EMOTIONAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN MIDDLE CHILDHOOD I. ERIKSON?S THEORY: INDUSTRY VERSUS INFERIORITY . A. According to Erikson, the personality changes of the school years build on Freud?s latency stage. B. In Erikson?s theory, industry versus inferiority is the psychological conflict of middle childhood, which is resolved positively when experiences lead children to develop a sense of competence at useful skills and tasks. C. The danger at this stage is inferiority, reflected in the sad pessimism of children who have little confi dence in their ability to do things well. II. SELF DEVELOPMENT . A. Changes in Self Concept . 1. During the school years, children develop a much more refined me self or self concept, organizing their observations of behaviors and internal states into general dispositions. Children describe themselves in terms of psychological traits, emphasizing competencies instead of specific behaviors. 2. School children begin to make social comparisons in that they judge their appearance, abilities, and behavior in relation to those of others. B. Cognitive, Social, and Cultural Influences on Self Concept . 1 Cognitive development affects the structure of self concept. School age children show an im proved ability to combine typical experiences and behaviors into stable psychological disposi tions. 2. The changing content of self concept is a product of both cognitive capacities and feedback from others. 3. George Herbert Mead believed that a well organized self emerges when the child's I self adopts a view of the me self that resembles the attitudes of significant others. 4. Perspective taking skills emerging during middle childhood play a crucial role in the development of a psychological self. 5. Children become better at "reading" messages they receive from others and incorporating them into their self definitions. 6. Although parents remain influential, between the ages of 8 and 15 peers become more important. 7. In collectivist cultures, the self and social group are not differentiated as completely as they are in North American and Western European cultures. C. Development of Self Esteem . 1. . A Hierarchically Structured Self Esteem . a. Classrooms, playgrounds, and peer groups are key contexts in which children learn to evaluate their own competence. b. By age 7 to 8, children have formed three separate self esteems academic, physical, and social that become more refined with age. C. School age children's ability to view themselves in terms of stable dispositions permits them to combine their separate self evaluations into an overall sense of self worth. 2. Changes in Level of Self Esteem . a. Self esteem drops during the first few years of elementary school. b. Most children appraise their characteristics and competencies realistically while maintaining an attitude of self acceptance and self respect. C. From fourth to sixth grade, self esteem rises for the majority of children. D. Influences on Self Esteem . 1. Children with high social self esteem are consistently better liked by their peers, and academic self esteem predicts school achievement. 2. Culture . a. The strong role of social comparison in self evaluation does not characterize children everywhere. b. A strong emphasis on social comparisons in school may underlie the finding that Japanese and Taiwanese children score lower in self esteem than do American children, despite their higher academic achievement. 3. Child Rearing Practices . a. Children whose parents use an authoritative child rearing style feel especially good about themselves. b. Warm, positive parenting lets children know that they are accepted as competent individuals. Firm but appropriate expectations, along with explanations, help children make sensible choices. c. In contrast, highly coercive parenting communicates a sense of inadequacy to children. It tells them that their behavior needs to be managed by adults because they cannot manage it themselves. d. Indulgent parenting that promotes a "feel good" attitude no matter how children behave creates a false sense of self esteem. 4. Making Achievement Related Attributions . a. Attributions are common, everyday explanations for the causes of behavior. These explanations can be attributed to luck, ability, or effort. b. Mastery oriented attributions are attributions that credit success to high ability and failure to insufficient effort. They lead to high self esteem and a willingness to approach challenging tasks. C. Learned helplessness involves attributions that credit success to luck and failure to low ability. 1 Learned helpless children have come to believe that ability is a fixed characteristic of the self that cannot be changed. 2). When a task is difficult, they experience a loss of control and quickly give up. 5. Influences on Achievement Related Attributions . a. Learned helpless children tend to have parents who set unusually high standards yet believe their child is not very capable and has to work harder to succeed. b. Girls more often than boys blame their ability for poor performance. Girls also tend to receive messages from teachers and parents that their ability is at fault when they do not do well. c. Low income ethnic minority children are also vulnerable to learned helplessness. d. Cultural values for achievement also affect the likelihood that children will develop learned helplessness. For instance, children growing up on Israeli kibbutzim are shielded from learned helplessness by classrooms that emphasize mastery and cooperation rather than ability and competition. 