9 May 2022


Theoretical Perspectives on Early Life

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Academic level: Master’s

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Childhood development is a very important part of human development. The way child develops reflects the quality of his adult life. A child who goes through different stages successfully is more likely to become a healthy strong person during his adolescent and adult stages. This means that if a parent wants to nurture productive and health generation, they should start right from the time a child is born through adolescent stage. Despite all these, most parents don’t understand some of the aspects or factors to consider as far as child development is concerned. Ideally, there are three key factors to consider. 

One of the factors to consider is micro factors. Micro factors include the inherent or intrinsic factors such as the health of the child. The second factor to consider is mezzo. Mezzo factors include the immediate surrounding of the child. The components of mezzo factors include the family members, the financial status of family members as well as the family structure. Mezzo is used to describe the home environment where the child is raised in (Davies, 2010). The last factor to consider is the macro environment (Davies, 2010). Macro environment is used to describe external forces that may influence the growth of the child. The components of this environment include the politics, religion and institutions such as schools and economy in general. Understanding these factors can enable one gauge whether the growth of a particular child is good or appropriate. 

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There are also several theories that can be used to evaluate the progress of a child and suggest the quality of his or her life. Some of these theories include the attachment theory proposed by John Bowlby, and Mahler et al theory, which encompasses theories such as Vgotsky theory, Erickson’s theory, Freud theory, Bandura et al theory and also Kohlberg theory. There are also theories that can be used to describe the coping strategies a child apply. Some of these theories include life course perspective and risk and resilience perspective. Referring to these theories, the paper intends to analyze, evaluate, judge and suggest Sullivan’s life. The paper will predict whether Sullivan is progressing or developing positively or whether there is a cause of alarm. 

Summary of Sullivan’s life

Sullivan is an individual who experienced a fairly good life. Virtually all the micro factors elements are positive since the time Sullivan was born. For example, the table reveals that Sullivan had good health during the time he was born. His health remained good until when he was six years. Similarly, other micro factors such as emotional well-being, nurturing relationship and capacity to learn were all good from the time he was born until when he reaches six years. As far as Mezzo factors is concerned, Sullivan was also lucky in the sense that his parents are working, educated and are Christians. The focus on balanced diets was highly observed. Consequently, he grew up with a lot of vigor. Additionally, the focus on a closer interaction and provision of a safe care by his babysitter did help a lot in stabilizing his psychological growth and development (Edward et a., 1991). Parents and all the people around his home ensured that every one of them smiled, embraced each other, and saw their needs satisfied. Lack was thus never witnessed in his early life (Hutchison, 2011). The problem is that his parents were away most of the time. This means that the limited time he had to stay with his parents was characterized by competition for attention from his siblings. They all yearned to be heard, and their needs responded to just he as did too. Consequently, this made him be often aggressive and unreasonable in seeking his mother or father's attention and concern. Being the youngest, he saw it their responsibility to attend to him first. Therefore, he often cried, fought, and resisted anyone trying to pull him away from them. This rivalry for attention instilled in him a trait of being sensitive and protective of what belongs to him.

Macro factors were also favorable throughout Sullivan’s childhood. Despite the fact that everything seems okay, it is unsound to conclude that Sullivan will not have any problem in his life. In order to make sound conclusion, it is important to analyze these factors using existing theories on child development. 

Theoretical approaches to Sullivan’s life

A number of theories can be used to understand Sullivan’s life. The paper will focus on the attachment theory, life course approach, and coping mechanism theories. Attachment theory is one of the theories that can help us in understanding and predicting the social life of Sullivan. 

Attachment theory

Attachment theory is a survival strategy for infants and young children that they develop with their caregivers. Attachment theory determines the engagement of the child to the caregivers. It should be noted that infant and young child, in most cases is helpless and hence an infant often create some way of seeking help when he or she is in danger. Some of the signals include cries, approaching and clinging to the caregiver and also vocalization. These signals are often focused on specific caregiver, which is usually the mother or any person who has been consistently responsive to the infant’s. Attachment theory maintains that the caregiver who is protective is more likely to form a close bond with the child (Edward et al., 1991). Therefore, this theory is highly concerned on how a child can withstand the challenges and difficulties arising from such interpersonal relations. For example, a child separated from loved ones faces a lot of relational dissatisfactions. However, they have to learn and adopt measures that help them come out of such pain and difficulties. The attachment theory can be used to explain why Sullivan was closer to caregiver more than his parents. 

