Reflective essay on understanding human development across the lifespan
Task: Write a reflective essay on your lived experience, with application of human development theories to your family and cultural context.Reflect on your own family and cultural context while you were a child (4 - 12 years).Apply your understanding of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory and Bowlby-Ainsworth’s attachment Theory to your relationships during your childhood.With reference to these theories, discuss how these relationships shaped your development as you matured (e.g., feelings of security, friendships, decisions, trust, resilience, ability to take risk, etc.).
Human development involves behavioural changes. Moreover, the environment in which an individual grows up reflects on their personality, thinking, and behaviour. It is believed that both peers and parents have a significant influence on the personality development and growth of parents. It is believed that a positive environment in the house shapes the behaviour and personality of an individual. However, negative parental control harms both the mental health and behaviour of a child (Kochanska, et.al., 2019). There is no exception in my case of mine. This essay aims at reflecting upon my family and how it has helped me to shape my behaviour. Moreover, this essay also aims at discussing my cultural background which has had a significant impact on my growth and development stages.
I have grown in an Indian family. Therefore, Indian family culture has a significant impact on from 4 years to 12 years. India has been identified as a diverse country. People in India are known for speaking diverse languages and they have diverse cultures. The cultural background of India is much different from that of western countries. In India, people live with their extended family members and the concept of joint family is still relevant in this country (Sahithya, et.al., 2019). There is no exception in case of mine. I have spent my childhood and my teenage days with my parents and grandparents. In my opinion, my personality and behaviour are largely influenced both my parents and grandparents. I had a very normal childhood with normal upbringing. I had learnt to be respectful and live life with integrity and honest at a very early stage of life. In my opinion, learnings from my parents have helped me to gather such skills. Such learnings have further impacted my behaviour and I always focus on being kind to people I meet. However, the general Indian culture and Indian environment has also impacted my behaviours in several ways.
According to Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model, the behaviour of a child is influenced by five different environments. These environments are known as microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and chronosystem. This ecological model has been identified as sensitive and can vary according to the culture of different nations (Viola, et.al., 2021).
Fig 1: Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological theory
Source: Viola, et.al., 2021
In my opinion, during 4-12 years, I was largely influenced by the microsystem and the mesosystem. In my opinion, my immediate family members including my parents and grandparents have helped me to develop certain skills and it has also impacted by behavioural pattern. I can vividly remember how close I was with my mother. I used to go to school with my mother when I was 4 years old. Moreover, in Indian culture feeding child with hand is normal and there was no exception in case of mine. I believe that the proximity of me and my mother has helped me in various ways. I always felt secured when I was there with my mother and I used to believe that each problem of mine can be solved by my mother. Thus, as a 4 year or 5-year-old, I had a peace of mind and was less stressful. However, after entering to high school, I have encountered various challenges because of extreme dependency on my mother. Indian parents tend to protect their child in every possible way. They fail to get an overview of the reality of the society while they grow up. My parents also helped me to overcome challenges. This increased a sense of security within me. However, overprotectiveness often lowers the emotional intelligence of a child. Overprotectiveness of Indian parents prevent their child to understand the emotions of others and they are also not aware of themselves (Tanushree&Simon, 2020). Thus, it can be concluded that over protection and excessive parental control often prevent Indian children to become self-dependent. There is no exception in case of mine. While I was growing up, my mother and father used to handle all my problems. They used to pack my bags and lunchboxes and used to drop me to my school. This prevented me to become self-dependent. I always used to ask for solutions to any problems to my immediate family remembers. The overprotectiveness and excessive caring prevented me to solve my own problem and make minor life decisions. Such parental control and style created various problems when I got shifted to high school.
As I shifted to the high-school, I started getting exposed to the mesosystem. In the mesosystem, a child starts to communicate with their school friends and neighbourhood friends and start getting influenced by them. These friends can also be identified as their peers. This is also identified as the second level of the ecological model that has been proposed by Bronfenbrenner (Crawford, 2020). I shifted to high school at 10 years and started making new friends. This is the stage where I started to interact deeply with people who are not a part of my immediate family. At this stage, I got influenced both by peers and family members. In this mesosystem, I started to understand the meaning of friendship. I made good friends at my school and used to share my thoughts, ideas, and opinions with them. We used to do small group projects when I was 11 years or 12 years old. These group projects helped me to become an effective contributor in a team and helped me to become more resilient. We as a team used to work together and focused on overcoming challenges while working on the project.
