Life Stage Discussion

Discuss about the Life Stage Discussion.


The journey from childhood to adulthood is very complex. In this world, several million children do not make this transition easily due to emotional and behavioral problems. It consequently gives rise to adolescent morbidity. The rate of adolescent morbidity is significantly high in Australia. There are several factors, which affect the developmental milestones of children and adolescents. According to Larson & Halfon, (2013) 50,000 children in Australia are estimated to be affected by family breakdown and parents divorce per year. Family breakdown due to divorce and separation is a commonly occurring phenomenon in the present Australian community. Fergusson et al., (2014) reported that approximately 43% of the couples in Australia end up in divorce. This report deals with developmental milestones, neurological growth, and changes that occur in childhood (8 years) and adolescent stage (15 years) and how it influences the daily life. The report explains that how a family breakdown and parents divorce affects the highlighted developmental milestones. It concerns with the importance of having a strong family. Later it discusses the effect on my work while working with a family who is affected by such an incident. Finally, based on the discussion the report draws a conclusion. To support the facts in the discussion a thorough literature review was performed.

Developmental milestone in the childhood and adulthood stage

Each phase of human growth and development is marked by several physical, social and cognitive changes (Jones et al., 2007). Children at the age of 7years, develop physical, social and mental skills more quickly. A rapid development of the cognitive skills is reflected in their pattern of thinking band learning. They have well integrated perceptual motor skills. They can understand the difference between intention and behavior. Children at this age have well developed hand-eye coordination, balance and are capable of executing simple gymnastic movements (Mash & Barkley, 2014). Children at this age are fluent in speaking and make use of a vocabulary of several thousand words. They are more logistic in thinking and reasoning at this age and demonstrate a longer attention span. They are confident in solving complex problems, remember and carry out fairly complicated instructions. They tend to depend less on their parents for their daily activities and have strong emotional reactions. They develop close bonding with friends and learn teamwork. It increases their confidence in different areas of life such as academics, sports, and show the willingness to be appreciated. They are more worried about being perfect and are quite self-critical. They are a better loser in activities and stop blaming but feel guilt and shame (Smith et al., 2015).

Children during their early and middle adolescents undergo tremendous intellectual, physical, social, and emotional changes (Sigel et al., 2014). At the age of 15 years, boys and girls attain the different level of physical maturity. Most girls by this age have completed puberty whereas boys still are maturing physically. Adolescents acclimatize to their bodily change at this age. Children at this age are more concerned about their body size, weight, and height. They tend to gain the most clear sense of themselves. They show increased level of maturity, enhanced logical and reasoning skills. Adolescents psychologically distance themselves from their parents and relate mostly to their peers. At this age, they are well capable of living an independent life. They showed increased curiosity related to the sexual relationship (Jones et al., 2007). They have improved ability to think hypothetically, introspect and it leads to self-analysis. They show enhanced problem solving skills and the greater perspective of social systems. They have the uneven cognitive development which is influenced by emotionality. They are more organized and planned in their actions. They are more concerned about their career and have specific future goals. They exhibit high social connectedness (Cunningham et al., 2008). They are more capable of developing intimate relationships and are socially responsible. They value friendships and build the relationship based on trust and loyalty. They develop a straight forward nature and show more emotional resilience (Sigel et al., 2014).

Effect of a traumatic event on the developmental milestones

A great deal of research was performed to demonstrate the effect of marital disruption on the psychological development of children. There are broader implications of disturbed family life on child and adolescent development. According to Fergusson et al., (2014), parental separation may at the young age say seven years or at 15 years affects children socially, economically, emotionally and psychologically. The effect may range from short-term to long-term, mild to severe. Each child of every divorced couple may not experience all the effects that will be discussed below. Different children even of the same age may be affected in a different way.

According to Larson & Halfon (2013) children and teenagers are at a greater risk of emotional and physical problems after divorce. They undergo extreme loneliness due to loss of their father or a mother as well as separation from grandparents. They are more emotionally insecure due to fear of being abandoned. They greatly experience weakened parent-child relationship due to increasing distance. They fail to receive adequate emotional support, practical assistance, and financial assistance.  It affects their ability to trust their parents and close friends. These negative outcomes can persist into adulthood.

