Family development is the study of families. Regular interaction with an infant is important because of the impact it has on the infant as well as the family. Arleen Harder defines 6 stages of family development. Stage 3 addresses families with young children. Infants who have regular interactions with family are likely to meet developmental milestones. Infant who do not have regular interactions are at risk for abnormal development which typically has a negative impact of families.
Family Development and the Change Process
According to Virginia Satir, families who decide to have a baby, or discover they are pregnant, go through a predictable change process. The change process begins when the status quo shifts and the family decides to have a child, or they discover they are pregnant. Stage two is a period of resistance which flows into the stage of chaos. The stage of integration flows out of chaos which leads to the establishment of a new level of family status quo.
Family Development and Attachment
John Bowlby developed attachment theory which describes the different kinds of infant attachment. The healthiest kind of attachment is called “secure” and it develops from an infant feeling safe and nurtured. Families who are sensitive to their infants needs and regularly interact with their infant to meet their needs are creating the safe nurturing family environment required for healthy infant and family development.
Family Development and Infant Brain Development
Families who regularly interact with their infant are supporting their child’s brain development. The advent of medical technology which has allowed researchers to see what is going on inside the brain has opened up a whole new field of knowledge on infant development. According to Gregory J. de Montfort and Dr. Rosemary Boon early stimulation, or interaction with key family members, enhances brain function. A lack of early stimulation results in the loss of brain function.
Family Development and Infant Emotional Development
Brain imaging technology affirms what scientists and clinicians have speculated happens in the brains of newborn and infants. There are “developmental windows of opportunity” when learning is optimized for infants and children. The period from 0-2 is the optimal time for infants to learn about their emotions and the effect they have on the emotions of others. Regular interaction with infants during heightened periods of emotion helps them learn about the world of feelings.
Family development and Infant Language, Math and Logic Development
As families are interacting with their infant in developmentally appropriate ways, they are laying the groundwork for their infant to develop language skills, to understand mathematics, and to acquire the underpinnings for being able to use logic. The period from ages 0-4 years is the peak time for families to support how well and infant acquires the basics of math and logic understanding.
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