DISCUSSION POST/building better brains

When writing your original post, you definitely should consider the following (i.e., you must include):

Describe what “serve and return” looks like in infant and early childhood development with regard to what you are learning in Module 2. For instance: How might this process look different in the sensorimotor stage compared to the preoperational stage? How might the process be defined and described differently under the assumptions of trust vs mistrust contrasted with the assumptions of autonomy vs shame/doubt or initiative vs guilt? Give some applied examples of what you are thinking here.
From a multidimensional and contextual perspective, describe some of the primary impacts that stress and anxiety may have on things such as language development, social skills, emotional regulation, etc. What are the predictable effects of trauma on the developing child in the young age ranges covered in Module 2? How do environments shape these issues (for the good or for the bad)?
Offer two recommendations from the cognitive perspective (Piaget, Vygotsky) with regard to specific ways to ensure healthy brain development in the first few years of life, even in the face of adversity and distress. Be specific and show me that you can think like these theorists.
Offer two recommendations from the psychosocial perspective (Erikson) with regard to specific ways for ensuring healthy social and emotional development in the first few years of life, even in the face of adversity and distress. Be specific and show me that you can think like this theorist.
Offer two recommendations from the ecological systems perspective (Bronfenbrenner) with regard to specific ways to ensure healthy environmental contributions to development in the first few years of life, even in the face of adversity and distress. Be specific and show me that you can think like this theorist. Think outside the box on this one!

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How Our Brains Are Molded

Our brain development is the most critical type of development when discussing our growing human experiences. As humans, we are designed and meant to fulfill our own ideas as to how life is, how life works, and what life holds in store for each and every one of us. Therefore, our brain development from the time of birth to the time of death, is constantly changing and constantly molding our neuroplasticity capabilities to adapt and evolve in our ever-changing environment.

When a child is born, their brain is evolving at every moment of their young lives. During the time of birth to the age of two years, this is the brain’s most critical tipping point. This stage can either make or break a child as to how well their foundation will support them in becoming the best version that they can possibly achieve to be. However, when lacking to provide that strong foundation for a child, their brain will lack that support and mold in response to any stress-related factors they come across. For example, children born in foster-care systems, constantly being neglected, abused (emotionally, physically, etc.), will have more stress-induced obstacles that will interfere with their brain development. Thus, resulting in early-onset health issues and they will lack healthy and beneficial traits that is essential to their development.

According to Piaget, the sensorimotor stage that occurs from birth and lasts up until two years, is the time where a child begins to use their senses (seeing, touching, hearing) and applies it to their understanding of life. Take the video from above as an example. Learning is always a serve and return environment for both children and adults. When a parent takes a tennis ball and throws the tennis ball into the court, the child on the other end receives it and manipulates their parent’s actions. This is what serve and return learning is. When a father says the word, “Dada” enough times, the infant will eventually mimic and repeat the father. Furthermore, making serve and return an ongoing relationship for both the child and parent.

Therefore, during the sensorimotor stage, it is to be reminded that children are at the beginning of their brain development. Thus, making the rest of their learning journey either easier with a strong and healthy foundation, or a weak an unhealthy foundation where the child is left to throw the tennis ball back and forth, by themselves. Unfortunately, an unhealthy foundation will only increase a child’s stress hormones and they will lack in obtaining language, behavioral, emotional, and social skills.

Diving into the negative effects this may have on a child, it is essential to know that the development and learnings of language, social, emotional, and behavioral skills do take a toll on a child’s brain for life. For example, children who learn only English as their first language at a young age, will struggle in learning other languages such as Spanish, Latin, German, French, etc. (Chapter 4 pg. 158). As this example is only minor, it is difficult to imagine a child who did not benefit in being taught the basic skills like social, behavioral, and emotional. Only making it ten times harder for them to fully understand later on in their lives.

Fortunately, these obstacles a child may face can be prevented. The beauty of the brain is simply its plasticity capabilities. That by the way a child adapts and learns, is also a time to mold their brain into pure gold. Piaget, being the wonderful child theorist he is, suggests that the hands-on learning style is the best way a child will learn. Reviewing that the sensorimotor stage is the most critical, humans learn by their senses. If we take a child at a young age to fear white rats, there are so many ways we can do so. If we take a white rat and scream every time the child sees it, the child will learn to fear it. If we take a white rat and show a child how beautiful the animal is, the child will learn to love it. It is simply that way, that Piaget helps us understand. A child learns through experience. We, as humans, learn through experience. For example, I personally recommend a parent learns to love nature, so that they can pass down their teachings to their child, allowing their child to serve and love nature. By actively taking a child out on walks, bike rides, etc., the child will not only observe the parent’s love for nature, but they will live it, experience it, and love it themselves.

As for Lev Vygotsky, he theorizes that one of the most critical moments a child and parent can bond and learn from each other, is by scaffolding. When scaffolding, a parent can provide the child healthy learning techniques that the child can eventually do on their own. Thus, once the child learns the parent’s scaffolding technique, the child can repeat, leading to the parent and child taking turns in learning from each other (i.e. peekaboo).

According to Eric Erikson, he theorizes and specializes in one of the stages we will discuss; trust versus mistrust. During this stage, a child is in critical need of the physical touch from their parent. When in distress, it is important for a child to feel the physical touch from a parent, so they can relieve that stress. It is proven by many studies that hugging helps relieve stress. It is also shown in the study of the monkey holding the toy parent monkey, receiving more affection and relief from their actual mother. In addition, the argument of a mother either breastfeeding her child or bottle-feeding her child does require the knowledge of physical touch. Many people have argued that breastfeeding a child is essential for the child to get those proper nutrients, but not many state the importance of the physical bond that the child develops when drinking from the mother’s breast. Thus, the bond between a mother and child will always remain strong, judging by the physical touch they have between them and will last a lifetime.

Lastly, in Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory, he stresses the importance of how cultural, ethnicity, and socioeconomic statuses determine the macrosystem of the child and their development. Bronfenbrenner argues that the macrosystem also has a great influence on the development of a child and how the environment also shapes a child. Therefore, I suggest better learning environments for children, where teachers are better educated (and quite frankly, better paid) in understanding their abilities in shaping a child’s brain. Furthermore, the overall teachings of the system need to be reformed, to benefit the children of future generations.

Works Cited

Santrock, John W. Life-Span Development. McGraw-Hill Education, 2017.

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