This chapter looks at the major perspectives that form the basis for personality and sociocultural development during early childhood. Topics covered include coping patterns, aggression, prosocial behavior, the effects of peer interactions, and continuing development of self. Children learn to manage a wide range of feelings and emotions. The important to emotional development is the child’s ability to cope with fear and anxiety. Fear is a response to a specific situation and anxiety is a generalized emotional state. A child may experience regular and continuous feelings of unease, often without knowing why. Children can be help cope with fear and anxiety by parents reducing unnecessary stress, being a role model, seeking professional help.
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Children can also cope with fear and anxiety using defense mechanism such as identification, projection, denial, reaction formation, displacement, regression, rationalization, repression, and withdrawal. Children are expected to inhibit the display of some emotions such as anger, distress, affection, joy, sensuality and sexual curiosity. Children experience developmental conflicts their needs to depend on their parents and their desire of independence dealing with compliance, mastery and competence which Erikson identified as autonomy verse shame and initiative verse guilt.
According to Erikson, children either become more independent and autonomous if their parents encourage exploration and freedom or they experience shame and self-doubt if they are restricted and overprotected. In addition, children view of themselves undergoes major change as they face conflicts between the desire to act independently of their parents and the guilt that comes from the unintended consequences of their actions. Parents who react positively can help their children avoid experiencing guilt. As children develop, their play becomes more social and engage in social pretend play involving the use of imagination, sharing of fantasies, and the inclusion of agreed upon rules. This help children deal with fears, provide companionship during periods of loneliness, and provide reassurance. Research indicates that 65% of young children have imaginary companions. Imaginary companions help children social skills and practice conversations. Children who are adept at imagination may be better at mastering symbolic representation in the real world. Children who are rejected by their peers in early childhood are likely to be rejected in middle childhood as well. They are also more likely to have adjusting problems in adolescence and adulthood. Rejected children may be aggressive or withdrawn and may be out of sync with their peers’ activities and social interaction.
Children learn to incorporate the values and morals of their society into their understanding of themselves through internalization. Children develop a self-concept, their identity, or their set of beliefs. Young children tend to describe themselves in terms of their physical characteristics, possessions, or activities. The tendency to describe themselves in terms of social connections increases. Children tend to imitate their parents. Children self esteem enhance by parent praising their children, encouraging and giving them responsibilities, allowing them to explore their potential freely, and showing them unconditional love. The sense of being a male or female is well established by the time children reach the preschool years. Children learn gender-related behavior and expectations from their observation of others’ behavior as well as from books, media, and TV. Parents play an especially important role in the development of young children, particularly with respect to how parents exert control and express warmth. Authoritarian parents tend to produce children who are withdrawn, fearful, dependent, moody, unassertive and irritable. Permissive parents tend to produce children who are rebellious, aggressive, self-indulgent, socially inept, creative and outgoing.
Authoritative parents tend to produce children who are self-reliant, self-controlled, socially competent with high self-esteem and do better in school. Indifferent parents tend to produce children who are free to give in to the most destructive impulses. How parents manage discipline is an important aspect of the effect that parents have on their children’s development. The aim of discipline is not only to control children behavior but also to help them develop emotional self control.
Middle childhood is the span of years from age 6 to 12. At age 9, growth spurt for girls and 11 year olds for boys. Growth is influenced by activity level, exercise, nutrition, gender, and genetic factors. Gross motor skills such as running, jumping, and hopping and fine motor skills continue to develop and improve. Children begin to develop interest in sports. During middle childhood, children in developed world receive good nutrition so most height and weight differences among children are due to genetically determined factors. Children in developing world grow smaller than their counter parts in affluent advance world.
Obesity is defined as body weight that is more than 20% above the average for a person of a given height and weight. In United States, about 17% of children are obese. Most of children who are obese continue to be seriously overweight as adults. Obesity leads to high blood pressure, diabetes, and other medical problems. The cause of obesity can be a genetic factor, environmental factors, television viewing, lack of exercise and parental encouragement. The leading cause of death in middle childhood is accidents and associated injuries.
