How Culture and Society Impact on Child Development
Child development is a process affected by many dynamic factors. However, Culture and social setting plays a major role in the development process of a child. With United Arab Emirates as a contextual country of study, this paper investigates the impact of culture and society on a child’s development. There are many theories that explain the how culture affect development of a child in a given social setting. They include, behavioral, cognitive, social-cultural, ecology system and individualism/collectivism theories. This research interviews three boys and one girl in the age range of 8-12 years old. Family, school and media affect a child’s belief form process. It is noted that the values developed by children result from their interaction with the society. Parents are primary modes that can be used to influence children positively then followed by peers and teachers in school.
The development of a child is influenced by many factors. This phenomenon transcend from the fact that as the children grow, they do not have internally generated mechanisms that control their life. They are influenced by anything external and will copy and do what they see around them. In fact, children are shaped by their environment and people around them. For this reason, it is highly recommended that the child be brought up by the parents at the very early age, especially if the parents have intent of the child inheriting their way of life. However, life has changed and the demands of life has resulted to absent parents. Parents work throughout the clock. The burden of caring for the children is left on paid maids. Secondly, nowadays children grow in schools under the care of their teachers. Consequently, the time a child spends with his parents is dismal. In addition to this, the aspect of globalization has also resulted into diversity of cultural and social settings. Children can mix and play with children from a totally diverse culture and social setting. The realities of racial differences are evident and the family settings have completely changed. Intermarriages and migrations have become the order of the day and the likelihood of a modern child growing in more than one social setting and cultural background is very possible. As a result, a modern child is under the influence of totally diverse factors from a totally reorganized social setting. In this regard, this paper seeks to find out how culture and society are impacting on development of a child. Cultural diversity owes much to a people’s ethnicity, place of birth, values and perceptions from the world. The child grows with the cultural aspects he sees in his society and this explains the importance of this research.
To do carry out this research on how culture and society impact on the development of a child, a critical review of the theories that explain factors that influence development of a child have been carried out. This research alsointerviewed four children, based in United Arab Emirates, in regard tothe cultural and social impact on their development. For gender purposes, three boys and one girl were picked to form the sample size. The children’s age range was between 8-12 years old. The interview had used a set of questions that focused on influence from the family, media, peers and school. The findings collected from these interviews were then discussed and linked to the theories discussed in the on the literature review section.
As had been mentioned in the introduction part, the cultural aspect is very instrumental in the development of a child as it forms the belief process of the child (Rubin, 2010). The life a child adopts is greatly shaped by the diverse culture experiences he encounters in the society he lives in. The first environment a child finds himself in is his family. The child takes everything he sees the family do and, unless radicalized, the child will live to do the things he learnt in the family (Berk&Shanker, 2006). This spreads out to include the peers and friends of the family. As the child grows, the element of school comes into picture. Since the knowledge of the child is still growing, the child begins to get influenced by the media. The media has, in fact, stormed and changed the way parents bring up their children. It is through the media that the concept of globalization has been made possible. Since it is an irresistible phenomenon, modern parents are obligated to put checks and balances to ensure that their children get only what is right for their development (Kotler & McMahon, 2005). Failure to do this means that children will adopt ideologies that does not conform to their social norms.
United Arab Emirates is an emerging culturally diverse destination (Abdulrazzaq,Kendi&Nagelkerke, 2008). This desert country has been able to use its naturally occurring resources to transform the country into a more habitable place. As a result of this, the country experiences influx of people from all parts of the world. Therefore, residents in this country find their children growing in a culturally diverse environment. However, for the development of the child, the family and school plays a key role. Therefore, early childhood education is structured in a manner that promotes relationships which are totally inclusive of every stakeholder(Abdulrazzaq,Kendi&Nagelkerke, 2008). A culturally diverse community requires everybody to feel included. The same applies to children development. Nothing is as fulfilling as an inclusive environment for a growing child. The aspect of inclusiveness yields mutual respect. A society that mutually respects one another is a society that have a right environment for growth of any child despite the cultural background of such a child (Onchwari, Onchwari&Keengwe, 2008).
In reference to the development of a child, there are theories that explain the development of children. A child’s development can either portray individualism or collectivism; depending on the cultural background (Potter, Perry, Stockert,&Hall, 2013). The theory of individualism is commonly observed among children who have a Western cultural background. According to individualism, different societies perceive different characteristics differently. Temperament is perceived as an act of fear, shyness or social incompetence by the westerners (Oren & Jones, 2009). However, people from Middle and Far East consider temperament as a sign not only being fully obedient and well mannered, but also as a commitment to comply with all social norms (Chen, 2009). In the same regard, children of the eastern descent are pro-social in the sense that their sense of care and sharing is very high. Perhaps this is attached to the aspect of collectivism which characterizes Asian cultures. Under collectivism, cooperation is preferred to competition and verbal aggression is an abomination. The dictates of collectivism also indicate that children in the eastern countries are play mostly with peers from their families or school. The aim of the play is directed to academic excellence.
Besides collectivism and individualism, the development of a child is also explained by Ecological system theory (Potter, Perry, Stockert& Hall, 2013). This theory contextualizes achild’s growing environment and expounds it using the ideology of nesting. At the most inner circle lies the microsystem, which describes the child’s relationship with the members of his family (Cote & Bornstein, 2005). The meso and exo systems follow immediately. On the outer part of the nest of this theory is macro and chrono systems. Under macro, values and laws are defined where as for chronosystems, the dynamics of a person’s life are taken into consideration. The ecological system theory is often used to explain why social and cultural policies fail or succeed.
