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“Sarah, the older child of two children, is five and has just started school. sarah, her mum and brother have recently moved to the area. her mother describes this as a ‘fresh start’ after a difficult marital break-up. she has infrequent contact with her dad. her teacher describes her as a shy, unhappy little girl who does not mix much with the other children.”

Imagine that you are a social worker or human service worker tasked with helping sarah to develop her resilience. keeping bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory in mind and focussing on sarah’s developmental stage, consider what is going on for sarah and what you can do.

Adversities that may be impacting on Sarah Protective Environments

The case study provided in the assignment depicted the scenario pertaining to a 5 years girl child named Sarah who has recently moved onto a new place along with her mother and younger brother following a marital breakup of her parents. It has further been indicated that Sarah is under the custody of her mother and has scope of making infrequent contact with her father. According to her teacher in school, she has been described as a shy and unhappy child who do not quite mix with other children of her age. Under these circumstances, the essay will aim to address certain crucial aspects whereby efforts will be made to develop resilience for Sarah from the perspective of a social worker. Further emphasis will be laid on Sarah’s developmental stage in conjunction with the Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory to gain an insight and nearly accurate understanding regarding the situation relevant to Sarah. The theory will cater to the knowledge about the child’s development that is likely to be affected by the social relationship and the surrounding around them (Perron  2017). Suggestions will also be made in the context of Sarah pertinent to suitable interventions that might aid in devising appropriate interventions and coping strategies to deal with the ensuing situation and combat any possible adversities that might emanate due to inadequate interventions. The vital topic related to the developmental stages in a child will be corroborated with throughout the study to link the situational observations in case of Sarah (Elkind 2014). The various aspects relevant to the adversities capable of impacting Sarah’s protective environments, vulnerability and resilience will be acknowledged in the following essay to provide an elaborate analysis and discussion on matter related to the topic of choice.

The family environment into which a child is born exerts a strong influence on the development of the child. The personal experiences and parenting style of the parents are potent factors that might affect the responses of the child to a considerable extent. Other factors that might render profound and significant impact on the child’s responses might include adverse circumstances within the family in addition to the socio-economic status of the family. Further, healthy development in a child may be challenged because of negative experiences related to suffering because of neglect and abuse. Convention on the Rights of Children has focused on the pivotal aspects of safeguarding the children and rendering protection from violence, abuse or exploitation. Thus, fostering of a protective environment that is often attributed to the immediate network of relationships existing between the individual, their immediate family as well as the local community is suggested in this context to harbor holistic outcoms. Thus, an enduring supportive relationship on the part of the children is solicited to account for a healthy development (Dingwall, Eekelaar and Murray 2014).  In xase of Sarah, the family life is in a state of turmoil as she has been detached from her father following parental separation. Thus, she is likely to be deprived of the affection and parental care coming from the father. The best practices that may be required to bring up the child is an essential prerequisite for healthy development in children and that is supposedly missing in case of Sarah as she will be encountering single parenting. In this connection mention may be made about the Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory which states that a person’s development gets affected by the elements presents in the surrounding environment. The different levels in relation to person’s development encompass the microsystem, the mesosystem, the exosystem, the macrosystem, and the chronosystem (Rosa and Tudge 2013). In case of Sarah, both the microsystem as well as the mesosystem is most susceptible to get affected. Bidirectional relationship in a microsystem is likely to be influenced involving the family for Sarah and is the most influential of all the levels. For Sarah, home will be the microsystem. Sudden shifting to a new location will thus predispose her to encounter issues related to being accustomed with the surrounding that is unfamiliar. On the other hand, mesosystem refers to the interactions among the individual components of the person’s microsystem that has the capacity to indirectly impacting on the individual. Situation relevant to Sarah suggest that relationship with the parents for Sarah will be of importance. However, compromise in parenting because of absence of father is likely to affect the development in Sarah. Considering the age of Sarah, it may be assumed that she is in a position to face the challenges in terms of emotional regulation. Parental support, guidance and encouragement are vital in this developmental stage for modulating the emotional expression and regulating the cognitive processing. Sarah is going through the preoperational reasoning stage as per the propositions made by psychologist Piaget in classifying the cognitive stages in child development. At this stage thinking is essentially dominated by perception in which child becomes capable of symbolic functioning with conservation problem along with language development (Ansell 2016). Sarah is going through this particular phase of development where a mere deviation from normality might threaten her well being as she is likely to go through emotional outbursts and mental perturbations under the effect of single parenting. Reports from research carried out with respect to examination of the impact of parental deportation on the mental health of children indicated certain vital findings that added to the knowledge about the condition relevant to such affected children. The study interpreted that  children with a deported parent is more likely to exhibit both internalizing as well as externalizing issues when compared against those who do not have any deported parent or are under the process of deportation (Allen, Cisneros and Tellez 2015). Another study also evaluated the potential impact of divorce, singe parenting and step-parenting on children. Transition in children of vulnerable age is likely to drive adverse outcomes through displaying of negative emotional outcomes and problems in coping up with the situation (Hetherington 2014). Thus, the near and far environments relevant to the children need to be modulated in manner so that the holistic growth and development might occur. The sensitive issue for Sarah thus calls for greater attention and delicate handling on the part of the social worker (Fernald et al. 2017). Emotional support in addition to fostering of practical help and advice is thus needed to allow for effective counseling and tackling of the children’s condition (Fivush 2014). Community support and network for Sarah will offer help to ameliorate her issues.

