Child Observation and Commentary Course Title: Developmental Disabilities in Adolescence Course Code: ADPS-841 Instructor: C. Jama Adams (PhD) Email: [email protected] cuny. edu By Eyob Ayenew Id No: GSR/1024/2002 Applied Developmental Psychology Institute of Psychology Addis Ababa University July 2011 Part 1: Background Information I observed a 35 months old female child. She is the first and the only child for her parents. Parents were come from Amhara region (Region-3) around Lalibela four years ago to Addis Ababa.
They are not educated though they can write and read a little bit. They were living in remote rural area and they could not attend their education. The father is 29 years old and he is a daily laborer. He earns an average of 50 birr per day except the missing days, which he might not get a job. The mother is 23 years old women and she used to work in different homes as a cooker of food staffs. However, after she got birth, she started to live as a homemaker and look after her child. They rent a small room, which has only one class at the back of my house.
They paid 200 Ethiopian birr per month. It is around 6 meter square and not comfortable to live as a family in this class and the child sleeps with her parents. Their income is insufficient which only depends up on the daily income of the father and they do not have the ability to pay more for a house to get better shelter. In such family getting adequate food staff and balanced diet is challenging. Consequently, the child mostly eats what is prepared for adults. They could not afford to buy special food for the child.
Both parents are young and they have the potential to do better for their future. As they told me, they are decided to let the wife to go abroad, one of the Arab countries to work and came with money. This idea is not comfortable for me, as I have had awful information about those women who went to Arab countries as a house worker. We discussed a little bit though they were not consider my idea. What I understood is that they do have such information but they believe that chance matters. I asked the mother in the presence of the father about the condition of pregnancy.
The mother replied there was no much difficulty during pregnancy except the expected vomiting, being new for the condition, the routine of sleeping on the left side and some mood swings. Actually, the pregnancy was not planned. Even they were not much worried about family planning and how to do it. Nevertheless, they did not try to abort the pregnancy. Rather she attended one of the health stations in her area once in a month. She give birth a “healthy” baby in a hospital. She did visit health station for her kid’s vaccination once in a month for nine months.
However, in the sixth month they went to visit a pediatrician to know what to feed after a while. The mother said, “When the doctor saw my child, he was so surprised that the baby was above the norm of her age in terms of weight, height and health and advised her to continue breast feeding with only small food staff”. It was after this time that the child started to be unwell. As the mother said, ‘it is the eye of the doctor made my child to be sick”. There was no scientific explanation for her perception anyways. Nevertheless, she believed the doctor’s eye and saying was not comfortable for the child.
Starting from this time onwards almost for two years, the child’s behavior changed; she cried a lot, unable to sleep and difficult to sooth and feed. Consequently, her weight decreases and worried parents. That is way the mother said, “I will never visit a doctor if I get a second baby”. In fact, there was no wound on the body of the baby. She starts to stand by holding chairs and tables at the age of 7 months. However, she started to walk around the age of 8 or 9 months as the mother tried to remember. The child becomes angry when either her father or mother left home. She needs them to stay together.
The mother claimed that most of the time, the kid wants to be with her father. There was no chance that the child separated from her families for long. The only chance that the child could separate from families is at most for a day when the father went to work. The mother is not working now and gives full time to her child. In fact, the presence of the child affects the mother not to continue her work. They dream their child to become a doctor so that they will be respected as her parent and get good money. No more explanation was given by them. The child is not yet joined to preschool.
They planned to send her to school in the coming Ethiopian new year (September). Part 2: Observation Context of Observation The place we are living is very crowded; in which people live with limited space and self-determination. There are houses owned by one owner, next to my home, which has many classes to rent in a compound. Consequently, a renter is living in each class with families. Among these, I observed the child of one family who is living in a rented home, which has single class. Observation was made on Saturday 06, 2011 in the morning with in the presence of both parents.
I made contact with them on Friday 05, 2011 evening to explain the purpose of the observation. They were voluntary to do but still they demanded me to observe in the working area, which they planned to do on Saturday. In fact, the working place was not far and I agreed to get both parents, which give full picture to observe what the child will do with the parents in a lively and natural work setting. Parents came to work at 8:25 am in the morning with their child. I was waiting for them in their work area. There were also children with me who are the peers of the child that I am going to observe.
