Family Systems and Healthy Development
Family Systems theory is the study of the interconnected members of a small common social group and their effect on development throughout the lifespan due to their mutual effect on the next generation in recurrent and predictable ways according to Garris Christian. While developed from the work and theories of several Psychologists, including Ackerman, Jackson, Minuchin, and Bowen; family systems have a sole purpose of examining the context of childhood experiences within their close social circle in correlation to the rest of one’s life. Family systems and healthy development go hand in hand during the physical, cognitive, social, and personality development of early childhood. Preschoolers are growing, learning, and going through their own metamorphosis rapidly due to their increased exposure to the world. “One central factor leading preschoolers to develop friendships comes when parents provide a warm, supportive home environment. A good deal of research finds that strong, positive relationships between parents and children, encourage children’s relationships with others.” (Howes, Galensky, (Kontas, 1998, Feldman, page 252). Other factors affected by healthy family systems are cognitive development skills. A higher quality mother–infant relationship was associated with more optimal language development, whilst a higher father–infant relationship quality was associated with more advanced motor development. Additionally, higher involvement of a positive male figure improved cognitive development, particularly in male children. Determining factors that distinguish healthy family systems are based on the analysis of mothers and fathers and the associations between their mental health, relationships with infant and their partner, infant characteristics, and their infant’s development according to Parfitt, Pike, and Ayers. By using Belsky’s model of determinants of parenting (1984) as a general framework, the parent–infant relationship (parenting) and the infant’s characteristics have a direct effect on the child’s development and parental mental health and the couple’s relationship has an effect on their parenting. Children need to be taught proper behavior and manners effectively and should see this in their lives daily via living examples. Also the dynamics between the parents (if both are present) can have an effect on the development of a child. Family Systems and Unhealthy Development
Unhealthy family systems also are reflected in the preschooler’s development and behavior. The effects of an unhealthy family system are children that are overly dependent, extremely passive, extremely hostile, and have low resilience. Once again, mental health of the parent (or parents) comes into play in regards to development. For example, according to Glover, Punamaki, and Van-Batenburg-Eddes, accumulating evidence suggests that exposure to maternal prenatal anxiety and stress in the womb may have long-term negative developmental consequences for the baby (Glover, 2011; Punamaki et al., 2006; Van Batenburg-Eddes et al., 2009). Postnatal mental health has also been covered in studies to demonstrate the effect on health and development and children.
A systematic review of the effects of postnatal maternal anxiety on children (Glasheen, Richardson, & Fabio, 2010) found that the strongest adverse effects were on somatic, behavioural and emotional problems in the child, but with inconclusive evidence regarding the effect on children’s cognitive and general development. Also, Bosquet Enlow et al. (2011) found that maternal PTSD symptoms 6months postpartum were associated with measures of emotional regulation when the child was 13months old. (Parfitt, Pike, Ayers 2013, p 355)
The family system as a whole is also looked at. The contribution of a mother and father to their child also acknowledges...
References: Feldman, R. (2014). Development across the life span (7th Ed.). Pearson Education.
Garris, Christian, L. (2006). Understanding families: Applying family systems theory to early childhood practice. YC Young Children, 61 (1), 12-20. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/197591231?accountid=12085
Parfitt Y., Pike A., and Ayers, S. (2014), Infant Developmental Outcomes: A Family Systems Perspective, Inf. Child. Dev., 23, pages 353–373. doi: 10.1002/icd.1830
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