Children with stepparents have more behavioral difficulties than those living with the single parent. Teenagers tend to leave home live separately. Children fail to connect with their single parent’s new partner due to suspicion and insecurity giving rise to cohesion. They fail to connect or receive similar love and affection as their divorced parents. It was found from the research paper of Kalmijn, (2013) that children were lacking intact biological family and experiencing multiple transitions have low educational attainment. Children at seven years age show poor adjustment in a family during the immediate period of divorce. The behavioral problems are prominent in boys whereas girls in early life tend to recover after two years of divorce. However, boys continue to have adverse effects regarding play situations, happiness, inappropriate behavior and work effort (McAdams et al., 2014). They are highly engaged in breaking things and stealing at school. Both girls and boys show increased absenteeism in school and poor academic performance.   Watkins et al., (2013) reported that in Australia, 94% of men and 83% of women from divorced family belong to the category of psychopathology (they are below the clinical cut-off). This fact was also supported by Mandemakers & Kalmijn, (2014) who analyzed that, such children in later life experience the high level of dissatisfaction in their social when compared to those from intact families. These children when to grow up with poor attachment with mother or father were found with low emotional resilience, self-esteem, self-efficacy, high level of anxiety and cognitive distortion at their adolescent age (Seigel, 2001). It may be the consequence of lingering feelings of regret, worry, depression, and sadness created by divorce. In contrast, children with secure parental attachment showed reduced anxiety and high self-esteem. Also they were found with diminished social skills.

Irrespective of gender, children, and teenagers who underwent the trauma of parental divorce were highly represented in antisocial behavior, drug and alcohol abuse and social isolation in their later life. These symptoms are similar to children who have undergone maltreatment and sexual abuse during childhood. They are found to have a high level of psychological distress and were mainly found in cases with increased parental conflicts and violence before divorce. According to Mash & Barkley, (2014) Children and teenagers with Parental separation due divorce have the high likelihood of ending own marriages in divorce. It is due to the fact they engage in sexual activity at quite an early age. They tend to leave home and stay separated from family at an early age and enters quickly in an intimate relationship. As they become parents at an early age, they are highly prone to the risk of separation and divorce. They fail to achieve their career goals and live a compromised life. It is predicted to be the outcome of painful experiences during post-divorce custody arrangements in early life (Mandemakers & Kalmijn, 2014).  Lawson & Quinn, (2013) hypothesized that these effects are a consequence of the low level of emotional maturity when engaged in the youthful relationship.  They lack social support from both family and society and experience greater economic hardships. The mechanism linking the family breakdown to the adverse child outcomes includes the change in income pattern after the divorce, parental absence, a poor mental health of the single parent, interparental conflict and compromised relationship between parents and children. These collectively affect the children’s emotional and social development and mental well-being (Aral et al., 2008).

The effect of parental divorce during a child’s adolescent (say 15 years) is equally significant as that happen at child’s young age. Separating from parents after deep attachment for 15 years is very painful. However, they do not have to deal with custody issues. It was found that when parents divorce at the age of 15 more females than males have difficulty in adjusting to divorce. Adolescents after experiencing parental divorce tend to show the negative attitude towards marriage. They experience lower confidence and relationship commitment when compared to boys. Boys especially tend to show a large amount of anger and frequently break laws. Girls mainly withdraw in silence but experience similar psychological distress as boys. However, more boys than girls tend to withdraw from their social life to fight stress.  In a case of men who have undergone parental divorce at the age of 15 tend to be more hostile and simultaneously rescuer of women with whom they are connected intimately (Fergusson et al., 2014).  They are found to be more dominant but less cooperative and affectionate partner. They are highly likely to undergo divorce after marriage. They experience severe emotional disturbance post divorce and perform poorly in their studies which decrease their capability to achieve career goals.

It is evident from the research paper of (Smith et al., 2015) that parental separation during early childhood has more detrimental effects for children than in older age. Larson & Halfon, (2013) believes that healthy transition from childhood to adulthood requires a foundation of a strong family.

Effect on work when dealing with such case

As a social worker, I deal with several cases and experience diverse challenges. When dealing with a young person and their family, I started with an open communication allowing them to share their thoughts, disappointments, and fears, which will help me in articulating their thoughts. It is necessary to encourage them to deal with their stress, to help them in caring for their children. Simultaneously, it is essential to teach children to cope up with their grief (Lawson & Quinn, 2013). A social worker teaches them to work together in problem solving and resolve conflicts by developing a plan.

Working with people with severe psychological distress also affects the mental health of social worker due to lingering effect of sadness on hearing client’s personal loss, struggle, and traumatic events (Sigel et al., 2014). It takes extra effort in counseling young person who have not experienced broader aspects of life. It is due to a poor perception of reality. Thus, they are highly prone to the adverse effect of conflicts (Fergusson et al., 2014). A young person with divorced family withdraws in silence due to disturbed communication with parents (Jones et al., 2007). This also hampers the counseling services, as the person does not open up his or her feelings. Addressing the trust issues of young people is the biggest challenge for a social worker (Zeanah et al., 2000). Other things that effect my work include discontinued counseling services as parents expect the immediate positive outcome and lack patience to attend all the sessions (Van der Kolk,  2005). In these cases, “co-parenting counseling and individual therapy for youngers” have been found to be effective in helping parents build the positive relationship with their children (Jones et al., 2007). The positive effect of dealing with such cases enhances knowledge to develop alternate evidence-based intervention strategies to address grief and poor adjustment in young people. I learned that wealthy class of society mainly affords these services. It gives me the inspiration to work and change this aspect to reach wider society struggling with similar problems. There is a need for more child-targeted intervention strategies with wide variety of policies and programs


