Child Interaction Observation

March 10, 2004 by  
Filed under News

by Kathryn N. Donev

I have always found it intriguing to stand back and observe human interactions. For me personally, the most fascinating type of human interaction is the manner in which a child interacts with his or her environment. I continue to be amazed at all that can be learned through simple observation. Dibs in Virginia Axline’s book, Dibs in Search of Self, said it best when he stated that by hanging “around out of the way on the edge of things close enough to watch … and hear … you can learn lots of interesting things that way”.

There are many adjectives which can be used to describe a child; some positive and others negative; some universal, yet many are unique to each child. Children are diverse yet at the same time are similar in many ways. In my observations I have found that children are impressionable, innocent, resilient, loveable, creative, curious, spontaneous, attention seeking and above all are gifts from God which are to be cherished.

According to Albert Bandura’s social learning model, we know that we learn through observation. I have found that this is especially important to have in mind when working with children and I am reminded on every occasion when I am around children. Children are impressionable and emulate what they observe. I have discovered that a child learns many different behaviors by observing others; they model actions, words, behaviors and mannerisms. I have seen this demonstrated in games such as “Follow The Leader” and “Simon Says” or when children play activities such as house or school. I have noticed that some children will imitate behaviors and directly experience the consequences yet others will wait and vicariously experience the consequences of a behavior. However, whether directly or indirectly, it is my opinion, modeling is a way a child attempts to explore.

I have found that children are very curious of their surroundings and are in a constant quest for knowledge. I have noticed that it appears that this quest is intrinsic due to the fact that a child will explore even when there is no reward given in return. However, I have also noticed that this seems to change with age. In attempts to explore, children might do so through modeling, observing, playing or by asking “why” and “what” questions. On a more personal note, it is my opinion that a child should be encouraged to ask questions and be curious. I am persuaded that if such curiosity is ignored or not viewed as important then a child will begin to lose his or her inner child or exploratory nature of intrinsic motivation and begin to avoid asking questions and lose interest in novelty and take life for granted.

I have observed that children have this innocence about them which makes them appear to be oblivious and without fear. When I use the expression that children are innocent, I mean that they have not yet been flooded with the concerns which adults have. Children are not yet skeptical of circumstances, perhaps due to the fact they have not been given any reason for distrust.

I have also observed many ways in which children are resilient. I have noticed that there appears to be a difference in the physical aspects of the resilience of boys and girls. This perhaps is because of what they had been modeled or taught. For instance, on one occasion, I observed a boy playing on the playground when he bumped heads with another boy. The boy stopped, clinched his fist, made a grunt, and went back to playing. On this same occasion, when I noticed a girl fall on the playground, she began to cry but quickly went back to playing. However, when it comes to emotional aspects of resilience when overcoming verbal abuses, such as name calling, I have noticed that the reaction appears to be consistent across gender. Overall, both boys and girls bounced back from both pain and words and appeared to quickly forget the wrong that had been done.

I have learned that every child is unique in his or her own special way. Therefore, what has influenced me the most is the realization that there is no formula for working with children. However, I do feel there are some absolutes when working with them. In my observations, I have noticed how children desperately long for attention, whether positive or negative. I feel that children need to be given attention and they must know that one truly cares. Children need to be loved and this can be accomplished by spending time with each child. They need to have someone who will take time to answer questions such as “Why is the sky is blue?” or “Why is the earth round?” Each child needs to be allowed the freedom to explore but also needs to be guided in the right direction and with the proper role model in which to emulate this can be accomplished.

As parents, teachers and childcare workers, we owe it to ourselves and each precious child, who is truly a gift from God, to be the best role model that we can possibly be. Each child must be encouraged to be the most that he or she can be and given direction by our examples and through our guidance. This is appropriately stated in Proverbs 22:6, which states, train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. From these observations I realize that as an adult I have a great responsibility not only when working with children but also anytime I come in contact with any child.