As they arrive to the work place, we great each other, talk a little bit about personal affairs. While they start their job, I calmly sat-down and observe the child for twenty-five minutes and develop some pattern for my next observation. Observation * I started observing at 9:00 am in the morning. The child has a small ball in her hand. She played on it; she was pleased, laughing, jump with the ball, and kick the ball and said dad look at me… look at me, kick it to me… * She put the ball aside to one of the houses and immediately came to her peers.
Sat with them play with mud, throw mud for few seconds and get back to her parents by calling Mam…Mam. Mam hang her up and said what happened? Don’t you see baby we are carrying the soil, please play with your peers. * The child insisted and wanted to carry the soil. Parents were not saying no! Rather the mother gives a small brick of soil and they went together. She runs to go along with them. The soil fail down from her shoulder, she picks it up and telling them to wait for her. She seems angry while they become distant. Nevertheless, they waited for her and she becomes happy of doing that job and reaching on them. She repeated it four times approximately for 4 minutes. Then she seems tired, sat and waited for them and she was silent. She was throwing away small stones. Soon after, she demanded the father to go home. “Daddy lets go home”, she said, but he tired to sooth her by telling they are doing something now and will go later. After around the eighth minute, since Saturday is a rest day one of the neighbor adult was washing his clothes nearest to us. He saw the mother carrying the soil with her husband and he sympathizes to her. He requested the mother to wash his cloths and in turn, he wants to carry the soil with her husband.
The mother was happy and said ok. In fact, as neighbors, they were known each other and it is ethical to do so. After then the mother started to wash clothes. * The child went with her mother. When Mam started to wash the cloth, she also gets in the water to wash with her. Mam told her, it is for somebody else and do not make the water and the cloth dirty. The child irritated, falls on mud and started to cry. * The mother said ok, let me give you a piece of cloth and wash on the small washing material. The kid stop crying becomes happy and started to wash own cloth. Soon after the child demanded to get a piece of soup, and then the mother took some bubbles of soap from her and put in to the small washing material. The child become glad, touch the bubble, bring it to her father, spite on him, laugh and run away to her mother. * Around the twelfth minute, she came to the place where she put the ball. She did not found it and asked her Daddy “where is my ball? ” He replied where you put it. She holds her head with one hand and shakes her head to say I do not know. The father touched her hair and said we will find it later, go to your mother. * She feels unhappy but not cried.
She went to one of the neighbor’s house in which a five-month kid is found. She observed for some time and insisted to carry the baby. However, the mother of the baby refused it. * A little bit sad face is observed and come to her father. She tried to tell him the happening but he was busy and did not give much attention. She gets back to the one who carry the little baby again and started to observe the baby. She stayed there for three minutes with the little baby mother. She saw the baby, touch its leg and talk with the mother. * It was in the 18th minute, she went back to her mother.
She started to wash again and squeeze the cloth as her mother did. She is imitating her mother’s activity and acting very consciously and wisely. * She left washing and started it again, talk with mother, tried to touch the cloth, the bubbles of the soap, when the mother insisted her she become irritated. * She sometimes tried to sing, dance, laugh, and look something attentively and carefully. I found the mother was so patient for the child while the child touched the washed clothes and the soap. She tried to tell the child how things are bad, good, touchable, and untouchable. The mother tried to gallows the child to do things what she needs to do than threatening and insisting her not to do. Their verbal and facial communication expresses mutual understanding between themselves. * Twenty-five munities: The mother finished washing of clothes and come to where the soil is digging but the child was still there of washing clothes. The mother called the child and said, “It is enough baby”. The child did not give attention of what the mother said. At this time, the father asked the child, “What are you doing? Are you washing your clothes? ” She replied yes. * There was a kid almost within the same age.
He used to play with a hammer like instrument. She came to him and tried to take it from him, but he insisted. They quarreled and I mediated them and took the material away. * When the boy went away, I gave the hammer like material to her and she started to dig the soil. She tried it repeatedly and asked her dad may I dig it. * She asked her father let me carry a soil again, the father replied take a small piece and come with me. She followed him with a small piece in her shoulder. She went only once. * She created harmony with the previous kid, start to play together, carrying small piece, and go together without parents.
Part 3: Description and Analysis of Observation It was both challenging and interesting to observe a child. Challenging, since I am not trained and experienced in this phenomena. It was interesting since I found new skills and insight on how to observe, analyze and made a report. The child I observed is active, has good motor skill and speaks understandable language. The relationship between the child and her parents is interesting. Parents treat her in accordance with her needs. She also sometimes tried to understand things from her parent’s perspective.