Psychological disorders and mental illness can begin in middle childhood, raising concerns about accurate diagnosis and treatment such as autism and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. Piaget referred to middle childhood as a period of concrete operations and encourages the use of concrete objects for teaching such as blocks, rods and seeds. Piaget stress that teaching should be through showing rather than telling because children learn by doing and they are active learners who construct their own theories about how the world operates. During middle childhood, short-term memory capacity improves significantly and understandings about the processes that underlie memory emerge and improve during middle childhood. Children’s memory strategies and techniques enhance with age and develop the process of monitoring their own thinking. When children attend school, school teach facts or concepts, give directions for a particular lesson, state general rules of behavior, correct, discipline and praise children and introduce children in other miscellaneous activities. Children learn more in classes in which time on task is maximized, in which the teacher spends at least half the time on actual teaching and less on such concerns as maintaining order. The main emphasis on school are teaching learning and thinking skills, tailoring instruction to the child’s individual learning style and developmental level, and fostering independent, self-regulated, self paced learning, learning in small groups and cooperative rather than competitive learning.
School success is influenced by many factors including achievement motivation which is an acquired culturally based drive, gender, and parents of successful children who have realistic beliefs about their children, have high expectations, are authoritative parents and talk to, listen to, and read to their children. Developmental and intellectual disabilities such as mental Retardation, depression, attention deficit disorder, and learning disabilities children and other special needs children all have afforded educational opportunities in least restrictive environment.
During middle childhood, according to Erikson, the central task focuses on industry versus inferiority. Children at this stage are characterized by a focus on efforts to attain competence in meeting the challenges related to parents, peers, school and other complexities of the modern world. Children self concept and self esteem continue to develop. The development of self esteem is a reciprocal process. Parents can positively influence their children’s self esteem by offering realistic praise and by encouraging them toward activities in which they can be successful. Children use social comparison to themselves to abilities, expertise, and opinions of others. When objective measures are absent children rely on social reality such as how others act, think, feel, and view the world. In middle childhood, most friends are of the same gender, and friendships during middle childhood serve many functions. Peer relationships provide emotional support and help kids to handle stress, teach children how to manage and control their emotions, teach about communication with others, foster intellectual growth and allow children to practice relationship skills.
According to Selman, friendships develop through four stages: as playmates, then awareness of another’s feelings emerges, then trust develops and finally children can look at relationship from another’s perspective. Prejudice is a negative attitude formed without adequate reason which is directed at a defined group of people. As children grow older, they become capable of thinking with greater complexity and prejudice can be reduce by enhancing through cooperative activities that are important to children and promoting equality and disconfirm negative stereotypes. Popular children are helpful and cooperative, have a good sense of humor and emotional understanding, ask for help when necessary, not overly reliant on others, adaptive to social situations, and social problem solving skill competence. Unpopular children lack social competence, are immature, are overly aggressive and overbearing, withdrawn or shy, and are unattractive, handicapped, obese, or slow academically. Several programs teach children set of social skills that underlie general social competence. Although peers become very important in to children in middle childhood, the family continues to be children most important socializing force. Effective parenting in middle childhood can involve in increasing children’s social competence through encouraging social interaction, teaching listening skills to children, making children aware that people display emotions and moods nonverbally, teaching conversational skills, including the importance of asking questions and self-disclosure and not asking children to choose teams or groups publicly.
In addition to other changes, children experience in early relationships between siblings can shape how children relate to others and choices made in later life. Also, in most cases, children fare quite well when parents are loving, are sensitive to their children’s needs, provide appropriate substitute care, and are good adjustment of their children. When parent divorce, children are most likely to exhibit behavioral difficulties, anxiety, depression, and low self esteem and they often have more problems with school. School-age children tend to blame themselves for the breakup. Twice as many children of divorced parents require psychological counseling as do children from intact families. For some children, living in a home with unhappy marriage and which is high in conflict has stronger negative consequences than divorce. Blended families include remarried couple that has at least one stepchild living with them. Living in blended family involves role ambiguity, in which roles and expectations are unclear.
