Early Adolescent Experiences
By Dr. Monique M. Chouraeshkenazi
I have always wanted to be a teacher (since I was five-years-old), but my intention was not to teach children. I always wanted to teach at the graduate/doctoral level because most students would be midcareer level professionals, which can bring much skills and experience to the classroom, which I find to be fascinating. I learn a great deal from my students and it is always exciting the information they bring to the classroom. However, teaching children is a bit different and I believe it takes special tools, concepts, and patience to teach them, especially in the progression and development stages. I believe parents should understand that the familial upbringing is very important to childhood development. Disney’s Cinderella portrayed her “perfect model” image of having a “healthy, supportive environment during childhood years” (n.d., para. 1). Additionally, the example states Cinderella had supportive parents who positively affected her “cognitive development, physical, social, and emotional characteristics” (n.d., para. 1). In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2017) suggests “strong family engagement is central in promoting children’s healthy development in wellness,” which are predicated on the following:
- Social-emotional and behavioral development
- Preparing children for school
- Seamlessly transiting them to kindergarten
- Supporting academic achievement in elementary school and beyond (n.d., para. 2).
Children are most impressionable during the early stages of development, as they begin to understand different social and cultural elements that surround their environment (familial environment). Not only this, but children’s development is also influenced on outside elements like peers, teachers, and other individuals who are not within the household (i.e. extended family members). Children progression can be based on four categories: placement, shape, design, and pictorial (“Development during Early Childhood, n.d., para. 2). Such categories include environmental and heredity facets that are responsible for a child’s progression. In my opinion, it is like the scientific vs. sociological aspects of understanding how and why children develop the way they do.
I believe physical activities are very important to a child’s development. My kiddo conducted an interview on international, professional basketball player, Eban Hyams. They discussed health, education, and sports (click here). Their focus was the digestive system and how it affects a person’s performance. I truly believe physical activity enhances performance by making one more alert and productive, which is beneficial for learning and growth progression. According to the Canadian Hospital of Sick Children, there are multiple benefits from health and wellbeing such as increased brain function and promotes emotional and mental health stability (i.e. reduces anxiety, improves relationships, etc.) (2016, paras. 2-5). Being a former service member, I understand the importance of physical training and I am just as active as I was in the Air Force. I believe being active reduces stress, increases my focus, and makes me more attentive, especially when it comes to work and school. I believe these are especially positive attributes for developing children. I believe it is very important and holds weight to their development. As for my childhood, I grew up with my grandparents and as I mentioned before, they were “old-school,” so health was not really a discussion. I was pretty active anyway, so it was not a concern. I played on the varsity basketball team for three years and ran track for five.
education & Learning
As for education, my grandparents were very adamant about me earning an education to the point where I worked really hard and earned an academic scholarship to Marshall University in West Virginia. I denied the scholarship to join the Air Force and promised my grandmother I would earn a degree no matter what. And here I am today, still in school. Because education is so important to me, I do not think I will ever stop being a student. Since my daughter was in the womb, she knew the importance of education and I was going to college when I was pregnant. I would read my anatomy, physiology, law books (etc.) to her when I would study. Growing up, she always saw me studying and now that she is older, she understands my goals and vision. I believe she is stepping in my footsteps. Since she was three years old, she has wanted to be a veterinarian and has been working really hard to obtain those goals. As I mentioned in my previous blog, she volunteered to complete a tutor intensive (in math) because it ensures her eligibility for advanced courses in the seventh grade. She is a great student and is excelling because she loves school (like I do). I cannot complain at all. She is also very artistic, and I have named her the “Creative Director” for my projects on my business blog and website. Because she is very good at what she does, I want her to have credit and start building a resume because she will have much experience by the time she graduates high school/college and I believe that is very important to have for the future. Being artistic I believe is another advantage in a child’s development. I believe it takes a special, intricate mind (in my opinion). It is certainly a skill I do not have and if you visit my site, you will see her vision in my work. She is quite talented.
understanding social & emotional development
Understanding social-emotional development would be the first step. The lexicon is predicated on “children’s experience, expression, and management of emotion and the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others” (Cohen et al., 2005, para. 1). Because infants interact with adults (their parents) frequently, it is important there is communication to understand wants, needs, and emotions is loving, nurturing, and positive. I do not want to compare infants to animals (but this is what I think of when it comes to this topic), but I believe it is the same concept. Because animals cannot communicate, you have to understand when they are hungry, sick, need to go to the bathroom, lack attention, and depressed/sad through constant interaction/connection, which is based on and/or affects their social-emotional development skills. Back to infants—Barrera and Maurer (1981) emphasized infants have been able to distinguish unfamiliar faces as early as three months due to frequent interaction with their parents. There is an interrelationship between infants and adults, which gives a positive perspective of social-emotional development (when adults are proactive social development methods). Babies develop their bonds through constant interactions/connections, which should be loving, positive, and can be passed to other adults who have frequent interactions. When infants develop from toddlers to young children, they build on the longstanding interactions/connections they have had with their parents and that is how they began to interact with others. Repetitiveness is key to dealing with babies. That is why it is very important to teach first-time parents the importance of positive/caring/constant interaction with their babies. This is also for them to consider if they are contemplating early childhood programs.
