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Human Growth and Development sample essay

Definition of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is an attempt (deliberate or inadvertent) to gain advantage by the representation of another person’s work, without acknowledgement of the source, as the student’s own for the purposes of satisfying formal assessment requirements.

Recognised forms of plagiarism include

1. the use in a student’s own work of more than a single phrase from another person’s work without the use of quotation marks and acknowledgement of the source; 2. the summarising of another person’s work by simply changing a few works or altering the order of presentation, without acknowledgement; 3. the use of ideas or intellectual data of another person without acknowledgement of the source, or the submission or presentation of work as if it were the student’s own, which are substantially the ideas or intellectual data of another person; 4. copying the work of another person;

5. the submission of work, as if it were the student’s own, which has been obtained from the internet or any other form of information technology; 6. the submission of coursework making significant use of unattributed digital images such as graphs, tables, photographs, etc. taken from books/articles, the internet or from the work of another person; 7. the submission of a piece of work which has previously been assessed for a different award or module or at a different institution as if it were new work;

8. a student who allows or is involved in allowing, either knowingly or unknowingly, another student to copy another’s work including physical or digital images would be deemed to be guilty of plagiarism. 9. If plagiarism is suspected students will be required to supply an electronic copy of the work in question so that it may be subjected to electronic plagiarism detection testing. Therefore students are required to keep work electronically until after they receive their results as electronic detection may be part of the investigative process.

Source: Assessment Handbook 15f.

In submitting this work I confirm I have read and understood the regulations relating to plagiarism and academic misconduct that I signed when I submitted my Assessment Confirmation Form.

In submitting this work I confirm I have read and understood the regulations relating to plagiarism and academic misconduct that I signed when I submitted my Assessment Confirmation Form.


Human Growth and Development PortfolioI am observing a 22 month old boy, who for this report I will call Tom. Tom lives with his Mum, Dad and older sister Molly who is 3 years of age and has just started nursery. His Mum stays at home with the children whilst Dad works. Both parents are from Poland thus polish is their first language, however their Mum explained to me that Molly is going to nursery to develop her English. She also said that Tom was only speaking a little; some words English and some Polish. I will be observing Tom in his home. Observing Tom – Week one

12.10.2012 word count: 991

I arrived at the flat and was greeted by Tom’s mother who took my coat and showed me around the flat. Tom’s sister was sat eating at the table in the living room and Tom walked out of his bedroom and looked at me. He stared at me and I said “hello”, he smiled and ran back in his bedroom. Molly walked down the hall and smiled at me and spoke to Mum in polish and Mum replied, she then galloped past me and sat on the floor with toys. Mum told me that she had told Molly they had a visitor coming but they had to pretend I was invisible; she said she hadn’t told Tom as he wouldn’t understand. Besides the anxiety I was experiencing, I felt quite comfortable in the flat, the smell of washing powder was very familiar and I instantly warmed to the children. It seemed as though they were waiting for me to engage and it felt alien that I couldn’t. Mum encouraged the children to play in their bedroom as they were both stood looking at me.

Mum went into the kitchen and I crouched down in the corner of the bedroom. I quickly realised this wasn’t a great idea as they both presented me with toys and giggled looking at each other. Molly passed me a Barbie and held another one and said, “This is dolly and you have man dolly” she then spoke in character through the Barbie and said, “Hello!” I found it difficult to divert from playing with her, I said “hello” and passed it to Tom to encourage them to play together. Molly continued to say, “This is dolly” trying to pass her to me. She seemed slightly frustrated that I was attempting to divert her attention away from me and I found it unnatural.

As kneeling down was attracting their attention I stood in the doorway out the way. Mum came in the bedroom and put a children’s DVD of nursery rhymes. Molly started jumping about; Tom watched Molly and copied her jumping. They both smiled and kept looking at me. I smiled at them but was unsure of my facial expressions because I didn’t want to seem too approachable. I continued to find it uncomfortable how much they seemed to plea for my attention and I couldn’t respond properly. Molly then got out a box of Lego and brought it over to where I was stood, Tom followed and they started building the blocks together. They played nicely, taking it in turns; I enjoyed watching them and felt at ease that the attention was off me.

