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Key features of infants first relationships giving the importance of each of these features in the psychological development of the infants. Then it will show how these features can be linked to some of the theories of child development.

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TMA 02 Option 1 Identify what you consider to be the key features of "first relationships". Discuss the importance of these features in the early psychological development of infants, and explore their implications for theories of child development. Human infants rely on other people for their survival. It was once believed that someone to provide food and shelter was enough. However, Rutter (1981, cited in Oates, 1994) has shown that this basic requirement will not guarantee that an infant will thrive. Studies of infants raised in orphanages show that physical care, such as warmth and food is not enough and that the relationships an infant has with caregivers is of equal importance in aiding development and survival. Many cultures have differing infant rearing practices however, this need for relationships and well as physical care is universal, whether this care comes from the mother, grandparents or child minders. This essay will first define some of the key features of infants first relationships giving the importance of each of these features in the psychological development of the infants. Then it will show how these features can be linked to some of the theories of child development. One of the main key features of infant - caregiver's relationships is the early development of interactions. One form of interaction, meshing, is so called because of the way the turn taking action develops into a smooth conversation-like interaction. ...read more.


Bruner showed that caregivers create a series of actions with objects, which they then repeat over and over with the infant until the infant learns that their can do them by themselves. Bruner called this behaviour joint-action format (Oates, 1994). Bruner observed caregivers reading a book with an infant. The caregiver limited their speech to four responses, "Look", "What's that", "it's a X" and finally after a response from the infant, "That's right". Bruner concluded this was evidence for joint action formats and that the caregiver controlled the interaction with the use of an object through scaffolding. Wood et al's (1976, cited in Oates, 1994) research supported Bruner's joint-action format taking this idea further by suggesting that scaffolding could be broken down into three processes. Modelling, where the caregiver shows what can be done, Cueing, where the caregiver shows the infant what response is appropriate and finally, Raising the Ante, there the caregiver then encourages the infant to elaborate on the action so that more complex behaviours can be achieved. Bruner suggested that these joint-action formats were the foundations for learning language, with the caregiver teaching the infant the rules of conversation during the primary intersubjectivity and then encouraging objects that can be talked about during the secondary intersubjectivity. When looking at how these features fit within the theories of child development it appears that many of the theories can be used to explain differing aspects of these first relationships. ...read more.


Therefore, from the studies shown in this essay evidence for meshing, imitation and scaffolding all give supporting evidence for the theories of social constructivism. In conclusions, there are many features of the first infant - caregiver relationships that appear to aid infant development. Early interactions between infant and caregiver such as meshing and imitation are important for social and language development. Here the caregiver fits these interactions into the infant's natural rhythms and encourages them to take an active role in further interactions. Although scaffolding, modelling and cueing are also aids in the development of language they are equally as important for developing infant interaction within their surrounding environment in general. Here the caregiver encourages the infant to initiate interactions with objects and language. These key features also give evidence for many of the theories of development. The innate structures in place from birth shown with the evidence of interaction support the Nativist theories and positive reinforcement and the subsequent repeating of behaviour supports the Behaviourists theory. Piaget's stages of development is also supported by the way the infant assimilates and accommodates new knowledge. However, the supporting evidence for the Social Constructivists theory is possibly the strongest for these particular key features. Both the early interactions and scaffolding are behaviours, which are repeated many times, with the caregiver giving encouragement to the infant to take a proactive role in the repetition of the behaviour. ...read more.

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