I remember when my daughter was an infant, the Air Force provided parenting classes for free, which was optional. I do not know if such classes are offered for free on the civilian side, but it something to think about (money being a factor). Also, time is a factor. Parents today do not have time to "parent" or go to training courses because of work and other extenuating circumstances. Sometimes I feel new parents do not have as much time to bond with their babies because of the fast-paced world we live in today. Maternity is very short and mothers are going back to work before their babies are even three months old or they hire full-time nannies, who end up having the special bond with the child. When I had my daughter, I only had six weeks of maternity leave and it was very difficult to send her to a daycare facility that young. But I did not have a choice, being in the military.
The importance of parents understanding emotional, social, and physical development is beyond training programs. Parents can be oblivious (at times) until their children develop such issues. My curiosity with this topic is how parents’ emotional and social issues affect their children’s progression, especially at an early age. With larger families, both parents working to make ends meet, and so many other elements involved, parents seem to be more stressed than ever and their children can sense and notice behavioral changes within the household. Because they are dealing with multiple responsibilities, parents may not realize their actions are noticed and it becomes a daily routine. With that said, children will see such behavios and believe it is the norm and possibly develop the same habits based on their parents’ influence. Moges and Weber (2014) found a study that implied parental emotions can influence the outcome of their children’s emotional competence. The two authors also found another study conducted by L. Alan Srouge that found “the style of early attachment relationships predicts later emotional development of children” (2014, para. 3).
Authoritative parenting is recommended to enhance and sustain a child’s progression and wellbeing. I agree with this statement because parents do need to be attentive to their child’s needs, but they also need to be in a position of authority to be respected and listened to. This needs to be embedded at an early age because children are impressionable and pick up habits very quickly. However, parents should understand they are in a positon to positively and negatively influence their children’s behavior. If there is any negative behavior on the parents’ part, children will see and emulate that behavior. I found an article written by Rebecca Jackson from the Huffington Post, in which she found an important study on children picking up habits. A study from Brown University concluded children pick up habits and such behaviors are rooted by the age of nine (Jackson, 2015, para. 1). The study also showed almost 50,000 U.S. households were survey and those behaviors stayed consistent from nine through graduating high (Pressman et al., 2014). I find this interesting because children pick up habits a few years earlier. How children are advancing today, you would think it would be earlier than what the study suggests.
Barrera, M. E. & Maurer, D. (1981). The role of empathy in the formation and maintenance of social bonds. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 25(1), pp. 21-22.
Cohen, J. et al. (2005). Helping young children succeed: Strategies to promote early childhood Social and emotional development. National Conference of State Legislatures and Zero To Three. Retrieved from http://www.buildinitiative.org/WhatsNew/ViewArticle/tabid/96/ArticleId/396/Helping-Young-Children-Succeed-Strategies-to-Promote-Early-Childhood-Social-and-Emotional-Developmen.aspx (accessed on 21 February 2018).
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Early Childhood Development: An Office of the Administration for Children & Families. (n.d.). U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ecd/family-engagement (accessed on 19 February 2018).
Jackson, R. (2015). Study finds habits in children take root by age 9 – here’s what that means for parents. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-jackson/study-finds-habits-in-children-take-root-by-age-9_b_6755276.html (accessed on 24 February 2018).
Moges, B. & Weber, K. (2014). Parental influence on the emotional development of children. Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from https://my.vanderbilt.edu/developmentalpsychologyblog/2014/05/parental-influence-on-the-emotional-development-of-children/ (accessed on 24 February 2018).
Physical activity: Benefits of exercise for health and wellbeing. The Hospital for Sick Children. Retrieved from http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/HealthAZ/HealthandWellness/PhysicalActivitySportsandFitness/Pages/physical-activity-benefits.aspx (accessed on 21 February 2018).
Pressman, R., Owens, J., Evans, A., Nemon, M. (2011). Examining the interface of family and personal traits, media, and academic imperatives using the learning habit study. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 2(5). Taylor & Francis Group. pp. 347-363.
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