When they made a tower Molly said, “no finish, no finish” each time they put a piece on and then said, “Finished!” and they both clapped their hands smiling. They did this several times. I noticed that Tom seemed relaxed and let Molly take the lead when she wanted to. Molly then went to get a picnic set and brought it back. Tom pretended to pour me a drink and passed me a cup; I said “Thank-you” and pretended to drink. I pointed at Molly to encourage him to pass it to her. Molly laid three plates on the floor and pointed at one and said, “Play?” I think Mum could see that I needed some help diverting their attention so she encouraged Molly to go back into her bedroom and they put some books away. Tom quickly ran back in his room following them.

Mum laid a picnic blanket and laid it down on the floor in the bedroom and asked Molly to bring the picnic set in there. Mum then changed Tom’s nappy. Molly fluctuated from polish to English as she spoke. She then got out a fancy dress and showed me, saying “Look its Molly’s dress.” Mum helped her put it on. Tom tugged at the box of fancy dress clothes and so Mum also helped him into a skirt. They danced around the room together laughing. Molly kept spinning around and giggling and Tom copied her. I liked the way Mum had no problem with letting Tom wear a skirt and it reminded me of my own childhood when my younger brother would also wear my dresses. ‘Wheels on the bus’ came on and Tom danced in front of the television and they both did the arm motions. Tom wiggled his bum and stood right in front of the television. Mum laughed and sat cross legged next to them.

Although the children were quite active, the atmosphere in the house was very calm and quiet, Mum’s presence was very peaceful and she spoke very quietly. Molly climbed on to her bed, Mum went over and tickled her; she giggled loudly. Tom still had his skirt on and continued to dance around the room. He then started to push a pram with a doll in around the room; he continued to watch the television and wiggled his bum watching with his mouth open. He then tipped over the pram and sat on the floor; he held the back wheel and moved it like he was pretending to drive.

Molly then ran in to the hall and put on her shoes; Tom followed her and copied her. Molly put a hat on and then put one on Tom’s head. Mum laughed and helped Tom put his shoes on. She then tried to take off Tom’s skirt but he held on to it so she let him keep it on. Tom then pottered back into his bedroom where Molly was dancing, he joined in. Molly spun around with her eyes closed and then giggled looking at me. Tom copied her and stumbled backwards, Molly pulled Tom towards her and cuddled him and kissed his face. I wondered if Molly was ‘acting up’ because she was being watched by me, I questioned whether their behaviour was entirely natural. End of observation.

Observing Tom – Week four
02.11.2012 word count: 1,025

When I arrived Tom ran out of his bedroom and into his parents’ room. He climbed up on to the bed and turned around to look at Mum, smiling as if he knew she was going to react. Mum said, “Hey, Tom” in a cautionary manner yet smiling. She grabbed him playfully and tickled him; he laughed loudly and squealed rolling on his back. He then climbed up on to the window sill. Mum spoke more sternly to Tom (in Polish) I assumed she was asking him to either get down or be careful. Again Tom turned back and looked at Mum gingerly with a cheeky smile. Mum told me she had felt poorly for a couple of weeks; she seemed quite run down and a little stressed. However she was patient with Tom. Mum was sat next to him and had her hand on the window handle so he couldn’t open it. Tom pointed out the window and looked astonished, Mum said, “Oooh ****” (Polish) Tom repeated the word and Mum nodded and smiled.

