Psychology for Social Workers by Martin Herbert (auth.)

By Martin Herbert (auth.)

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We can see from this example how 'bad habits' may be reinforced. Reinfm:cemeat ccmaequences Certain of a person's responses (behaviours) are strengthened when they occur in particular environmental situations; by making the appropriate responses to certain stimuli the person's actions are generally 'reinforced' by positive (rewarding) consequences. They can also be strengthened by the avoidance/removal of punishing consequences. The child's resolve to do homework is strengthened by the thought of the teacher's punishment if is not done.

In the family the child, as a member, has a role to play, responsibilities to assume and is called upon to give and receive attention. The family provides the individual with a sense of identity in terms of family name and a feeling of belonging and being loved and needed. This is a significant achievement (if successful) given the tendency of our complex modern society - vast in scale and impersonal in attitude - to subvert the citizen's sense of importance, worth and meaning. At least the family does not make the child feel like a small (and 39 The child and the family replaceable) cog in a massive machine.

All sorts of characteristics run in families. A tendency to freckles, for example, is hereditary; so are hair, skin and eye colour and the shape of face and features. There are hereditary diseases like haemophilia and inherited conditions such as colour blindness. Then again, important psychological attributes like intelligence and personality have a major genetic ingredient. Genetics as a science is concerned with the way in which the genes make their presence felt during a child's growth and development by producing the substances which influence the behaviour and development of the entire cell: the unit of living matter.

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