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Big Questions About Child Development

Updated on September 1, 2014

I have always been interested in the development of young children and the impact that early development has on people later in their lives. My big question would be, how do childhood situations impact us so deeply that our behavior may be altered as adults? I think one of the reasons that I find this question so interesting is because it is a question that everybody will respond to differently. We all experience life differently, and are taught different things about our lives. We are all without a doubt impacted by our childhood memories, but I am interested in knowing how deeply are we impacted? Why some people seem to be affected by their childhood significantly more than others. I think that this is a subject that we could all use as humans in general. To be able to fully understand how we are affecting the young people around us, and to be able to understand and critically think about our own behaviors as a result of our childhood circumstances.

              There are some interesting case studies about children who were affected by pre birth situations, such as a child who was searching for his dead twin. In this study a child lost his twin while still in the womb. Whenever he was inside he would get restless and look around constantly, he would grab objects and shake them as hard as he could. According to the psychiatrist it appeared that the child was trying to shake objects back to life when he was restless, but it was just that particular psychiatrist’s evaluation of a child’s odd behavior. How can we possibly understand if that was truly the reason behind his behavior? We can speculate as to what would cause such behaviors in a young child, which is what I believe that psychiatrist was doing, but I do not believe that we can really ever know for sure the exact causes behind the behavior. The case studies I have read had me asking more questions than they actually answered. Which I think is a good thing, after all we only think critically and develop our minds when we have questions to attempt to answer.

                On a personal level this question is very important to me. I had a messy childhood as most people do in our current society. With important adults coming and going from my life throughout my childhood and even now as an adult, I try to relate what I know of child development to myself. It makes me wonder just how much the influence of some morally questionable adults in my early life could have impacted me without my notice. I can consciously make connections between some of my behavior now at twenty years old and the behavior of people that used to be prominent in my life. It is not just a matter of them having impacted me profoundly, in most cases it is a matter of me trying to avoid behaving like certain people. I realize that this impacts me just as much as striving to be like a role model, but I like to think that as much it may have impacted me, I am still in control of my decisions.

Imagine all the different ways people will react and be impacted from this view

I critically think about the situations in my life and make deliberate decisions about my actions. I wonder how much of my thinking is impacted by those early years though. I cannot answer this question even though it is a question about my own growing up. I do not think that I am defined by my experiences as a child. I know that they helped shape who I am today as a person, but my experiences cannot in my opinion be such a large factor in my current thinking. These are the ideas that I contemplate often whenever I am on the topic of development (I study childcare and teaching so I am on it a lot). I think human development is such a personal subject, seeing as how we all develop differently and we will all react to our childhoods differently.

The next thought that comes to mind when thinking about this question is the idea of violent cycles. It appears as though young children who are faced with violence at a young age often as a direct result become violent themselves as they grow up. As children, they may simply be imitating, or trying to make sense of the situation they find themselves in. As teens, they may be releasing pent up frustration and anger. As adults, it is not uncommon for victims of abuse to continue the cycle with their partners, animals and children. Yet there are so many victims of abuse which are not impacted in this manner. The same story can be applied to children of alcoholics, or abusers of other substances. They may go through similar situations as children, yet many come out of their childhood as better people than their parents. Others seem to become a product of their circumstances. It makes me wonder about the difference between these people, what was it that made people of similar circumstances react so differently?  

The last thought that comes to mind when I think about the importance of this question is one that I think will be prominent to all parents, teachers and people in general. How is my behavior going to impact the children and people in my life? It is scary to realize how much of an impact we may have on people we encounter every day, but scarier still to realize how much we may affect the children which are in our care. It is something that I think I will continue to think about and I doubt I will ever really have any answers. It is more important to critically think about these questions however, as it is the process that matters more than the result or getting answers.

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