Adolescence is a remarkable time of growth and development; in just a few years, children transition dramatically towards adulthood across multiple domains. Adolescence is physically the healthiest period of the lifespan. There is a dramatic body parts grow at different rates due to higher levels of testosterone boys experience greater increases in muscle growth; girls experience an increase in body fat. Body shape differentiates as boys develop wider shoulders and girls develop wider hips. These biological, as well as cultural, factors can cause depression and anxiety in females at this age; an emphasis on exercise may help to keep females active and combat negative self-images. Primary sex characteristics include sex organs in males and females grow significantly to allow room for sperm and egg production. Secondary Sex Characteristic for both male and female includes growth of pubic hair, underarm hair, facial hair, and arm and leg hair. Skin becomes rougher and oilier, bones become harder, the voice becomes lower, and the chin, nose, and ears become more pronounced.
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Hormones have a powerful effect on the brain, influencing its development. However, the emotionally often seen in teenagers results not only because a hormone action but also because of complex sociocultural and environmental factors. Adolescents have the ability to begin moving from childhood toward adulthood due to their cognitive development. This is the ability of the brain to begin processing more abstract thoughts. Some of these thoughts, indeed many of these thoughts, are focused on themselves. By being able to think abstractly, which is a new developmental ability. Now, as adolescents, the journey toward self-reflection and self-identity, may begin. By asking clear self-identity questions, they may find answers that will be enlightening, even insightful and complex. They will strive to learn to make good choices and decisions toward their future as a responsible citizen. This process is often difficult for adolescents. They may change periodically in terms of their self-concept. According to Piaget, adolescent gain the ability to think about intangible objects and methods and have the ability to see multiple aspects of one idea. As adolescents enhance their understanding of themselves, they actually become more aware of their own emotions and feelings and how these feelings affect their daily lives. By gaining some emotional understanding of themselves, they are able to change their self-identity. This is how they perceive their characteristics and abilities fit with the opportunities that are available to them. These changes are now known to continue in our American society well into emerging adulthood. But many of the identity issues that begin during adolescence determine the paths an adolescent may take including future college, vocational or career choices, as well as other aspects of their lives.
Adolescent constantly views themselves as the center of attention and certainty of an individual’s distinct personal experience and fate. Adolescence also belief that unfortunate occurrences only happen to other people which encourages risky behavior. Adolescence today continue to be highly sexually active and about 20% of sexually active teenagers have sexually transmitted disease. Teenage mothers and fathers are associated with difficult economic circumstances and personal challenges. Marriage under such circumstances generally does not produce positive outcomes in part because early marriage often leads to dropping out of school.
During adolescence, young people reach physical maturity, develop a more sophisticated understanding of roles and relationships, and acquire and refine skills needed for successfully performing adult work and family roles. The developmental tasks of this period–coping with physical changes and emerging sexuality, developing interpersonal skills for opposite-sex relationships, acquiring education and training for adult work roles, becoming emotionally and behaviorally autonomous, resolving identity issues, and acquiring a set of values are all tied to successful functioning in adulthood in one way or another. The movement toward adulthood colors our expectations of adolescents, and hence our treatment of them. One expect adolescents to move away from the adult-directed activities of childhood toward the autonomy, responsibility, self-direction and independence from their parents and forming an identity.
Consistent with these expectations, adolescents are granted increased freedom of choice to varying degrees, adolescents select their academic courses, choose their friends and activities, and make plans concerning post high school education, employment, and family life. Many of these decisions have important implications for young people’s subsequent life course.
