This is a response to the following Discussion Post:

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1. Cognitive Development is one of the four domains of infant development. While the brain grows exponentially during prenatal development, it continues to develop at a rapid pace during the first 3 years of life. It is during this time that a young child’s experiences literally shape the neural connections in the brain. Synapses are overproduced in the cerebral cortex of and then pruned based on the experiences that the infant has. This pruning enables the brain to become more finely tuned and functional. In fact, almost half of the neurons that are created during infant development survive to function in adults. Both physical maturation and experience play a role in positively influencing optimal brain development in infants. Parents and caregivers play a critical role in optimal cognitive development. Not only is a child’s brain immature at birth, and that it changes based on experiences, but that these specific experiences, as well as relationships with caregivers, are critical to the healthy development of a child’s social and emotional functioning. Being sensitive to an infant’s distress, being emotional available, and being responsive to a baby’s cues are critical parenting skills (Wong et al., 2020, pp.75-76).

2. The emotional bond between the child and caregivers is referred to as attachment. It is an attachment of an affectional bond between two individuals that is persistent and emotionally significant. The attachment produces a desire to maintain closeness as well as to seek security and comfort and results in distress when the two individuals are involuntarily separated. Children are typically described as being securely attached, insecurely attached-anxious-resistant, insecurely attached-avoidant, or insecurely attached-disorganized-disoriented (Wong et al., 2020, p.77).

In this case, I have noticed the interaction with a young mother and her baby girl. The baby appears to be securely attached evidenced by always desiring to be near or in close proximity to her mother. I assume she feels safe and secure in the presence of her mother. If anyone comes near her whom she does not recognizes, she immediately runs to her mother to rescue her. The mother is very close to her baby girl evidenced by being a loving, caring and protective with her baby girl. The baby girl always responds to her mother in a positive manner evidenced by hugging, smiling and happy to be around her mother.

Based on observation, the mother displays positive reaction to her baby girl by coming to her aid as quickly as possible and reacts to her needs. I feel the comfort and soothing of her mother promotes the positive relationship between the two of them. As of now, I foresee possible anxiety issues concerning her going back to work and her baby girl going to day care after the COVID-19 Pandemic that would threatened positive attachment. It is also my belief that the mother will soon burn out if she does not have some alone and self-care time.

3. The possible risk factors identified are not knowing how to properly discipline her child and the child becoming disorganized-disoriented. The possibilities concerning me about these particular risk factors are if she becomes too overwhelmed or angry she could possibly abuse or neglect her child. The child could also be disorganized-disoriented resulting from abusing or neglecting the child.

Rachel is an African American adolescent who is a mother to a 4 month old. She is doing well academically but has issues with her child’s behaviors. She often complains to her teachers and peers that her child is “bad”. She is often tiered at school with mood issues in which she blames her child. She reported only having help from her grandmother. She is feeling overwhelmed by trying to juggle responsibilities of being a full time mother and student with limited help.

As the counselor, while navigating this situation I would first attempt to build a rapport with Rachel. I feel by building a trusting relationship with her, she will be open and honest about her presented problems. I would not be judgmental concerning her situation. I would actively listen to Rachel express her thoughts, views and feelings. I would also use proper body language to make her feel comfortable. I would be sure to communicate respectfully with her at all times even if I am not in agreeance with her views. I would place my personal values to the side before practicing ethical services with Rachel.

Being the counselor, I would utilize the American Counseling Association (2014) code which described how clients and counselors works hand and hand with creating plans that will meet clients where they are and assisting them with managing and resolving conflictual situations (A.1.c.). I also would utilize the ACA code concerning personal values that describes how counselors must respect their client’s values and recognize his or her own cultural values and bias while working with the different clients (A.4.b.).

As Rachel’s counselor, I would provide educational material from Child Welfare Information Gateway which assist teen parents on how to balance their lives with being a full time parent and student. It would also educate her on the normal development stages of infants. I feel this information would be helpful because of the support meetings, help lines, financial benefits and other support resources. It is my belief that Rachel would benefit and be able to meet others that have some of the same issues she has and observe how they juggle being both a mother and student. In addition to learning positive ways to handle her 4-month old child.

4. The unmodified extinction, also known as the “cry-it-out” method involves the caregiver putting the infant to bed and not attending to him or her until the next day (with the exception of the possibility of illness or danger). However, a recent study has associated this method with increased levels of toxic stress in the infant and is no longer encouraged. The modified/graduated extinction or the use of the Ferber method is more commonly used and involves brief caregiver comfort when infant is distressed and slowly reducing caregiver attention by waiting longer periods of time before coming to the room to comfort the infant (Wong et al., 2020, p.84).

There are several methods that have been found to be useful when managing sleep in infants. Researchers recommended providing education about infant sleep cycles through parent consultation to promote healthy sleep management for infants. Caregivers were more likely to have positive results when using these methods than without the use of consultation and education about sleep cycles (Wong et al., 2020, p.84).

“Behavior approaches have been found to be an appropriate choice for providing sleep management techniques. Extinction, the Ferber method, and self-soothing are common strategies for sleep in infants” (Wong et al., 2020, p.84).

If I was the counselor, I would suggest “appropriate sleep behavior by establishing relaxing intermingled with praise and encouragement. Once a routine is established with reinforcing behaviors from caregivers, the infant will fall asleep faster because of cues given by caregivers” (Wong et al., 2020, p.84).

5. “Parents often struggle with the decision of whether to place their newborns into a daycare setting” (Wong et al., 2020, p.81). Counselors can help parents navigate these decisions by being aware of child care opportunities in the area, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of child care setting, and providing support as parents try to make this decision (Wong et al., 2020, pp.81-82).

As the counselor, the parent main issue to be addressed would be attachment. It appears the parent is having issues with trying to find her place as a fulltime working mother. In addition, she feels guilty for leaving her child at a daycare. Her feelings and thoughts should be addressed about leaving her child at a daycare. She is also having financial problems due to not having enough money to pay for daycare. The financial problems should also be addressed and any known resource to assist her with this issue should be discussed.

Any additional information needed to develop a treatment plan for this individual would be client involvement, demographics, frequency and duration of the problem(s), objectives, goals and interventions. The counselor could work with the client to search for a support group for parents returning to work after giving birth to their newborn. In addition to focusing on the parent’s depression, anxiety, stress and other issues that affects the separation from the child being in daycare. Addressing the parent’s issue of attachment and education about parenting resources that could possible assist her with daycare expenses would also be some potential interventions.

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