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Family Systems Theory Paper

Family Systems Theory Paper

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Published by Nicolas Sawicky

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Published by: Nicolas Sawicky on Dec 28, 2011
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 Family Systems Theory Nicolas SawickySUNY Brockport
When studying the development of a child, there are numerous factors that cause a childto end up the way that they are. Some of the factors can be controlled, while others are just up tothe universe. One of the most important factors in a child’s life is the family that raises them.That age old debate of nature verses nurture is still a hotly contested argument. Although it isdebatable which one contributes more to a person’s traits, no one can argue that your family andsurrounding community play a significant role in your upbringing.The argument that your family plays a significant role in your upbringing is supported bysomething called Family System Theory. This theory breaks down the characteristics in thefamily environment that cause a student to act a certain way in the classroom. This idea canfurther be explored when you open your study to include culturally and linguistically diversefamily environments. With these students, especially ones with disabilities, come from anenvironment that views things very differently. This is something educators need to realize andact accordingly.Family System Theory, originally intended for use in family therapy, is also used tounderstand the problems of students while in school (Christian, 2006). The theory claims thatchildren act a particular way based on their family and the environment their family exposesthem to. This then takes the focus off the child as the cause for why they are acting out in class,and instead points the microscope at the whole family. One of the best ways to deal with studentsof diverse backgrounds is to create a strong parent/teacher partnership, so that a student’sacademic achievement can be maximized.In Christian’s article on “Understanding Families” (2006) she states: “To serve childrenwell, we must work with their families. To be effective in this work, we must first understand
families who are diverse in ways such as culture, sexual orientation, economic status, work,religious beliefs, and composition.” It should be mentioned that this review of families is notmeant to be a way to lay blame on another for a child’s misgivings, but is instead intended to bea way to better serve the children (Christian, 2006). This is called the Family-Centered Approachand works to build and promote the strengths that families already have (Connard & Novick,1996).According to Christian (2006), each family has six characteristics that affect how a childacts in the classroom. The first characteristic is what boundaries a family sets for their child(Christian, 2006). Some families let their child to be very independent, while others control their kid’s friends and afterschool activities. Another characteristic is the “role” a child plays at home,which can carry over to the school environment in the form of “class clowns” or “teacher pets”(Christian, 2006). The rules a child lives by at home also effects how they act in the classroom,an example being they are used to getting away with a certain amount of things (Christian, 2006).Family Hierarchy is another device that affects how a child behaves in the classroom. Somechildren might look to males in a higher social context than females (Christian, 2006). A veryimportant family characteristic is the climate an adolescent grows up in. This is further subdivided into the emotional and the physical environment that the kid is exposed to (Christian,2006). A child could have very loving parents, but grown up in a crime-ridden neighborhood anddrop out of school. Just as easily a rich kid can be neglected emotionally and turn out poorly. Thefinal family characteristic according to Christian (2006) is “equilibrium”. Without balance andconsistency, a child cannot develop a sense of security and trust.When looking at the family of a particular child it helps to look at the environmentaround the family. Any particular child is going to be exposed to four different environments, all

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