She explained to me that he had seen a motor bike, she then pointed at various things out the window and said their names and Tom attempted to repeat the words. Tom spoke in a deep voice and stuck his chest out. Mum laughed and told me she was pointing out the vehicles names. I wondered whether Tom was speaking in a deep voice to imitate someone or whether he was trying to be ‘manly’. Tom then reached out to the window handle, Mum said, “Tom” firmly and took his hands away. He did this several more times, Mum again said his name and on the 4th time Tom imitated Mum and shouted, “Tom!” Mum started laughing and picked him up and sat him on the bed and tickled him again, he laughed loudly and then climbed down and ran out into the hallway. Molly came out into the hall from her bedroom and smiled at me, she then ran after Tom and they both went into the living room. Mum pulled out their table and chairs and got out some paper for them.

Molly said, “We’re going to paint, you know?” Mum laughed and sat them down with some paint and cups of water. Tom picked up two paint brushes and banged them on his paper and made roaring sounds. He then struggled to pick up paint on his paint brush and frowned as he brushed over the pallets of paint, he tried to paint on the paper but nothing stuck, he stamped his feet a few times. Molly soaked up more water on her paint brush and slowly brushed her paint brush over the pallets, she seemed to know what she was doing, perhaps from painting at Nursery or remembering what Mum or Dad had taught her. Tom seemed a lot more impatient and frustrated and looked at Molly painting, slightly frowning. He then leant over and painted on her paper.

She shouted out, “No Tom!” But he had left no mark, just a watery smear, so she pulled her paper away and continued to paint. Mum turned around and said, “Hey, hey Tom.” Tom continued to try to paint and let out noises of frustration; Mum came over and tried to help him apply the paint on his brush. Molly said, “Mimi” and Mum drew a Mickey Mouse face on her piece of paper in pink. Molly held her paper and came over to me saying, “Look its Mimi, Mickey Mouse, you know?” I laughed and wondered if Molly had heard someone at Nursery saying, “you know” and was imitating them as she had said it a few times and I hadn’t heard her say it before. Tom leant over and tried to paint on Molly’s Mickey Mouse, Molly squealed out and shouted, “No, Tom!” Mum seemed to tell them off as she spoke sternly in Polish, however still remained calm. The children seemed more agitated today and I wondered if Mum being ill had slightly impacted their behaviour, although Mum seemed to be struggling she was still calm with the children.

I also noticed that Mum and Molly spoke more in Polish than previous weeks, I wondered if this was because they were more comfortable in my presence. Mum drew a Mickey Mouse for Tom so he wouldn’t bother Molly anymore. She drew his Mickey Mouse in blue, perhaps to tell the difference between whose was whose, but I also considered whether it was colour coded for ‘girl’ and ‘boy’. He smiled and shouted, “Mimi!” Molly and Tom both called out, “Mimi” they seemed to be in competition with each other of who could shout louder and laughed each time they shouted. Tom then went around the table on the opposite side to Molly and she prodded him playfully in his tummy with the end of her paint brush. Tom giggled so she did it again, she continued to do it and they both giggled more and more each time, becoming very excited.

Molly then climbed up onto a seat at the dining room table and asked Mum if she could have her stickers, Tom went over and peered up at the table to see what Molly was doing. Mum helped Tom into his seat and brought over a sheet of stickers, Molly began sticking them onto her paper but Tom struggled to peel his stickers off, he made a fist and banged the paper making grunting noises.

Mum went over again and helped him peel them off. Tom struggled again when Mum went back to the computer so he seemed to lose interest and again became more interested in Molly’s paper. Seeing Tom struggling made me feel uncomfortable that I couldn’t assist him. Tom climbed down from the table and ran into his bedroom; he peered up at the shelf of DVD’s. He shouted out, perhaps in Polish, Mum came in the room and pointed at various DVD’s until he said yes. She put on a film called ‘Pipi’ Tom danced around to the introduction music and stood close to the screen wiggling his bottom. End of observation.

