Theories of Infant Development

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Transcript Theories of Infant Development

Two to Five
Chapter 6
Created by Ilse DeKoeyer-Laros, Ph.D.
Overview Chapter 6
Physical and Motor Development
Perceptual Development
Cognitive Development
Emotional Development
Family and Society
Experiential Exercises
Co-regulating with Baby
• Around 6-8 weeks: first major developmental
motor movements more purposeful and deliberate
perception more acute
waking time and attention span increase rapidly
able to establish and maintain eye contact,
demanding crying wanes, and social smile emerges
• These changes lead to longer adult-infant
interactions & the beginnings of social play
Physical Development
• At birth, most infants are 19 to 21 inches in
length & weigh between 7 and 8 pounds
– boys are slightly longer & heavier than girls
• By 6 months, height increases by a factor of 1.5,
while weight increases by a factor of 2
• Individual differences become larger with age
– as infants get older, their height becomes a better
predictor of their adult height
Physical Development
Growth is asynchronous – different parts of the
body grow at different rates, and growth spurts
occur at different times in each body region
Physical Development
• By 3 months,
– infants can sleep for longer periods before
waking up and are more likely to sleep
through the night
– about half of their sleep time is in REM sleep.;
this percentage decreases gradually (in
adults, only 20% of sleep is REM sleep)
Motor Development
• Changes along with physical development
• Areas:
– control over posture
– locomotion
– movements of the hands &
Video Examples on YouTube:
• unsuccessful eye-hand coordination:
• successful reach & grasp:
• successful hand-hand transfer:
Motor Development
Motor Development
A baby’s ability to perform a motor skill depends on
two factors
– the difficulty of the task
– supports & resources
in the environment
Picture from:
Motor Development
The difficulty of the task
• easier tasks are mastered first:
– objects with graspable appendages vs. balls & cubes
– small vs. large objects
• between 2 and 6 months, hand & arm movements
– become more adapted to the size & shape
of an object
– become more coordinated with eye gaze
– are related to emotional state: more likely to
point when alert & attentive
Motor Development
Supports & resources in the environment
• during social play with objects, adults help
infants to practice budding motor skills
• adults hold infants in postures that are most
conducive to the execution of motor skills
– upright babies attend more to the environment, while
supine babies are more likely to look at their mothers
– infants in upright supine positions are more likely to
reach for objects within their reach
Motor Development
Cultural differences
• In Mali, mothers put babies through workout
– training in sitting & standing, muscle stretching,
suspending babies by their arms and legs
– many African babies have advanced motor
coordination compared to Caucasian babies
• Navaho infants spend many hours strapped
tightly onto cradle boards
– motor development is slower than that of other groups
Motor Development
In summary
• motor and physical development in the first half
year is the result of a systems interaction
between infants, adults, and the environment.
• the ability to perform a
coordinated task is based
on three systemic factors:
Perceptual Development
There is a major shift in perceptual
development between 2 and 5 months
infants begin to recognize
& prefer meaningful
patterned stimuli
Perceptual Development
Visual Pattern Perception
The ability to perceive whole patterns increases
dramatically around 3 months
– infants dishabituate when a totally novel figure is
introduced but not when a different view of the familiar
figure is shown
– they scan figures drawn with dashed or dotted lines as
if they were drawn with a solid line
Perceptual Development
Visual Pattern Perception: Faces
• By 3 months, infants can
differentiate familiar from
unfamiliar faces & prefer faces
over nonface stimuli
• They prefer faces from their own ethnic-racial
group over faces from a different group &
attractive faces over less attractive ones
• They can recognize a smile
Perceptual Development
Visual Perception of Moving Objects
• Young infants look longer at moving faces and
patterns than at static ones
• By 3-4 months, infants perceive moving objects
as whole units
• By using movement cues, 4-month-old infants
are aware that objects are solid and that they
take up their own space
Perceptual Development
Visual Perception of Moving Objects
Infants also detect complex patterns of motion
• 3- to 5-month-olds prefer to look at normal walkers or
runners over inverted or biologically impossible ones
Perceptual Development
the infant is able to perceive meaningful
