Child development is a serious issue for discussion in psychology and health care. Following the basic changes and comparing the achieved results within the existing criteria and expectations are necessary. Therefore, general pediatricians (GPs) enhance their knowledge to offer specialized care for children of any age. The role of a GP is to provide preventive care and monitor health from infancy to adolescence. Today, the field of pediatrics is rapidly changing, expanding a variety of diagnoses and diagnostic tools that may be appropriate for one patient and dangerous for another person (Sergi, 2019).
To check the condition of a child, a pediatrician has to examine the family history and medical characteristics and order the necessary tests to approve diagnosis or remove concerns. Not many parents understand what happens to their children, and the goal of a pediatrician is to establish contact directly with the patient and their parents or caregivers. In this case, a general pediatrician who works at a local medical center should help a female patient delivered to the place by her grandmother.
This assignment includes creating a client profile, identifying needs that are met and not met, discussing interpersonal skills, developing effective strategies, and evaluating recommendations. Each task helps a GP understand what kind of care is obligatory for the child and her family, what interventions may be appropriate in this situation, and what skills a good pediatrician must possess. Communication with family members, the analysis of personal observations, and respect for the child are the critical elements of this assessment. Delays in child development are common in pediatrics, but each patient requires specific treatment and a properly chosen pediatric approach based on medical history and personal qualities.
In this case, the client is Zoe (all names are changed to protect confidentiality), a three-year-old girl who has been under the custody of her grandmother, Mrs. Flynn, for the last five months. This information helps assume that the child obtains care from her pediatrician no more than five months long. Her medical condition requires attention because the girl falls below the expected physical growth average for her age. At this moment, Zoe uses one-word utterances for communication with other individuals because she has recently begun to speak. Her interaction with other children at the playgroup is low, and she experiences difficulties making friends with children of her age. No aggressive or negative attitudes have been noticed, but the child lacks communication experience and understanding of the environment.
Analyzing her family history will be necessary to comprehend the reasons for her behavior and development problems. Her mother was a 16-year-old girl, Lisa, who left her parents and chose a company of the wrong sort of people, as Mrs. Flynn says. Lisa has drug and alcohol problems and no desire to change the situation and get treatment. No information about the conditions under which Zoe grew during the last three years is available.
The only facts are that the child was born prematurely, and her birth weight was dramatically low. At the age of three, the girl was found by her grandmother in a cold, dirty, and damp bedsit. She was small and unresponsive, showing no interaction with the people around her. Within a short period, Zoe was able to obtain the care and love of her grandmother, aunt (16-year-old Shelley), and uncle (21-year-old Michael). The girl’s development raises concerns, and her physical growth does not correspond to the norms, which explains the intervention of a professional general practitioner.
Needs Being Met
The child’s development at three years is a vital stage of human growth because of a number of cognitive, physiological, and emotional improvements. During the first three years, the human brain undergoes certain changes in the right hemisphere associated with unconscious processes and the left hemisphere characterized by logical functioning like language and reason (Beckett and Taylor, 2019). According to Piaget’s theory, there are four stages of cognitive development during which a child builds a mental model of the world, namely sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete and formal operation (McLeod, 2020b).
Following this model, Zoe is at her second stage of development, when she uses language, enhances imagination, and thinks symbolically. Thus, it is expected that her first sensorimotor stage has been successfully taken. The girl’s cognitive need to examine the world through her senses was met because she properly navigates in space and continues investigating people and places with some interest.
Although not much information about the child’s first three years of life is available at the moment, most of her physical needs were met because she is able to see, hear, and feel. In his theory, Maslow represented a hierarchy of needs that covered the major physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization aspects (McLeod, 2020a). Each level indicates the possibility of a person to survive and achieve specific needs.
For example, physiological needs are necessary for survival, and Zoe’s demand for air, food, drink, warmth, and clothing has been partially addressed, meaning not at the highest level. The girl can walk, run, and understand the environment and people around her, which means her basic safety needs have been met at some point of care. It is also possible for a pediatrician to establish contact with the patient, but her poorly developed language abilities impede the process. Thus, Zoe’s development is not at the correct stage of the life span because despite some basic needs being met, many areas remain damaged, and needs are poorly satisfied.
Needs Not Being Met
At the same time, several social and emotional needs were neglected during the first three years of Zoe’s life. Using Maslow’s and Piaget’s theories, the pediatrician may assess the stages of the girl’s development and recognize mistakes or some problematic areas. One of the evident challenges in the patient’s case is the necessity to demonstrate love and belongingness. Examples of such needs include friendship, intimacy, and acceptance (McLeod, 2020a). However, it seems that these needs are not met because the child avoids interactions, experiences difficulties forming friendships, and prefers to play alone.
In families, parents or main caregivers are responsible for establishing interactions and the involvement of the infant in various activities with a low level of responsibility. Zoe’s mother did not demonstrate her desire to cooperate with the girl and avoided any contact. Bowlby’s theory of attachment proves the importance of mother-child relationships during infancy (Beckett and Taylor, 2019). When the grandmother was granted custody, she introduced Zoe to a loving and safe environment with several devoted family members. However, separation from her parents could have a serious impact on Zoe’s growth in the future.
Another serious need to be neglected is related to delayed physical development. A professional assessment at the age of three and Zoe’s medical history revealed that the girl was born prematurely and had low birth weight. These problems had to be initially solved, but Lisa’s neglect and poor parenting awareness could prevent her from taking some steps. In addition to premature birth, physical neglect, malnutrition, and alcohol and drug use during pregnancy provoked physical delays.
