Child Development: A Practitioner's Guide / Edition 2

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Overview

Now in a revised and expanded second edition, this indispensable text helps practitioners apply the latest developmental knowledge to their work with children and families. The book begins with a framework for understanding the transactions between individual development and the child's wider environment, emphasizing the crucial role of attachment. Key developmental processes and tasks from infancy through middle childhood are then discussed in paired chapters that respectively address how children of different ages typically feel, think, and behave, and how to intervene effectively with those who are having difficulties. Ideally structured for classroom use, the second edition has been updated throughout to reflect current research, practice advances, and policy issues. Included are an important new chapter on the developing brain and expanded coverage of applications for child care and school settings.
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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book describes child development from prenatal genesis through middle childhood/preadolescence. As a practitioner's guide, it includes clinical suggestions in terms of assessment and intervention at each developmental level. Attachment theory and brain development are also discussed, along with risk and protective factors.
Purpose: According to the author, "this book describes child development and how it can be applied to practice with children." Dr. Davies continues: "My aim throughout is to demonstrate how to think developmentally in practice with children and their parents." According to the series editor, Dr. Webb, this book "covers children's growth and development from birth through preadolescence and provides alternating chapters on normal development and detailed cases examples illustrating practice with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children." She adds: "This completely revised and updated edition is grounded in attachment theory as the foundation for the child's ongoing and future relationships." The book meets these worthy objectives.
Audience: The intended audience is beginning practitioners, according to the author, but graduate students in clinical psychology and social work would also benefit tremendously from this book. Dr. Davies is Clinical/Practice Associate Professor at the School of Social Work, University of Michigan, and is an infant mental health specialist who has published articles on intervention with children and families.
Features: The book is divided into two parts: Contexts of Development and Course of Development. It covers child development from infancy to middle childhood, using attachment theory as a framework for understanding child behavior. There are informative chapters on brain development (chapter 2) and risk and protective factors (chapters 3 and 4). Dr. Davies provides many helpful clinical examples. Chapters in Part II cover how development unfolds in each important childhood level, followed by chapters emphasizing practice issues, namely assessment and treatment. There are specific exercises that a practitioner can use in clinical work. The chapters in Part I include summaries at the end which highlight the most important material. The book is well written and easy to digest.
Assessment: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is well written and includes everything you would expect. In addition, it includes clinical exercises at each developmental level which you can use with child clients. The case material is extremely helpful. Dr. Davies uses attachment theory in order to understand the context of development, which adds valuable foundation to the material. He emphasizes the importance of seeing development as a transaction between biological processes and social interaction. The second edition justifies replacing the previous edition because of new research and the ongoing clinical experience of the author.

3 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Douglas Davies, MSW, PhD, is Clinical/Practice Associate Professor at the School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is an infant mental health specialist and has published several articles on intervention with young children and their families. In his practice, he works with children and families, supervises clinicians, and offers consultation to mental health agencies and child care centers. He frequently presents professional workshops on practice with infants and toddlers, play therapy, treatment of child witnesses of domestic violence, child care consultation, and developmental approaches to child therapy.

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Read an Excerpt

Child Development

A Practitioner's Guide
By Douglas Davies

The Guilford Press

Copyright © 2004 The Guilford Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-59385-076-X


Chapter One

Attachment as a Context of Development

This chapter describes how the early parent-child relationship mediates and influences the course of development. Although parenting is not the only influence on development, it is a critically important one. Attachment theory provides the most useful perspective on early parent-child interactions. John Bowlby formulated attachment theory, and other researchers, particularly Mary Ainsworth, have validated and refined it. Bowlby described attachment as a fundamental need that has a biological basis. The goal of the infant's attachment behavior is to keep close to a preferred person, in order to maintain a sense of security. The motivation to stay close and to avoid separation from an attachment figure can be seen in an infant who wakes up from a nap and begins to fuss and cry, which alerts the parent to come and pick her up.

Bowlby pointed out that attachment serves as a protective device for the immature young of many species, including humans. Babies need the care of adults to survive, and they have many built-in behaviors, such as making strong eye contact, cooing and vocalizing, and smiling, that attract adults to them. Every baby with a normal neurological systemdevelops a focal attachment to the mother or other primary caregiver. The beginnings of the attachment process can be observed in the early weeks of life, but attachment is clearly evident between 4 and 6 months of age. Although the behavioral expression of attachment varies across cultures, attachment is a universal phenomenon in humans (Bowlby, 1969; LeVine & Miller, 1990).

HOW ATTACHMENT DEVELOPS

Infants make attachments with specific people. Although a newborn infant may be comforted by anyone who picks him up, he very quickly differentiates his primary attachment figure(s) from others. During the early weeks of life he learns the particular qualities of his mother (assuming the mother is the primary caregiver). The baby, through repeated interactions, learns to recognize his mother-what her face looks like, what she smells like, what her touch feels like, and how her voice sounds. Through this process the infant's attachment becomes specific and preferential. In most cultures, infants' attachments have an order of preference, usually to mother, then father, and then siblings, although infants who are in care full-time with a single caregiver often develop an attachment to her that is second only to the mother.