wholes because human infants are
predisposed to finding the similarities and
differences between things
(p. 276)
Perceptual Development
Auditory Perception
• Infants recognize and prefer their mothers’
voices at birth
• By 4 months, they prefer speech to nonspeech
• Infants seem able to detect different emotions
expressed in the voice earlier than they can see
differences between facial expressions
• in one study, 5-month-olds listened longer to positive
than to negative vocalizations & smiled more to
approving voices, while they frowned more to voices
expressing disapproval
Perceptual Development
Auditory Perception
Infants at 4 months like music
– they look more toward consonant than dissonant music
– they show more attention to maternal singing than to
– they can remember songs for at least a week without
hearing them in between
– they prefer being sung lullabies over recorded music
– they attend more to their own bodies during lullabies and
to the singer during play songs
Perceptual Development
Cross-modal Perception
“The ability to integrate information coming from at
least two sensory modalities”
– by 3 months, infants can localize sounds better if they
have visual cues, compared to a sound heard in the
dark or made from behind a screen
– after about 4 months, infants expect sights and sounds
to “go together” & they perceive objects as coherent
Cognitive Development
Cognition: the processing of perceived information
• includes: learning, memory, and the ability to mentally
compare different situations (similarities & differences)
Between 2-5 months,
important developments
take place in perceiving,
habituating, learning, and
Cognitive Development
• Between 2-5 months, infants improve in speed of
information processing
– related to brain development & ability to focus on
familiar tasks
– by 3 months, infants usually habituate within 1½ to 2
minutes; by 6 months, this drops to 30 seconds
• Speed of habituation is an early index of
cognitive differences
– it is a fairly good predictor over a period of 4 or 5
months (but not over longer terms)
Cognitive Development
Habituation – Individual Differences
Infants who habituate fast at 3 months are more
likely to habituate fast at 6 months
– faster habituators tend to have parents who stimulate
their ability to focus visual attention & are more efficient
in their information processing
– slow habituators are more likely to have perinatal risk
factors, illness, malnutrition, and poor state control
Cognitive Development
• From birth, infants have shortterm memories lasting several
hours or days
• Long-term memory: by 3 months,
infants can remember situations
for up to 2 weeks
– this has been tested in the mobile
experiment, by Dr. Rovee-Collier
and her colleagues
Picture from:
Cognitive Development
• Mobile experiment
– Babies were placed in cribs with brightly colored mobiles
overhead & trained for 15-20 minutes of training
– Experimenters decided that they would move the mobile if the
baby kicked with either the right or the left foot
– The mobile was moved more the harder the infant kicked
• Infants who were tested less than 2 weeks after training
managed to repeat the same leg movements
• After a delay of more than 2 weeks, infants behaved as if
they had never seen the mobile
Cognitive Development
Long-Term Memory
• Studies suggest that infants can remember for an
indefinite period, so long as they continue to receive non
verbal reminders of the early situation
• In one study, infants were given a reminder 24 hours
before 2 weeks had elapsed since their original training
• this was effective in helping the infants remember the earlier
procedure as much as 4 weeks after training
• However, when retested in different situations, infants
are less likely to remember the event
• incl. different cribs; same cribs with different colored bumpers;
different mobiles; different odors or music in the room
Cognitive Development
Long-Term Memory
Lack of stability in the environment may have
negative consequences for cognitive
– In a mobile-kicking study, the experimenters changed
the mobile during the training phase
– Infants who did not cry when the mobile was changed
could easily reactivate the kicking, but infants who
cried could not
Cognitive Development
Long-Term Memory
These findings
suggest that infants remember whole situations,
including the emotions, and the specific sights,
sounds, and smells of the surrounding environment
suggest that infants have a sense of self-history – the
experience that the past can be connected to the
present by means of recreating one’s own actions in
similar situations
call for a reevaluation of the common observation that
people do not remember their experiences as infants,
a phenomenon known as infantile amnesia
Cognitive Development
Long-Term Memory
Can we remember experiences from infancy?
