How parental reactions can affect a child (Post 4)

    In the scenerio where two year old Callie falls down at the park, her initial behavior is to look for a reaction from her caregiver. She may either cry or just brush off the incident and keep playing. What can affect how she behaves  is how the caregiver reacts to her falling down. In our lectures we have discussed how influential a caregiver can be to their child. This relying on other’s emotional reactions to appraise an uncertain situation is called social referrencing (p.412)

    Social referrencing begins around eight to ten months when the infant explores and comes into uncertain situations or experiences. In a study mentioned in our text book, it noted that a parent’s emotional responses to a situation can influence whether a one-year-old child will react. This is due to the importanct of the caregiver’s tone of voice and facial expressions to a child’s understanding of the situation. As early as two years of age a child begins to have an emotional understanding of every day incidents. In this scenerio, Callie is two years old and has just fallen. From the response that is given by her caregiver Callie will react accordingly. There are a few main reactions which can effect Callie’s behavior.

   The first reaction is that the mother looks worried and sends signals to the child by putting her hands over her mouth (facial expressions), or yelling (tone of voice) and running over to Callie, or something to that effect which can make Callie become frantic and cry. Because Callie sees her mother’s worriedness and thinks the situation is serious, she will cry and become afraid.  The second reaction, is if the caregiver looks over and smiles and makes a joke or says something that would cheer Callie up. From this reaction Callie will most likely get up and continue to play with very little or no crying.

    The third reaction that I feel should be mentioned deals with our attachment discussions that we have talked about throughout the last few weeks in-class. Because there are some caregivers who are attentive and consistent with their caring for their child, the first two reactions would fall into that category. However, we have discussed the occurance of having a caregiver not respond to a child’s distress which would cause an insecure attachment of both the child and sometimes the parent. If in this case Callie falls down and her caregiver is not concerned and makes no effort to show a response Callie will most likely cry and try to get a response and soothing. Now this form of caregiving is not usually common, but because I want to mention some cases that I feel are important to a child’s reaction I decided to include it.  In conclusion,   however a caregiver responds to their child’s incident can greatly influence the behavior that the child reacts with.  


Berk, Laura. Child Development. 8th edition. p.412-413


By: Ashley Crawford


~ by crawfordashley on October 5, 2009.

One Response to “How parental reactions can affect a child (Post 4)”

  1. If Callie is like most kids, she starts to cry after falling down. I believe this to be a sign of embarrassment, not hurt or discomfort. By falling down, children are often surprised or shocked when a situation occurs that they don’t know how to react towards. This is where the parents come into play, just like Ashley stated. If the parents react calmly, the child will be calm, as well. But if the parents run frantically to the child, oooing and awwing, the child will most likely think there’s something wrong and begin to cry.

    Marissa Hayes

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