In addition to this, according to Bronfenbrenner’s theory, communication between parents and teachers also have an influence on the child development. My school used to conduct parent teacher meeting annually. The objective of this meeting was to ensure a transparent communication between parents of the students and teachers. My mother used to attend the meeting and our teachers used to communicate their academic expectations from each child. Moreover, our progress, performance and engagement in the class were also discussed by both parents and teachers. After attending the meeting, my mother used to come home and guideme as per the expectations of the teacher. This has helped me to take decisions as per the expectations of the teachers. However, while growing up I have realised that the mesosystem in which I am growing expects children to behave and act in a certain manner. Children with any form of unconventional behaviour were not supported both by their teachers and parents. This has often impacted the mental health conditions of these children. In India there is a stigma associated with mental health. Young people suffering from mental trauma and anxiety are often ignored by their parents and the entire society (Gaiha, et.al., 2020). Thus, it can be concluded that while growing up in India, our objective was to meet the expectations of people around us and give priority to them, instead of working on our mental health.
Furthermore, I can reflect on my childhood experiences with the help of Attachment theory that was proposed by Bowlby-Ainsworth. According to this theory, attachment is identified as the psychological connectedness between two individuals. This theory primarily discusses about social and emotional aspects of human beings and is widely used in psychology and psychiatry treatment (Sroufe, 2021). There are 4 different styles of attachment that has been explained in this theory.
Fig 2: 4 different styles of Attachment
Source: Li, 2023
While I was growing up, I was extremely pampered by my parents and grandparents. They used to protect me and used to focus on making my life better. In my opinion, the attachment towards my parents and grandparents at this stage can be identified as anxious-resistant attachment. When I was 4-10 years old, my parents used to protect me and had an immense parental control. At this stage, I was not affected by any kind of stressful situations. Moreover, I used to seek for help when I got into any kind of troublesome situations. However, at this stage my self-confidence was very low and I used to isolate myself from my school friends and used to spend a lonely life. This can be identified as one of the major problems faced by children who have grown up in India. Indian parents are highly protective and the attachment between parents and their children are inseparable. There is no exception in case of mine. I am very attached to my mother and have always relied on her while making major decisions. Such dependency towards my mother has prevented me to make my own decisions.
As I shifted to the high school, my behaviour and personality changed. I made new friends and started getting influenced by my peers. At this stage, I was securely attached to my peers and family members. I used to consider my peers to be supportive. At school I used to ask my friends and classmates for help. I interacted with my classmates and participated in each school activities. Our teacher used to give us group projects and scored us based on our performances. Great scores, appreciation and rewards from our teachers motivated us to perform better. Such involvement and attachment towards my peer helped me to become a good performer in the school. This also had a positive impact on my mental health. We used to share stories about our families. At this stage, I started getting and overview of the real world and felt more inclusive. However, at the later stage of my life, I realised that competition among peers often destroys the attachment and creates rivalry. Moreover, after shifting to the high school, I realised that viewpoint of my peers often contradicted with my immediate family members. This gave me stress and it was very difficult for me to listen to my peers as well as my parents.
Thus, from the above discussion it can be found that both peers and family members work as a support system while we grow up. Their opinions, experiences and support have shaped my childhood and has also helped me to become self-confident and self-dependent. However, as I shifted from childhood to adulthood, I have realised that parents are the constant system of support. In India, parents constantly focus on keeping a proximity with their kids. I have always discussed most of my problems with my parents and they have immensely supported me to overcome my stresses. I feel that parents are the constant source of support from me and most Indians will agree with me. However, I feel peers or friends keep changing as we move from childhood to adulthood. I have got support from my peers while growing up. However, there were few bullies in school, who used to bother because of various reasons. Bullying in school can hamper self-development in various ways (Ringdal, et.al., 2020). I used to avoid these bullies and used to spend time in school with my good friends. Moreover, my family helped me to overcome bullying and gave me mental support in every possible way.
This essay aimed at reflecting upon my childhood days. The findings of the essay suggest that while growing up, I was extremely attached to my parents. Such strong attachment has helped me to stay unaffected from any kind of stressful situations. I was born and brought up in a joint family and used to get immense love from my parents and grandparents. My parents had great control over me while I was growing up. However, over protectiveness of my parents have prevented to have social interactions. Once, I moved to the high school, I started making friends. I used to spend a significant amount of time with them and they had supported me and helped me to enhance my self-confidence. The findings of the essay also suggest that a normal upbringing can help a person develop confidence and enhance their mental well-being. However, overprotectiveness of parents can make a child highly dependable on their immediate caregivers and this can bring stresses in their life in the future.
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