The closeness ought to receive a higher degree of trust and satisfaction (Edward et al., 1991). They establish these relations based on the proximity of the persons they relate to always. They also have to be motivated by those they are close to establishing and find trust in them (Hutchison, 2011). It is achieved through the use to encouraging acts like smiling (Edward et al., 1991). The children learn to appreciate their friendliness and thus get into constructive relations with them. They only through their relations with others the need to share feelings and emotions.

According to attachment theory, children often take the people they are close to as the sources of their protection and emotional support (Hutchison, 2011). Consequently, the child gets the chances to live out of the harsh situations through the help of these individuals. The most witnessed persons who children establish such helpful relations are the caregivers. It is because they are always close to them. Most of their time is spent with these individuals. Because caregiver was closer to Sullivan, he took her as a source of protection and that is why he always associate with her more than his parents. 

Consequently, this theory demands that the caregivers help the children in establishing and sustaining positive relations (Hutchison, 2011). They are important in the child's development and thus, ought to be understanding, friendly, and insightful (Edward et al., 1991). It is especially so when considered that there are a lot of information one can draw from the life and experiences of a child. For instance, they should set aside fifty percent of their time to help children learn, interact, and appreciate them. Through this, a child's relational, emotional, psychological, and even mental stability is guaranteed.

Interestingly, the theory reveals that the child is unable to exit or resist insensitive, ineffective, and threatening relationships. Consequently, they have to learn some skills on how they can adjust to fit in the relations (Edward et al., 1991). They have to manage themselves as appropriately as possible to get in the relationship. However, research has demonstrated that children have different adjustment strategies that enable them to achieve this goal (Hutchison, 2011). The ability of a child to get a proper adjustment is a result of their earlier environments.

Consequently, the children who never got exposed to the right environments at their more initial stages of development. Furthermore, more initial relations determine the child's success in establishing, maintaining, and properly utilizing the subsequent relationships. A child who experiences secure attachments at an early stage will be fond of getting into more relations in future. Furthermore, they will be easy victims of malicious relations (Edward et al., 1991). It is contrary to those who get introduced to anxious-ambivalent attachments, anxious-avoidant attachments, and disorganized attachments. However, secure attachments are considered excellent and productive in a child's relational, emotional, psychological, and mental growth.

As far as Sullivan’s life is concerned, it is clear that Sullivan was more engaged to the caregiver than his parents. Sullivan's childhood life was characterized with more time spend with the caregiver than with his parents. Consequently, he established closer relations with her than his parents. She was a humble, trustworthy, but hot-tempered person. Therefore, she managed to extend him the best environment to build and retain good relations with her. For instance, she dressed him up, fed him, and disciplined him when he faltered. Her closeness made him got the opportunity to investigate and establish the best strategies he can utilize in making her closer. She supports to realizing this made the two of them strongly bonded. Therefore, a secure attachment was a characteristic of our relation.

Mahler et al (1991) reveals that that child’s identity takes place at all stages of child development and is influenced by the interaction between the need for independence and the control of social forces such as the child’s parents, teachers and peers. This is why Sullivan develop characters that resembles that of the caregiver. He develop a sense of loyalty and a sense of trust in the relations because his caregiver was loyal and trustworthy. Furthermore, her support made him feel and understand the need to be equally supportive in future relations (Hutchison, 2011). For instance, he finds it easy to interact with people and in ensuring that every person close to him is at home with my relations. He never takes the presence of people around him for granted. Instead, he prides itself in their happiness and in their capacity to influence his life too. Consequently, she transformed his relational life for the better (Edward et al., 1991).

One way she helped in emphasizing to him the need to grow up a highly social and instrumental person in future was through her sacrifices to see him happy and healthy in the relationship (Edward et al., 1991). For example, she could willingly avoid reprimanding him harshly. Furthermore, she could utilize more subtle but effective strategies to bring him back into the relationship after she disciplines him. For instance, she could buy him a cake or smile to him (Edward et al., 1991). These positive gestures amazingly won him back into the relationship. She always endeavored to make him feel appreciated and satisfied in the relationship. This is despite the fact that he often curtailed the realization of healthy relations through his childish deeds. Consequently, he grew up to cherish and uphold an emotionally, psychologically, and mentally productive relationships. Those that never hinders one's realization of peace and happiness (Davies, 2010).

The fact that his parents did not have enough time to stay and be with him at home was compensated by her closeness and friendliness (Edward et al., 1991). She offered him the best environment that would go a long way in determining who he is today. Her knowledge of her roles, her need to adjust to fit into his relational needs and her vigilance on his behavior is worth appreciating. Therefore, she is one of the persons he strongly values in his life for being there for him when he most wanted her.

