Life Span Development Reflective Paper

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Life Span Development Reflective Paper Introduction

Brenda Watson
Leadership Coaching
September 19, 2010

This has been a very fascinating journey from prenatal, birth to old age. The goal of this paper is to show how my knowledge and understanding of life span development has increased, as well as demonstrate how this knowledge and understanding will apply to and can be used within my area of specialization, Leadership Coaching.

As a Social Worker, I have had the opportunity to work with children and families from diverse socioeconomic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. My experience and training includes extensive work with prenatal, infant and early childhood education and development. Through this course I have been able to not only reinforce what I know, but develop greater knowledge in my areas of expertise as well as gain a deeper understanding of the areas of least experience and knowledge (i.e. adolescent, early/middle adulthood and late adulthood). I will discuss how research and theory has enhanced my knowledge and understanding of the various stages of life span development and which ones more closely match the way I think and how they can be applied and contribute Leadership Coaching.

Research and Theory of Life Span Development

When evaluating the contributions of theories and research their impact as they relates to life span development; there are several that stand out for me and I feel apply well to my area of specialization. These theories and research, although not directly related to my area of specialization affect and influence the way in which I will be able to work with each individual alone or in a group setting. Because of my strong belief that the environment can have significant impact on the development of the individual as a whole many of the stages theories (i.e. Freud’s Psychosexual Stages of Development; Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development and Piaget’s Cognitive Stages of Development), although important in understanding development does not impact my belief regarding human development as does theories and research such as research on the Epigenesis in the Development of Human Behavior and Bidirectonality of Development conducted and/or developed researchers such as Caspi et al (2002), Gottlieb (1992) and Gordon et al (1997). The premise is that the control of genetic expression by both regulatory DNA and environmental factors are influenced by environmental conditions like nutrition, stress and even socioeconomics and that this influence is bidirectional; that genes influence how much impact environmental factors have on the development of behavior and environmental influences channel or constrain behavior which can alter neural activity that can cause changes in genetic activity, thus environment affects the actions of genes and the genes affect the influences of environments (Broderick & Blewitt, 2010).

Although I possessed the basic understanding of environmental affects and influences on life span development (i.e. prenatal development and the affects alcohol, drugs and tobacco have on a developing fetus); through this course many of my assumptions related to biological and environmental influences have been solidified. More specifically, Epigenesis in the Development of Human Behavior and Bidirectionality of Development have confirmed for me that individual development is not just biological, that the environment also plays a significant role in the development process. As the premise of Bidirectonality of Development suggests, coactions is bidirectional in that environments affect the action of genes and genes affect the influence of environments.

Other important theories include Bowlby’s (1969/1982, 1973, 1980) theory of attachment and how healthy attachment during infancy is the foundation for healthy development in the areas of cognition, emotional regulation, language, and learning throughout the lifespan. Healthy attachment promotes the...
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