6. Supporting Children's Self Esteem . a. Attribution retraining is an approach to intervention that encourages learned helpless children to believe that they can overcome failure by exerting more effort. b. Another approach encourages low effort children to focus less on grades and more on mastering the task for its own sake. c. Learned helpless children also need instruction in metacognition and self regulation to make up for development lost in this area and to ensure that renewed effort will pay off. d. Low self esteem can be prevented by minimizing comparisons among children, helping them overcome failures, and designing school environments that accommodate individual differences in development and styles of learning III. EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT . A. Self Conscious Emotions . 1. In middle childhood, the self conscious emotions of pride and guilt become clearly integrated by personal responsibility; these feelings are now experienced in the absence of adult monitoring. 2. Shame is often felt when violating a standard is not under one's control. Shame may also be experienced after a controllable breach of standards if the self as a whole is blamed for it. 3. Pride motivates children to take on further challenges, and guilt prompts them to make amends and strive for self improvement as well. B. Emotional Understanding . 1. School age children's understanding of psychological dispositions means that they are likely to explain emotion by making reference to internal states rather than physical events. 2. These children are also more aware of the diversity of emotional experiences. 3. Similarly, school age children appreciate that emotional reactions need not reflect a person's true feelings, and they can use information about a person's past experiences to predict how he or she will feel in a new situation. 4. Cognitive and social experience also contribute to a rise in empathy. C. Emotional Self Regulation . 1. Children come up with more ways to handle emotionally arousing situations as they make rapid gains in emotional self regulation during middle childhood. 2. When the development of emotional self regulation has gone along well, school age children acquire a sense of emotional self efficacy a feeling of being in control of their emotional experience. 3. Emotionally well regulated children are generally upbeat in mood, more empathic and prosocial, and better liked by their peers. IV. UNDERSTANDING OTHERS . A. Perspective taking is the capacity to imagine what other people may be thinking and feeling. B. Selman's Stages of Perspective Taking . 1. Robert Selman developed a five stage model describing major changes in children's perspective taking skill. 2. He asked preschool through adolescent youngsters to respond to social dilemmas in which the characters have differing information and opinions about an event. a. At first, children have only a limited idea of what other people might be thinking and feeling. b. Over time, they become more conscious of the fact that people can interpret the same event in different ways. c. Soon, they can "step in another person's shoes" and reflect on how that person might regard their own thoughts, feelings, and behavior. d. Finally, they can examine the relationship between two peoples' perspective simultaneously. C. Perspective Taking and Social Behavior . 1. Good perspective takers are more likely to display empathy and compassion. 2. They are also better at social problem solving, or thinking of effective ways to handle difficult social situations. 3. Children with very poor social skills have great difficulty imagining the thoughts and feelings of others. 4. Interventions that provide coaching and practice in perspective taking are helpful in reducing antisocial behavior and increasing empathy and prosocial responding. V. MORAL DEVELOPMENT . A. Learning About Justice Through Sharing . 1. Distributive justice concerns beliefs about how to divide up material goods fairly. 2. William Damon studied children's changing concept of distributive justice over early and middle childhood. a. As children enter middle childhood, ideas of fairness are based on equality children in the early school grades are intent on making sure that each person gets the same amount of a treasured resource. b. Soon children start to view fairness in terms of merit extra rewards should be given to someone who has worked especially hard or otherwise performed in an exceptional way. c. Around age 8, children can reason on the basis of benevolence they recognize that special consideration should be given to those in a condition of disadvantage. 3. Parental advice and encouragement support these developing standards of justice, but the give and take of peer interaction is especially important. B. Changes in Moral and Social Conventional Understanding . 1. As their ideas about justice advance, children clarify and create linkages between moral rules and social conventions. 2. Culture influences the extent to which children separate moral rules from social conventions VI. PEER RELATIONS . A. The society of peers becomes an increasingly important context for development. B. Aggression declines in middle childhood, but the drop is greatest for physical attacks. C. Verbal insults among boys and social ostracism among girls occur often as school age children form peer groups and start to make distinctions between "insiders" and "outsiders.' D. Peer Groups . 1. A peer group is composed of peers who form a social unit by generating shared values and standards of behavior and a social structure of leaders and followers. 2. The "peer culture" of a peer group typically consists of a specialized vocabulary, dress code, and place to "hang out" during leisure hours. 3. The group provides a context in which children practice cooperation, leadership and followership, and develop a sense of loyalty to collective goals. 