Young Children Develop In an Environment of Relationships

Young Children Develop In an Environment of Relationships

NATIONAL SCIENTIFIC COUNCIL ON THE DEVELOPING CHILD is a multidisciplinary collaboration of leading scientists in early childhood and early brain development. Its mission is to bring sound and accurate science to bear on public decision-making affecting the lives of young children.

THE ISSUE

Healthy development depends on the quality and reliability of a young child’s relationships with the important people in his or her life, both within and outside the family. Even the development of a child’s brain architecture depends on the establishment of these relationships.

Growth-promoting relationships are based on the child’s continuous give-and-take (“action and interaction”) with a human partner who provides what nothing else in the world can offer – experiences that are individualized to the child’s unique personality style; that build on his or her own interests, capabilities, and initiative; that shape the child’s self-awareness; and that stimulate the growth of his or her heart and mind.

Young children experience their world as an environment of relationships, and these relationships affect virtually all aspects of their development – intellectual, social, emotional, physical, behavioral, and moral. The quality and stability of a child’s human relationships in the early years lay the foundation for a wide range of later developmental outcomes that really matter – self-confidence and sound mental health, motivation to learn, achievement in school and later in life, the ability to control aggressive impulses and resolve conflicts in nonviolent ways, knowing the difference between right and wrong, having the capacity to develop and sustain casual friendships and intimate relationships, and ultimately to be a successful parent oneself. Stated simply, relationships are the “active ingredients” of the environment’s influence on healthy human development.

They incorporate the qualities that best promote competence and well-being – individualized responsiveness, mutual action-and-interaction, and an emotional connection to another human being, be it a parent, peer, grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbor, teacher, coach, or any other person who has an important impact on the child’s early development. Relationships engage children in the human community in ways that help them define who they are, what they can become, and how and why they are important to other people.

In the words of the distinguished developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner: …in order to develop normally, a child requires progressively more complex joint activity with one or more adults who have an irrational emotional relationship with the child. Somebody’s got to be crazy about that kid. That’s number one. First, last, and always.

WHAT SCIENCE TELLS US

Nurturing and stable relationships with caring adults are essential to healthy human development beginning from birth. Early, secure attachments contribute to the growth of a broad range of competencies, including a love of learning, a comfortable sense of oneself, positive social skills, multiple successful relationships at later ages, and a sophisticated understanding of emotions, commitment, morality, and other aspects of human relationships. Stated simply, establishing successful relationships with adults and other children provides a foundation of capacities that children will use for a lifetime.

UNFOUNDED ASSERTIONS IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE

THE SCIENCE-POLICY GAP

The importance of mother-child relationships is old news. The importance of other family relationships (with fathers, siblings, and grandparents) is semi-old news. The impact of these relationships on the development of the brain is new news. And the important influence of relationships outside of the family – with child care providers, peers, teachers, neighbors, and other adults and children in the community – is even newer, because these individuals are often valued more for what they do than for the meaning of their role in the life experience of very young children. Greater understanding of what science tells us about the importance of a range of relationships for early childhood development leads us to think about many areas of policy and practice in a new light.

IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY AND PROGRAMS

The science of early childhood development is sufficiently mature to support a number of well documented, evidence-based implications for those who develop and implement policies that affect the health and well-being of young children. Five compelling messages are particularly worthy of thoughtful consideration.