Vulnerability

The factors related to vulnerability in children seem to be multiple ranging from racism, disability, personality types who express difficult or unusual temperament. The maltreatment issue is also botheration in case of the children development that threatens their wellbeing and mental composure due to onset of negative outcomes. These further challenges their resilience mechanism and pose threat of developing further issues relevant to adjustments (Masten 2014). The adjustment issue in school for Sarah in this connection may be attributed to her personality where she does not find it comfortable to open up with others. Sarah may be considered as an introvert girl where her condition is further aggravated by the problems at home. Another possibility may be due to the effect of bullying at school that she might have secluded herself from her peers thereby impacting her relationships and interactions with them (Cowie 2014).  Moreover, the parental issues also predispose a child to face the challenges due to negative parental influence. Lack of parental affection and guidance might lead to the adverse outcomes in children exhibited by means of their negative emotional expressions. Thus Sarah may be profoundly impacted under the effect of her parent’s divorce and hence calls for greater attention on the part of the psychologist and community health workers (Sigel, McGillicuddy-DeLisi and Goodnow 2014).

Resilience can be defines as the capacity which helps an individual to recover quickly form the different difficulties (Sandler et al. 2015). In the case study, it is seen that the child named Sarah is at a very tender age of five years during which she expects a happy family. The bond that a child share with mother or father may be of varying intensity which has developed in the child with the closeness she has shared with each of them. In this case study, it is seen that Sarah’s separation from father had deeply impacted her which states that she was into a strong bond with her father which she is missing terribly. The change that has taken place in the life of Sarah had affected her as she is not of a mature age to modify the lifestyle and her thinking in the way towards betterment. She has to first understand the change. However as she is of a very tender age, she has limited cognitive ability and therefore it is of high chance that she may develop inaccurate ideas about the entire episode as well as the cause and effect of the divorce on her lives and social systems. Therefore as a social worker, one need to watch for fear, anger as well as emotional instability of the child so that proper interventions and behavioral modifications can be planned (Hetherington 2014). The behavior would be indirectly expressed through clinginess, anxiety, whininess or general irritability should be identified. Consistent caring as well as nurturing would be extremely important for the child. Therefore as a social worker, the first responsibility would be to make the mother identify the behaviors and thereby teach her how to develop a high level nurturing relationship with the child. This would help Sarah feel a sense of stability as well as reassurance (Walsh 2015). 

It is very important for the child to be guarded by the parent and relatives in their regular routines like during meals, play, bath and bed so that the child does not feel that the separation has affected her daily schedules. The child should be made comfortable in every situation urging her to open up and ask questions so that the care takers may understand the perspective of the child and thereby takes step accordingly (Amato 2014). The child should be given enough information on a gradual basis about the changes that will take place over time. However the mother should be careful that all the information should not be imposed at once, as it may affect her negatively and may think her that she would have to compromise with the ways she used to live (Moos 2013). As Sarah is a child, she may not have the ability that her mother is caring for her in every possible ways. So it is also important for the mother to make her expressions understood by the child by clearly depicting feelings like “ I completely understand what you are going through and I know this is very upsetting? However I believe that my sweet brave princess would be strong enough to handle this?” As more and more the child grows closer to the mother, it will result in higher chance in opening up and giving up her views on the entire episode (Masten and Monn 2015).

As stated by famous psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner, the mesosystem points the disruption in relationships within each of the connections with that of the microsystem. Here it is clearly understood that due to the divorce, her relationship with her father had been affected and this had resulted in her other connections with other social functions. This include her feeling of loneliness at school where she cannot communicate with the other children as the episode of separation had made her concerned about how it will affect her regular activities and how she will not be able to spend moments with her father. Moreover, the exosystem states that if Sarah would have a stronger relationship with her father before divorce, her social relationship with mother would get affected or may result in much stronger bond. Therefore it becomes extremely important for the mother to be very careful that her activity does not create any distance with the child (Forehand and Kotchick 2016). The main steps that the mother can take in this situation are to encourage honesty where the kid must be known that her feelings are important to her parents and they take them seriously. The mother should also help her to put her feelings into words. Legitimizing the feelings of the kids and making their feelings all out is important before the mother starts offering her ways to make it better. Offering support like sitting together, taking a walk, holding a favorite stuffed animal together during plays is also very important. The mother should herself be healthy because her appearance may have emotional effect on the child making them understand their present condition (Cohen et al. 2016). Discussions of details regarding divorce should be done in privacy with friends and family members so that it does not reach the tender minds of the child because they are highly vulnerable in creating their own ideas and perceptions (Geffener 2014). The mother should resort to help whenever needed without any dilemma so that she does not need to take chances with her child (Luecken et al. 2016).