4. Children who participate in formal groups . gain in social and moral understanding. E. Friendships . 1. During middle childhood, friendship becomes a mutually agreed on relationship in which children like each other's personal qualities and respond to one another's needs and desires. 2. Once a friendship is formed, trust becomes its defining feature. Consequently, violations of trust are viewed as serious breaches of friendship. 3. Throughout childhood friends tend to be of the same age, sex, ethnicity, and SES. However, characteristics of schools and neighborhoods can also affect friendships. 4. Friendships remain fairly stable over middle childhood. F. Peer Acceptance . 1. Researchers assess peer acceptance with self report measures called sociometric techniques that ask peers to evaluate one another's likability. 2. Children's responses reveal four different categories of social acceptance. a. Popular children are those who get many positive votes. b. Rejected children are actively disliked. C. Controversial children get a large number of positive and negative votes. d. Neglected children are seldom chosen, either positively or negatively. 3. About two thirds of pupils in typical elementary school classrooms fit one of these categories; the remaining one third are average in peer acceptance and do not receive extreme scores. 4. Peer acceptance is a powerful predictor of current as well as later psychological adjustment. 5. Rejected children are unhappy, alienated, poorly achieving children with a low sense of selfesteem. Rejection is also strongly associated with poor school performance, dropping out, antisocial behavior, and delinquency in young adulthood. 6. Determinants of Peer Acceptance . a. A wealth of research reveals that social behavior plays a powerful role in determining whether a child will be liked or rejected. b. Popular children communicate with peers in sensitive, friendly, and cooperative ways. C. Rejected aggressive children are a subgroup of rejected children who engage in high rates of conflict, hostility, and hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive behavior. They are also deficient in social understanding. d. Rejected withdrawn children are a subgroup of rejected children who are passive and socially awkward. Because of their submissive interaction style, they are at risk for abuse by bullies. 1). By elementary school 10 percent of children are harassed by aggressive agemates, and peers view these targets differently. The expect victims to give up desirable objects, show signs of distress, and fail to retaliate far more often than nonvictims. 2). Some of the most extreme victims are also aggressive, picking arguments and fights. 3). Interventions that change victimized children's negative opinions of themselves and that teach them to respond in nonreinforcing ways to their attackers are vital. e. Controversial children are hostile and disruptive, but they also engage in high rates of positive, prosocial acts. f. Neglected children are usually well adjusted. They are considered shy by their classmates, but are not less socially skilled than average children. 7. Helping Rejected Children . a. Most interventions to help rejected children involve coaching, modeling, and reinforcement of positive social skills. b. Often rejected children are poor students, and intensive academic tutoring has been shown to improve both their school achievement and social acceptance. VII. GENDER TYPING . A. Gender Stereotyped Beliefs . 1. As children think more about people as personalities, they label some traits as more typical of one sex than the other. 2. Throughout the school years, children regard reading, art, and music as more for girls and mathematics, athletics, and mechanical skills as masculine. 3. Both children and adults are fairly tolerant of fernales' violations of gender roles, but they judge males' violations very harshly. B. Gender Identity and Behavior . 1. Self ratings on personality traits reveal that from third to sixth grade, boys strengthen their identification with the "masculine" role. 2. In contrast, girls' identification with "feminine" attributes declines: they still lean toward the "feminine" side, but they also begin to describe themselves as having some "other gender" charac teristics. 3. Perhaps girls realize that society attaches greater prestige to "masculine" traits. C. Cultural Influences on Gender Typing . 1. Girls are less likely to experiment with "masculine" activities in cultures and subcultures in which the gap between male and female roles is especially wide. 2. When social and economic conditions make it necessary for boys to take over "feminine" tasks, their personalities and behaviors become less stereotyped. VIII. FAMILY INFLUENCES . A. Parent Child Relationships . 1. During middle childhood, the amount of time children spend with parents declines dramatically. 2. Reasoning works more effectively with school age children because of their greater capacity for logical thinking and increased respect for parents' knowledge and skill. 3. Coregulation is a transitional form of supervision in which parents exercise general oversight, while permitting children to be in charge of moment by moment decision making. 4. Although school age children often press for greater independence, they know how much they need their parents' continuing support. B. Siblings . 1 Siblings provide one another with companionship, help with difficult tasks, and comfort during times of emotional stress. 2. In middle childhood, children participate in a wider range of activities, and parents often compare siblings' traits, abilities, and accomplishments which may lead to an increase in sibling rivalry. 3. When siblings are close in age and of the same sex, parental comparisons take place more frequently, and more quarreling and antagonism results. This effect is particularly strong when fathers prefer one child. 