Kids in School

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Child Development

1a Application: A 4-year-old becomes frightened of the dark and refuses to go to sleep at night. How would a psychoanalyst and a behaviorist differ in their views of how this problem developed and what should be done about it. NOTE: Do more than summarize the concepts of the two approaches, here—you must explain concretely how each would explain the problem of fear of the dark and how the perspectives would differ.

1b Connection: How do cultural values, political forces, economic resources, and child development research affect children’s development? What levels of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory contain these influences? Be sure to answer this question specifically related to the ecological systems theory and not just in general.

According to a behaviorist the way a child reacts to something can be ultimately affected by conditioning. To explain why the child has now become afraid of the dark, many would look to the parents for an answer. If the child relates an event or occurrence that happened in the dark it may then cause a long lasting fear in that child’s mind. An example could be something as simple as a book that the child’s father read about monster’s under the bed which could then lead the child to believe that there really are monster’s under their own bed. A behaviorist would suggest for the parent to reassure the child that being in the dark is in fact not scary and reinforce the idea until the child lets go of this fear. Behaviorists will want to diffuse the behavior and then educate the child on how to control that behavior.
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