Life course approach

Another way of understanding Sullivan’s life is life course approach. The theory studies the early childhood development within structural, social, and social spheres (Hutchison, 2011). Consequently, it provides a wider spectrum from which one’s growth and development can be viewed, studied, and understood. It utilizes the lessons from one’s early life in understanding one’s future life. The environments that one grows in at their early life thus take significance in this approach. They are both the sources and sustainers of behavior and motives. Therefore, a person with a healthy early life environment can be said to have a higher chance of possessing excellent and adorable traits (Hutchison, 2011).

Therefore, this approach emphasizes the need for parents, caregivers and even teachers to provide the best home and school environments to young children (Hutchison, 2011). It will help in exposing them to safe and productive environments that foster their growth and development. A child has a subsequent development where they learn and inculcates new life ideas as they grow. Therefore, appropriate conditions ought to be extended to enhance their adoption of best and necessary traits and skills (Hutchison, 2011).

The approach thus takes note of many social, economic, sociological, and demographic. Biological and health factors in understanding a young person's growth and development (Hutchison, 2011). Furthermore, this theory explains the link between the presence or absence of positive early life environment and the future life embraced by a person (Hutchison, 2011). Therefore, history, sociology, developmental psychology, biology, and economics among other disciplines are essential in providing crucial information on a family's, ethnic groups, or community's environments and how they contribute to the perceivable behaviors among members.

It is a theory that treats early life growth and development as highly dependent on the prevailing social, economic, demographic, and political situations, human impacts on the young person's life, and the radical changes one encounters as they grow. For example, a home environment is highly responsible for the lifetime traits that one portrays. Additionally, these traits are often learned from other members within or without the family like relatives and friends. They significantly share their worldviews and influence upon the young and growing persons. Consequently, the subsequent generations may possess the qualities of their predecessors (Davies, 2010). It is only the irresistible changes that are evident societies that introduce alterations of previously learned behaviors and customs.

Consequently, this theory demonstrates and explains the importance of time, context, process, and meaning in shaping and characterizing human development. Further, the dominant characteristics of the home environments determine the nature of the general family life. Therefore, there are the micro and macro environments both having an immense impact on the individual and family life. The family represents a smaller context influencing a child's growth and development (Hutchison, 2011). The general society represents the macro environment imposing a significant impact on the family and individual life. 

Sullivan’s case reveals that his home environment promoted a healthier growth and development. The fact that his parents had a good source of income found time to be with him and ensured that they hire a caregiver fostered proper development. He never experiences traumatizing situations such as hunger and neglect. He was provided with positive behavioral models to encourage his emotional, psychological, and mental growth. Consequently, his home environment has had significant impacts on his present life (Hutchison, 2011). For example, his parents ensured that all his basic needs as a child were met. Additionally, the caregiver did all she can to make sure that all was well with him. Consequently, he grew to be an emotionally, physically, and psychologically stable person.

Additionally, his home environment enhanced his capacity to create, interact, and appreciate other person's presence in his life (Hutchison, 2011). Consequently, he can easily establish relations, maintain them, and ensure that nothing goes wrong with the others' wellbeing. He was highly concerned with the others' pain, suffering, frustrations, and happiness. Therefore, he takes it his responsibility to see them happy and productive (Davies, 2010). His parents fostered this through their dedication to church and service to others. New faces almost on a day-to-day basis frequented his home. His parents seemed happy and satisfied when they welcomed visitors. Similarly, he finds it easy to relate with strangers, as he knows the key strategies to establish and promote good and healthy relations (Hutchison, 2011).

Thirdly, his home environment fostered in him a sense of loyalty and gratitude. His parents always emphasized the need for them to respect and adhere to family codes. They ensured that his needs are met and at the same time provided that he grew up respectful and loyal (Davies, 2010). Consequently, he finds it easy to adhere to any setting characterized by strict observance and adherence to rules and regulations. Hence, it has enabled him to avoid unnecessary conflicts with the rest of society (Hutchison, 2011). Furthermore, the easy adjustment to new and restrictive environments has saved him from the emotional and psychological strain. It is because he finds observance of the law a usual encounter. Consequently, he never struggles to achieve his goals in such environments.

