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Culture, Identity and Wellbeing in Children and Young People Shanti Raman Area Community Paediatrician-CP Sydney South West Area Health Service.

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Presentation on theme: "Culture, Identity and Wellbeing in Children and Young People Shanti Raman Area Community Paediatrician-CP Sydney South West Area Health Service."— Presentation transcript:

1 Culture, Identity and Wellbeing in Children and Young People Shanti Raman Area Community Paediatrician-CP Sydney South West Area Health Service

2 Shanti Raman Proposed Structure of Presentation: n Background n Definitions n Hypothesis n Critical theories: identity, acculturation n Culture and child rearing n What needs to be done

3 Shanti Raman Context n Migration: universal phenomenon n Unprecedented internal/ external migration n Australia today: dynamic multicultural society n Globalisation: –Rapid social change –Positive and negative results –Differential effects on the poor

4 Shanti Raman Why cultural identity and wellbeing? n Global burden of mental health problems: in Australian children 1 in 6 n Cultural influences on child development and behaviour n Little scholarly work on cultural identity and links to wellbeing in Australia n Emerging literature about protective role of ethnic identity

5 Shanti Raman Culture (Frisby, 1992) n As a pattern of living, customs, traditions, values, attitudes n as significant artistic/humanitarian/scientific achievement of the group n as race consciousness -guide individual identification n as values, norms of the immediate context (eg of the family, streets, etc) n as refers to superficial differences between macro and micro groups (ie clothing, music, speech) n as refers to outer appearance (culturally different)

6 Shanti Raman Definitions n Ethnicity: –ethnic self-identity –ascribed ethnic identity –cultural identity –racial identity –Nationality –descent n Race: measure of social exclusion/ inclusion Helms J, 1997

7 Shanti Raman Distinctions: racial and ethnic identity Identity models n Racial: reactions to societal dynamics of racial oppression based on physical characteristics assumed to be racial or genetic in nature n Ethnic: if acquisition or maintenance of cultural characteristics (eg language, religion) are defining principles Helms 1996

8 Shanti Raman Cultural Identity n captures change, uncertainty and ambiguity n incorporates diversity and pluralism n there are a number of different selves at different levels and their true psychological integration will lead to better psychological functioning n Incorporates any factor that may account for differential patterns of learned or shared behaviour

9 Acculturation Those phenomena which result when groups of individuals with different cultures come into continuous first hand contact; subsequent changes in both groups (Redfield et al, 1936)

10 Shanti Raman Acculturation Phinney 1990, based on Berry et al 1986

11 So how does this relate to Childrearing..... And child development, behaviour?

12 Shanti Raman Child Development ….Complex…. n Change is constant n Difference is the norm n Context is central

13 Shanti Raman Culture..... Complex! n Change is constant n Difference is the norm n Context is central

14 Shanti Raman Relationship between Culture, Moderator Variables Dominant Culture Influences Nondominant Cultural Influences AcculturationEnculturation Ethnic/Racial Identity Psychological functioning Moderator Variables Moderator Variables

15 Shanti Raman Moderator Variables n Type of acculturating group (voluntary or forced) n social characteristics n oppression and legal constraints n racism, prejudice and discrimination n cultural characteristics n language used and fluency n individual characteristics

16 Shanti Raman Where does that leave us? n Examining children and development in their cultural context…..complex n More problematic definitions: behaviour, disorder, illness, mental health, n Need to consider multiple levels: family, school, peers, society, health services

17 Culture and child development The biological immaturity of children is the only fact with any certainty that can be said about childrens development. Sami Timimi 2005

18 Shanti Raman Parenting is a universal, but highly variable behaviour –Feeding –sleeping –discipline and moral reasoning –toilet training –teaching –communicating –giving affection

19 Shanti Raman It is known that childrearing practices influence the rate and expression of childrens development

20 Shanti Raman The Milestone Approach

21 Shanti Raman The Age Range Approach: DDST

22 Shanti Raman Not all children develop according to the commonly used guidelines: n Motor precocity of African infants who sit, crawl and walk at least two months earlier than caucasian infants ( Ainsworth, 1977; Geber and Dean, 1957; Capute et al, 1985 ) n Fine motor precocity but delayed walking of Yucatecan Mexican infants compared to US norms (Solomons and Solomons, 1975) n Advanced attainment of pencil skills in Japanese children compared to British norms (Saida and Miyashita, 1979) n Slight motor delay of Mayan Indian infants compared to US norms (Brazelton, 1972) Methodical problems in many studies prevent generalisation of findings

23 Shanti Raman Cultural Differences in Skill and Behaviour –Early motor development –Obedience –Toilet training –Verbal Skills –Temperament –Feeding –Crying –Independence –Learning –Sleeping

24 Shanti Raman Early Emotional Learning in Infants: A Cross-Cultural Examination n Emotional and interactive behavior learnt in the 1st year of life: much of this learning takes place subcortically n Wide review of published literature: Richman, Miller & Solomon, Le Vine et al, Barr, Brazelton, Sigel n 2 widely divergent parental models: –Pedagogic –Child centred Commons and Miller 1998

25 Shanti Raman Cultural differences in Parental Goals n Pedagogic: major goals are for children to learn to feel emotionally independent from their parents and to develop interactive and language skills n Child-centred: a model in which the most important goal is protecting the health and survival of the infant Hallmark study: Le Vine et al 1994, Child care and culture: Lessons from Africa.