• One would have to be in almost exactly the same
situation and the same emotional state as during the
original experience
• Since this is unlikely, adults and older children are unlikely
to be able to retrieve early memories for specific events
• People may have memories of early infancy, but because
it is difficult to replicate the exact context, they may be
unable to locate the memories in a specific time and place
Cognitive Development
Long-Term Memory
Can we remember experiences from infancy?
• “Reaching in the dark” (Clifton et al.)
– 2½-year-olds who had the experience of reaching for objects in
the dark when they were 6 months of age were better at this task
than children who did not have this experience, even though it is
unlikely that these children remembered the actual experience of
doing this when they were 6 months old
• “Still Face” (Bornstein et al.)
– 2½-year-olds who had experienced a “still-face” experiment at 5
months looked less at a photo of the person who had done the
still-face compared to two other photos, while other 2½-year-olds
showed no preference between these faces
Cognitive Development
Long-Term Memory
Can we remember experiences from infancy?
• These studies support the idea of participatory memories
(see Ch. 2) of early infancy, reported by people during
somatic awareness and psychotherapeutic encounters
– It may be possible to experience a feeling, an odor, a body
posture, or a pattern of movement without remembering a specific
time or place when it first occurred
Picture from:
Cognitive Development
Piagetian Perspectives
Piaget viewed infant actions as adaptations to the
environment that involve the whole infant
– Sensorimotor Stage I (newborn period)
the majority of the infant’s actions are in the form of reflexes to
adapt to the environment
– Sensorimotor Stage II (about 1 to 5 months)
infants begin to act more purposefully –
they are able to recognize the
connections between their own behavior
& events in the environment
Picture from:
Cognitive Development
Piagetian Perspectives
Sensorimotor Stage II (about 1 to 5 months) –
primary circular reactions
– repetitive movements in which the infant focuses on
his or her own actions
– by 2 to 3 months, the baby can recognize simple
connections between behavior & its effect, and
will repeat the same behavior many times, often
with great delight
– infants at this stage do not appear to be
interested in the object for its own sake
Picture from:
Cognitive Development
Piagetian Perspectives
According to Piaget, the meaning of a
particular object or person to the infant is the
action and experience the child brings to it.
(p. 282)
For example, a rattle means “graspable, seeable,
Cognitive Development
Piagetian Perspectives
Sensorimotor Stage II (about 1 to 5 months)
• infants’ actions are not intended to explore the object,
but to experience the effects of their own behavior
– this suggests that infants are developing a sense of self-agency,
the feeling that they are a causal agent that can successfully
affect one’s own body & environment
• Later in this stage, infants begin to combine different
primary circular reaction schemes into more unified
behavior patterns
– for example, visually guided reaching at about 4 months
Cognitive Development
Piagetian Perspectives
Sensorimotor Stage II (about 1 to 5 months)
• Babies in Stage II have the ability for cross-modal
perception; their memories are integrated wholes of
sights, sounds, smells, and movements
• This suggests that infants
have a sense of selfcoherence – the feeling that
they and the objects around
them are integrated whole that
have distinct boundaries
Cognitive Development
Piagetian Perspectives
Sensorimotor Stage II (about 1 to 5 months)
• One aspect of self-agency and self-coherence at this
age is the experience of contingency (see Ch. 5)
– In one study (Watson, 1973), the movements of a mobile were
linked to an infants’ head presses on an automatic pillow
– if infants discovered that the mobile would move with their head
presses, they usually smiled and cooed
– if the pillow inconsistently rewarded head presses, infants
became frustrated and distressed
Cognitive Development
Piagetian Perspectives
In sum,
• In early infancy, exploration, cognition, and motor
behavior are all part of the same underlying
developmental process