Furthermore, the environment he was exposed to during his early life has enabled him to demonstrate a constant, unrelenting focus on attainment of targets (Hutchison, 2011). His parents often emphasized the need to be disciplined in the pursuit of goals (Hutchison, 2011). For instance, they could reluctantly get him out of mildly painful situations (Hutchison, 2011). They could do this intentionally to foster in him a sense of independence and objectivity. Furthermore, they consistently rewarded any attempt he successfully staged to get out of the challenging situations they placed him in. Consequently, he is a hard working individual who is always focused on achieving meaningful results (Hutchison, 2011). He never gives excuses to justify any careless move towards the set goals. He only gives attention to the significant targets he has set.

However, the fact he often competed for their attention with his siblings has had a significantly negative impact on his relations with his siblings. For instance, he least finds time to be with each other. Furthermore, he still perceives them as potential threats to his realization of happiness and satisfaction. However, he has changed his attitude towards them (Hutchison, 2011). These changes came as a result of his understanding of their significances in his life. For example, he has come to realize how dull it would be for him to be happy and satisfied without them. They come in handy in helping him realize his faults and strengths (Hutchison, 2011). They make his world complete through their jokes and compliments. Consequently, time has taught him the need to appreciate and adore their support. They are instrumental in his pursuits of success.

Risk and Resilience Perspective to Early Childhood Growth and Development

Attachment theory revealed that the child is unable to exit or resist insensitive, ineffective, and threatening relationships. It adds that such children have to learn some skills on how they can adjust to fit in the relations (Edward et al., 1991). They have to manage themselves as appropriately as possible to get in the relationship. Davies (2010) helps in uncovering how children learn or adjust given that they are unable to exit insensitive relationships. According to Davies (2010), children raised in harsh social environment need to learn how to adopt a more protective and positive way to cope with negative growth and development environments. The negative impacts constitute the risks in the child's environment (Edward et al., 1991). On the other hand, the positive avenues learned to avoid the harsh impacts of the negative environment constitute a coping strategy best known as a resilience strategy (Davies, 2010). It is a way through which a child learns to function properly within their environments despite the prevailing adverse conditions (Edward et al., 1991). Therefore, development of sufficient resilience guarantees the child a sense of peace and thus a chance to grow and develop properly.

However, the development of resilience ought not to be seen as an instant trait. Instead, it should be regarded as a process that often takes a significant length of time. A child gets to know of the principal disadvantage in the environment and the ways to avoid them. Furthermore, it is evident in most human's beings (Davies, 2010). One faces a harsh or dissatisfying experience and learns on the need to obtain a mechanism through which they can avoid their negatives. Consequently, resilience perspective is a way through which a young child attains balance and proper functioning after facing and enduring a negative environmental experience.

As far as Sullivan’s case is concerned, we get to learn that Sullivan’s mother was very busy and emotional. As a result, Sullivan was often the recipient of her frustrations and anger. For example, she could leave him crying to attend to other house chores (Davies, 2010). She did so to ensure that not all the family life comes to a halt as she responds to his demands. Furthermore, she resolutely stood her ground when it comes to him adhering to her commands. She never hesitated to discipline him when he refused to eat or broke glasses. She ensured that he regretted any ill-intentioned act (Edward et al., 1991). 

Consequently, he had to learn the best ways to avoid her wrath. He had to learn never to break the glass and to avoid crying too often. Furthermore, he learned how to utilize distance as a way of coping up with her beatings (Davies, 2010). For example, he could follow his siblings as they made rounds around the house. It is despite the fact that he was unable to keep pace with them. They gave him a chance to be away from her. However, she often came after him, as she feared he might get hurt. Consequently, he ended up annoying her further.

Secondly, his parents did not like any act that counters their set rules and regulations. For example, they expected all the children to be well mannered and highly respectful. Consequently, they never expected anyone of them to misbehave when visitors were in (Davies, 2010). For instance, they never tolerated crying when visitors were around (Edward et al., 1991). Any move that countered their expectations was highly punished. Consequently, due to his constant urge to be around them and completely stop my siblings from being around them, he often received their beatings. They did so to show him the need to remain calm and discipline especially when visitors were around.

Therefore, he learned the need to stay away from his parents when visitors came around. He could just follow his siblings outdoors. Additionally, he could ensure that they do not see him cry. It is because such an act would have landed him in trouble (Davies, 2010). Therefore, he learned how to conceal his frustrations and postpone my demands (Davies, 2010). He could wait until visitors had gone to seek their concern and attention. Consequently, this mechanism provided him with a pathway through which he escaped their anger and punishments.

