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The Importance of Understanding Children's Behaviors in Schools

Question:

Discuss about the Understanding and Supporting Behavior for MHD.

In this essay, I seek to interrogate the quote by Humphrey & Wigelsworth, (2012, p. 339)"Children’s experience within school is crucial in determining their likelihood of experiencing MHD (Mental Health Disorders), but this experience is clearly individual in nature and individual differences in competencies, such as self-regulation and social success help to explain why children in similar environments may experience different levels of well-being.” I have chosen to focus on this quote for my essay because it does not seem to use a blanket approach towards the effects of a child’s experiences within school, but it recognizes that outside influences are playing a central role in the determination of the outcome of these experiences and how each individual child would handle the same or similar situations differently from each other. To align with this quote, I have chosen the Ecological Systems Theory as it analyses the child’s surrounding levels of environment to determine how the child will develop.

Based on this theory (EST), I intend to reflect on what behavior is by discussing different behaviors portrayed by students in learning environment (school) and formulating the reasons with example using the above chosen ecological system theory. To effectively approach the analysis of the above quote, it remains imperative for me to examine both the implications of mental health discussed in the quote and present possible ramifications of mental health escalations. The topic of resilience and positive psychology becomes a useful resource in informing my response and connection to the theory of ecological system.  

Ecological System Theory (EST) also known as Human Ecology Theory (HET) posit that human development is dictated by the different kinds of environmental systems (the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem). EST is helpful in understanding why people might differently behave when compared to our behavior in face of our family alongside our behaviors at school. EST is valuable based on the manner of examining individuals and impacts of various environmental system encountered by individuals (Lane & Oakes, 2015). This theory has since become an important theory which is the foundation of the theorists’ work. According to EST, it is believed that an individual’s development is affected by everything in their environment/surrounding environment. Thus behavior is defined as “observable activity of an organism; anything an organism does that involves action/or response to stimulation  

Behavior examination is based on a social constructionist viewpoint. The constructionism is initially defined and compared with a generic positive science image and then view the behavior from both perspective. The behavior analysis is more of positivist than constructionist perception (Skinner, 2012). The alignment between behavior examination and positivism arises more evidently where positivist and constructionist viewpoints are contrasted on relation between music and science. The behavior has been shown to anchor the environmental surrounding of an individual which dictates the social interactions.

The Role of Ecological System Theory in Understanding Children's Behaviors in Schools

Thus behavior is influenced by everything in the surrounding which can be well understood by the EST five phases that influence the behavior. For example, the microsystems outline all people or social agents that dictate that behavior of the people whereas the macrosystem entails the real culture a persons has to conform to as he socially and culturally interact with fellow social agents. Thus, to understand the behavior of a person, like in this case, children, we need to comprehend this based on a given setting, school in the present case.

Therefore, we can understand that children will behave based on the socio-cultural interactions in school via the available social agents (teachers, fellow students, parents, classmates and even neighbors). Because a school is a diverse context or setting, the social interactions of the children is affected not only by the student own culture but other subcultures or cultures of fellow social agents. Thus, by understanding the social-cultural construction, we need to understand the kind of behavior adopted doesn’t come from vacuum but is strictly based on social and cultural construction within a given setting (Schulte-Körne, 2016).  

"Children’s experience within school is crucial in determining their likelihood of experiencing MHD (Mental Health Disorders), but this experience is clearly individual in nature and individual differences in competencies, such as self-regulation and social success help to explain why children in similar environments may experience different levels of well-being.” From this quote, it is apparent that the behaviors demonstrated by the children in the school are individual-based. This determines the probability of children experiencing Mental Health Disorder.

Children’s behaviors is based on their competences like self-regulation and social success. Some students have been shown to be more susceptible to MHD than others. The reason is that it is apparent that some students have better competences in terms of self-regulation and social success. Children who suffer mainly from MHD have the causes attached to parental neglects or even other issues associated with disjointed families. The school thus need to understand the experience in school should be one that is informed by deeper understanding of the background of a student. This is because where school is framed in such a manner that it escalates rather than mitigate the problems facing student at home, the children will be more vulnerable to MHD.

