Childhood Care & Development
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Interaction of Young and Old Children with Adults
Existing research in various disciplines focusing on child development indicates that the relationship between children and caregivers, which include parents, siblings, and other family members, as well as teachers, has a considerable role in child development, particularly in terms of cognitive development, self-regulation, socio-emotional adjustment, and language acquisition.
Overall, the vast majority of the researchers agree that one of the major determinants of children’s psychological adjustment and personality development is the quality of the relationship between infants and young children with their caregivers (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2016). The interactions between children and adults shape these relationships.
The ability of a child to respond to the environment and society is based on psychological and neurophysiological adaptations grounded in the regulations that children experience in their interaction with caregivers in very early childhood (Fite et al., 2014). Hamre et al. (2014) concluded that when infants face disruptive or negative interactions with adults, they are forced to self-regulate negative emotional states of their own to mitigate the impacts of inappropriate behaviour of the caregiver during the interaction.
The authors concluded that interactive experiences accumulate to have a structuring impact on children. Ultimately, all children’s interpersonal exchanges are dominated by the self-directed regulatory style. Furthermore, excessive desire or need for children to self-regulate is likely to limit the learning and exploration of children.
Consequently, children’s competency to interact with others, including adults and peers, is compromised. Thus, it can be inferred that the interaction between adults and children is critically important for developing the personality and behaviour of children towards parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, peers, siblings, and overall society. This shows that interaction between children and adults can be used to positively influence child development.
Furthermore, Benson and Haith (2010) argued that for positive child development, it is important for children to become skilled conversationalists. The children who are good at conversations have a better ability to interact with adults and peers than children whose ability to the conversation is not ample compared to the former.
It has been observed that young preschoolers are typically more egocentric as compared to older children. Thus, during interaction with adults, their contribution to the conversation may not always be relevant. They may not be able to provide clear and enough information to conversational partners compared to older children. Young children assume that the listener has access to the same information as they have.
So it can be inferred that one of the main differences is the interactions of adults with young children as compared to their interactions with older children in a conversation. Because older children are better able to converse through language, body gestures, and signs, therefore they are more likely to understand adults.
On the other hand, due to deficiencies in conversational skills, young children cannot understand adults completely, nor can they convey their reactions. Thus, the quality of interaction between adults and young children and the quality of conversation between adults and older children is likely to be affected by the quality of conversation.
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In addition to linguistic differences in the interactions of young and older children with adults, some other differences can be categorized as social and emotional differences. It can be assumed that as the children grow (the age increase), their ability to interact with adults also grows. Thus the impact of interaction on personality and behaviour becomes more profound because they are better able to understand and interpret the behaviour and actions of adults as compared to young age.
According to Waite and Creswell (2015), the theories of normative development indicate that parents need to show different responses to provide support in emotional development for children and adolescents. This study focused on identifying anxiety disorders in children and adolescents that are caused by interactions with parents. The aim of this study was thus to understand to what degree young children differ from older children in terms of interactions with adults. They are likely to be different linguistically, socially, and emotionally.
- Benson, J.B. and Haith, M.M. eds., 2010. Language, memory, and cognition in infancy and early childhood. Academic Press.
- Fite, P.J., Rubens, S.L., Preddy, T.M., Raine, A. and Pardini, D.A., 2014. Reactive/proactive aggression and the development of internalizing problems in males: The moderating effect of parent and peer relationships. Aggressive Behavior, 40(1), pp.69-78.
- Hamre, B., Hatfield, B., Pianta, R., and Jamil, F., 2014. Evidence for general and domain‐specific elements of teacher-child interactions: Associations with preschool children’s development. Child Development, 85(3), pp.1257-1274.
- NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2016. Child-care structure→ process→ outcome: Direct and indirect effects of child-care quality on young children’s development. Psychological Science.
- Waite, P., and Creswell, C., 2015. Observing interactions between children and adolescents and their parents: the effects of anxiety disorder and age. Journal of abnormal child psychology, 43(6), pp.1079-1091.
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