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Culture, Identity and Wellbeing in Children and Young People

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Presentation on theme: "Culture, Identity and Wellbeing in Children and Young People"— 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 Proposed Structure of Presentation:
Background Definitions Hypothesis Critical theories: identity, acculturation Culture and child rearing What needs to be done Shanti Raman

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

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

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

6 Definitions Ethnicity: Race: measure of social exclusion/ inclusion
ethnic self-identity ascribed ethnic identity cultural identity racial identity Nationality descent Race: measure of social exclusion/ inclusion Racial identity: reactions to societal dynamics of “racial” oppression based on physical characteristics assumed to be racial or genetic in nature Ethnic identity: if acquisition or maintenance of cultural characteristics (eg language, religion) are defining principles Helms J, 1997 Shanti Raman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20 The Milestone Approach
Shanti Raman

21 The Age Range Approach: DDST
Shanti Raman

22 Not all children develop according to the commonly used guidelines:
Methodical problems in many studies prevent generalisation of findings 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) Fine motor precocity but delayed walking of Yucatecan Mexican infants compared to US norms (Solomons and Solomons, 1975) Advanced attainment of pencil skills in Japanese children compared to British norms (Saida and Miyashita, 1979) Slight motor delay of Mayan Indian infants compared to US norms (Brazelton, 1972) Shanti Raman

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

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

25 Cultural differences in Parental Goals
Pedagogic: major goals are for children to learn to feel emotionally independent from their parents and to develop interactive and language skills 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. Shanti Raman

26 Pedagogic Model Shanti Raman

27 Pedagogic Model (Western model)
Independence and Sleeping Patterns infants in their own beds and often in their own rooms lack of co-sleeping Other Separation relatively tolerant of other separations: eg infants left with unrelated nonresident babysitters, weekend away 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 Consoling mothers relatively tolerant of infant crying Shanti Raman

28 Child-Centred Model Shanti Raman

29 Child Centred Model: largely non-western
Independence and Sleeping Patterns Co-sleeping and breastfeeding on demand High physical contact Consoling respond rapidly to crying, high rates of holding and touching increased holding by mothers tends to result in infants who cry less 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 Shanti Raman

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

31 Contrasting Cultural Practices: Communication
Mainstream Non-Western 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. Shanti Raman

32 Contrasting Cultural Practices
Mainstream Non-Western During feeding the adult’s 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. Shanti Raman

33 Contrasting Cultural Practices
Non-Western Mainstream 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 child’s 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 Shanti Raman

34 What about psychological wellbeing?
Shanti Raman

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

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

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

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

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

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