• Primary circular reactions create powerful motivations for
babies to become engaged in the environment
– especially when adults create highly ritualized and repetitive
situations as in feeding, playing, bathing, and diapering
• Babies of this age do not enjoy deviations from the
routines, which makes it difficult for them to adapt quickly
to new caregivers
Emotional Development
Emotional Expression & Experience
Three related topics:
• emotion expression
• emotion experience: the inner world of feelings
• emotion regulation: self-control over emotions
Picture from:
Emotional Development
Emotional Expression & Experience
Distress, anger & wariness
• One-month-olds’ functional expressions are primarily
related to the emotion of distress: crying, generally with
eyes closed
• By 4 months
– infants can still show distress
– they also cry with open eyes, looking at their
parent, an expression that has been interpreted as anger
• See Video Example at:
– they also show “wary” or hesitant expressions by turning or
looking away from unpleasant or confusing situations
Picture from:
Emotional Development
Emotional Expression & Experience
Attention & enjoyment
• One-month-olds show a range of expressions between
alertness and drowsiness; they have difficulty switching
• Around 2 months, infants become more complex &
animated and better coordinated with events in the
• Infants learn cognitive tasks more slowly when smiling,
which shows that smiling corresponds to a non-analytical
emotional experience
Emotional Development
Emotional Expression & Experience
After 2 months, babies also develop new
expressions of attention and enjoyment
– look for longer periods & can more easily shift gaze from
one thing to another (related to brain development)
– more complex expressions of attention
• suggests that the infant is also
developing different attention-related
emotional experiences such as
concentration, excitement, and
Emotional Development
Emotional Expression & Experience
Attention & enjoyment
• Smiling during face-to-face interaction develops between
2-5 months
• By 3 months, infants show multiple types of smiles that
communicate different positive emotional experiences
non-Duchenne smile
Duchenne smile
• Duchenne smiles are likely to occur during mother-infant
face-to-face play when the infant is held upright and is
able to see the mother smiling and talking
Emotional Development
Emotional Expression & Experience
Attention & enjoyment
• The play smile – an extremely wide-open mouth and
dropping of the jaw – is observed when infants are held
closer to the mother, kissed, or tickled
• About 15% of smiling is followed
immediately by looking away from the
social partner
• Some researchers have interpreted
this as an early manifestation of
“coyness,” an emotion that may
indicate an awareness of self in
interaction with others (Reddy, 2000)
Emotional Development
Emotional Expression & Experience
Attention & enjoyment
• During the first 2 months, vocalizations are of three
sorts: cry, discomfort, and “vegetative”
• After 2 months, two kinds of non-distress vocalizations
– Speech-like sounds, such as cooing, are produced in the front of
the mouth and have a more resonant quality – increase between
2 and 5 months
• Video Example:
– Non-speechlike sounds: produced in the back of the mouth, lack
projection, and have a more nasal quality – decline between 2
and 5 months
Emotional Development
Emotional Expression & Experience
According to the dynamic systems theory of
emotion (see Ch. 2), emotion is closely related to
the social communication system
– For example, different types of communication (e.g.,
different types of play) require different forms of facial
communication & will be accompanied by different types
of internal feelings
– In specific types of communicative situations, infants
show organized patterns of expressive movements
• e.g., positive engagement, passive withdrawal, active protest
Emotional Development
Emotional Regulation
• During the first 4 months, increases in emotion
regulation are shown by
– a decrease in crying
– an ability to easily shift gaze from one thing to another
– mastery of continuous and repeated bouts of smiling
• smiling is a relaxation response, and it seems to be a way of
reducing arousal without looking away from the situation.