4. Even after brothers and sisters are born, the oldest child receives greater pressure for mature behavior from parents. As a result, the oldest child is slightly advantaged in IQ and school achievement. 5. Younger children tend to be more popular with agemates and they become especially skilled at negotiating and compromising. C. Only Children . 1. Sibling relationships are not essential for normal development. 2. Only children are just as well adjusted as other children and score higher in self esteem and achievement motivation. D. Divorce . 1. Currently, the divorce rate in the United States is the highest in the world. Over one million American children experience the separation and divorce of their parents each year. 2. Children spend an average of 5 years in a single parent home, or almost a third of their total childhood. 3. About two thirds of divorced parents marry a second time. Half of these children eventually experience the end of their parents' second marriage. 4. Immediate Consequences . a. In newly divorced households, many new conditions are evident. I ). Family conflict often rises. 2). Mother headed homes typically experience a sharp drop in income. 3). Three fourths of divorced women who are supposed to receive child support from the absent father get less than the full amount or none at all. 4). Divorced mothers often move to new housing for economic reasons, reducing supportive ties to neighbors and friends. b. "Minimal parenting" occurs when the typical home routine is no longer evident. Mothers dole out harsh and inconsistent discipline. Fathers who see their children only occasionally are inclined to be permissive and indulgent. C. Children's Age . Younger children often blame themselves and take the marital breakup as a sign they could be abandoned by both parents. They may whine and cling, displaying intense separation anxiety. 2). Preschoolers are especially likely to fantasize that their parents will get back together. 3). Older children can recognize that strong differences of opinion, incompatible personalities, and lack of caring for one another are responsible for parental divorce. 4). Particularly when family conflict is high, older children are likely to display adjustment difficulties. 5). For some older children especially the oldest child in the family divorce can trigger more mature behavior and the taking on of more responsibilities around the house. d. Children's Temperament and Sex . 1). When temperamentally difficult children are exposed to stressful life events and inadequate parenting, their problems are magnified. 2). Easy children are less often targets of parental anger and are also better able to cope with adversity when it hits. 3). Girls sometimes respond with internalizing reactions such as crying and withdrawal. At other times, they show demanding, attention getting behavior. 4). In mother custody families, boys experience more serious adjustment problems. 5). Children of both sexes show declines in school achievement during the aftermath of divorce, but school problems are greater for boys. 5. Long Term Consequences . a. The majority of children show improved adjustment by 2 years after divorce. b. Boys and children with difficult temperaments are especially likely to experience lasting emotional problems. C. Among girls, the major long term effects have to do with heterosexual behavior a rise in sexual activity at adolescence, teenage childbearing, and increased risk of divorce in their adult lives. d. The overriding factor in positive adjustment following divorce is effective parenting in particular, how well the custodial parent handles stress, shields the child from family conflict, and engages in authoritative parenting. e. Several studies indicate that outcomes for sons are better when the father is the custodial parent. f, There is clear evidence that remaining in a stressed intact family is much worse than making the transition to a low conflict, single parent household. 6. Divorce Mediation, Joint Custody, and Child Support . a. Divorce mediation is a series of meetings between divorcing adults and a trained professional, who tries to help them settle disputes. Its purpose is to avoid legal battles that intensify family conflict. b. In joint custody situations, the court grants both parents equal say in important decisions about the child's upbringing. C. All states have established procedures for withholding wages from parents who fail to make court ordered child support payments. E. Blended Families . 1. A blended, or reconstituted, family is a family structure resulting from remarriage of a divorced parent that includes parent, child, and new steprelatives. 2. Mother/Stepfather Families . a. Boys usually adjust quickly and welcome a stepfather who is warm and responsive. b. In contrast, stepfathers disrupt the close ties many girls established with mothers in a singleparent family, and girls often react with sulky, resistant behavior. C. Older school age and adolescent youngsters of both sexes find it harder to adjust to blended families. 3. Father/Stepmother Families . a. Research consistently reveals more confusion for children under father/stepmother family conditions. b. In the case of noncustodial fathers, remarriage often leads to reduced contact; they tend to withdraw from their "previous" families, more so if they have daughters rather than sons. c. Girls, especially, have a hard time getting along with their stepmothers. 