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Caring for Children 4 Child Development Theories That Can Help You Better Care for Children

A few recognized theories can provide useful insights on early development that will help you better care for children.

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Have you ever wondered what motivates thoughts and behaviors in children? Our understanding of human nature and child development is continually advancing but all children are different, and no one has all the answers. However, a few recognized theories can provide useful insights on early development that will help you better care for children.

woman with babyDuring our early years of infancy through childhood, we develop the basis of our intelligence, personality, social behavior, and capacity to learn. Four theories are worth reviewing and include attachment, psychosocial, cognitive development, and sociocultural theory.

1. Attachment Theory (Bowlby): This theory’s centers around strong emotional and physical bonds that create a sense of security in a child. Bonds are established with caregivers who are available and responsive to an infant’s needs. Thus, the infant knows the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to explore their surroundings.

Example: Six-month-old Jordan enjoys infant toys and interacting with others. Confident that crying brings help, Jordan responds to anyone and gets upset when someone stops interacting with him.

2. PsychoSocial Development Theory (Erikson): In this theory, social development occurs in stages based on turning points in a person’s life including hope (birth to age 2), will (ages 2-4), purpose (ages 4-5), competence (ages 5-12), fidelity (ages 13-19), love (ages 20-39), care (ages 40-64), and wisdom (ages 65+).

older woman reading to children

Example: Two-year-old Jennifer has recently begun squirming and saying “no” when her Nanny tries to secure her in her car seat. Jennifer has begun to develop a sense of self, separate from her caregivers. Her Nanny must consistently set limits and follow through with Jennifer, to keep her safe and secure while riding in the car. The Nanny can increase Jennifer’s willingness to comply by providing specific praise along with allowing Jennifer to pick a special toy to hold whenever she gets into her car seat without resistance. Selecting her own clothers will also help Jennifer gain more independence.

3. Cognitive Developmental Theory (Piaget): This theory is based on a four-stage model describing how the mind processes new information. The stages are sensorimotor (birth to age 2), preoperational (ages 2-7), concrete operational (ages 7-11), and formal operations (ages 12+).

Example: Five-year-old Zachary is still egocentric and struggles to see the perspective of others but is starting to think symbolically and use words to represent objects. Zachary loves reading and is building a foundation of language. As this stage, caregivers should continue to read books daily, encourage pretend play, share logical thinking. By explaining that it’s winter time as grandma’s house and thus, a coat is needed will help Zachary, who lives in Texas, understand why a coat is being packed in the suitcase.

child holding puzzle piece

4. Sociocultural Theory (Vygotsky): This developmental theory evolves from children’s interactions with tools and other people in their social environment. Community, culture, and interactions are key to child development and learning.

Example: Seven-year-old Alex is struggling to solve a jigsaw puzzle. By interacting with an adult, Alex learns how to separate out the edge pieces, put together the border, and sort the interior pieces by color or design. By working with an adult, Alex develops skills that can be applied to future jigsaw puzzles.

There are other childhood theories that can help parents and other caregivers by teaching them how to spend more enjoyable time with their child, reinforce positive skills, monitor behavior and set limits, and reduce the use of harsh discipline methods. These essential caregiving skills help children develop pro-social behavior, self-regulation, and other skills they need to be successful in school and at home.

For more information about caring for children, a Theories of Child Development course is available within the Professional Childcare Certification Program from Amslee Institute.

Dr. Alaina DesjardinAbout the Author. Dr. Alaina Desjardin earned her Doctorate in Business Administration from Northcentral University, Masters in Public Administration from Ashford University, Master of Arts in Teaching and Special Education from New Jersey City University and Master of Urban Education from New Jersey City University. Dr. Desjardin is licensed in New Jersey as an Educational Principal, Education Supervisor, and Certified Teacher. Dr. Desjardin is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters, and other childcare providers.

Caring for Diaper Rash

Diaper rash is red, inflamed skin in the genital and rectal areas, and the irritated skin may have pustules or small blisters.

You opened a diaper to a full blow out, removed the soiled clothing, and used a ton of wipes to clean up. Now that the baby is clean and you’re ready for a new outfit, it’s done, right? Maybe not. Big blowouts and moisture on the skin from urinating can lead to diaper rash.

Diaper rash is red, inflamed skin in the genital and rectal areas, and the irritated skin may have pustules or small blisters. Diaper rashes are common and can be caused by skin irritants or contact (dermatitis) with body fluids. Other causes of diaper rash include changes in the child’s diet (breast milk or formula) or allergies. These rashes may become infected by bacteria or yeast normally present on the skin. Diaper rashes are often uncomfortable for infants and toddlers, and the best treatment is prevention – so avoid irritants on the skin with frequent diaper changes.

Ways to prevent diaper rash

  • Be sure to check diapers at least every 2 hours as children may not be able to communicate they soiled the diaper.
  • Wipe the skin to clean the diaper area every time the diaper is soiled. Moisture from urine is on the baby’s skin even if the diaper absorbed most of the fluid.
  • Clean bowel moments front to back. Start with the front genitals and clean to the rectum. This is especially important to keep bacterial out of female genitals.
  • Allow air time. Allowing the skin to be bare with open exposure to air will help the skin heal. Be sure to have a protective absorbing pad on the floor or beneath the child to prevent the child from soiling the area.