Conclusively, family breakdown has a significant impact on children’s mental and social well-being. The report has discussed several mechanisms, which underlie this effect. Literature review suggests that extensive parental cooperation can minimize these adverse outcomes in young people. Specific programs and counseling therapies are available for patients with parental separation, which yields mental health benefits. Further intense research is required in this field to develop innovative approaches to protecting children and adolescents with parental separation.


Aral, Susan M. & Griffin, Janet & Miatello, Ashleigh, Greig, Carrie L. (2008) “Leisure and Recreation Involvement in the Context of Healing from Trauma.” Therapeutic Recreation Journal. Vol. 42, No. 1. Waterloo: Canada.

Cory, Lynne & Dattilo, John & Williams, Richard (2006) “Effects of Leisure Educational Program on Social Knowledge and Skills of Youth with Cognitive Disabilities.” Therapeutic Recreation Journal. Vol. 40, Issue 3. Arlington.

Cunningham, Joyce M. & Booth Jr., Robert A. (2008) “Practice with Children and their Families: A Specialty of Clinical Social Work.” Child Adolescent Social Work Journal. Vol. 25. Massachusetts: United States of America.

Fergusson, D. M., McLeod, G. F., & John Horwood, L. (2014). Parental separation/divorce in childhood and partnership outcomes at age 30. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 55(4), 352-360.

Jones, K. & Daley, D. & Hutchings, J. & Bywater, T. & Eames, C. (2007) Efficacy of the Incedible Years Basic Parent Training Programme as an Early Intervention for Children with Conduct Problems and ADHD. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. United Kingdom.

Kalmijn, M. (2013). Long-term effects of divorce on parent–child relationships: Within-family comparisons of fathers and mothers. European sociological review, 29(5), 888-898.

Kaslow, N. J., Graves, C. C., & Smith, C. O. (2012). Specialization in psychology and health care reform. Journal of clinical psychology in medical settings, 19(1), 12-21.

Larson, K., & Halfon, N. (2013). Parental divorce and adult longevity.International Journal of Public Health, 58(1), 89-97.

Lawson, D. M., & Quinn, J. (2013). Complex Trauma in Children and Adolescents: Evidence‐Based Practice in Clinical Settings. Journal of clinical psychology, 69(5), 497-509.

Mandemakers, J. J., & Kalmijn, M. (2014). Do mother’s and father’s education condition the impact of parental divorce on child well-being?.Social science research, 44, 187-199.

Mash, E. J., & Barkley, R. A. (Eds.). (2014). Child psychopathology. Guilford Publications.

McAdams, T. A., Neiderhiser, J. M., Rijsdijk, F. V., Narusyte, J., Lichtenstein, P., & Eley, T. C. (2014). Accounting for genetic and environmental confounds in associations between parent and child characteristics: A systematic review of children-of-twins studies.Psychological bulletin, 140(4), 1138.

Seigel, Daniel J. (2001) “Toward and Interpersonal Neurobiology of the Developing Mind: Attachment Relationships, “Mindsight”, and Neural Integration.” Infant Mental Health Journal. Vol. 22, No. 1. Michigan: United States of America.

Sigel, I. E., McGillicuddy-DeLisi, A. V., & Goodnow, J. J. (2014). Parental belief systems: The psychological consequences for children. Psychology Press.

Smith, P. K., Cowie, H., & Blades, M. (2015). Understanding children’s development. John Wiley & Sons.

Sommerfeld, Denise P. (1989) “The Origins of Mother-Blaming: Historical Perspectives on Childhood and Motherhood.” Infant Mental Health Journal. Vol. 10, No. 1. Nova Scotia: Canada.

Van der Kolk, Bessel A. (2005) “Developmental Trauma Disorder: A New, Rational Diagnosis for Children with Complex Trauma History.” Psychiatric Animals Journal. Boston: United States of America.

Watkins, D. C., Pittman, C. T., & Walsh, M. J. (2013). The effects of psychological distress, work, and family stressors on child behavior problems. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 1-16.

Zeanah, Charles H. & Larrieu, Julie A. (2000) “Mother-Blaming, Relationship Psychotherapy, and Infant Mental Health: A Commentary on Ward, Lee & Lipper.” Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Vol. 21, No. 6. Michigan: United States of America.

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