This observation project presents the naturalistic observation of a two-year-old child in the first section, and the application of the behavioral development perspective as observed on the child. In the first part of this paper, I will observe the two-year-old male child without interrupting him for the about 20-30 minutes in his playground, with the baby sitter, and when he interacts with his mother. The two-year-old child cannot properly pronounce words; though he understands the anything, he is told. I will assess the child’s behavior in the three occasions and apply the observations in the subsequent part of this paper.
Tim is a two-year-boy, and the only child of his parents. He stays at home with the house help when his parents leave for work. This observation project was carried out when the mother was at home with the house help, who bears most of the responsibilities of caring for the child. After taking his meal, Tim is left to play by himself. However, the house help watches him from a distance to ensure that he does not harm himself or destroy things in the house. Tim is always aware that the house help is always watching him as he goes around the house, so he would always want to go as far away from her as he can. During this observation project, I noticed that Tim ignores his toys and plays with the electronics in the house, switching on and off every socket and electronic. I also noticed that when the house help tells him to stop, he would always turn to another thing, but he would not listen to his mother.
In the second part of this observation, I would present the observation of the boy when he is with the house help alone. Tim seems uncomfortable yet safe with the house help. He always does things with caution when he is sure that they are only two of them: the house help and himself. I observed him take instructions with discomfort from the house help. When she tell Tim to sit he sits, or to go to bed and sleep, he would always obey. However, I observed that even though the child took the instructions without question, he wished he had another option. Tim took his meal with little difficulty when the house help fed him, and I did not see him reject the food that she was giving to him.
Observing Tim and his mother is the last section of this naturalistic observation. When Tim’s mother arrives in the house, Tim jumps out of bed and runs to his mother. He grabs the mother’s handbag and removes he phone from the bag. He also grabs his mother’s soda from her hand and starts drinking. I observed that even though Tim’s mother tries to stop him from jumping onto her, he never stops, and he is almost crying when his mother takes away the phone from him. Finally, when his mother had changed and refreshing in the langue, Tim joins him there and keeps switching off the T.V that his mother is watching. He does not stop despite his mother’s stern warnings. When the mother asks him to go back to bed and sleep, Tim ignores his mother.
I observed the tone with which the two people in this observation were addressing Tim. First, the house help addressed him with a stern and commanding voice when issuing commands, but tenderly when soothing him. However, Tim’s mother always addressed her son in a tender and lovely voice, and Tim reacted differently to the two parties of this observation. The other thing that happened differently with the participants is that the house help scared Tim with an ugly doll whenever he tried to be stubborn.
Theoretical perspective and application
According to the behavioral theories of child development, which bases upon the theories of Ivan Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner, environmental interactions influence the behavior in children. As opposed to the other child development theories that focus on the internal thoughts or feelings, this theory only consider the development as a reaction to punishments, rewards, reinforcement, and stimuli. The behavioral theory that only deals with observable behaviors purely focuses on who people are in terms of behavioral factors. According to Ivan Pavlov’s behaviorism theory, it is assumed that learning occurs through an individual’s interaction with the environment, the environment shapes the behavior, and that taking internal mental states such as thoughts, emotions, and feelings into consideration is useless in explaining behavior (Shaffer, & Kipp, 2009).
The first application of the behaviorism theory of development in this observation is the fact that the child reacts to different people in the house according to the levels with which he considers them either punitive or rewarding. This is referred to as operant or instrumental conditioning. This view associates behavior and the consequences of that behavior. For instance, when the house help or Tim’s mother asks him to go to bed and he refuses, the subsequent behavior in relation to going to bed will depend on the reaction of either party. If the house help punishes Tim for refusing to go to bed, he would always obey her, but will ignore his mother, who might not punish him for refusing to go to bed. This could also be the reason behind his reaction towards the mother and the house help differently.
According to the unconditioned stimulus and response, the house help often introduced the ugly doll to scare the child when he refused to go to bed. The child cried and ran to his bedroom to hide from the ugly doll and eventually sleep. The ugly doll introduced in this case is the unconditioned stimulus and the child’s reaction to the doll is the unconditioned response (Nye, 2000). Therefore, the child will obey the house help when she tells him to go to sleep in fear of the ugly doll, which could also be considered the punishment.
In conclusion, I discovered that behavior stems from the interaction with the environment. This concurs with the behaviorism view of behavior, which associates behavior with the environmental exposures. Different environments yielded different results on Tim. He behaved differently in different environments. In environments that the child considered punitive such as with the house help, he behaved with respect, and with defiance in friendly and rewarding environments such as his mother’s company. Stimuli also have an effect on behavior since they help in developing specific behavior. When the house help asks the child to sleep, the fear of the stimuli develops a behavior in him that always makes him respect the request. In considering the tones of addressing the child, I also observed that the child considered the tone with which the house help addressed him as punishment and his mother as rewarding.
Nye R. D., (2000), Three Psychologies: Perspectives from Freud, Skinner, and Rogers, sixth edition: Psychology Series. Stamford, Connecticut: Wadsworth Publishing.
Shaffer D. R., & Kipp (2009). Developmental Psychology: Childhood & Adolescence: Childhood and Adolescence. Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning.