Human Behavior in the Social Environment (SWK 5223)

A course at the University of Oklahoma Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work taught by Carrie Jankowski, MSSW, LCSW

Author: Ashley Lugrand (Page 1 of 2)

Community Intervention

Case study

Mindfulness and Takeaways

This week, we participated in a mindfulness exercise. Mindfulness is the process of mentally slowing down and allowing your mind to take a break from the stresses of life. The intention is a calm your thoughts, and find a few moments of peace.

As someone who struggles with anxiety and insomnia, mindfulness exercises are often cause stress for me. Quieting my mind and focusing on nothing is not something easily accomplished. I adjusted the assignment to something I knew would work a little better, and would bring a sense of calm without panic or frustration. I performed the 10 minute meditative exercise with soft piano music and the sounds of rain playing in the background. With that adjustment, I was able to spend the 10 minutes in silence, and felt recharged and relaxed following it.

I have learned quite a bit through this class and will take away two key things. The first, I will remember how empowering it can be to have the vocabulary to describe the stages of life you are going through, and how calming it can be to know that the challenges we face are shared with the majority of humanity. The second thing, is the value and the impact of epigenetics. Knowing how much of an impact the things we view as small can have will give me the drive to make changes to my own routines, and to empower my clients to make those changes themselves.

Stress Management

As suggested during my peer review,  I added more information to my “About” page and I added a little more color to the site overall. I believe these were good suggestions, and that they gave me the opportunity to add a little more of my work to my site. I was even able to use the About page to highlight a recent spoken word piece I’ve written.

Moving on to the relationship between stress and physical and mental health, Broderick (2015) found that adapting to and coping with stress is necessary throughout the life span. A lack of resilience to adverse life events is required for survival. As we have discussed in the past, patterns of stress coupled with a lack of resilience can be a contributing or causal factor in heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, depression and other mental and physical health issues. Fortunately, there are many factors that can decrease stress, including mindfulness practices, religious practices and social support.

Broderick, 2015 The Life Span

Young Adults and Intellectual/Ethical Developement

Broderick (2015) provides an overview of Perry’s Theory of Intellectual and Ethical Development. The first stage of Intellectual/Ethical development for young adults is dualism, a type of thinking that creates strict boundaries between right and wrong, with the moral compass being provided by parents and other authority figures. Personally, I believe this stage is best illustrated by myself as a teenager. My parents provided a set of rules, and those were the rules I followed, regardless of their presence.

The next stage is the multiplicity stage. This stage is reached when a young adult begins to be confronted by points of view that rival the perspectives and “truths” they have had. I remember feeling disoriented and confused while listening to a guest instructor speak about theories of evolution and their legitimacy.

Skipping over a few stages, young adults eventually move into negotiating relativism, which is a place of determining what will be believed and what will not. It de-legitimizes some ideas, and legitimizes others, giving the young adult the space to create a moral compass that matches their beliefs. I believe this stage, for me, was reached in college when I decided what I would believe about people who identify as LGBTQ and the manner in which these individuals should be treated.

Marker events that can assist young adults as they move through these stages of thinking include higher education and exposure to new ideas through work and volunteer experiences.

Broderick, The Life Span (2015)

Reflections on Adolescence and a Peer Review

During our peer review, I recommended T.J. add his resume to his site. In my opinion, having your work experience and qualifications front and center can only be a benefit. In the same vein, I recommended he change his home page on his website from his blog to his resume, so future employers don’t have to look further than his homepage to see his qualifications. Finally, I recommended he expand his About Me page, so employers or site visitors who want to find out more about him can.

One of the aspects of my adolescence that I view most positively is the authoritative parenting style my parents maintained. My parents required maturity and self-discipline and they required me to work to the best of my ability at all times. This instilled a high level of responsibility and a strong moral code.

One of the most negative aspects of my development during adolescence was a series of encounters with discrimination and racism. One of the encounters that stuck with me was a male friend of mine telling me that, while I was “pretty for a black girl” he was not interested in me because he “would never date one”. Like many black adolescents, I quickly learned how to hear those words without listening to them, adopting a neutral face and trying to seem impenetrable. Finding out that, outside my house, my ethnicity would be such a large factor when it came to determining my worth affected my self-esteem for a very long time.

Preparing for the Second Half of the Semester

As we reflect on the second half of the semester, it is important to take the time to review the tactics we use for learning and the manner in which we interact while we are gathered together. Each of us has something important to contribute to the class environment, and giving one another the space to do so is crucial to our learning.

