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PSY201 Discussion Environmental Influences On Children

PSY201 Discussion Environmental Influences On Children

Development of the brain is influenced by nature and nurture. Give two examples of how “nurture” (experience, environmental influences) can impact brain development in either a positive or adverse way. Support your statements with findings from a scholarly research article (s). Cite your reference(s).

DQ2 Critical Periods

What is meant by the term, “critical period” as it refers to development? Discuss how the concept of critical periods applies to various aspects of physical, brain, and perceptual development. In terms of brain development, how have research findings on neuroplasticity changed our views about the rigidity imposed by critical periods? Support your response with findings from scholarly research. Cite your reference(s).

Children’s health is determined by the interaction of a multitude of influences, reflecting complex processes. We divide these influences into biological, behavioral, and environmental (physical and social) even though our model of children’s health views their effects as highly intertwined and difficult to isolate. This chapter provides a summary of published literature and a framework for understanding those influences.

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OVERVIEW
Biological influences as discussed in this chapter include genetic expressions, prenatal influences, as well as biological constraints and possibilities created by perinatal and postnatal events plus prior states of health. Behavioral influences include the child’s emotions, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and cognitive abilities that affect health outcomes. Environmental influences are wide-ranging and include infectious agents, toxins such as lead and air pollution, and social factors such as loving interactions with caregivers, socioeconomic resources in the family and community, and peer relationships, segregation, racism, culture, the availability and quality of services, and policies that directly or indirectly affect these other interactive influences (see Box 3-1).

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PSY201 Discussion Environmental Influences On Children

PSY201 Discussion Environmental Influences On Children

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BOX 3-1
Organization of Influences on Children’s Health. Children’s biology Children’s behavior

The role and effect of biological, behavioral, and environmental influences change as children grow. For example, a pharmacological agent like thalidomide is highly toxic within a narrow window during pregnancy but not afterward, an attachment to a caring adult is especially critical during infancy, and peer influences appear to grow steadily from toddlerhood through adolescence. Even within a childhood stage, health influences can act in very different ways because of the differing cultural interpretations that families attach to them.

While biology, behavior, and environmental categories are useful for organizing our discussion, it is important to understand that healthy development is not the product of single, isolated influences or even types of influences. Warm and nurturing parenting is an important family influence, but prematurity or visual impairment can make an infant unresponsive to a mother’s initial nurturing. Mothers may react with apathy or disinterest, which produces even more withdrawal on the part of the infant (Lozoff, 1989). While simplified schematics or models help to organize understanding of the influences on children’s health both during childhood and beyond, life is not as simple as these models suggest.

One caveat should be kept in mind in reading through the following review of evidence. Few of the cited studies drew their evidence from randomized experiments. And few if any of the nonexperimental studies included all relevant variables in their data and analyses. Thus, the findings reported in these studies are likely to suffer from exclusion of potentially important categories of influences, so that the associations that are reported as being important may be due to their associations with a more important or equally important characteristic, or due to interactions with other types of factors so that their effect may be manifested primarily or only in certain population groups. A related problem is that few of the cited studies include data that represent the whole population of children. Thus, the findings that are reported as significant may be significant only in the population studied or similar populations. Nonetheless, the committee found the evidence to be sufficiently compelling to warrant inclusion when there was a plausible, well-supported connection between the influence and health.

Moreover, inferences about the relative importance of the variety of influences are heavily dependent on the nature of the theoretical models that underlie statistical analysis. If more proximal influences are mixed with more distal ones, they may appear to have stronger effects, even in situations in which more distal factors are operating on a multiplicity of proximal influences and therefore have cumulatively greater effect overall. Thus, future research should adapt more appropriate pathway techniques to help to sort out the patterns by which the influences interact to produce different states of health.

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