Based on EST, the behaviors shown by the children can explained easily:

The Microsystem: This context is direct environment people have in their lives. It includes friends, families, teachers, neighbors, classmates among other individuals who have direct contact with a person. It is the context whereby children have straight social interactions such social agents (Palmer, Saviet & Tourish, 2016). EST posits that we are not just recipients of the experiences we have as we socialize with the social agents in the microsystem-environment. We are, however, great contributors of environment’s construction. This explains why some children who have competencies in self-regulation and social-success are at reduced risk of MHD than those students who lack such competencies. This means that despite being in one school, students with such competencies have higher ability to cope as they interact than those who lack the competencies 

How Individual Competencies Affect Mental Health and the Likelihood of Experiencing MHD

The Mesosystem: This encompasses the correlation between the microsystems in a person’s life. This means that a person’s family experience could be linked to his school experience. For example, where a given child becomes neglected by his parents, he might have a low opportunity of developing desired attitude towards his tutors, classmates, and even neighbors. Further, such a child might feel obstinate in the face of classmates and might revert to withdrawal from a cohort of colleagues (Neal & Neal, 20130. Such a withdrawal will lead to MHD. In this case, we can clearly attach the behavior to poor relationship between the microsystems which the lead to negative behavior because behavior is a social-cultural construct.   

The Exosystem: This is the context whereby there is a connection between the setting wherein the individual doesn’t have any active role, and that wherein is participating actively. Supposing a child remains increasingly attached to her father than her mother. Where the father travels overseas to work for many months, there might be a conflict between her and mother’s social relationship (Westley et al., 2013). On the other hand, such an event could lead to a tighter bond between the child and the mother. This is true where a given student is attached to one teacher who is then transferred to another school thus ruining his relationship with the remaining teachers. If this occurs, the possibility of the student being affected by MHD skyrockets.

The Macrosystem: It is a setting of real culture of the child. A cultural setting encompass the socioeconomic status of an individual and/or his family, his race or ethnicity and living in advanced or developing nation. For instance, being born to a poor family can make a child work harder daily. In this sense, the child will be able to acquire such desired competencies like self-regulation and hence able to cope in school without suffering from MHD (Onwuegbuzie, Collins & Frels, 2013).

The Chronosystem: It encompasses the transition alongside shifts in the lifespan of a child. This could further entail the socio-historical settings which could dictate a child. For instance, a divorce is a major life transition that affect both couples relation and their children’s behavior. Children are adversely affected on 1st year following a divorce. The subsequent years following divorce unearth the interaction within family becomes increasingly agreeable and stable. Therefore, students who are highly impacted with divorce will be vulnerable to MHD. In this case, their competencies like self-regulation and social success will be hampered (DuPaul & Jimerson, 2014).    

Conclusion

To this end, Ecological System Theory (EST) has been very instrumental in helping me analyze the quote. It is apparent from the analysis that behavior is a socio-cultural construct. Within schools, it is true that children’s experience is crucial in determining their likelihood of experiencing MHD (Mental Health Disorders). Children with competencies like self-regulation and social success are resilient to MHD than those who lack such competencies. The implication from the revelation is that the school must understand every child’s background in order to provide a customized-based service that promotes self-regulation and social success to help prevent MHD amongst students.

References

DuPaul, G. J., & Jimerson, S. R. (2014). Assessing, understanding, and supporting students with ADHD at school: Contemporary science, practice, and policy.

Lane, K. L., & Oakes, W. P. (2015). Supporting behavior for school success: A step-by-step guide to key strategies. Guilford Publications.

Neal, J. W., & Neal, Z. P. (2013). Nested or networked? Future directions for ecological systems theory. Social Development, 22(4), 722-737.

Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Collins, K. M., & Frels, R. K. (2013). Foreword: Using Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory to frame quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research. International journal of multiple research approaches, 7(1), 2-8.

Palmer, M., Saviet, M., & Tourish, J. (2016). Understanding and Supporting Grieving Adolescents and Young Adults. Pediatric Nursing, 42(6), 275.

Schulte-Körne, G. (2016). Mental health problems in a school setting in children and adolescents. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 113(11), 183.

Skinner, N. (2012). Ecological systems theory.

Westley, F., Tjornbo, O., Schultz, L., Olsson, P., Folke, C., Crona, B., & Bodin, Ö. (2013). A theory of transformative agency in linked social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society, 18(3).

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