REFERENCES

1. Berscheid, E., & Reis, H.T. (1998). Attraction and close relationships. In D.T. Gilbert, S.T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.),Handbook of social psychology, Vol. 1 (2nd Ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
2. Collins,W.A., & Laursen, B. (1999). Relationships as developmental contexts. The Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology, Vol. 30. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
3. Dunn, J. (1993). Young children’s close relationships: Beyond attachment. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
4. Reis, H.T., Collins,W.A. & Berscheid, E. (2000). Relationships in human behavior and development. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 844-872.
5. Dawson, D. , & Fischer, K.W. (Eds.) (1994).Human behavior and the developing brain. New York: Guilford.
6. Panksep, J. (1998). Affective neuroscience. New York: Oxford.
7. Bornstein, Marc (Ed.) (2002).Handbook of Parenting (2nd Ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.
8. Cassidy, J. & Shaver, P.R. (Eds.) (1999).Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 89-111). New York: Guilford.
9. Cochran, M., Larner, M., Riley, D., Gunnarsson, L., & Henderson, C.R., Jr. (1990). Extending families: The social networks of parents and their children. New York: Cambridge University Press.
10. Fogel, A. (1993). Developing through relationships: Origins of communication, self, and culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
11. Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context. New York: Oxford University Press.
12. Shonkoff, J.P., & Phillips, D. (Eds.) (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development.Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
13. Thompson, R.A. (1998). Early sociopersonality development. In W. Damon (Ed.), & N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.) Handbook of child psychology, Vol. 3, (5th Ed.), Social, emotional, and personality development. (pp. 25-104). New York:Wiley.
14. Belsky, J., & Cassidy, J. (1994). Attachment:Theory and evidence. In M. Rutter & D. Hay (Eds.), Development through life. (pp. 373-402). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
15. Thompson, R.A. (1999). Early attachment and later development. In J. Cassidy & P.R. Shaver (Eds.),Handbook of attachment: theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 265-286). New York: Guilford.
16. Thompson, R.A. (2000).The legacy of early attachments. Child Development, 71, 145-152.
17. Waters, E., Kondo-Ikemura, K., Posada, G., & Richters, J.E. (1991). Learning to love: Mechanisms and milestones. In M. Gunnar & L. Sroufe (Eds.), Self processes and development.Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology, Vol. 23. (pp. 217-255). Hillsdale NJ: Erlbaum.
18. Bradley, R.H., Caldwell, B.M. Rock, S.L., Ramey, C.T., et al. (1989). Home environment and cognitive development in the first three years of life: A collaborative study involving six sites and three ethnic groups in North America. Developmental Psychology, 25, 217-235.
19. Bradley, R.H., Caldwell, B.M., & Rock, S.L. (1988). Home environment and school performance: A ten-year follow-up and examination of three models of environmental action. Child Development, 59, 852-867.
20. Estrada, P., Arsenio,W.F., Hess, R.D., & Holloway, S.D. (1987). Affective quality of the mother-child relationship: Longitudinal consequences for children’s school-relevant cognitive functioning. Developmental Psychology, 23, 210-215.
21. Gottfried, A.W., & Gottfried, A.E. (1984).Home environment and early cognitive development. New York: Academic.
22. Peisner-Feinberg, E.S., Burchinal, M.R., Clifford, R.M., Culkin, M.I., Howes, C., Kagan, S.I.,Yazejian, P., Byler, J., Rustici, J., & Zelazo, J. (2000). The children of the Cost, Quality, and Outcomes Study go to school: Technical report. Chapel Hill, NC: Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
23. Pianta, R.C., Nimetz, S.L., & Bennett, E. (1997). Mother-child relationships, teacher-child relationships, and school outcomes in preschool and kindergarten. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 12, 263-280.
24. Kochanska, G., & Thompson, R.A. (1997).The emergence and development of conscience in toddlerhood and early childhood. In J.E. Grusec & L. Kuczynski (Eds.), Parenting and children’s internalization of values (pp. 53-77). New York:Wiley.
25. Thompson, R.A., Meyer, S., & McGinley, M. (in press). Understanding values in relationship:The development of conscience. In M. Killen & J. Smetana (Eds.),Handbook of moral development. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
26. Kochanska, G. (2002). Mutually responsive orientation between mothers and their young children: A context for the early development of conscience. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11, 191-195.
27. Rubin, K.H., Bukowski,W., & Parker, J.G. (1998). Peer interactions, relationships, and groups. In W. Damon (Ed.) & N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.),Handbook of child psychology, Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (5th Ed., pp. 619-700). New York:Wiley.
28. Rose-Krasnor, L. (1997).The nature of social competence: A theoretical review. Social Development, 6, 111-135.
29. Lamb, M.R. (1998). Nonparental child care: Context, quality, correlates. In W. Damon (Ed.), & I.E. Seigel & K.A. Renninger (Vol. Eds.),Handbook of child psychology, Vol. 4, Child psychology in practice. (5th Ed., pp.73-134). New York:Wiley.
30. NICHD Early Child Care Research Network (2000).The relation of child care to cognitive and language development. Child Development, 71, 958-978.
31. NICHD Early Child Care Research Network (2002). Early child care and children’s development prior to school entry: Results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care. American Educational Research Journal, 39, 133-164.
32. NICHD Early Child Care Research Network (2003). Does amount of time spent in child care predict socioemotional adjustment during the transition to kindergarten? Child Development, 74, 976-1005.
33. Pianta, R.C. (1999). Enhancing relationships between children and teachers. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
34. Birch, S., & Ladd, G. (1997).The teacher-child relationship and children’s early school adjustment. Journal of School Psychology, 35, 61-79.
35. Ladd, G.W., Birch, S.H., & Buhs, E.S. (1999). Children’s social and scholastic lives in kindergarten: Related
spheres of influence? Child Development, 70, 1373-1400.
36. Ladd, G.W., Kochenderfer, B.J., & Coleman, C.C. (1996). Friendship quality as a predictor of young children’s early school adjustment. Child Development, 67, 1103-1118.
37. Ladd, G.W., Kochenderfer, B.J., & Coleman, C.C. (1997). Classroom peer acceptance, friendship, and victimization: Distinct relational systems that contribute uniquely to children’s school adjustment? Child Development, 68, 1181-1197.
38. Pianta, R.C.., & Steinberg, M. (1992).Teacher-child relationships and the process of adjusting to school. In R.C. Pianta (Ed.), Beyond the parent:The role of other adults in children’s lives.New Directions for Child Development, 57, 61-80.
39. Dunn, J. (In press). Children’s friendships: The beginnings of intimacy. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Similar of Young Children Develop In an Environment of Relationships

Safe Motherhood and Child Development: Men's Role

Safe Motherhood and Child Development: Men's Role Pregnancy-related complications cause one quarter to one half of deaths among women of reproductive age in developing counties. In some countries pregnancy-

Understanding Child Maltreatment

Understanding Child Maltreatment Child maltreatment includes all types of abuse and neglect that occur among children under the age of 18. There are four common types of abuse. Physical

Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV / AIDS: A Potential Threat to Child Survival

It is amazing, and humbling, to realize that in the late 1970s the human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) was spreading silently- unrecognized and unnoticed

Language Building Tips for Center-Based Child Care Providers

Language Building Tips for Center-Based Child Care Providers We know that it’s important to talk every day with each child, using the kind of talk that builds language and thinking skills. The phrase "MAKE TIME TO TALK"

Early Influences on Brain Architecture - An Interview with Neuroscientist Eric Knudsen

Early Influences on Brain Architecture Abstract: Early experience has a powerful and lasting influence on how the brain develops. The physical and chemical conditions that encourage the building of

Health Related Q&A Mother and Child Care

List of Questions Q1.How we can ensure neonat health service in a rural setting in the developing countries? Q2.What are the fatal diseases of early childhood

Mother and Child-Essential Message

The Following are The Essential Message Distilled from Facts for Life. The health of both women and children can be significantly improved when births are

Topics:

Comments

Post new comment