• Infants can now handle a wider variety of
stimulation with more abrupt changes
Emotional Development
Emotional Regulation
Contributors to emotion regulation
• sensorimotor skills
– infants can calm themselves
when they can get their hand
into their mouth & keep it there
– movements such as reaching
for an object can calm them
• caregivers
Emotional Development
Emotional Regulation
A small percentage of infants has a regulatory
– disturbances of sleep, feeding, state control, sensory
and perceptual processing, and self-calming
– these infants may be diagnosed with autism or other
developmental disorders
– untreated children show more emotional and social
problems such as depression and aggression
Emotional Development
Emotional Regulation
From a dynamic systems point of view,
emotion regulation is the result of both infant
and adult contributions and the unfolding of
the parent-infant relationship around
regulatory issues
(p. 290)
Social Development
• Young infants show the widest
range of emotion expressions in
the company of adults
– infants are more likely to smile,
vocalize, and make relaxed arm
movements with responsive adults
than with peers, inanimate faces,
or animate or inanimate toys
• Adults adapt themselves to
Social Development
The Effects of Infants on Adult Behavior
• Exaggeration
– adults tend to exaggerate aspects of
their speech & body movement
• Slowing down & simplification
– each action is held longer than with an adult
– particular syllables are prolonged and speech is
slower, giving it a melodic or singsong quality
– adults reduce the complexity of their behavior and
their speech when talking to infants
Picture from:
Social Development
The Effects of Infants on Adult Behavior
• Rhythm and repetition
– adults may say the same word or phrase many times
with minor variations or make a series of exaggerated
head nods punctuated with a clap or a vocalization
– adults use different melodic contours to prohibit, elicit
attention, encourage infant participation, encourage
imitation, approve and soothe
– exaggeration, slowing down, rhythm, and melody in
speech are called infant-directed (ID) speech
Social Development
The Effects of Infants on Adult Behavior
• Matching and Attunement
– although infants can imitate adults, adults imitate
babies much more; they may match infant vocal
sounds, pitches, rhythms, facial expressions, body
movements, and so on
– in attunement (Stern, 1985), the adult’s behavior is
similar to the infant’s but not an exact copy
• for example, the infant may shake his or her arm up and
down in a rhythmical motion & the parent may respond in a
different modality, such as vocalizing “yea-yea-yea-yea” in
exactly the same rhythm as the baby’s arm movements
Social Development
The Effects of Infants on Adult Behavior
• Turn Taking
– protoconversation – in the early months, adults fill in
the natural pauses of the infant’s actions with their
own actions, creating the appearance of turn taking
(M.C. Bateson, 1975; Trevarthen, 1977)
– between 4 and 6 months, infants begin to shift to a
more interactive mode of behavior: they learn to wait
until the adult pauses before beginning their own
Social Development
The Effects of Infants on Adult Behavior
Frames (Fogel, 1993) – regularly recurring
communication routines
– frames that emerge during this period are social games
like face-to-face play, tickle and other tactile games,
peekaboo, and frames for playing with toy objects
– there are also frames for caregiving such as bedtime,
bathing, and feeding routines
– parents and infants develop frames that
are unique to their relationship
Picture from:
Social Development
Individual differences between infants
Adults are drawn to
• infant vocalizations that are relaxed and resonant and
have greater pitch contours.
• facial features that have babylike characteristics, such as
large eyes, a round face, thin eyebrows, and a small
nose bridge
• attractive infants
– in one study, mothers with less attractive infants were more
attentive to other people besides the infant & were more likely to
spend time in caretaking rather than affectionate behavior
Social Development
Individual differences between infants
Gender differences
• with girls, mothers and fathers are more likely
to comment on the present situation & the
infant’s current state
• with boys, they comment more on absent or
future events
• mothers of boys stimulate them more in general, while
mothers of girls are more likely to stroke and caress their
Picture from:
Social Development
Individual differences between infants
• studies have shown that infants who are less expressive
are actually more aroused by stimulation
– low-expressive infants tend to have higher heart rates, higher
cortisol, and higher muscle tension
• these children have been referred to as inhibited
– they are physiologically predisposed to be highly responsive to
stimulation but tend to withdraw from stimulation rather than
express signs of engagement or enjoyment
Cultural Differences
In adult-infant communication
A pattern of close physical contact and rapid
response to crying (called attachment parenting) is
common among hunting and gathering cultures
– for instance, Elauma infants spend almost all their time