She sometimes leave and stay calm when some of her needs refused by parents. According to Ainsworth’s theory of the pattern of attachment, the behavior I observed between the child and the parents more resembles to secured attachment. However, I observed also the attachment of the child was not the same for both parents. The child is highly attached with her father. She wants to go wherever he went, cried, and irritated when he left her than the mother did. However, it is possible to sooth her after he left. She called him in his name and nickname in different times and needs.
Moreover, she asked him to buy something than asking her mother like chocolate, sweetie etc. The other thing I want to appreciate is the temperament of the child affects how parents or caregivers treat him or her. These parents are lucky of having such children whose temperament fits with their way of caring. “Goodness of fit” works in this family. I would be lucky if I would have been the parent of such active child. Because I believe if she gets better diet, education, hygiene, and care as well, I hope she will be much better than her current condition in many aspects for the future.
The child is in the preoperational stage of Piaget cognitive development. The preoperative stage is the second of four stages of cognitive development. Pre-operatory thought is any procedure for mentally acting on objects. The hallmark of the preoperational stage is sparse and logically inadequate mental operations. During this stage, the child learns to use and to represent objects by images, words, and drawings. The child is able to form stable concepts as well as mental reasoning and magical beliefs. The child however is still not able to perform operations; tasks that the child can do mentally rather than physically.
In this stage thinking through symbols and signs is a tremendous advance over sensor motor thought. The child I observed speak what she needs with in almost a clear language, she ask before touching something, tried to associate what she thought and what others thought too. Of course, her thinking is limited on concert terms. Children at the preoperational stage have not yet acquired reversible mental operations. The main characteristics of this period are egocentrism, rigidity of thought, semi-logical reasoning, animism and limited social cognition.
Egocentrism occurs when a child is unable to distinguish between its own perspective and that of another person’s. Children tend to pick their own view of what they see rather than the actual view shown to others. Animism is the belief that inanimate objects are capable of actions and have lifelike qualities. Corresponding to this theory, the child I observed shows the basic characteristics mentioned by Piaget. She displayed many times the concept of egocentrism. She did not want to share playing materials with others, she want to take some other’s material, and see things from her own needs and perspectives.
However, she also received some semi-logical reasoning from her parents. For example, when she missed her ball the father explained to her to find it later. She did not cry rather accept it. When her father refused her to go home by saying let me finish my job first, she accepted and stayed calm. Therefore, I found she is on the right way of development and pass the previous stage successfully. Moreover, at this stage children tend to become very curious and ask many questions; begin the use of primitive reasoning. There is an emergence in the interest of reasoning and wanting to know why things are the way they are.
Piaget called it the intuitive because children realize they have a vast amount of knowledge but they are unaware of how they know it. Piaget considered that children primarily learn through imitation and play throughout these first two stages, as they build up symbolic images through internalized activity. It was true for the child I observed too. She was imitating her parents activities like carrying the soil, washing clothes, squeezing, digging the soil etc. She tried to do what her parents were doing. The child I observed with respect to Erickson psychosocial theory is in autonomy vs. shame stage.
According to his analysis in this stage, as children gains control over eliminative functions and motor abilities, they begin to explore their surroundings. The parents still provide a strong base of security from which the child can venture out to assert their will. The parents’ patience and encouragement helps foster autonomy in the child. Children at this age like to explore their world around them and they are constantly learning about their environment. Caution must be taken at this age since children may explore things that are dangerous to their health and safety. At this age, children develop their first interests.
As they gain increased muscular coordination and mobility, toddlers become capable of satisfying some of their own needs. They begin to feed themselves, wash and dress themselves, and use the bathroom. If caregivers encourage self-sufficient behavior, toddlers develop a sense of autonomy- a sense of being able to handle many problems on their own. However, if caregivers demand too much too soon, refuse to let children perform tasks of which they are capable, or ridicule early attempts at self-sufficiency; children may instead develop shame and doubt about their ability to handle problems.
Based on the theory the child I observed was trying to demonstrate her autonomy by experimenting what her parents are doing without the help of her parents. She tried to experiment what the hammer is used for. She tried to dig within the sharpest part of it. Therefore, in my understanding the child I observed is on the right track based on the theoretical perspectives stated earlier. To conclude, irrespective of the shortages of resources in the family, they care their child well, developed good attachment and make their kid to be on the right way of development physically, cognitively and emotionally. Thank you!