On a personal level, the time that I take to prepare for this class should be planned out more rigidly, so I can reflect on the material. Thinking of the real-world applications to the issues brought up by the book, and carrying those into the class with me will help me to apply the concepts better, and will give me something unique to contribute to my cohort’s learning.

On a larger perspective, sharing my study resources with my class is something else I can do to enhance group learning. Typically, I keep the work I do to myself, and assume that my study habit will look odd to other people. It is possible that there are other people in the class who learn in the same way I do, and sharing those resources could prove helpful to them.

Reflections on Chapter Eight

Within American culture, the gender messages are often rooted in patriarchal thought. Boys are taught to be aggressive and girls are rewarded for behaving in a feminine, caring manner. There is no place that serves as greater evidence of this than a toy aisle.

Girls toys are typically pink, soft, and family-focused with dolls, dress up clothes and toys centered around cooking meals and caring for the home dominating the aisle. The toys typically found on an aisle catered to boys enable more aggressive play activities, like shooting, fighting, and other outdoor activities.

Fortunately, as we begin to make strides toward inclusivity, we begin to see “cross-over” toys that encourage traits like creativity, community mindedness, and problem-solving. Toys like Legos, building blocks and puzzles typically send a more gender-neutral message that focuses more on the skills being taught and less on the gender of the child engaging in the activity. Through the use of board games, we encourage children to negotiate, seek fairness, work cooperatively and stand up for themselves.

Working with these more inclusive messages, we begin to teach each child that their independence and individuality matter — two ideals that are clearly valued throughout American culture, regardless of gender.


Reflections on Chapter Six

As the world we live in continues to become more technologically advanced, questions of electronic media use will continue to be raised by concerned parents. To begin, there is some evidence that screen use for babies might be harmful, so the first thing to consider is the age appropriateness of screen time. A study completed in 2007 found that the more television children watched before age three, the more difficulty those children had regulating their attention spans at age seven. The moderating factor found in 2007 was the whether the program was educational or entertainment based. Educational program was found to have less of a harmful impact, possibly because of the care taken to ensure the programs created for this age range are mindful of things like over-stimulation and age-appropriate learning. Another negative finding of the 2007 study was that children between the ages of two and 24 months who were allowed more screen time often experienced language delays. The suggestion for this age group would be that screen time should be moderated, and options should be limited to educational programming whenever possible.

In children who are 12-30 months, screen time can actually provide some benefits. Children in this age range can learn from videos, and will imitate the actions seen on screen. Again, the caution would be the type of programs watched, as children in this age group have a difficult time separating imagination from reality. By preschool age, the benefits children can see from educational TV include school readiness, language development and beginning math skills including counting and simple addition. This learning is even greater when children are given the opportunity to talk about the programming they have watched with parents, who can easily engage in child-led conversation following their allotted screen time.


Phil Dunphee – A Permissive Parent

Phil Dunphee, one of the three “father” characters in the Modern Family television show, is a textbook example of a permissive parent. With his children, he is encouraging of their individual expression and allows his children to make decisions based on what they see as the best option. When faced with their disobedience, he is rarely angry, and attempts to understand why his children made the decisions they made. When he does run out of patience, his style of discipline is not corporal, he generally requires his children to directly address the impact their decision had on the family or community. He has done this by requiring his children to perform chores and other forms of community service or volunteering. He is very affectionate with his children, but in ways that are accepted by them, choosing to spend time with them or talk to them over other forms of physical affection.

Reflections on Chapter Four

In 1977, the New York Longitudinal Study was conducted to study certain behavioral traits of infants. From that study, psychiatrists were able to classify infants onto four “temperament types” – Difficult babies, easy babies, show-to-warm-up babies and a final category, consisting of the 35 percent of infants they were unable to classify.

With these categories, we can begin to see how caregiving behaviors can alter, mitigate, or encourage certain traits in infants. For difficult babies, those who are more fearful, more active, and keep a more irregular schedule, active and intentional care can make the child less vulnerable to the later adjustment problems that are prevalent within that category. In the case of easy babies, those who are more placid, more positive, and more regular in their schedules, effective and engaged caregivers are still necessary. While these children can tolerate a range of responsiveness without developing adverse reactions, their resilience does have a limit. Also worth noting, these children can suffer from over-stimulation if caregivers attempt to engage these children beyond the level they find comforting. Slow-to-warm-up babies are similar to difficult babies in their initial reactions, being wary of new situations, fearful, or having short attention spans. The difference is noted in the duration and intensity of their reaction. Their reactions are less intense and can be mitigated through attentive caregiving.

Given this information, it seems like a natural conclusion that some children would be easier to parent than others. This is true, but intentional parenting can always make a difference, even in the most difficult of situations.

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