in physical contact with an adult & adults (physically)
respond more often and more quickly to infant crying
than British parents
– more egalitarian societies seem
to promote closer and more lasting
contact with infants
Picture from:
Cultural Differences
In adult-infant communication
• In the West
– we try to affect sleeping, feeding, and interactive social behavior
from an early age
– we want our babies to be scheduled, to smile, and not to cry
– we encourage independence through teaching behaviors leading
to infant socialization
• In Japanese and Native American cultures, adults
believe that infants are precious & close to God
– infants should be kept quiet & not influenced by adults until they
begin to make some of their own initiatives (around 6 months)
Cultural Differences
In adult-infant communication
Japanese vs. U.S. mothers
– spend less time in physical contact with their babies
when awake, although they sleep with babies at night
– hold, rock, bounce, touch, and kiss their babies less
– tend to use more negative vocalizations throughout the
day, and use more nonsense sounds and baby talk
during play (vs. sentences & adult words)
– are more likely to talk about how to incorporate objects
into social play than to label objects
Effects of Adult Behavior on Infants
Contingent Responsiveness
From 2 months of age, babies seem highly
sensitive to how others interact with them
– when responses are contingent, infants tend to smile,
coo, and look more at the adults
– when responses are noncontingent, infants are more
likely to fuss, cry, or look away
– infants also look and smile more
when adults are producing exaggerated
behavior, such as motherese
Picture from:
Effects of Adult Behavior on Infants
Experimental disturbances of play frames
When play frames are disrupted, infants smile and
gaze less during the interaction
– In one type of study, infants and mothers are viewing
videotaped images of one another. The researchers
show the infant a videotape of the mother that was
made on an earlier occasion, so that she is not
contingent with the infant’s behaviors
– In another type of study, peekaboo games are played in
a disorganized way, such as by saying “peekaboo”
before covering the face or not uncovering the face at
the expected time
Effects of Adult Behavior on Infants
Experimental disturbances of play frames
The still-face procedure – the experimenter asks
the mother to be silent & nonexpressive
– Some babies continue to smile and look at the mother
for a few seconds; then they stop smiling and look away
– If the still face goes on for more than a few minutes, the
baby becomes increasingly distressed and withdrawn.
– When mothers are asked to resume their normal
interactions, most of the infants begin to cry if they have
not cried already
– The same effects are observed in different cultures and
with both mothers and fathers
Effects of Adult Behavior on Infants
Experimental disturbances of play frames
The Still-Face Procedure
• At 3 to 4 months, infants are more distressed at the still
face than at separation from the mother
• The still-face suppresses the parasympathetic
(relaxation) nervous system & increases cortisol
• When mothers touch their infants during the still face, the
effect of the still face on the infant is significantly less
• If mothers are more contingently responsive during the
normal play episodes, infants recover more quickly &
show less physiological suppression of the
parasympathetic and cortisol systems
Effects of Adult Behavior on Infants
Effects of maternal depression & stress
• Depression occurs in 10-13% of women following
• Infants of depressed mothers
– are more likely to be fussy, to show negative facial expressions,
to have low levels of physical activity, and to be withdrawn
– have higher levels of cortisol
– have brain asymmetries indicative of a withdrawn mood state
• Effects on infants are more likely if the depression lasts
long & the infants have few opportunities to interact with
nondepressed adults
Effects of Adult Behavior on Infants
Effects of maternal depression & stress
Mothers who are stressed after birth often overarouse their babies & do not recognize infant cues
to slow down or to change behavior
– this behavior creates stress and physiological arousal
for the baby, who begins the neuroception patterns of
flight or freeze
– this in turn makes the mother more anxious and more
insistent, creating a mutually escalating spiral of chaseand-dodge and physiological and emotional
– left untreated, these dyads go on to develop an
insecure attachment relationship (see Ch. 8)
Effects of Adult Behavior on Infants
In summary
• During play frames, parents modify their behavior so that
infants can most readily appreciate; infants’ smiling and
gazing encourage the parents to continue
• The mutual influence is co-regulated and dynamic
– the effects of one partner on the other can only be determined by
looking at individual differences between infants (such as infants
who are difficult) or parents (such as maternal depression) or
during experimental perturbations of adult behavior
The Sense of an Ecological Self
The ecological self is characterized by
