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Relationships and Behavior

Case Study: Relationships and Behavior Assignment Template

Adolescent Information

Demographics: Tony is a 15-year-old white male.

Medical/Developmental history – Tony’s medical history is unremarkable, and he met his developmental milestones within normal limits.

Family history – Tony was born into a single-parent household. His biological father left his mother while she was pregnant and has never had any contact with Tony. Tony grew up in a poor neighborhood. In order to provide financially, Tony’s mother works long hours at 2 or more jobs and is rarely home when Tony gets home from school. When she is home, Tony reports that she seems uninterested in him and never spends positive quality time with him. Most of the time he feels that she wants nothing to do with him and even blames him for her struggles. It has been this way for most of his childhood, and he was told that he has always been a “difficult” child. Currently, Tony reports that when he and his mother do interact, most of their communication involves heated arguments that include screaming, cursing, and throwing things. Tony’s mother has been diagnosed with depression but is not engaged in treatment of any kind.

Social history – Tony reports that his main friends are a group of 4 other teenagers in the neighborhood. He reports that they grew up together and became close because they had similar home situations and liked the same video games. Tony has always had a lot of freedom to do whatever he wanted because his mother was not around or didn’t seem to care where he was. He reports that he and his friends continue to have similar interests, mainly playing violent video games and drinking/smoking regularly. He and his friends frequently get into trouble for vandalizing/destroying property and loitering. A few times they have been caught starting small fires or stealing from the local corner store. At first, Tony passively watched as his friends did these behaviors, even though they would try to talk him into participating. However, he discovered that once he started joining in, they seemed proud of him and invited him to hang out more often. Now he reports that he enjoys the thrill of his actions and that he does not really think about or care who it affects. At school and in the neighborhood, Tony and his friends are considered bullies and have been known to verbally harass and beat up others.

In terms of romantic relationships, Tony reports that he started dating earlier than a lot of his friends, around age 12. He has had several girlfriends throughout the last few years, but he has not had a relationship that has lasted more than a couple months. He reports that his relationships typically start out fine, but he admits that he quickly becomes suspicious that his girlfriend is getting tired of him or is cheating on him. He is quick to interpret any sign of boredom or disinterest from his girlfriend as complete rejection, which often leads to jealousy, blaming, name-calling, screaming, and eventually a breakup. He reports that he has never had a girlfriend that he felt he could truly trust with his problems/feelings.

Academic history – Tony has attended public school since kindergarten and his schools have been considered “poor” or “underachieving” schools. Tony has always struggled in school, and he was held back in 4th grade due to failing grades. Currently Tony earns poor grades and exhibits behavioral problems, often earning detentions or suspensions. He sometimes skips school and has considered dropping out.

Psychological history – As discussed above, Tony suffers from significant anger and behavioral issues (as discussed above). He has recently been diagnosed with Conduct Disorder. He does not experience significant symptoms of anxiety or depressed (sad) mood.

Short Answer Questions

Directions: Read each question and in the box below provide your answer with appropriate research support. For full credit, each answer must include at least one citation from a course reading applied to Tony’s life. Aim to answer each question in one or two paragraphs (answers can be single spaced). Include an APA-style reference page at the end of your assignment. Each answer is worth 10.5 points.

1. How does research on similarities between friends apply to Tony’s friendships (see Brown & Larson, 2009)? Specifically, define the concepts of selection vs. socialization and apply them to Tony’s experiences.

2. Brown and Larson (2009) describe several peer influence processes. Describe at least two mechanisms/factors related to peer influence that apply to Tony and his friends.

3. How would you classify Tony’s mother’s parenting style in terms of the 4 main parenting styles defined by Laursen and Collins (2009)? Provide support for your answer. How might her parenting style/practices relate to his social and behavioral outcomes?

4. Discuss Romantic Attachment Theory (see Connolly & McIsaac, 2009) and how it relates to Tony’s experiences. Is his attachment to his mother secure or insecure? How does this attachment style influence his thoughts and interpretations of his romantic relationships?

5. How does research on conflict processes in adolescent romantic relationships apply to Tony’s relationships (see Connolly & McIsaac, 2009)? How does Tony handle conflict with his girlfriends, and how does this relate to his conflict with his mother?

6. How might the timing of Tony’s relationships (i.e., being an early starter) and his numerous relationship dissolutions influence his social and behavioral outcomes (see Connolly & McIsaac, 2009)?

7. Discuss three specific risk factors for Conduct Disorder that might apply to Tony (see McCloskey & Drabick, 2018).

8. According to research on treatments for behavioral disorders (see McCloskey & Drabick, 2018 and module video), what are some parenting practices Tony’s mother could have implemented when he was younger to possibly prevent his behavioral issues from progressing? (The focus here should be on specific skills learned, not simply the names of specific treatments.)

9. According to research on treatments for Conduct Disorder (see McCloskey & Drabick, 2018 and module video), what are some skills that Tony could currently learn to help improve his behavior? (Again, the focus here should be on specific skills learned, not simply the names of specific treatments.)

10. Discuss Tony’s situation from a Biblical perspective. Provide two scriptural verses that could offer encouragement, hope, or correction for Tony regarding his relationships and behavioral problems. Be sure that you are not simply quoting Scripture, but that you are also providing application and discussion from a Christian viewpoint. Note that a research citation is not required for this answer.

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