Ana is sitting in the center of the room on a blanket while her parents watch a movie. Tyler is very attentive to the movie and smiled and talked to the baby off and on while Marcie spends the majority of the time attending to the baby.
INTERPRETATION 1) Marcie is building trust with Ana. She is very responsive to her needs and shows a lot of affection and attention. Tyler was also building trust in a different way. He was showing love and affection also, yet it was easier for him to allow her to be able to entertain and stimulate herself. I thought the balance of the two was quite complimentary. Marcie assures Ana that she is safe and secure, while Tyler allows her to build a sense of trust with herself as well as her parents.
FACT 2) Ana can sit up pretty well on her own, but often loses her balance and tips over. At one point the baby leans toward a toy and begins to tip sideways. Marcie reacts by hollering at Tyler to catch her. Tyler calmly moves toward her as she falls on her side. As Ana looks up at her father she smiles and kicks her feet excitedly but when she looks at her mother who is obviously anxious, her bottom lip begins to pout and the tears begin to flow.
INTERPRETATION 2) While I know Marcie's intentions were good she seemed a little over protective of Ana. On the other hand, Tyler was protective, yet he seemed to be able to let Ana be more independent. He knew the carpet was soft and that there was no real threat of serious injury and acted appropriately. The first problem I see is the mixed signals sent to the child from her parents. Ana seemed confused. She did not get hurt or feel pain when she fell, yet when she saw her mother's reactions she began to cry. I think she cried because her mother sent a signal to her that made her think that was what she was supposed to do. This could possibly develop in to a problem for Ana. She will not always be able to react with genuine feeling. She will become an object of operant conditioning. When she sees her mother look anxious she may automatically cry. This will make it difficult in the future for an adult to tell if she is really hurt and needs attention or if she is just acting like she had been conditioned to.
FACT 3) As Ana began to get tired, she began to get fussy. By now, we were all well in-grossed in the movie. It was interesting to see who was the most willing to give up watching the movie to take care of the fussing baby. It was Marcie. At first they passed Ana back and forth but when it finally came down to it, Marcie left the family room and took care of things. She changed the diaper, prepared the bottle and fed the baby. She then danced and paced the floor until Ana fell asleep.
INTERPRETATION 3) This is where the best indication of Trust vs. Mistrust came in. I am not insinuating that Ana does not have a trusting relationship with her father, however, the trust-relationship with the mother was much more evident at this point. Perhaps, it was a combination of several factors. I think that the "trust" between Mother and Father played a role. Tyler knew Marcie would step into action. He trusted her ability to handle things. If she had not been there I feel certain that he would have handled things and done the changing, feeding, pacing routine.
FACT 4) After Ana fell asleep, I assumed they would take her upstairs to her crib. This is where the socio-cultural interest came in to play. They explained to me that Ana sleeps with them. There were very adamant about this. They mentioned that it was difficult at times but that there was no other alternative. When I told them that my babies rarely slept with us they were quite amazed.
INTERPRETATION 4) I realized that there are many factors influencing the upbringing of children. We are all products of our environments. I raise my children very much the way I was raised. Ana will be raised with a mixture of two cultures. This will have it's positive and negative aspects. As long as the parents can maintain a continual balance of the two cultures the outcome will be positive. If contention arises this could cause confusion for Ana and limit her ability to become autonomous. She may experience difficulty in determining her own feelings if there is a lot of inconsistency.
Toddler: Development of Autonomy
The second subject I observed is Morgan. She is two years old. She is very strong-willed and independent. She seems to be very aggressive and demanding.
FACT 1) My first interaction with Morgan is in a meeting at church. She is sitting with her mother. Her father is sitting on the stand about 20 feet away. Morgan wants to go sit with her dad. She begins to yell "Daddy" and the mother quietly tries to hush her. Morgan is persistent and begins to yell louder and try to wiggle off of her mother's lap. First, the mother tries to offer her books and a drink. She is not interested and still insists on going to her father. With firmness, the mother, sits her back down and whispers to her. She listens and then finally agrees to look at the pictures in the book. Both mother and father are obviously relieved and proud.
INTERPRETATION 1) If Morgan's mother would have given in and allowed her to go to her father, a message would have been sent that crying and arguing is beneficial. This would probably reinforced Morgan's inappropriate behavior and set a pattern for similar behavior in the future.
FACT 2) At the conclusion of the meeting Morgan's mom allowed her to run up to her father on the stand.
INTERPRETATION 2) I wondered if this was appropriate after what had happened previously. I later found out that Morgan's mother had whispered in her ear that if she would sit quietly for a while she could go get her father when he stood up. I then understood and thought this was a classic example of positive reinforcement. Morgan acted properly and was rewarded for her behavior.
FACT 3) Morgan's parents bring her into the nursery at church. She happily jumps out of her father's arms and runs to play with the other children. She sees a toys that another child is playing with and tries to grab it out of his hands. The other child responds by yelling and pulling on the toy. A nursery worker notices and approaches the two children. Morgan quickly lets go of the toy and moves to another part of the room.
INTERPRETATION 3) At first I wondered if Morgan would give in. As I mentioned earlier she is very strong-willed. For the most part I was pleased with what happened. Morgan knew she was doing something wrong and when she saw that she was in trouble she quickly stopped. I thought it would have been nice if the adult would have talked with Morgan and made sure she understood what had transpired. I felt that a little effort to explain that to take toys from another was not good, but that Morgan's decision to do what was right and alter her actions was good, would have been appropriate. This would have assured Morgan that her decision was good, thus reinforcing the positive. Hopefully, this would instill a sense of pride that could encourage her to continue her good behavior. The difference between autonomy vs. shame and doubt was demonstrated in Morgan's behavior.
FACT 4) I noticed that Morgan avoided the adult care-giver who had approached her while she was taking the toy from the other child. The adult did not notice this as she was busy with many other children.
INTERPRETATION 4) I realized the importance of making a child feel accepted. If this relationship were parent-child I would have been really worried. Morgan felt more shame from her mistake than pride from her correcting her wrong. This would not be healthy for Morgan if this were continual. I finally decided to approach Morgan and tell her that I was proud of her for not taking the toy away and I thanked her for being a big girl and sharing. (I realize this is not appropriate for an accurate naturalistic observation, but decided Morgan was really taking this hard and needed a little attention.) After, I spoke briefly to her, I became her new best friend. She followed me everywhere and wanted my full attention. I decided I had enough information to complete my assignment and ended my formal observation and took on a more active role.
I enjoyed watching Morgan very much. I have two children ages 7 and 11. I have always been an advocate for positive reinforcement. I believe that a child needs to feel shame when they act inappropriately, but that it should be quick, to the point and then forgotten. I also believe that when a child acts appropriately, they should be complimented and made to feel a sense of pride for doing something good. When a child is complimented when they make good decisions on small things, I think it sets a foundation for making good choices in the future when choices are bigger and have more severe consequences. I am no Benjamin Spock, and I certainly have made some mistakes, but I feel pretty secure in the approach I used when my children were in the TRUST vs. MISTRUST and the AUTONOMY vs. SHAME & DOUBT stages. I enjoyed this assignment very much.