In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, physical needs create a solid basis that must be correctly established from the first days of life (McLeod, 2020a). It is correct to say that although the basic physical needs were met, the mother neglected some of them, including the lack of warmth and healthy sleep. The child had to be examined by a healthcare provider to identify effective pharmacological treatment and support to minimize delivery- and low-weight-related threats.
Additional problems could be connected with low aesthetic needs as the girl was found cold, dirty, and damp. No attention was paid to her self-actualization needs during the first three years of life because the mother did not try to discover the girl’s potential or improve their experiences. Finally, Piaget could explain Zoe’s restraint in a playgroup as an outcome of poor self-recognition and no representational games at a younger age (McLeod, 2020b). Due to limited information about the child’s past and the absence of the mother during the assessment, not all needs could be correctly identified and covered in this case.
A general pediatrician has to apply several interpersonal skills to meet the client’s needs and improve her physical and emotional development. Healthcare provision is an area where interpersonal skills are critically important to learn patients, make observations, identify problems, and listen (Interpersonal skills, no date). In Zoe’s case, the GP has to focus on communication, empathy, and practical collaboration. According to Beckett and Taylor (2019), a child treats other people the same way parents treat the child. Zoe did not obtain much attention from her mother in this family, and her grandmother only began taking care of her. The task is to demonstrate how communication may be developed between a child and a grown-up. A properly chosen tone, kind words, and eye contact during communication are necessary to promote trust and further cooperation.
When a wrong parenting style is chosen in a family, children feel anxious and misunderstand because of a lack of empathy in these relationships. The development of social skills like empathy helps improve emotional intelligence and promote understanding of the child’s needs and expectations (Interpersonal skills, no date). Empathy is important for healthcare providers as it is a good way to create opportunities: to ask questions, keep silent if needed, or give answers. The child with delayed physical development and poor socialization skills expects empathy (understanding and care) but not compassion that could provoke controversial feelings of fear, disappointment, and failure.
Another significant interpersonal skill for the pediatrician to consider is a practical collaboration with the patient and her grandmother as the official carer. In this situation, productive work is based on collaboration that brings positive health and emotional outcomes. When GPs collaborate, they show respect and find enough time to listen and respond. In Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, relational connectedness underlines the worth of collaboration, interdependence, and intimacy between children and parents at a young age with positive contributions to adulthood progress (Beckett and Taylor, 2019). In other words, the pediatrician should use this skill to help Zoe see how to behave, use collaboration benefits, and avoid risks.
Zoe is a client with special needs that address her physical growth, emotional development, and interactions with the environment. The GP has to develop several strategies at different levels to support the child, including family involvement, government impact, and community participation. One of the most important critical steps in child care is the identification of a family as the major source of inspiration, motivation, and support. Bandura’s theory of social learning proves that children like to model their parents or other family members and choose behaviors they regularly observe (Beckett and Taylor, 2019). The GP asks the grandmother to increase communication with Zoe but to do it unintentionally. Other family members (Shelley and Michael) should become examples for the girl on how to cooperate with a parent and peers. Zoe’s involvement should not be obligatory or sound like an order, which makes her more open and available for new socialization processes.
Additional strategies include the role of the government and community members. Due to their young age, limited abilities, and poor knowledge, children can never recognize their rights and protect their freedoms and opportunities. The government is responsible for providing funds for health education in kindergartens (Building a national early childhood education system, 2021). Financial and physical support becomes essential for pre-school settings, and GPs must collaborate with politicians and policymakers to recognize children’s basic needs and problematic areas. The last strategic step in Zoe’s care plan includes regular relationships with community agencies in the neighborhood.
Not all child centers agree to take care of children who experience difficulties in communication and collaboration (Beckett and Taylor, 2019). GPs have to visit local communities and talk to social workers who underline specific needs of children abandoned or neglected by parents.
Conclusion and Recommendations
This assignment creates several good opportunities to treat a child with delayed physical development, poor language knowledge, and low socialization skills. Although Zoe was born prematurely and raised in unsafe and unfavorable conditions during the first three years of her life, her current care and family show solid improvements. This case shows that children are eager to cooperate and communicate despite their past experiences and parental involvement. Thus, the GP must enhance self-confidence to become a model for Zoe to follow. At her age, the girl needs good examples, and her grandmother, pediatrician, and closest relatives could perform this function.
The current course of action should include regular communication with the child about her interests, desires, and needs. At the same time, unintentional collaboration, requests for help that does not need special responsibilities and knowledge, and free interaction must be promoted. The child expects some attention, but the lack of teamwork affects her present behavior. The GP has to be careful with unpredictable changes in the child’s mood, unclear wishes, and irrational appears. However, it is necessary to manage personal fears and prejudices about using one-word utterances, remove complex words, and explore Zoe’s reactions to new people and activities. The desire of the grandmother to help her granddaughter, regular GP visits, and discreet meetings with peers are the core elements in Zoe’s life to bring some benefits.
Beckett, C. and Taylor, H. (2019) Human growth & development. 4th edn. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Building a national early childhood education system that works (2021). Web.
Interpersonal skills (no date). Web.
McLeod, S. (2020a) Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Web.
McLeod, S. (2020b) Piaget’s stages of cognitive development: background and key concepts of Piaget’s theory. Web.
Sergi, C.M. (2019) ‘Pediatrics: an evolving concept for the 21st century’, Diagnostics, 9(4). Web.