ED209 revision: first relationships

First relationships uses up around a third of the chapter in scene setting before moving into quite a structured format.

In most cultures there is a small number (usually one) of people caring for a baby which explains the emphasis on dyadic relationships in this field. The other cultures are touched on in later sections of this chapter but it’s worth noting here that in some cultures a baby doesn’t count as a person at all (I’ll be picking this up on the notes on children’s acquisition of grammar). There’s a brief mention of the tension between Freud’s psychoanalyitical theory and developmental psychology but not really enough to properly understand why this is.

Moving on we get into the more structured part of the chapter with a series of sections dedicated to different aspects of early relationships. First of those is meshing which is an important part of teaching the infant the importance of turn-taking through pseudo conversations both explicitly by way of “baby talk” and indirectly through feeding patterns. The only theorists mentioned in detail in this section are Kaye & Fogel who looked at the development of greetings which ranged from random at 6 weeks through to an equally balanced interaction at 26 weeks.

Next up is immitation which is quite a short section. Both Moran and Pawlby found that mothers were more likely to immitate their baby up to a year old than vice versa. This immitation helps to start the development of a theory of mind ie the idea that others think too.

Scaffolding is basically the junior version of the same notion from Vygotsky. Bruner looked at the reading style used with infants and picked up on the four types of utterance used: “look”, “what’s that?”, “it’s an X” and “that’s right”. Wood et al generalised this to modelling (showing what can be done), cueing (indicating what needs to be done next) and raising the ante (encouraging the child to achieve more complex goals).

Containing is the longest of the sections and in contrast to the earlier sections looks at the negative aspects. First up of these is that Bradley found that young babies generally spend between 25% and 50% of their waking hours in a fretting/crying state which may help to put some of our adult “off-days” into perspective! This in turn means that soothing one’s baby becomes a major task so it’s probably no surprise that Oakley found that 70% of mothers felt angry/violent towards their baby. Klein’s object-relations theory seems important here: it suggests that in the first 2 to 3 months of life babies perceive attributes of objects as being entirely separate objects. Thus, for example, the nipple giving milk isn’t the same object as the same nipple that later doesn’t give milk. Only later does she see the infant constructing the representation of a single object from the multiple objects represented by the various attributes: cf Piaget’s object permanance. With this integration comes depression in that one finds there are no objects that are exclusively good (isn’t psychoanalysis depressing?).

The section on transacting seems to be there merely to point out that the infant is an active participant in constructing their social world. Worth noting is that this chapter is very culture-specific and that, for example, the Kalulis in Papua New Guinea who don’t get into the dyadic conversations that sometimes seem the only way to go in western cultures. Other multi-cultural studies have picked up on this too.

Not a bad chapter to revise. The early sections (meshing and imitation) could be related to the language learning in the third book whilst scaffolding clearly relates back to Vygotsky’s ideas from earlier on in book 1. The psychoanalyitical theory whilst confined to the introduction and the section on containing would probably need to be mentioned in the answers to most potential questions.

That’s my series on book 1 completed so next up is gender identity from book 2. Why not siblings & peers which was on my original list? That’s definitely on my notes from the tutorial but as has been pointed out to me we covered that in TMA3. In that it was highlighted in the tutorial I’ll be covering it but towards the end of this series.

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