Infant And Toddlers To Explore Their Environment Essay

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Infant And Toddlers To Explore Their Environment Essay

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Infant Toddler Environments

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In another corner, two 18 months old girls named Kaia and Katherine were pretending to cook and feed their baby dolls. As the other two 2 year old toddlers named Lily and Sonni dressed up their dolls and brushed their hair. The three infants named James, Jeannie and Gabby who are about 6 months to 8 months old were sitting in the same room on the other side of the carpet and playing with some colorful blocks with one of the teachers.

Emma decided to go where James was at and teach him how to build with the blocks. She would put one block on top of the other while James handed her the blocks. Both Jeannie and Gabby also tried giving Emma their blocks too. Emma clapped and the infants did too. In another section of the room I observed three toddler boys playing. Their names are Hunter Ramone and Evan. One of the boys, Evan, had just turned three years old and the other two boys Hunter and Ramone were just two years old.

The Evan wanted to lead and control the play. They were pretending to play superheros. They acted as if they could run really fast, fly or throw beams from their hands. Evan would make suggestions on what to play and the others would follow along. Also, when Hunter tried to leave and go to another area, the older toddler guided him with his own type of language back to the group. The last thing I observed before I left the facility was Gabby and a Lily playing and interacting with each other. They were both playing with some sort of plush toys really enjoying and exploring them. They were making eye contact with one another, returning their smiles, making gestures, reaching to communicate with each other. When Gabby dropped her toy she was playing with, Lily picked it up and handed it to her and the Gabby nicely received it from her with a smile and they continued to play and explore with their toys.

Next time I arrived at meal time to observe them. The teacher rang a bell for lunch time. Toddlers and infants were allowed to interact with each other during meal time. Infants were in their high chairs and toddlers were seated near them. The toddlers all sat down on their assigned seats. A teacher handed out their plates, cups, and spoons. The teacher gave Evan the napkins and he passed them out. For lunch it was mac n chesse Some waited patiently while others yelled or made noises demanding their food as one of the teachers served them.

The infants were not patient. Jeannie and Gabby were crying and James was banging on his high table and making loud random noises to attract his teachers. The teacher arrived with their puree food. At the toddler table, the teacher read to them while they ate. The other two teachers were helping feed the babies while singing to them. This calmed Jeannie and James. Gabby was still fussy. Evan and Emma finished their meals faster than the other children. They went over to the teacher and asked if they could help feed James and Gabby. The teacher took Gaby from the rocker and sat down at the carpet with Emma, She handed Emma a bottle. She then feed Gabby with the bottle, of course with adult supervision. Emma was talking to Gabby. The other teacher then decided to get James off the high chair and sit with the Gabby and Emma so Evan can help feed James.

As the teacher held James in her arms Evan feed him the bottle. Evan had this huge grin on his face. In the first of his two longitudinal studies of temperament, begun in , he followed children from the age of 4 months and gave them a set of neuropsychological tests when they were between 13 and One test, called the spatial-cuing task, measures vigilance and the ability to disengage attention from a perceived threat. It shows two faces briefly on a computer screen, one on each side — the same face looking threatening on one side and pleasant on the other.

The faces fade away, and an arrow appears on one side of the screen, sometimes on the side the threatening face had been on, sometimes on the other. The subject must notice the arrow and press a button to indicate whether the arrow points up or down. Adults with clinical anxiety consistently are faster at pressing the correct button if the arrow is on the side of the screen where the threatening face had been, and slower if the arrow is on the other side.

Non-anxious adults show no such subconscious preference. A similar result came from another test Fox gave his subjects, called the potentiated startle response. In this test, teenagers are placed in front of a screen and told that when the screen is blue, there is a chance a puff of air will be blasted at their throats — a sensation that, Fox assured me, is surprising and uncomfortable but not painful. All subjects have a robust startle response when the blue screen is on, which reflects the fact that they are tensing up in anticipation of that uncomfortable air puff.

But anxiety-prone kids startle just as much with the green, supposedly safe screen. They stay on guard, anxious and wired, even when the situation is not threatening. Again, this finding held no matter how the subjects behaved in real life — and no matter how they were feeling while the test was taking place. While they were in the scanner, Pine showed them pictures of fearful faces. Sometimes he told them to try to measure how wide the nose was — in other words, to focus on a detail that is emotionally neutral. Other times he told them to think about how afraid they felt looking at the person in the picture.

Teenagers who were in the group at low risk for anxiety showed no increase in activity in the amygdala when they looked at the face, even if they had been told to focus on their own fear. But those in the high-risk group showed increased activity in the amygdala when they were thinking about their own feelings though not when they were thinking about the nose. Once again, this pattern was seen in anxiety-prone youngsters quite apart from whether they had problems with anxiety in their daily lives. Temperamental type tends to reveal itself not only in functional M.