FUNCTIONS OF ATTACHMENT

Attachment has four main functions: providing a sense of security; regulation of affect and arousal; promoting the expression of feelings and communication; and serving as a base for exploration.

Providing a Sense of Security

The implicit goal of attachment is to keep the infant feeling secure. When an infant becomes distressed, both parent and infant take actions to restore the sense of security (Bowlby, 1969). For example, an infant becomes upset and communicates this by looking anxious, crying, or moving closer to her mother. The mother moves toward the baby, soothes her with her voice, and picks her up. The baby continues to fuss briefly, then molds to the mother's body, stops crying, and soon begins to breathe more slowly and regularly, indicating a decrease in arousal; her sense of security has been restored. In Bowlby's terms, the infant's distress signal, which is functionally an attachment-seeking behavior, activates the mother's side of the attachment system, and the mother takes steps to calm the baby's distress.

Regulation of Affect and Arousal

A second primary function of attachment, as this example suggests, is to regulate the infant's affective states. "Arousal" refers to the subjective feeling of being "on alert," with the accompanying physiological reactions of increased respiration and heartbeat and bodily tension. If arousal intensifies without relief, it begins to feel aversive and the infant becomes distressed. When this happens the infant sends out distress signals and moves toward the caregiver. In a secure attachment the infant is able to draw on the mother for help in regulating distress. The mother's capacity to read an infant's affects accurately and to provide soothing or stimulation helps the infant modulate arousal (Stern, 1985). Over time, infants and parents develop transactional patterns of mutual regulation to relieve the infant's states of disequilibrium. Repeated successful mutual regulation of arousal helps the infant begin to develop the ability to regulate arousal through his own efforts. Through the experience of being soothed, the infant internalizes strategies for self-soothing. Good self-regulation helps the child feel competent in controlling distress and negative emotions (Cassidy, 1994).

In contrast, "unresponsive or abusive parents may promote chronic hyperarousal that can have enduring effects on the child's ability to modulate strong emotions" (van der Kolk & Fisher, 1994, p. 150). Children who have not been helped to regulate arousal within the attachment relationship tend, as they get older, to feel at the mercy of strong impulses and emotions. They have more behavioral problems because they have not developed effective internal ways of controlling their reactions to stressful stimuli (Solomon, George, & de Jong, 1995). In another type of insecure attachment, parents respond negatively to the infant's expressions of distress. The child learns that in order to maintain the attachment he must inhibit strong feelings, especially negative ones. Over time he internalizes a style of overregulating, minimizing, and avoiding expression of strong emotions (Magai, 1999).

Expression of Feelings and Communication

As the attachment relationship develops during first 6 months of life, it also becomes the vehicle for sharing positive feelings and learning to communicate and play.

For example, a 6-month-old infant initiates a game of peek-a-boo (which has been previously taught by her father) by pulling a diaper over her face. Her father responds by saying, "Oh, you want to play, huh," and pulls the diaper off, saying "peek-a-boo!" and smiling and looking into the baby's eyes. The baby smiles and begins to wave her arms and kick her feet. The father says warmly, "Oh you like to play peek-a-boo, don't you?" The baby vocalizes, then begins to pull the diaper over her face again in order to continue the game.

This example indicates how attachment is established and how it is perpetuated. Attachment develops out of transactions-the infant expresses a need, to be fed, to be played with, to be comforted-and the parent responds. These transactions, when they are going well, reveal important qualities of the attachment relationship: mutually reinforcing, synchronous behaviors on the part of the parent and infant, a high degree of mutual involvement, attunement to each other's feelings, and attentiveness and empathy on the part of the parent (Stern, 1985).

However, even in the most secure attachment, synchrony is not always present. Parents are not always optimally responsive and attuned, nor do they need to be. Transactions between infant and parent show moment-to-moment variability in the degree of synchrony, attunement, and mutual responsiveness (Nadel, Carchon, Kervalla, Marcelli, & Reserbat-Planty, 1999). Interactional mismatches between baby and parent are commonplace, and they temporarily interfere with the infant's ability to regulate affects. An indicator of secure attachment is the ability of the parent and infant to use interactive coping skills to repair such mismatches when they occur, thus restoring equilibrium for the infant and for the attachment relationship (Tronick and Gianino, 1986b). For example, when a parent is preoccupied or even depressed, the infant watching her begins to feel out-of-touch-that is a minor mismatch. The baby may whine or, alternatively, smile and kick his feet to attract the mother's attention. As the mother responds, the mismatch ends and the feeling of security is reestablished. Siegel notes, "Repair is ... important in helping to teach the child that life is filled with invevitable moments of misunderstandings and missed connections that can be identified and connection created again" (Siegel, 2001, p. 79).