Educational decisions, such as whether to attend college or not, affect future career opportunities and vocational development. Similarly, becoming an adolescent parent often limits educational attainment and employment opportunities. Erikson viewed the critical developmental task of adolescence as identity verses identity confusion which requires the teen to sort through various choices in order to answer to questions “who am I?” Adolescents who go out with friends rather than study for an important test, who engage in unprotected intercourse or experiment with a new drug, or who ride home with an intoxicated driver may unknowingly affect the direction of their future lives. Moreover, short-term choices may evolve into regular patterns of behavior or lifestyles, which, in turn, influence future development. Thus, the choices that adolescents make and the developmental course they define can profoundly shape their later lives. Therefore, the adolescent’s movement toward autonomy entails both growth and risk. On the one hand, adolescents need to experience greater freedom of choice so they can begin to exercise self-direction.
Successful parents must provide support to teenage children. Maintaining communication helps reduce serious conflict. Parental monitoring is based on open communication and adolescent willingness to disclose the details of the adolescent’s life. The most importance of peers increases enormously during adolescence. Through social comparisons, teens compare themselves to their peers as a means of defining themselves. Early on, dating serves to give young adolescents experience without deep emotional involvement. Later, adolescents who date may develop emotional closeness and serious romantic relationship. Adolescence and emerging adulthood is often characterized by risk taking behavior. Because the brain region related to judgment and emotional control are still developing, adolescent may take risks without fully appreciating the consequences. Suicide is the third leading cause of death during adolescence, and the rate of suicide in this age group is rising. To support positive adolescent development, we should support and strengthen families, provide then with activities in which they can be successful
The young adult stage is full of major changes in both physical and cognitive attributes. The body has finished fully developing and the thinking process is carried out in a more complex manner. It is during this development stage that the young adult can contemplate the views of others and put themselves in their place to gain a better understanding. Many key events in adulthood occur at relatively predictable times for most people in an age cohort. An age clock represents our internal sense of time for when major life events should occur. Physically, it is a time when one is at his or her healthiest. The brain is still increasing in size, although new neurons are no longer forming. One sense is also the keenest during this time of life. Full maturation has been reached, as well as full height. This is also the time when this age group learns to live comfortably in their own.
The young adult years are often referred to as the peak years. Young adults experience excellent health, vigor, and physical functioning. Young adults have not yet been subjected to age-related physical deterioration, such as wrinkles, weakened body systems, and reduced lung and heart capacities. Their strength, coordination, reaction time, sensation, fine motor skills, and sexual response are at a maximum. Additionally, both young men and women enjoy the benefits of society’s emphasis on youthfulness. They typically look and feel attractive and sexually appealing. Young men may have healthy skin, all or most of their hair, and well-defined muscles. Young women may have soft and supple skin, a small waistline, and toned legs, thighs, and buttocks. Early in adulthood, neither gender has truly suffered from any double standard of aging, mainly, the misconception that aging men are distinguished, but aging women are over the hill. With good looks, great health, and plenty of energy, young adults dream and plan. Adults in their 20s and 30s set many goals that they intend to accomplish, from finishing graduate school, to getting married and raising children and to becoming a millionaire. Young adulthood is a time when nothing seems impossible; with the right attitude and enough persistence and energy, anything can be achieved. Some individuals begins habits that likely will produce health problems later in life such as overeating, overuse of alcohol, drugs and lack of exercise. Physical change may come in the form of weight gain for this age group. This is the time of settling into careers which can be sedentary, compared to the activities that are done in college and high school. For many, this is the first time in taking sole responsibility for providing nourishment. Many young adults move away from home. Food intake may now consist of fast food and frozen dinners, which can really rack up the pounds. Early adulthood is often the time during which people are most sexually active, and many plan to have children. Sexually transmitted diseases affect most of the young adults such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Aids may be least partly responsible for a shift to more caution sexual behavior.
Many young adults have developed the skill to reason logically and solve abstract problems. This is also the age when they are able to solve theoretical problems. This age group scores higher than any other on the fluid intelligence section of an IQ test. Fluid intelligence is not only the ability to think abstractly, but to deal with novel situations. This is the age that awareness of consequences develops. Piaget argued that cognitive development reaches its highest level, their thinking becomes more complex.