Social and Personality Development in Infancy
The social and personality development can be understood from three primary perspectives that interact to shape the development. The first of these aspects is the biological maturation which is responsible for the development of emotional and social competencies and forms a basis for temperamental individuality. The second perspective is that of the social context in which the child lives which includes and most especially a relationship that provides guidance, security, and knowledge for the child. The third and final perspective is the child’s representation of themselves and the social world (Thompson, 2017). Social and personality development is, therefore, the continuous interaction between biological, social and representational aspects of an individual’s psychological development. The research to be discussed in this paper is one that was published in the International Journal of Play Therapy in 2017. The study was on The Effects of Adlerian Therapy (AdPT) on Maladaptive Perfectionism and anxiety in Children. The research was conducted by Sue Bratton and Sinem Akay of the University of North Texas. Bratton & Akay (2017) observed that there had been lots of studies conducted on perfectionism, but little has been done to treat the maladaptive perfectionism in children.
Bratton and Akay (2017) have cited several authors in their work including Stoeber & Otto (2006) who defined perfectionism to be of two kinds. Adaptive perfectionism and Maladaptive perfectionism. According to the two, maladaptive perfectionists, individuals set very high and unrealistic expectations of themselves and show rigidity in behavior when it comes to achieving their aspirations. As a result, their lives are characterized by psychological problems which include low self-esteem, depression, interpersonal issues, eating disorders and personality disorders. One of the most highly recognized mental health problems and is associated with perfectionism in anxiety and which starts in early years of development. The research also states that perfectionism is an inherent part of life where an individual strives to rise from inferior to a superior state from early childhood to adulthood. The adaptive perfectionism has a potential of helping an individual to advance themselves by working towards improvement. The research focuses on a proposal that was made by Ashby, Kottman &martin in 2014 which showed support for play-based intervention based on Adlerian Principle. The principle is a responsive developmental approach that focuses on helping children change their maladaptive behavior and thoughts. The research to be looked at on this paper is a single-case design study which was aimed at finding out the effect of AdPT on children’s perfectionism that leads to anxiety in other worlds, the Maladaptive perfectionism.
Perfectionism is a personality trait. Personality growth, on the other hand, emanates from several factors among them temperament. Temperament can be defined as early emerging self-regulation and reactivity that separates an individual from the rest. Temperament, as seen earlier, is biologically based and which interacts with other aspects to shape a person’s personality. Temperamental dispositions in an individual are affected by various factors (Oswalt, 2017). For example, the level of support a child gets from their parents. To understand this, we look at an example of a child who is adventurous. If the child has parents who take him/her out often for adventurous activities like hiking, fishing and other trips of the sort, involvement in these activities is in support of the child’s personality development which means they are a perfect fit. Personality is therefore as a result of a continuous interplay between biological disposition and experiences in the external environment, which can also be supported by other aspects of social and personality development. The case for an adventurous person can, therefore, be compared to that of a perfectionist. Although perfectionism may be a temperamental disposition, the other two aspects which are social context and representation play a significant role in its development. It is this argument that Ashby et al, (2014) from Bratton & Akay’s (2017) research used to identify that play therapy intervention in childhood can be used to change the temperamental dispositioned maladaptive perfectionism to adaptive. Adaptive perfectionism is one which impacts positively on the child even as they grow into adulthood.
In this research study, Bratton & Akay’s (2017) hypothesis was that AdPT which included a collaboration and consultation of parent and teachers in the children’s play session would demonstrate a decrease in children’s anxiety and maladaptive perfectionism. AdPT is a therapeutic technique that incorporates directive and nondirective play methods that are meant to help children gain a deeper understanding of how they view the world, other people and even themselves and enable rehearsal of their changing perceptions. The therapists use various toys, playful interventions, materials to help children learn and feel significant. They may also include storytelling and puppetry. When using this technique, the play therapists need to pay attention to some crucial Cs. Among the Cs is having a connection with others, having courage, feeling that one counts and perceiving oneself as capable. They are the essential Cs that a child needs to develop a healthy overall social and personality development. Through the AdPT children can come up strategies which they can use when dealing with life and its imperfections. According to the literature provided by Bratton & Akay (2017), the AdPT has various goals when it is put into practice. The goals include helping children to:
· Recognize self-defeating themes as they play and shift their behaviors,
· Regulate their reaction to how they perceive criticism from other people
· Expand their materials of playing
· Learn strategies for dealing with anxiety
· Have a higher tolerance for risk and making mistakes thorough accepting greater responsibility
· Restrict the distorted temperamental cognitions
· Change their attitudes toward orderliness when in a playroom.
· Improving their sense of social interests
According to the research, The Adlerian theory is the most commonly used approach by children counselors and with which they align their theoretical approaches (Lambert et al., 2007). There has not been any research that focused on the effectiveness of the method with perfectionist children despite its broad application. Therefore, the primary purpose of the study was to examine the effects of AdPT on children who are identified as having maladaptive perfectionism and more specific in a school-based approach for elementary school children.
The research used a single-case design which allowed experimentation with the participating children and showed the causal relationship. It would be possible to get strong empirical support for the treatment efficiency using the single case experimental design. It is said that a single-case study is a useful tool in promoting the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions that involves play (Nock, Michel & Photos, 2017). The research included the teachers, parents, counselors in school and two children one was a female Caucasian seven years old, and the other one was a Hispanic American male who was ten years old. The first sample size was five children whose parents had accepted participating. However, only the two passed the criterion set to determine the children who would participate. The two were third graders however just the 10year old got to complete the therapy during the time of the research. Therefore, the data that was presented in the research paper belonged to a single child. The time was limited; therefore, the 7year old did not finish the therapy at the time when the research was concluded. Other than the forms that were filled to determine whether the individual children were eligible to participate, Sinem Akay one of the researches, conducted interviews to the mothers on the children to gather background information of the participating children (Akay & Bratton, 2017).
The research found that although the overall findings for the child self-report were not as promising as expected regarding the efficacy of AdPT, the results reported by the parents, teachers of the participant, and the observations by the researcher indicated that AdPT had a positive impact on the children who participated. According to the research, the participating child showed a change in some ways. First, he was able to change his attitude towards participation in class. Prior the therapy the subject was preoccupied with avoiding results that were imperfect and which would result in isolating himself in class, but after the treatment, the child was able to participate. As a result, two of the goals of connecting with other people and feeling capable were achieved (Akay & Bratton, 2017).
The mother of the child also reported that the participant after undergoing the therapy was more willing to assist his brother with challenging tasks and homework from school. The participant also developed an ability to use encouraging words which only means that the participant had been able to break the barriers of maladaptive perfectionism and had an improvement in courage which led to an increased social interest in the child and hence ability to connect with others (Akay & Bratton, 2017). The research also presented an argument by Enns, Cox, and Clara (2002) that perfectionist parenting style correlates with perfectionism in children. The mother of the participant admitted to having been a perfectionist and having struggled with her tendencies. At the end of the study, the participant’s mother understood her role that played a big part in leading her child to become a maladaptive perfectionist through her tendencies of having high expectations in herself and therefore modeling fear of failure in her child.
Perfectionism is a personality trait that can have long-term and short-term effects. Although it is a temperamental trait, its development can be affected by the social context in which one is brought up. If not encouraged, it can be limited to adaptive which is positive however if it is supported from infancy where the child is making the first attachment with the caregiver or the mother can lead to maladaptive perfectionism which affects the individual even in adulthood.
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