A Base for Exploration

Later in development, especially from age 1 onward, the attachment relationship becomes a base for exploration. Attachment theorists consider the motivation to explore and learn about the world and to develop new skills to be as intrinsic in infants as attachment motivation. Bowlby pointed out that the attachment and exploratory behavioral systems operate in tandem. The confidence with which the child ventures out depends a great deal on her confidence in her attachments. If a toddler has a secure base in her attachment relationship, she will feel free to explore her environment, with the implicit awareness that the caregiver is available if needed (Grossman, Grossman, & Zimmerman, 1999). Since she is not concerned about attachment, exploratory behavior dominates (Bowlby, 1969). Her confidence allows her to interact with her environment in an open and curious way: "Secure children show more concentrated exploration of novel stimuli and more focused attention during tasks" (Grossman et al., 1999, p. 781). A secure 18-month-old playing on her own repeatedly stacks and knocks over blocks. In doing so she exercises motor and cognitive skills and through concentrated practice develops a sense of competence. Exploring from a secure base gives her opportunities to focus on developmental tasks and to feel competent (Meins, 1997). On the other hand, a toddler who is anxious about whether her caregiver will be responsive and protective may be inhibited from exploring, because emotionally she remains focused on making sure her attachment figures are available (Lieberman, 1993).

PATTERNS OF ATTACHMENT Beginning in the mid-1960s, Mary Ainsworth began to apply Bowlby's attachment theory in a series of studies that would lead to more a specific understanding of the dynamics of attachment and to the identification of three distinct patterns of attachment. First Ainsworth did an anthropological field study of mother-infant interaction patterns of the Ganda people of Uganda through intensive observation. She found that maternal responsiveness and sensitivity and infant reactions to separation were the most important indicators of the quality of attachment behavior of Ganda mothers and infants (Ainsworth, 1967). Her initial observational studies of American mothers and infants confirmed the main findings of the Ganda study and provided beginning support for the validity of attachment theory across cultures. However, Ainsworth also observed cultural differences between the Ganda and American infants' ability to handle stress. The American babies, when observed in the home, seemed less stressed by very brief separations from the mother or by the presence of strangers than did the Ganda infants. Ganda infants were much more likely to initiate attachment behavior (to cry, protest, or try to follow) when the mother left the room than were American babies. The Ganda babies, who were almost always with their mothers, consequently had fewer early separation experiences than American infants.

To take into account the American infants' greater tolerance for separation, Ainsworth devised an experimental procedure called the "Strange Situation" to create a more stressful situation in order to elicit their attachment behavior. This procedure aims to create mild but increasing stress on the attachment relationship, in order to observe the infant's attachment strategies and the degree of security of attachment. In the Strange Situation, the mother and baby (12-18 months old) come into a room the infant has not seen before. After a brief period of play, while the mother sits and watches, a stranger enters the room. After the stranger talks with the mother, the mother briefly leaves the room and returns. The stranger leaves. Then the mother leaves the baby alone for a short time and returns. Ainsworth found that the infant's response to the mother's return was the most sensitive indicator of quality of attachment. Securely attached infants showed characteristic responses when reunited with the mother, and insecurely attached infants also reacted in distinctive ways. In Ainsworth's original study, infants between 9 and 12 months and their mothers were observed for a total of 72 hours at home prior to the Strange Situation procedure. These independent home observations correlated positively with ratings obtained from the Strange Situation procedure. Thus, the validity of the Strange Situation as a research tool for the assessment of attachment in middle-class American samples was established via independent observations.

ATTACHMENT CLASSIFICATIONS

Ainsworth's observational and experimental studies identified the characteristics of secure attachment and delineated two types of anxious or insecure attachment. A third type of insecure attachment has been described by Mary Main (Main & Solomon, 1990). The attachment classifications are:

Group A: Insecure-Avoidant

Group B: Secure

Group C: Insecure-Ambivalent/Resistant

Group D: Insecure-Disorganized/Disoriented

Infants in each attachment category present distinctly different reactions to the separation and reunion episodes of the Strange Situation procedure. These differences are seen not merely as reactions to the experimental situation but rather as outcomes of the history of attachment qualities and strategies that have developed over time (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978).

Secure Attachment

The infants rated as secure (B) showed confidence in the attachment relationship, even though they varied in how distressed they became in response to separation. When the mother returned, they tended to greet her positively, to look relieved and happy, and to move close to her. If distressed they wanted to be picked up, and they quickly calmed in response to the parent's attention and soothing. In these securely attached infants, there was an expected pattern of exploratory versus attachment-seeking behavior: "When they were alone with their mothers, they explored actively, showing very little attachment behavior. Most of them were upset in the separation episodes and explored little. All of them responded strongly to the mother's return in the reunion episodes, the majority seeking close bodily contact with her" (Ainsworth, 1982, p. 16).

Continues...


Excerpted from Child Development by Douglas Davies Copyright © 2004 by The Guilford Press. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Contents
I. Contexts of Development: A Transactional Approach
Introduction: Perspectives on Development
1. Attachment as a Context of Development
2. Brain Development
3. Risk and Protective Factors: The Child, Family, and Community Contexts
4. Analysis of Risk and Protective Factors: Practice Applications
II. The Course of Child Development
Introduction: A Developmental Lens on Childhood
5. Infant Development
6. Practice with Infants
7. Toddler Development
8. Practice with Toddlers
9. Preschool Development
10. Practice with Preschoolers
11. Middle Childhood Development
12. Practice with School-Age Children
13. Conclusion: Developmental Knowledge and Practice
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