Parents’ Perspective

Sullivan’s parents expressed their satisfactions in the way Sullivan was growing up. They liked his health vigor and psychological stability (Hutchison, 2011). However, they are a bit worried about their son's emotional growth and development. They regretted their extended stays away from home. Therefore, they did promise to find a way they can compensate the time they remain away from Sullivan (Edward et al., 1991). They do all this with an intention of ensuring that Sullivan grows up to be a holistically healthy person. They further vowed to make sure that all Sullivan's needs are provided. For instance, they realized the need to educate further their home caregiver on how she can best contribute towards helping Sullivan grow emotionally, physically, and psychologically stable. 


I have learned a lot from this course's contents. First, I have understood that one's early childhood environment is paramount in shaping their whole life. A healthy home environment facilitates their emotional, psychological, and mental stability. Consequently, they grow up to be highly productive and reliable individuals in the future. Therefore, there is need to extend every child a healthy home and school environment for their growth and development. Secondly, I have learned that children learn how to adjust to low settings. They do so to fit the relational circles. Consequently, they learn how to strike emotional, psychological, and mental balance despite the persisting challenges. However, the way they adapt to these conditions vary from child to child. Consequently, it's nice to offer children the best environments to limit their strain. Thirdly, I have learned that a parent or a caregiver ought to know how best to adjust their routines to promote a child's growth and development. Through this, a child's healthy living and growth is enhanced.

Caregivers and all the people close to the child ought to possess good traits necessary for the holistic development of the child. These traits include friendliness, tolerance, and trustworthiness among others. Parents should thus be careful as they get and assign responsibilities to caregivers. This reduces the risks of them giving child care responsibilities to irresponsible, unfriendly, and careless individuals. Additionally, it reduces the risks of them allocating too much house chores to the caregivers at the expense of child care. Adherence to all these promotes child’s comprehension of his or her environment and thus their much needed healthy growth and development. Parents are highly responsible for bringing the best out of their children through good nurturing. 


Child growth and development is highly sensitive and productive in the future life if well managed by parents and caregivers (Hutchison, 2011). For instance, a child who is exposed to healthy home environments grows holistically and thus responsive to positive future living (Hutchison, 2011). Consequently, they can easily realize a more healthy and satisfying life than those who fail to get productive home environments (Davies, 2010). For example, the home environment is highly responsible for a child's development and appreciation of healthy and benefiting relationships (Edward et al., 1991). Consequently, they can utilize their relational skills to form and be part of healthy relationships in future. Therefore, the environment that one is exposed to at their early life is a determinant of the life they are going to lead after that.


Burke, E., Danquah, A., & Berry, K. (2016). A Qualitative Exploration of the Use of Attachment Theory in Adult Psychological Therapy. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 23 (2), 142-154.

Davies, D. (2010). “Chapter 1: Attachment as a context of attachment” in Davies, D. (2010). Child Development, Third Edition: A Practitioner's Guide / Edition . Guilford Publications, Inc.

Davies, D. (2010). “Chapter 3: Risk and Protective Factors: The Child, Family and Community Contexts” in Davies, D. (2010). Child Development, Third Edition: A Practitioner's Guide / Edition . Guilford Publications, Inc. 

Edward, J., Ruskin, N. & Turrini, P. (1991). “Chapter 1: Forerunners of Separation-Individuation: Autism and Symbiosis” in Edward, J., Ruskin, N. & Turrini, P. (1991). Separation / Individuation: Theory and Application . New York, NY: Routledge Press 

Edward, J., Ruskin, N. & Turrini, P. (1991). “Chapter 2: The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant: Normal Development differentiation and practicing sub-phases” in Edward, J., Ruskin, N. & Turrini, P. (1991). Separation / Individuation: Theory and Application, New York, NY: Routledge Press

Edward, J., Ruskin, N. & Turrini, P. (1991). “Chapter 3: The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant: Rapprochement and the Fourth Sub-phase” in Edward, J., Ruskin, N. & Turrini, P. (1991). Separation / Individuation: Theory and Application. New York, NY: Routledge Press

Hutchison, D. E. (2011). “A life Course Perspective” in Hutchison, D. E. (2011). Dimensions of Human Behavior: The Changing Life Course (4th ed ). New York, NY: Sage Publications

Hutchison, D. E., & Charlesworth, L. W. (2011). “Chapter 2: Theoretical Perspectives on Human Behaviour” in Hutchison, D. E. (2011). Dimensions of Human Behavior: The Changing Life Course (4th ed). New York, NY: Sage Publications

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