In this essay I will evaluate my experience as an observer and describe the place of observation in Social work. Finally, I will focus on gender development as my major theme of consideration. Initially, although I was a little apprehensive; I came to find the role of the observer a considerable challenge. Although in some ways I grew more comfortable with certain aspects of the exercise, I found a degree of discomfort in the role I was to undertake. I could relate greatly to the content of Quitak, N (2004) article, as I too struggled to find my feet to gain the right balance in distance and involvement. I experienced feelings of guilt when the children required my attention and learnt that I had to tolerate the anxiety of non-intervention. Trowell and Miles (1991) say in relation to social work, that due to the requirements of the role, they at times have to be assertive (cited in Quitak, 2004). Therefore to be effective, they must come to terms with the discomfort this can imply. Mattinson (1975) cited in Quitak, N (2004) discusses this concept in terms of the ‘psychological distance’ often required.

Trowell and Miles (1991) cited in Quitak (2004) in terms of remaining ‘actively positive’; retaining a physical distance, whilst allowing one self to become deeply involved. When recording my observation afterwards, I found that the first things I recalled were from the first and last part of the hour, plus what was unusual and stood out to me. Munro (1991) says that this is because we are trying to hold onto awareness of the surroundings and the different ways in which people converse and interact, (cited in Lefevre, 2010). I recognised I was preoccupied with trying to remember everything. On reflection I realised that I should have observed everything and then later try to identify the most salient points. A further distraction was Tom’s sister, Molly, who features heavily in my records, because her behaviour was more emphatic, however, I was unable to moderate her behaviour in order to allow Tom a more significant role. Munro (1991) says that such challenges and disruptions to memory are one of the reasons assessments are often based on incomplete or inaccurate information.

I was also concerned on whether pre-determined bias would creep in, as indeed, people’s values, culture and previous experiences will always influence how they interpret what they see (Cox, 2005, cited in Lefevre, 2010). Furthermore due to Tom not speaking properly yet and the language barrier it was harder for me to recall as I couldn’t prompt my memory with odd sentences. Malekoff (1994) says that thoughts and feelings of children are often emotionally processed and conveyed through more direct means, and body language may provide important clues as to how they feel (cited in Lefevre, M. 2010). This heightened my awareness of non-verbal communication and improved my capacity to analyse non- verbal behaviour. Observing children over time may help to explain what relates more to their general character and what might be a response to caretaking and environmental experiences.

What they convey through certain choices provides insight into their social identity and sense of self and cultural norms. Plus their racial identity may also be revealed. A social worker will need to be open to different social and cultural experiences and consider how a child may be affected by different factors such as ethnocentrism. Self-awareness and understanding of the impact of oppression on racial identity will be important (Robinson, 2007, cited in Lefevre, 2010). Recent work on prejudice/identity development focuses on applications of intergroup theory to examine the basis of social categorization and its effects. One development has been to look more generally at children’s knowledge of other countries and nationalities (Cowie et al. 2009). I believe this could be very beneficial for Tom in the future. When watching the children I questioned whether their behaviour was altered by my presence (see week one, lines 58-62 and week four, lines 109-110).

The experience of being observed can evoke anxiety and feelings of disempowerment due to possible fear of being judged or misunderstood, which can result in them behaving differently. In relation to assessments, it is important to consider how workers might affect the observed situation (Tanner and Turney, 2000 cited in Lefevre, 2004). I understand that the move from observation to interpretation is complex and therefore should proceed with caution. In bringing reflective approaches to child observations into social work, a link is made ‘between knowledge of human growth and development, observational skills and effective social work communication with children (Luckock et al, 2006, p 39). A picture of a children’s world, particularly their emotional experience, is created, which may include how they interact with and respond to parents.

This may then be used to inform assessment and care planning, including the assessment of neglect (Tanner and Turney, 2000), child protection assessments (Fleming, 2004), multidisciplinary assessments for the family courts (Youell, 2002) and the supervision of contact (Hindle and Easton, 1999). The debate about the health, safety and welfare of children became a preoccupation of government following the death of Victoria Climbie in 2000 (Youell, 2009 and Wilson, 1992). It ‘can refer to both one’s own and one’s partner’s expression, with lack’ of expressiveness on either one’s part seen as dissatisfying’ (Hecht et al., 1989). Cultures vary in what is considered ‘appropriate channelling’ of emotions. For example in some cultural groups restraint of strong feelings is highly valued. Social workers must always consider cultural factors when assessing people (Robinson, 2007. Pg. 116-120).