Self-agency – the sense that one is capable of generating one’s
own actions and expecting that these self-generated actions will
have consequences
Self-coherence – the sense of being a whole physical entity with
boundaries and limitations
Self-affectivity is the sense of having inner emotional feelings that
routinely go together with specific experiences
Self-history is the sense of enduring, of having a past, of going on
even through changes, as when one acts and feels similar ways
with familiar people or in familiar situations
The Sense of an Ecological Self
• By 3 ½ months, infants begin to watch their hands
moving in front of them & they feel their arms and hands
at the same time
– it is likely that this cross-modal experience gives the infant a
sense of self-recognition through self-coherence
• Young infants explore their own bodies,
feeling the touching hand & the part that
is being touched
– In the first few hours of life, newborns touch
their own head in an ordered sequence
beginning with the mouth, then moving to
the face, head, ear, nose, and eyes
The Sense of an Ecological Self
• The ecological self is also experienced in
relation to the social environment
– interacting with another person, it is possible to feel
the part of the interaction that comes from the self in
comparison to that part contributed by the other
• This kind of participatory co-regulated
relationship with another person also gives the
infant information about the other person in
relation to the self, a sense of intersubjectivity
Family and Society
• Family systems theory: each member of the family is a
part of a feedback system with every other family
– when families have three or more members,
the relationship between two of them can
affect the third and vice versa
• The birth of a baby brings major changes for a family
– after a child is born, parents must learn to cope with a lot of new
conditions, including a total alteration of lifestyle, lack of sleep,
and the adjustment of the marital relationship to include new
family members
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Family and Society
Success in the Transition to Parenthood
New parents must address four type of problems
1. The energy demands associated with infant care, such
as loss of sleep and extra work resulting in fatigue
2. New parenthood places stress on the marital
3. The responsibility of caring for and rearing a child
4. Parents must cope with the additional costs of raising a
child, in the form of food, clothing and education
Family and Society
Success in the Transition to Parenthood
• Adult developmental factors:
– the adults’ relationships with their own parents, prior
experience with child care, self-esteem and belief in
self-efficacy as a parent & readiness to have children
• Concurrent factors:
– the marital relationship, other family members, the
amount of social support available to the parents, &
nonfamily factors, such as income and job satisfaction
Family and Society
Success in the Transition to Parenthood
Marital quality
– Predicted by prenatal marital quality: couples who have
the most conflicts prenatally also have the most
– Equality of role relationships before childbirth predicts
marital satisfaction after birth
– Positive and warm relationship with one’s own parents
– A postbirth experience that is not more difficult than
Family and Society
Success in the Transition to Parenthood
• Mothers’ ability to parent and to cope with child
rearing is predicted by high level of marital
satisfaction & the amount of father involvement
• For fathers, marital satisfaction is associated
with more positive attitudes toward the parenting
role and with more time spent with the infant
– Men’s involvement in infant care
depends primarily on social factors,
such as marriage, job, and social
acceptability of parenting
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Experiential Exercises
The ecological self
• As humans, we can see part of our bodies in our field of
vision at all times
– Try this by closing one eye and looking straight ahead – you will
see your own nose
• Thus, whenever you perceive your environment, you
perceive yourself. Perceiving the environment is coperceiving yourself.
• The ecological self is the sense of self as situated in
the environment.
• This sense of self is still present in adults, but much
more in the background of experience. You can explore
your ecological sense of self during everyday activities.
Experiential Exercises
Mutual Gazing
This exercise is about the parental role & the infant experience
during face-to-face interaction
The class is divided up into pairs who do not know each other very
well. Pairs sit on the floor or in chairs facing each other
Students will play the role of either the parent or the child (2 min.)
parents: your responsibility is to witness the child with a steady gaze.
children: you can do anything you want; feel free to look at your parent
or look away as much as you need or want to
Repeat the same process, only this time the adult acts distracted
by something in the room
Repeat the same process, only this time the adult acts intrusive,
trying to get the “baby’s” attention.
Change roles
Sit in pairs & discuss the experience