At the time, they were 18 years old. Baby 19 was part of the sample; Mary was asked to participate, but she declined. He found that the subjects who were high-reactors at 4 months tended to show significant thickening in the prefrontal cortex compared to those who were low-reactors. He is still trying to work out the exact meaning of this fingerprint; he cannot yet tell, for instance, whether a thicker cortex is a cause of a high-reactive temperament, or an effect, or something else entirely.

One job of the prefrontal cortex is inhibitory, putting a damper on signals that come from the amygdala. Could it be that the cortex thickens more in the anxiety-prone as it is busy tamping down the overactive amygdala and growing new neural connections? Or does a thicker cortex come first, and contribute to a tendency to be anxious in the first place? One way Schwartz tried to untangle his uncertainties was by winnowing from his sample the 14 subjects who had ever been given a diagnosis of social-anxiety disorder. What was left, presumably, were 62 young people who all functioned just fine, at least in the sense of never having suffered from social anxiety.

Schwartz reviewed their brain images, and the difference between the cortical thickening in the high-reactive group and the low-reactives not only remained; it also became more pronounced. One explanation of this could be that a thicker cortex is protective in the anxiety-prone. He surmises that those 14 subjects who developed problems did so in part because their cortex was thinner, and the high-reactives who had avoided social anxiety had the thickest cortexes of all. So what do these brain-anxious young people report about their state of mind? Anxiety, remember, can occur at three levels: brain, behavior and subjective experience. Were the ones whose brains looked anxious on the M. Pine told me that his subjects often admit, after the fact, that they had been more afraid during the experiment than they said at the time — leaving him unsure what conclusions to draw.

To make the anxiety-provoking lab challenge more authentic and emotionally charged, Pine and his colleagues at the N. They created a set of potential chat-room partners for their subjects: smiley, fictitious teenagers, complete with sham MySpace pages. The setup was that the other kids would eventually tell the subjects in the scanner whether they did or did not want to chat with them. The scans were taken, then, while the subjects were lying still, awaiting the verdict. In a handful of pilot experiments, this has proved to be an emotionally significant challenge for teenagers with social anxiety.

The anxious youngsters, while waiting to hear from one of the pretend teenagers they wanted to avoid, showed more reactivity in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Still, tracking the anxious mind, even with a more realistic experimental setup, means having the subject lie in an M. Brain scans and other lab findings might reflect something deep and persistent going on in the anxious mind.

But if you have learned to control your behavior, to structure your life so you can limit triggers and cope with your emotional skittishness, how much does it really matter? Many environmental factors no doubt come into play — some of them malleable, some less so. Behaviorally inhibited children were much more likely to have older siblings: two-thirds of them did, compared with just one-third of the uninhibited children. Could having older siblings, he and his co-authors wondered, mean being teased and pushed, which becomes a source of chronic stress, which in turn amplifies a biological predisposition to inhibition?

Kagan never replicated this finding, as intriguing as it was — which shows how difficult it can be to tease out which environmental factors are relevant, and which turn out to be incidental. Fox, meanwhile, noted that the high-reactive babies who went to day care when they were young were significantly less fearful at age 4 than were the high-reactives who stayed home with their mothers.

Attempts to see what kind of parenting works best with an anxiety-prone temperament leave almost as many questions asked as answered. Which is better for a fearful, high-strung child — a parent who coddles the child and says everything will be all right, or a parent who sets firm, strict limits and has no tolerance for skittishness? You could picture it as going either way, really. On the one hand, it might be good to shield children from the things that worry them. On the other hand, it might be better to urge them, maybe even force them, to confront the things they dread. Both studies involved a series of home visits and hours of videotapes of mother-baby interactions. The best outcome, however it happens, is to rear a child who learns to wrestle his demons on his own.

Some children figure out themselves what works best. I realized it was simply because of my anxiety that I was feeling sick. As soon as I realized that, the stomachache went away. Because I now understand my predisposition toward anxiety, I can talk myself out of simple fears. For the children who need help grappling with their fears, some psychologists try to intervene early, with programs that give worried children tools for quieting the scary thoughts in their heads. Kids are often taught the same skills that anxious adults are, a variation on cognitive behavior therapy, designed to stop the endless recursive loop of rumination, replacing it with a smart, rational interior voice. But then I worry about worrying about irrational things. It is a never-ending cycle.

I guess we both happen to be lucky that our method is adaptive. But there could be some physiological differences between the adapters and the nonadapters, too. Baby 19, for instance, ran into some problems as she grew up. Get Inspired with Publications. Meet and Grow. Learn About Events. Ensure Quality for Children and Educators. Learn About Quality. Take Action. Become the active, engaged, and informed early learning advocate that you want to be! Find your professional community through Interest Forums and online communities. Join the Conversation.

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