The biological/maturational theory describes the development of a child from a biological point of view(Potter, Perry, Stockert& Hall, 2013). As a child grows from infancy all through to adolescence, the child undergoes through genetic and physical changes. These changes are automatic. The brain develops and the child gains more motor capabilities. These changes occur gradually or abruptly depending on the age. Children between seven-12 years exhibit gradual changes, but those in puberty, the changes are sporadic.
In reference to the behaviorist theory, the development of a child is pegged on the environmental influences (Miller, 2005). This is where rewarding and punishing falls as these external features have the capability of influencing the internal characteristics. Because of the different ways of rewarding or punishing children, children develop different behaviors. The motivating factor determines the behavior each child is going to adopt as his belief values.
Cognitive-developmental theory brings the element of a child’s way of thinking or reasoning and is even seen as a child plays (Thyssen& Child Culture, 2003). As the child grows, his way of thinking changes. Time is a factor in synthesis of qualitative ideas developed by the child. According to this theory, this is an internally developed aspect. It is an outward portrayal of how a child understands the world around him. The biological development is very instrumental here because the reasoning results from the child’s ability to connect the knowledge taught by those close and new discoveries he is currently making.
Socialcultural theory is concerned with preservation of cultural values and believes (Dahlberg & Moss, 2005). Perpetuation of the social values becomes of great importance and is embedded on the language the society speaks and the social interactions. This is mostly done by the skilled peers or adults to the children. There is an active transfer of knowledge from the experienced to the children. This leads to inheritance of traits, which then dictates and directs a child’s way of doing things. When the right traits are passed on, the child acquires right values and beliefs. The opposite is equally true. When wrong traits are passed to the children, the society’s future social norms is put on jeopardy. It is the mandate of the parents to ensure that right ethics of the society is passed on to the children. The media is making this task difficult for most parents as children live lives they see on the media.
There were four children, three males and one female, who were interviewed for this research. The female was the oldest aged 12 years where as the others were nine and eight. Two students were Emirati while the others were American and British consecutively. The Emirati nationals spoke Arabic and were all muslims. The British student with a Pakistan background was a muslim but English and little Arabic. The American was a Catholic. Child 2, attended a british school called Al-Basma. Child 1 and child 3’ school information is not provided. Child 4, the girl attended Alasayel.
Concerning the understanding of their family, there are a mixture of response from the students. Some students do not know what their parents actually do. Only child 4 and child 1 seem to fully understand what their parents do. Child 2 and 3 do not know what all their parents do. All of them are not interested in doing what their parents do and only child four was keen to answer the question of how important her dad’s job was to her. Two out of the four confirmed that they seek advice first from their parents whereas the other two seek advice from their relatives. All the children indicated that they talk to their parents and indeed have good values they learn from them. All the four students indicated that parents are very important to them.
Concerning the rules, all students conformed that there are rules at home and school that have to be followed failure to which there are consequences. All the males indicated that they like playing when they are at home. The girl said she prefers to sleep. In addition to this, they all indicated that there are domestic chores, which they attend to and are often made to them personally. All the four students learn good cultural values at home and respect is the most embraced cultural value.
Focusing to responses concerning school, the students had mixed reactions concerning their role models with some quoting teachers whereas best friends. Most of the students quoted their teachers as the best teachers mostly because of the attitude they have towards them. Three quarter of the students agreed that they would love to study with their friends in school and share the information about their friends with their parents, but some regulate the details.
Concerning the media, all the students, except one, confirmed using the media to communicate. However, parents regulate the time spend on the media strictly for all the students. All the four students expressed ways to solve problems of bad behavior where some took personal initiative while others reported the problem to the right authorities.
Analyzing this information gives rise to a number of aspects. The four students seemed to play and associate with fellows of same gender. For example, boys would play football with fellow boys. All the boys had active ways of using their leisure while the girl had passive leisure. This explains the masculinity of the male species. However, in choosing friends, they also looked at psychological traits like being cool.
The reasoning of the students seem to vary with age. The elderly ones described themselves fully in a clearer manner. The others two were not even answering all the questions. Ethnicity did not have a role in describing themselves. However, gender seems to have played a key role because the girl, despite her being the eldest, explained herself fully.
The parents of four students played a key role in shaping the life of the children. The fathers took care of the family and this is evident from the responses of the four students. However, career-wise no father was able to influence his child to take a career of they were pursuing. However mothers influenced the students greatly. They taught them morals and are perceived as agents of good will. They are the people to turn to for help. Except for the girl’s father, the mothers set the rules and enforce to shape the behavior of the children to the right direction. From a social perspective, all the students were religious and upheld values ethics of their religion like respecting people and not hitting anybody.
Culture and society affect a child’s development in all ways because they form a child’s first environment. The lessons and values acquired from cultural practices becomes a child’s core values and beliefs. Several theories explain this phenomenon clearly. Therefore, parents and the society at large have an obligation of regulating the cultural experiences a child goes through so that the child can be positively trained. There are moments children will need to be punished to tame their behavior and there are those moments they will need to be talked to enhance their reasoning. Everything should be moderated for the good of the child.
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