4. Support for Blended Families . a. Family life education and therapy can help parents and children adapt to their new circumstances. b. Only when a warm bond has formed between Stepparents and stepchildren is more active parenting possible. F. Gay and Lesbian Families: 1 . Several million American gay men and lesbians are parents, most through heterosexual marriages that ended in divorce, a few through adoption or reproductive technologies. 2. Families headed by a homosexual parent or a gay or lesbian couple are very similar to those of heterosexuals. 3. Children of gay and lesbian parents are as well adjusted as other children, and the large majority are heterosexual. G. Maternal Employment and Dual Earner Families . 1. Today, single and married mothers are in the labor market in nearly equal proportions, and over 70 percent of those with school age children are employed. 2. Maternal Employment and Child Development . a. Children of mothers who enjoy their work and remain committed to parenting show especially positive adjustment. b. Employed mothers who value their parenting role are more likely to use authoritative child rearing. C. Daughters show more favorable outcomes than do sons. d. Working long hours and spending little time with school age children are associated with less favorable outcomes. 3. Support for Employed Parents and Their Families . a. In dual earner families, the husband's willingness to share household responsibilities is crucial. b. Part time employment and time off when children are ill help employed mothers juggle the demands of work and child rearing. 4. Child Care for School Age Children . a. Self care children are the estimated 2.4 million 5 to 13 year old in the United States who regularly look after themselves during after school hours. b. Self care children who have a history of authoritative child rearing, are monitored from a distance by telephone calls, and have regular after school chores appear responsible and well adjusted. C. Those children left to their own devices are more likely to bend to peer pressures and engage in antisocial behavior. d. After school programs for 6 to 13 year olds are rare in American communities IX. SOME COMMON PROBLEMS OF DEVELOPMENT . A. Fears and Anxieties . 1. As children begin to understand the realities of the wider world, the possibility of personal harm and media events often trouble them. 2. Fears decline steadily with age, especially for girls, who express more fears than do boys through out childhood and adolescence. 3. About 20 percent of school age youngsters develop an intense, unmanageable anxiety of some kind. 4. School phobia is a severe apprehension about attending school, often accompanied by physical complaints that disappear once the child is allowed to remain home. 5. Most cases of school phobia appear around I I to 13 and result when children find a particular aspect of the school experience frightening. 6. Several childhood anxieties may also arise from harsh living conditions. B. Child Sexual Abuse . 1. Characteristics of Abusers and Victims . a. Sexual abuse is committed more often against girls than boys. Reported cases are highest in middle childhood, but sexual abuse also occurs at younger and older ages. b. Generally, the abuser is a male a parent or someone whom the parent knows well. C. Abusers have great difficulty controlling their impulses, may suffer from psychological disorders, and are often addicted to alcohol or drugs. Often they pick out children who are physically weak, emotionally deprived, and socially isolated. d. Reported cases of child sexual abuse are strongly linked to poverty, marital instability, and resulting weakening of family ties. 2. Consequences of Sexual Abuse . a. The adjustment problems of child sexual abuse victims often include depression, low self-esteem, mistrust of adults, feelings of anger and hostility, and difficulties in getting along with peers. b. Younger children may have sleep difficulties, loss of appetite, and generalized fearfulness and anxiety. c. Adolescents may show runaway and suicidal reactions, substance abuse, and delinquency. d. Abused girls often enter into unhealthy relationships and many become promiscuous. 3. Prevention and Treatment . a. Once child sexual abuse is revealed, the reactions of family members can increase children's distress. b. Long term therapy with children and families is usually necessary. c. Prevention is the best way to reduce the suffering of child sexual abuse victims. 1). Courts are prosecuting abusers more rigorously. 2). Children's testimony is being taken more seriously, including the use of new courtroom procedures that protect them. 3). In schools, educational programs can help children recognize inappropriate sexual advances and show them where to go for help. 4). Educating teachers, caregivers, and other adults who work with children about the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse can help to identify victimized children and ensure they receive the help they need. C. Fostering Resilience in Middle Childhood . 1. Many studies indicate that only a modest relationship exists between stressful life experiences and psychological disturbances in childhood. 2. Three broad factors that consistently protect against maladjustment: a. Personal characteristics of children an easy temperament, high self esteem, and a mastery oriented approach to new situations. b. A family environment that provides warmth, closeness, and order and organization to the child's life. C. A person outside the immediate family who develops a special relationship with the child, offering a support system and a positive coping model. 3. When negative conditions pile up, the rate of maladjustment is multiplied. 4. Children are more vulnerable during periods of developmental transition because they are faced with many new tasks; social supports are especially important during these times.
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