I considered cultural differences whilst observing, Mum was always very quiet and when I met Dad, he was also quiet. Although I was aware that this may be their personalities, I considered if is in their culture to be quiet (see week one, line 49). This experience has taught me that although it is imperative for practitioners to be sensitive to the impact of our presence, it is vital not to forget that we must remain focussed upon the objectives set for the observation. From observing Tom, I found myself particularly interested in his behaviour in relation to his ‘gender role’. I became drawn in to spotting which toys interested him, what he chose to wear and his general behaviour. Piaget has shown how important symbolisation is to cognitive development. One of the many important things children must learn during their first years is what sex they are; they learn that they are expected to behave in different ways according to whether they are a boy or a girl. Learning to behave “appropriately” for their sex involves learning their “gender identity” (Davenport, 1992, pg. 275).

I will be looking at theories of acquiring a sex-role, looking at; biological factors, social learning and cognitive development. The results of various studies indicate that most children begin to acquire their sex identity from around 18 months. By 2 years they begin to identify what sex other children are, although they’re not too sure of their own gender identity until somewhere between two and a half and three years (Davenport, 1992, pg. 275). Accordingly, at 22 months, Tom should be beginning to identify gender, but not his own for another 7 or 8 months. Boys and girls differ in one chromosome pair; this genetic difference normally leads to differential production of hormones. These hormones lead to differentiation of bodily characteristics, such as the genital organs, and may also influence brain growth and therefore behaviour patterns (Cowie et al, 2003). Theories emphasising biological forces look for experimental evidence that links male hormones with certain types of behaviour (Davenport, 1992). Collaer and Hines (1995) cited in Cowie et al. (2009) examined the evidence for the effects of sex hormone abnormalities on behaviour over a range of outcome variables.

They conclude that the evidence is strongest for childhood play behaviour; in normal foetal development male sex hormones seem to predispose boys to become more physically active. They also argue that the evidence is relatively strong in two other areas: aggression and sexual orientation. Such effects are consistent with evidence that some sex differences appear early in life. Much research has shown males to be more aggressive, and that aggression begins at around 2 years (Cowie et al. pg. 190-192. 2009). Tom demonstrated behaviours of aggression; see ‘observation week four’ (lines 88-103 and 119). This has been explained by the higher testosterone levels than females.

However, it is possible that boys are reinforced for behaving aggressively, and this makes them produce more testosterone (Cowie et al. 2009). Money and Ehrhardt (1972) carried out a study to understand the effect that the male sex hormone, androgen has on girls. They examined girls who had been exposed to unusually high levels of androgen before birth. Compared with a matched group of girls who hadn’t, these girls and their mothers reported themselves to being ‘tomboys’. However, Cowie et al (2009) argue that because the parents knew of the hormonal abnormalities, this could have affected their behaviour towards their children.

While biological factors are probably important in explanations of sex differences, they do not fully explain the process of sex-role identification, or explain the variations in sex roles in different societies (Cowie et al, 2009). Social Learning theorists claim that we acquire our gender roles by observation, modelling, and being reinforced for behaving accordingly. This implies a learning process, that social factors are also important. For example it may be that female babies are spoken to more often than boys, thus pick up language sooner (Davenport, pg. 276-278, 1992). On reflection, Tom’s Mum spoke more to Molly, although this may be because she was replying to her. An early approach to the learning of sex-role identification was that children are moulded into sex-roles by the behaviour of adults, especially parents and teachers (Bandura, 1969; Mischel, 1970). In its early version (which Maccoby, 2000, calls ‘direct sociolization’) this theory suggests that parents and others reward sex-appropriate behaviour in children (cited in Smith et al. 2009), (see week one, lines 45-47 and also lines 40-1 and 56-57).

