Social Competence of Newborns

1) Discuss social competence of newborns and its influence on the parent-child relationship.  How might the development of this relationship be affected if the child is born with significant medical issues, or if either the parents has a medical or psychological issue ( e.g., the mother of postpartum depression or the father who is blind).

Social competence refers to the emotional, social, behavioral and cognitive skills necessary for children’s successful social adjustment. A number of factors determine social competence including the social skills of the social skills, self-confidence, and social awareness of the child. The set of skills or behaviors necessary for the development of healthy social relations among children may vary depending on age and situation (Antia & Kreimeyer, 2015). Social competence of a newborn plays a pivotal role in the development of adaptive outcomes. For instance, newborns are able to recognize the mother’s or caregiver’s attempts to interact with them by three weeks after birth. Within a month, they may begin smiling at their caregivers or parents. These smiles woo mothers to interact with them more and to nurture them in the best way they can. By three months of age, parents and newborns engage in photo-conversations (Antia & Kreimeyer, 2015). Newborns with high social competence are able to be active in photo-conversations with their parents, creating a stronger bond with their parents as they subtly demand their attention and make them feel happy.

Social competence reflects a child’s social effectiveness. This is the ability of the child to develop and maintain mutually satisfying relationships with others including parents in order to avoid victimization or harsh treatment (Semrud-Clikeman, 2007). Social competence can thus improve the quality of the relationship between the newborn and the child. This occurs because the newborn exudes behaviors that are appealing or acceptable to the parents, enhancing the bond between them. If the parent has significant medical or psychological issues, there could be strained development of the relationship between the newborn and the parents. Certain medical conditions such as maternal depression can be predictive of the newborn’s adjustment capabilities (Semrud-Clikeman, 2007). Children born of parents with postpartum depression or other medical conditions may have limited social competence. This is due to establishment of weak social bond with the parents who are unable to engage with them. For instance, parents with postpartum depression will rarely engage their children in photo-conversation, which influences the quality of the relationship they have.

2) Developmental Researchers no longer view the neonate as a helpless creature, but as a remarkably competent, developing human being.  What do you think are the implications of this changing viewpoint for methods of child rearing and child care?

The neonate shows a purposeful consciousness, selective awareness, well-informed movements, and even affective appraisals (Trevarthen, 2011). Even before birth, the fetus can respond to the maternal voice through movements or increased activity. Thus, parents should not assume that the neonate is helpless in terms of language development. The implication of this is that neonates are able to perceive auditory stimuli. Parents should talk to their children using simple words to encourage language development. The neonate is able to act in an expressive manner, a behavior driven by presence of the mother. The neonate is able to seek the attention of others and especially the mother (Trevarthen, 2011). This might be through crying or through hand and leg movements. This implies that parents should give the neonate their full attention in order to develop close ties.

The neonate harbors motives and emotions that appear to elicit and maintain human intersubjectivity. Their actions aim at motivating and drawing emotions from their caregivers (Trevarthen, 2011). The implication of this is that parents play a critical role in the intellectual development of newborns. This is through sharing of feelings and emotions and other expressive form of movements. Neonates have notable expressive capacities. They can be able to respond to various signals by their caregivers. For instance, they can respond to tastes, odors, touch, and sound such as those of the mother. As such, mother must understand that the neonate is a competent developing human being that is capable of perceiving the immediate environment. The infant will respond positively when given attention by the mother, which helps in strengthening the bond between them. Neonates are likely to imitate their caregivers in an attempt to learn more about their immediate environment (Trevarthen, 2011). The aim is to develop a mutual feeling and establish communication. It is worth noting that much of the learning that neonates experience is by observing their caregivers and developing strong bonds with them.

Related: Home for the Elderly Design

3) What book do you think is a ” must read ” for a mother-to-be? Please explain why this book is beneficial and should be read. ( You do not have to purchase a book unless you want to as you may go to your local library or to a local Barnes & Noble’s/Local Bookstore and spend a little while reading it or if you have a Kindle or Nook/ IPad you could do a sample from their bookstore or you may have already read and have a book).  So any of those sources will be acceptable.

A must read book for a mother to be is The Cambridge Handbook of Environment in Human Development by Mayes and Lewis. This book examines how the environment influences the development of a newborn. The environment in this case refers to the physical environment and the interaction with various agents and including the caregivers. This book is fundamental in the understanding of how different environments influence the child. Some of the environments and environmental factors under consideration are the nature of parental care and attachment, the family environment and its effects, early care and education and intervention programs, the influence of school, maternal care, marital health, rural and urban settings, and among others. The book provides a comprehensive analysis of how each of these environments and environmental factors might influence a child and at various stages of growth.

The book addresses the issue of maternal care and its impact on child development in a comprehensive way in chapter 3. This section can enable mothers to understand the influence of their upbringing methods on child development and on the infant. According to the book, presence of maternal love and support does not inhibit mental development. However, the nature of care has significant impacts on the psychological well-being of the infant. This chapter can help mothers understand the critical role they play in the psychological well-being of their children. Other sections will assist mothers in understanding how the different environments can affect the development of their children. The book examines how children learn and grow intellectually by observing their parents in Part IV. This important in helping mothers-to-be understand how their behaviors will model that of their children from an early age.

4) Please find an article, it does not have to be a Peer  Reviewed article, but should come from some reputable source. The topic is “Children’s declining health issues” there is great concern today about issues of nutrition, obesity, exercise that set the stage for later problems.  So choose any area of interest and discuss its merits and what we should do to alleviate this dilemma.

A recent area of concern among health experts is poor nutrition habits among children and the population in general. Zarnowiecki, Sinn, Petkov, & Dollman (2012;2011;) examine the impact of poor nutritional knowledge among parents on children. The authors argue that poor nutritional knowledge among parents is a strong predictor of their children’s healthy food knowledge. This has a significant impact on their choice of foods, leading to increased lifestyle diseases among children. The article asserts that parents have a fundamental role to play I promoting healthy eating habits among children. Parental nutritional attitudes or knowledge reflects in their children’s eating habits or nutritional knowledge. It is worth noting that having nutrition knowledge, whether among parents or children, is the first step in promoting healthy eating habits. This research concludes that nutrition education among parents can help in promoting healthy eating among their children and reverse obesity rates especially among parents of low socio-economic areas.

The merits of promoting nutrition knowledge among parents are many and could have a wide impact in changing eating habits among thousands of children. Parents have a very strong influence in food choices of their children. Parents can be able to encourage children to choose healthier foods and avoid unhealthy foods. Parents often decide what their children eat at home. Those who have sound nutrition knowledge are likely to prepare healthy foods that promote healthier lifestyles. In addition, they are more likely to check on what their children are easting outside home. This encourages children to adopt healthier lifestyle based on the food choices allowed by their parents.


Antia, S. D., & Kreimeyer, K. H. (2015). Social competence of deaf and hard-of-hearing children. New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Mayes, L., & Lewis, M. (2012). The Cambridge Handbook of Environment in Human       Development. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Semrud-Clikeman, M. (2007). Social competence in children. New York, NY: Springer.

Trevarthen, C. (2011). What is it like to be a person who knows nothing? defining the active             intersubjective mind of a newborn human being. Infant and Child Development, 20(1),     119-135. doi:10.1002/icd.689

Zarnowiecki, D., Sinn, N., Petkov, J., & Dollman, J. (2012;2011;). Parental nutrition knowledge and attitudes as predictors of 5–6-year-old children’s healthy food knowledge. Public     Health Nutrition, 15(7), 1-7. doi:10.1017/S1368980011003259