Frequent diaper changes will help prevent diaper rash but what should you do once a diaper rash occurs?

baby in cribHow to care for diaper rash

  • Clean the area with water and soft cloths as they are less irritating then disposable wipes
  • Apply a cream. Zinc oxide aids in soothing, adds a protective barrier, and helps heal the skin. Another effective barrier is petroleum jelly. To apply, place a little dab of cream on your finger and apply to the front genitals, then back to the rectum. Be sure to apply cream inside the labia as well as inside the butt checks.
  • If the cream does not improve the rash within 2 to 3 days, take the child to his or her pediatrician as a prescription may be needed if the child is diagnosed with a secondary bacteria or yeast infection.

Diaper rashes are often uncomfortable for the baby or toddler. Warm baths may help soothe the skin. Some cream and time should help with healing.

For more information about caring for children with diaper rashes and other common ailments, a Health Basics course is available within the Intermediate Childcare Certification Program from Amslee Institute.

About the Author. Dr. Alexandrea Murr earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from University of Toledo, Master of Science in Nursing from University of Phoenix, and Bachelor of Art in Art from Buffalo State College. Dr. Murr is a Board Certified Nurse Executive and works in private practice in New York. Dr. Murr is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters, and other childcare providers.

5 Terms to Know When Caring for Children with Diabetes

If you are not familiar with diabetes, here are 5 terms that are important to understand when caring for children with diabetes.

With the rise of Type II diabetes in children, many child care providers are helping to manage this life threatening condition. If you are not familiar with diabetes, here are 5 terms that are important to understand when caring for children with diabetes.

1. Diabetes is a disorder of the endocrine system in which the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, or the body does not use the insulin effectively. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the body’s blood glucose levels. Normal blood sugar for a person without diabetes is 60-100. People with diabetes should be maintained at 70 – 110.

If the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body does not use the insulin effectively, then the blood glucose levels will rise above the normal levels and cause medical complications. When blood glucose gets too high, the blood becomes thick and sticky – like syrup. This makes it tougher for the blood to flow, slowing the flow of oxygen and nutrients. This can lead to stasis ulcers, decreased wound healing, kidney damage, decreased or lost sensation in the extremities, damage to the retinas and vision loss, and damage to the heart and the vascular system.

young girl playing with dr toys2. Hyperglycemia is high blood glucose, better known as high blood sugar. Frequent hunger, thirst, and urination are signs that a child may be diabetic and a physician should be consulted. Severe thirst, hunger, frequent urination, sleepiness, feeling hot, and blurred vision are all signs of an increased blood sugar.

3. Hypoglycemia is low blood glucose, better known as low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia can be life threatening and can lead to coma or death. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include cold, clammy skin, confusion, dizziness, loss of consciousness, shakiness, anxiety, and heart palpitations. When low blood sugar occurs, a quick acting sugar should be administered – such as 4 ounces of regular soda or 100% fruit juice, 5 lifesavers, glucose tabs, or if the child is unconscious, glucose gel to prevent choking. A half of a sandwich with lunch meat or peanut butter should then be provided for protein to maintain the glucose levels.

4. Carb Counting. One key to keeping a diabetic child healthy is to ensure that the blood glucose levels stay consistent and in range. Since carbohydrates turn into sugars, it is important to track carbohydrates so that children receive the right balance to maintain function and a healthy glucose.

Counting carbs is rather simple. Each 15 grams of carbohydrates equals 1 carb choice. Carb choices should be eaten at intervals over the day and cannot be saved up. For children under 5, they should get 2-3 carb choices per meal. For children between age 5-12, 3-4 carb choices should be consumed at each meal. Teenage boys need between 4 and 5 carb choices per meal, while teenage girls usually need 3-5 carb choices, depending on their activity levels. Snacks should contain 1-2 carb choices. These proportions should be followed unless otherwise recommended by a registered dietitian or physician, preferably trained in endocrinology.

5. Blood Glucose Test. To test the amount of sugar in the blood, diabetics use a blood glucose test. This test uses a blood glucose meter, test strips, alcohol wipes, and lancing device so that blood sugar can be tested at any time. While all blood glucose meters work similarly, you must learn how to use your child’s diabetic meter. A demonstration is available in the shared video.

Insulin injection pens or insulin pumps are used to give insulin for controlling blood sugar. For children with diabetes, their medications should be given as per the physician’s orders. If no treatment is due and the child’s blood glucose is high, a physician should be contacted. Extra medication should not be given without the physician’s order. Being sick can increase stress, and thus increase blood sugar so blood sugar should be monitored carefully during any times of illness.

For more information about caring for children with diabetes, a Nutrition and Health course is available within the Specialist Childcare Certification Program from Amslee Institute.

About the Author. Dr. Alexandrea Murr earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from University of Toledo, Master of Science in Nursing from University of Phoenix, and Bachelor of Art in Art from Buffalo State College. Dr. Murr is a Board Certified Nurse Executive and works in private practice in New York. Dr. Murr is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters, and other childcare providers.

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