Discuss how theories of human growth and development can help understand human behaviour.
Human growth and development is studied and researched with differing perspectives. There are many ways human growth and development can be looked at. Certain disciplines, such as, biology, psychology and sociology all have opposing viewpoints on the subject. The psychological viewpoint concentrates on the different processes of the mind, whereas, the biological approach is centred on genetics and environmental factors. The sociological viewpoint, however, focuses on individual thoughts and feelings as being socially constructed (Beckett and Taylor, 2010). Human growth and development is researched across the whole lifespan, however, for this essay I will be focusing on the early years of child development. Furthermore, human growth and development studies consist of various different theories; I will be discussing several of these theories whilst paying particular attention to Bowlby’s attachment theory. Human growth and development is important for social work practice as children and adolescence may show behaviour difficulties and when coming to assess, it is key to have an understanding of the norm development of a child of a certain age, also, what behaviours may be observed as being abnormal. It can also be seen as important for communication purposes. For example, being able to understand a child’s stage of development will make you more attuned to the understanding of how they are communicating and what the best way will be in making a response. Firstly, I am to introduce Bowlby’s attachment theory (Bowlby 1969). Bowlby’s attachment theory was based on the idea that subject- object relations are shaped by our initial relationship with our primary care giver, this usually to be the mother (Beckett and Hillary 2010). According to Bowlby, children are biologically pre- programmed to form attachments in order to help them survive. Children have an innate ability to attach to their main care giver (Sean Mcleod 2007). This is gained through attachment behaviours and gestures to maintain proximity to carers. For example the child may cry or at a later stage smile and make eye contact and express body gestures to gain attention from the primary care giver. It was believed by Bowlby that the care giver will instinctively respond to the child; creating reciprocal interaction. Bowlby believed that attachment behaviours are instinctive and the child will express these behaviours when the child feels threatened by the achievement of proximity, such as separation, insecurity and fear (McLeod 2007). According to Ainsworth (1967, p. 429) attachment is more than evident behaviour but it is internal, ‘being built into the nervous system, in the course and as a result of the infant’s experience of his transactions with the mother’ Following Bowlby’s suggestion, the limbic system; A complex system of nerves and networks in the brain that controls the basic emotions and drives (Wikipedia) has been suggested to be the site of developmental changes associated with the rise of attachment behaviours (Anders & Zeanah, 1984, cited in, attachment and human development). The lifespan period from 7 to 15 months has been shown to be critical for the myelination; for the proper functioning of the nervous system (Schore, 2010). Additionally, Attachment theory is able to be used within the practice of social work. The knowledge of attachment behaviour can signify when an individual is experiencing stress. Furthermore, the understanding of Bowlby’s attachment theory and other human growth and development theories can help with the framework for assessments. To understand service users and to make sense of ourselves and respond appropriately and effectively, we need to have the basis of the understanding of why people behave as they do under stress and difficulty (Howe, 1995). For example a 12 year old boy may be extremely angry and...
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