Conclusion

A divorce always brings in negative impacts on any stakeholders associated with it: be the couple undergoing separation or the children who bear the burden of the separation. Divorce often disrupts the easy flow of a normal livelihood of a family with associated interruptions in each of the individual members’ lives. Children are the ones who are highly affected with impairment of proper academic lives, social exclusion, improper emotional development, stress, improper physical health, improper relationship building with parents, emotional gap form family members and many others. Hence, the duty of the social worker would be to properly discuss the measures that should be taken by the family members and implement properly so that the child develops a better future. Proper discussion with the child about the present condition, knowing the child’s feelings and then implementing measures are more beneficial. The child must feel that everyone is loving as well as caring her and that her regular activities are less affected. The mother should be sure that she is able to accompany her in most of the times as well as influence her to see the better parts of making friends in school. Moreover the mother should act as a constant support to the child so that she does not feel that her life has changed after divorce of their parents. All the interventions will help the child to cope up with the present situation and hence come out victorious from this stressful situation.

References

Allen, B., Cisneros, E.M. and Tellez, A., 2015. The children left behind: The impact of parental deportation on mental health. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(2), p.386.

Amato, P.R., 2014. The consequences of divorce for adults and children: An update. Drustvena Istrazivanja, 23(1), p.5.

Ansell, N., 2016. Children, youth and development. Routledge.

Cohen, J.A., Mannarino, A.P. and Deblinger, E., 2016. Treating trauma and traumatic grief in children and adolescents. Guilford Publications.

Cowie, H., 2014. Relationships of children involved in bullylvictim problems at school. Making sense of social development, 3, p.120.

Dingwall, R., Eekelaar, J. and Murray, T., 2014. The protection of children: State intervention and family life (Vol. 16). Quid Pro Books.

Elkind, D., 2014. The child's reality: Three developmental themes. Psychology Press.

Fernald, L.C., Kagawa, R., Knauer, H.A., Schnaas, L., Guerra, A.G. and Neufeld, L.M., 2017. Promoting child development through group-based parent support within a cash transfer program: Experimental effects on children’s outcomes. Developmental psychology, 53(2), p.222.

Fivush, R., 2014, February. Emotional Content of Parent-Child Conversations About the. In Memory and affect in development: The Minnesota symposia on child psychology (Vol. 26, p. 39). Psychology Press.

Forehand, R. and Kotchick, B.A., 2016. Cultural Diversity: A Wake-Up Call for Parent Training–Republished Article. Behavior therapy, 47(6), pp.981-992.

Geffner, R., 2014. The effects of intimate partner violence on children. Routledge.

Hetherington, E.M. ed., 2014. Coping with divorce, single parenting, and remarriage: A risk and resiliency perspective. Psychology Press.

Hetherington, E.M., 2014. Impact of divorce, single parenting and stepparenting on children: A case study of visual agnosia. Psychology Press.

Luecken, L.J., Hagan, M.J., Wolchik, S.A., Sandler, I.N. and Tein, J.Y., 2016. A Longitudinal Study of the Effects of Child-Reported Maternal Warmth on Cortisol Stress Response 15 Years After Parental Divorce. Psychosomatic medicine, 78(2), pp.163-170.

Masten, A.S. and Monn, A.R., 2015. Child and family resilience: A call for integrated science, practice, and professional training. Family Relations, 64(1), pp.5-21.

Masten, A.S., 2014. Global perspectives on resilience in children and youth. Child development, 85(1), pp.6-20.

Moos, R. ed., 2013. Coping with life crises: An integrated approach. Springer.

Perron, N.C., 2017. BRONFENBRENNER’S ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS THEORY. College Student Development: Applying Theory to Practice on the Diverse Campus, p.197.

Rosa, E.M. and Tudge, J., 2013. Urie Bronfenbrenner's theory of human development: Its evolution from ecology to bioecology. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 5(4), pp.243-258.

Sandler, I., Ingram, A., Wolchik, S., Tein, J.Y. and Winslow, E., 2015. Long?term effects of parenting?focused preventive interventions to promote resilience of children and adolescents. Child Development Perspectives, 9(3), pp.164-171.

Sigel, I.E., McGillicuddy-DeLisi, A.V. and Goodnow, J.J. eds., 2014. Parental belief systems: The psychological consequences for children. Psychology Press.

Walsh, F., 2015. Strengthening family resilience. Guilford Publications.

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My Assignment Help. 'Developing Resilience For Sarah: A Case Study Analysis With Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory' (My Assignment Help, 2021) <https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/psyc1004-introduction-to-psychology/social-worker.html> accessed 28 February 2024.

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