26 Shanti Raman Pedagogic Model

27 Shanti Raman Pedagogic Model (Western model) n Independence and Sleeping Patterns –infants in their own beds and often in their own rooms –lack of co-sleeping n Other Separation –relatively tolerant of other separations: eg infants left with unrelated nonresident babysitters, weekend away n Verbalizing and face to face interaction –parents believe infants are active participants in interactions –they talk to, look at, smile at and interact with infants from birth – emphasis on verbal interaction, emphasis on physical contact n Consoling –mothers relatively tolerant of infant crying

28 Shanti Raman Child-Centred Model

29 Shanti Raman Child Centred Model: largely non-western n Independence and Sleeping Patterns –Co-sleeping and breastfeeding on demand n High physical contact n Consoling –respond rapidly to crying, high rates of holding and touching –increased holding by mothers tends to result in infants who cry less n Verbalizing and face to face interaction –do not typically talk to their infants extensively –do not see infants as capable of communicating or of understanding language –do not engage in stimulating face-to-face interactions

30 Shanti Raman Cultural differences in Goals of Development n Western world: career, marriage, house, car, TV n Traditional (Aboriginal): achieving full tribal status n Immigrant families: children better off than parents, security, pride in childrens success n Factors influencing –Parents own status –Migration story: refugee, economic, push/pull factors –Religious affiliations –Political environment –Gender

31 Shanti Raman Contrasting Cultural Practices: Communication There is an emphasis on nonverbal, observational learning for infants. There is an emphasis on direct, verbal learning for infants. Children learn language primarily through eavesdropping and observing. Adults usually do not talk with young infants. Adults have conversations with young infants. Adults endow the smallest vocalisations of the baby with meaning and intentionality, and react to them emotionally. MainstreamNon-Western

32 Shanti Raman Contrasting Cultural Practices During feeding the adults primary purpose may be to ensure that the child eats an adequate meal with the minimum amount of waste or mess. Adults encourage infants to learn self-feeding, even if learning to self- feed means making a mess. Babies are often in close physical contact with the parents or caregivers. These babies learn to use nonverbal communication such as gestures with their hands or changes in muscle tone or posture to get their needs met. Babies spend a lot of time by themselves – sleeping in separate rooms, and amusing themselves in playpens – and learn to use verbal communication to get the attention of adults, e.g. calling out to the parent or caregiver out of necessity. MainstreamNon-Western

33 Shanti Raman Contrasting Cultural Practices Children learn about adult activities by being present as adults go about their jobs and household tasks. Children have responsibility to learn culturally valued behaviours and practices by observing adults. Children are provided with a scaled- down version of adult activities. During interactions in such activities the parent adjusts speech and actions to the childs level of skill and understanding. Toilet training is introduced when the child is quite young. The child learns through being cooperative in a partnership with the parent Toilet training typically occurs when the child is physically mature and able to talk. The child learns through becoming increasingly dependent Mainstream Non-Western

34 Shanti Raman What about psychological wellbeing?

35 Shanti Raman ?? Wellbeing: difficult to measure n Meta-analysis of acculturation and adjustment (1992) n No consistent unidirectional effect n SES very important n Low SES groups: symptoms and conflict with acculturation n High SES groups with ethnic social support networks: high self esteem and coping (eg Asians) n Ethnic social network + SES = sense of efficacy and adaptation

36 Shanti Raman Ethnic Identity and Wellbeing in Chinese and Turkish teens in Netherlands (Verkuyten 1994) n 4 types of identification: dissociative, acculturative (bicultural), assimilative, marginal n Majority were dissociative or acculturative n Turkish: those who identified with own group and biculturals had positive self esteem –Girls who were dissociative had higher self esteem than boys n Chinese: assimilative and marginal group had more negative feelings, correlated with low collectivism scores

37 Shanti Raman Ethnic Identity in ethnocultural youth and Wellbeing ( Roberts, Phinney et al 1999 ) n 5,500 students in high school, Houston: AA, Euro, Hispanics, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, PI, mixed n Measures: Ethnic identity, self esteem, coping, optimism, mastery, loneliness, depression n MEIM: overall reliable across diverse groups n High ethnic identity scores: associated with self-esteem, coping, mastery and optimism n Correlation of ethnic salience with MEIM: high n European Americans: lowest scores on ethnic identity n Indian and Pakistani teens highest scores on ethnic identity

38 Shanti Raman Where does that leave us? n Culture, Identity, Wellbeing, Development….. –complex+++ n Comprehensive assessment of effects of culture on childrens wellbeing may not be possible –but worth giving a shot n Need to consider multiple levels: family, school, peers, society, health services –also age, gender and language

39 Shanti Raman Recommendations: n Socio-cultural/political background of immigrant gps n Acknowledge importance of culture in childrens behaviour and development n Understand benefits of cultural capital n Assessment of cultural identity: –language use –cultural practices and pride –Perceived prejudice/discrimination –religious affiliation –socialisation with in-group

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