Early Childhood Development Personality Theories Essay Example
Early Childhood Development Personality Theories Essay Example

Early Childhood Development Personality Theories Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (1564 words)
  • Published: December 15, 2021
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The main difference between adaptive and maladaptive behaviors lies in the behavior patterns of the two. The two exhibit opposite patterns. Adaptive behavior patterns are positive and functional to the individual while maladaptive behavior involves patterns that are dysfunctional to the individual. Adaptive behavior enables individuals to adapt to different situations in a positive manner.

The situation in the vignette presents a number of defense mechanisms both adaptive and maladaptive adopted by Susana as a result of the occurrences in the environment around hr. First, Susana often waits by the front window with an anticipation of seeing her mother Jacquie when she is back from work. Susana has been subjected to a ‘not so good’ environment in her childhood owing to her parent’s unstable relationship status. Whenever Jacquie gets into an


argument with her mother, she locks herself in her room and shares the same with Susana. This has led to her close relationship with her daughter hence transferring the psychological strain to her daughter.

The child exhibits maladaptive behavior by waiting for her mother at the window every day. The child seems to be unable to relate well with the rest of the people around her and only wants to spend time with her mother. The psychological stress passed from her mother and the environment at large has made her repulsive from other people. She cannot cope with the current situation at home and only wants to spend time with her mother.

Her maladaptive behavior is echoed by her difficulties in sleeping when her mother goes out on Friday Nights. She has built a strong connection with her mother thanks to the instability in the family. Maladaptive

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behavior is characterized with the inability to adjust to situations. Susana’s behavioral patterns are an epitome of extreme maladaptive behavior. She cannot cope with the absence of her mother and she fails to eat her food whenever Jacquie is absent. Her grandmother explains her recent behavior change where she cries whenever they have an argument with her daughter.

Maladaptive behavior is also exhibited through anger. This is common among people with a panic disorder, anxiety, or frustration towards the prevailing conditions. Susana also exhibited aggressive tendencies to her young cousins and throwing tantrums frequently. Her behavior is maladaptive with the aggressiveness exhibiting her inability to cope with the prevailing conditions around her.

Erik Erikson based his discussions on psychological development stages. He argued that the human ego develops gradually as it gets involved in resolving crisis distinctly social in nature. This is achieved through the establishment of trust with the surrounding people, and helping the younger generation prepare for the future by helping them develop a sense of identity in the society. Erik focused on the adaptive and creative features of ego thereby building the personality development stages followed by humans. He came up with the lifespan development model which takes place in five stages to the age of 18 and three more stages going up to adulthood. He argued that growth and development is a continuous process taking place in a person’s entire life.

Susana’s life is presently in the initial stage of development on Erik’s lifespan development model. The level involves a feeling of trust and mistrust with the people around her. Despite the fact that the level is predominant among children at infancy, she is

still experiencing problems trusting the people around her. The level is common at early stages of life (infancy 0-11/2 years) (Boeree, 2006). This is evident in her reaction when her mother is out of sight. She does not feel comfortable with her younger cousins and her maternal parent as well. She has developed an attraction with her mother Jacquie and she only feels safe with her.

Susana’s case may be a case of delayed development. Her present age lies at the initiative and guilt stage. Her delayed development can be attributed to a number of factors among them the instability in her family. The shifts from her paternal parents to live with her maternal parents denied her the opportunity to adapt to the initial environment. She had to begin adjusting to the new environment, which had its own share of turbulent winds among them the constant arguments between Lucie and her daughter. Infants take more time adjusting to new environments compared to adults. However, the family can adopt corrective measures to enable her to overcome the stage successfully. One of the remedial measures is providing them with consistent and predictable care. This instils a sense of trust in infants consequently enabling them to have good relationships with the people around her.

Stress can slow down or even stop human brain development. Prolonged exposure to cortisol, a steroid hormone released by the body during stress responses may have adverse long-term effects on a person’s brain and immune system. Repeated exposure to stressful environments among children stimulates the creation of networks or connections in the brain. When children are frequently exposed to stressful conditions and chaos, their brains are

conditioned to react promptly to the experiences. Even after the threatening situation is resolved, the child’s brain may go on responding as if the threat is still present. In some situations, children who have been exposed to threatening situations for a prolonged period may tend to overreact when faced with such situations. This may have adverse effects on their learning ability as it may cause delay in brain development (Babies, n.d.).

Susana’s case is an epitome of prolonged exposure to stressful situations. Susana has been exposed to threatening conditions constantly since her infancy. The frequent shifts in her living environment and the instabilities in her family have been some of the main threatening situations facing her. She exhibits slow brain development and general body growth. Her mother is worried that Susana does not use her words like other children. She is also worried that she cannot use the toilet fully like other children of her age. These exhibit the delayed growth and brain development in the child.

Neurobiology of stress and adaptation can be used to explain the effects of stress on the child and offer remedies to the effects due to stress. It explains that the brain is solely responsible for stress and adaptation. It helps in providing protective and damaging effects of the stress mediators. The study examines the different kinds of stress and their individual characteristics. According to the study, Susana suffers from toxic stress. This is due to the frequent quarrels between her mother and grandmother. The frequent shifts of environment; i.e. she was staying at her paternal parents’ home before she was brought back to her maternal home have impacted negatively on

her making her fall into some kind of depression. This can be observed in her withdrawal behavior and the violent behavior she picked as a way of trying to fight back. The adverse childhood effects (ACE) she is slowly developing may end up interfering with her emotional stability and cognitive ability in her later years in life.

Experts have explained that when a child is constantly exposed to stress, neurological exhaustion sets in. The phenomenon is referred to as burnout. The burnout characteristic is displayed by loss of motivation, or drive and the constant feeling that one is not effective in their work. The exhaustion may make one feel emotionally disturbed and cynical. Most people display lack of responsiveness to other peoples’ needs. Psychology experts have attributed the exhaustion to excessive release of cortisol in the bloodstream as a result of frequent threats. Little amounts of the hormone are helpful to the body but in huge amounts, it causes more harm than good.

The attachment theory is best fit to explain Susana’s condition. The theory is credited to Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby. The theory argues that children develop internal relationship representations through their interaction with their caregivers. The interactions then influence personal development, strategies for emotional regulation, expectations of other people and the environment and the social interaction tendencies in the child. The theory groups the relationship models into two; the secure attachment and insecure attachment model.

Susana’s case can be presented under the insecure attachment where the child may exhibit ambivalent, disorganized or avoidant character. The girl is clingy to her mother and she does not feel free with the rest of the family members. This

is an example of the ambivalent characteristic under the insecure attachment group. The theory can be used to examine the causes of her abrupt change of behavior. The theory proposes that secure attachment between children and their caregivers should be instituted in the child’s early development. This can be made possible through the provision of a secure base from which the child can learn more about the environment around him/her.

The contemporary and classical theories do not provide much explanation on Susana’s case. Contemporary theories are primarily based on behavioral, humanistic, biological, cognitive, sociocultural, and psychoanalytic perspectives for interpreting behavioral change in people. The theories pay more attention to different perspectives on behavior change and give little detail on some of the causes of behavioral change in children and their remedies.


  • Babies, B. B. (n.d.). Effects of Stress on Brain Development. Retrieved from Better Brains For Babies: http://bbbgeorgia.org/stressEffects.php
  • Boeree, D. C. (2006). Personality Theories. Pennsylvania: Shippernsburg University.
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