Mum happily helped Tom in to the skirt, although would then attempt to get it off. I wondered if this was because Mum was a bit reluctant to him wearing it, or even feared I may judge her. I also considered if it would be different if Dad were around. Fagot (1978) studied children ages 20-24 months in American homes and found that girls were encouraged by their parents to dance, dress up and play with dolls, whereas boys were encouraged to play with blocks and trucks. Conversely, Tom’s Mum did not discourage him from playing with the pram (see week one, lines 51-54) a typical ‘girls toy’. Furthermore Fagot (1985) found that nursery school teachers tend to reward ‘feminine’ types of behaviour, in both boys and girls, yet this does not prevent boys engaging more in noisy, rough-and-tumble play. Nevertheless, many reviews have felt that this evidence has not been very convincing (Golombok, and Hines, 2002; Maccoby, 2000, cited in Smith et al. 2009). It may be that any differential behaviour by parents is simply responding to pre-existing differences in boys and girls behaviour (Davenport, 1992).

Indirect socialization (Maccoby, 2000), supposes that children observe the behaviour of same sex models, and imitate them, for example, boys might imitate the behaviour of male figures on TV (cited in Smith et al. 2009).TV features in every record, and Tom was always very engrossed and on more than one occasion I noticed him imitating what was acted or said (see week one, line 52). A report by Himmelweit et al. (1958) looked for changes in children’s behaviour with the concern that violence on television may make children more aggressive, and that many programmes portray stereotyped images of sex roles. Alternatively, others think that television can be used to encourage cooperative behaviour, or reduced stereotyped views (Greenfield, 1984, cited in Smith et al. 2009).

This introduces influences on behaviour that suggest the importance of cognitive factors. Social cognitive theory (Bussey and Bandura, 1999) draws together the ideas of both theories. They suggest children monitor their own behaviour built on what is appropriate; identification with peer group monitoring their behaviour in relation to how they expect same-sex peers might react (cited in Cowie et al. 2009). I didn’t get to see Tom interact with any male children, I found Molly to be a great influence on his behaviour; i.e. see week one lines 21-22, 26 and 59.

I imagine this is because supposedly he has not yet identified himself as a boy and does not have much, if any, contact with other boys of similar age. Preference for same-sex peers seems to be a cross-cultural phenomenon, and one that increases through childhood into adolescence. Maccoby (1998, 200) has documented this, and argues that it is a key factor in integrating not only cognitive and social factors, but also the biological factors affecting sex differences (Cowie et al. 2009).

Observing Tom enabled me a great insight into his world, but has also indeed taught me a lot about myself, gaining skills of self-awareness and reflective practice that I hope to bring to future practice.

Bandura, A. 1969: Social Learning theory of identificatory processes. In D. A Goslin (ed.), Handbook of Socialization Theory and Research. Chicago: Rand McNally.

Peter K.Smith, Helen Cowie and Mark Blades (2009). Understanding Children’s Development . 4th ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. 186-194.

G C Davenport (1992). An introduction to Child development. London: Colins Educational. 275-291.

Money, J. and Ehrhardt, A. A. 1972: Man and Woman, Boy and Girl. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Michelle Lefevre (2010). Communicating with children and young people making a difference. Bristol: The Policy Press. 147-169.

Judith Trowell and Gillian Miles. (1991). The contribution of observation training to professional development in social work . Journal of social work practice. 5 (1), 50-56.

Natasha Quitak. (2010). Difficulties in Holding the role of the observer.Journal of social work practice. 18 (2), 247-253.

Lena Robinson (2007). Cross-Cultural child development for social workers an introduction. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 116-120.

Kate Wilson. (1992). The place of child observation in social work.Journal of social work practice. 6 (1), 37-47.

Biddy Youell . (2009). Guide to emotional and behavioural health . Available: Last accessed 27th Nov 2012.

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