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Relationships Past and Present: A Developmental Lens for Just Decisionmaking in Childrens Lives

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Title: Relationships Past and Present: A Developmental Lens for Just Decisionmaking in Childrens Lives


1
Relationships Past and Present A Developmental
Lens for Just Decision-making in Childrens Lives
  • Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
  • mferick_at_umn.edu
  • Keynote Address
  • Children and Family Services Conference
  • Bismarck, North Dakota
  • July 29, 2009

2
Development maturation experience
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
3
Principles of Development
  • Behavior must be considered within the
  • context of the issues tasks central to the
  • childs stage of development.
  • Stages are not discrete and separate, but
  • related and integrated. How the issues of one
  • stage are resolved creates the platform for
  • how later stages are approached.

Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
4
Identity
Initiative Industry
Autonomy
Trust
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
5
Lets consider very broadly what should be
happening during each of these periods in a
childs life.
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson
6
Trust
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7
Autonomy
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8
Within early relationships, young children
develop A sense of trust (secure base)
The capacity to regulate emotion and behavior
The motivation and confidence to explore
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson
9
Because these early stages are so foundational,
we will come back to this in much more detail in
a few moments.
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson
10
Initiative and Industry
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11
Grades K-2, critical transition in which children
need
  • Strong connection to school community
  • Academic and social competencies
  • (including emerging ability to initiate tasks,
    stick to them to completion, and cooperate with
    others in the process)
  • Opportunities to contribute to the common good
  • (in the home, school, community)

Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
12
Primary Mental Health Prevention Program
  • School-Based Prevention for Children at Risk
  • By Emory L. Cowen and Dirk A. Hightower
  • (American Psychological Association, 1996)

13
Identity
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
14
Middle School/Junior High, a critical transition
in which children face special challenges
  • Changing task demands
  • Changing school structure
  • Pulling back of parents
  • We/they behaviors of young teens
  • Societal pressures (body image, consumerism,
    immediate gratification, culture of disrespect
  • Limited opportunities for connection and
    contribution

Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
15
Public Achievement An initiative of the Center
for Democracy and Citizenship
Humphrey Center for Public Affairs, University
of Minnesota
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
16
Tipping the Balance Toward Promise
Risk Factors
Protective Factors
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
17
Tipping the Balance Toward Promise (the 3 Cs)
Risk Factors
Connection Competence Contribution
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
18
Now, as promised, lets take a step back and
consider more closely where it all begins ---
with parent-infant attachment.
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson
19
Distribution of Attachment Patterns
General Population
Among high-risk families
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
20
How does attachment develop, and how does the
quality of parent-infant attachment influence
later perceptions, attitudes and
behavior? Well consider 4 specific children,
each representing one of the major types of
attachment identified in research around the
world.
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson
21
Secure Attachment
Parent is sensitive and responsive Expects
to be treated well and to be effective in
soliciting what she needs Approaches
others with confidence, openness, and
willingness to cooperate Others find her easy
to be with
Samantha
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
22
Anxious-Resistant Attachment
Erratic, unpredictable care from parent
Doesnt know what to expect becomes anxious,
vigilant, preoccupied with whether parent will
be there or not Hesitant to explore, feels
powerless, always looking to others to
fulfill her unmet needs Others may try to
help, but cant sustain efforts and end up
pulling away. Easily victimized.
Reese
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
23
Anxious-Avoidant Attachment
Chronically unresponsive parents Appears
independent, acts like he doesnt care if
others respond Expects people to avoid him,
so it feels better if he rejects them first
Behaves in ways that make people want to
avoid him is aggressive, uncooperative,
lacking in empathy Others do avoid him and
may use isolation tactics to deal with his
problematic behavior
Andy
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
24
Disorganized Attachment
Devon
confused, anxious
dissociative disorders
Threat from caregiver
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson
25
What does research say we can do in order to help
parents provide good enough care for their
children? (More on specific ways to work with
parents in my workshops this afternoon)
26
Strengthen Parents Knowledge of Child
Development and Positive Parenting
  • Realistic behavioral expectations
  • Understanding of key developmental behaviors
  • Seeing through the eyes of the child

Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson
27
Strengthen Social Support
  • Formal resources
  • Informal resources
  • Skills and confidence to access those resources

Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
28
Identify and Address Mental Health Needs of
Parents Consider, for example, maternal
depression…
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29
Depression Parenting
  • More negative perceptions of child behavior
  • Less consistent sensitivity and responsiveness to
    child's needs
  • More likely to use punitive (and inconsistent)
    discipline
  • Less likely to read or play with child
  • Less likely to use preventive safety measures
    (e.g. car seats, safety latches)
  • More negative and less positive affect with child

Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
30
Maternal Depression A Silent Threat?
  • Often unrecognized (especially in low-income
    women and women of color)
  • Often untreated (fewer than 20 of low-income
    depressed women seek treatment)
  • Often poorly treated
  • Often invisible as a factor in young children's
    development

Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
31
Engage Parents in Reflecting on How They Were
Parented (Looking back, moving forward)
  • Face the pain
  • Acknowledge its ongoing influence
  • Arrive at an understanding of why caregivers
    behaved as they did
  • Identify what to repeat and what not to repeat
    from the past
  • Muster all available resources to help you live
    out those choices

Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
32
Lets consider some of the key questions
confronting decision-makers and requiring a
working knowledge of child development and
attachment theory and research.
Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson
33
Key Questions
  • Can these parents provide good enough care for
    this child?
  • What is the quality of this childs attachment
    with parents or other caregivers? How can I tell?
  • What kind of support and intervention would it
    take for these parents to be able to care for
    this child? And what contact should the child and
    parent have with each other in the meantime?
  • If the child enters out-of-home placement, what
    will it take for this child and his/her new
    caregivers to make a good adjustment to each
    other?
  • What additional support or intervention might
    this child need to overcome past loss and trauma?

Prepared by Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D.
34
How will YOU use this information as a lens
for making decisions in the lives of children?
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