By the time they are 3 or 4 years of age, preschool-age children notice differences among people based on skin color, and they begin to identify themselves as a member of a particular group such as “Hispanic” or “black.”
Although early in the preschool years they do not realize that ethnicity and race are enduring features of who they are, later they begin to develop an understanding of the significance that society places on ethnic and racial membership.
The phenomenon in which minority children indicate preferences for majority values or people.
Some studies find that as many as 90 percent of African American children, when asked about their reactions to drawings of black and white children, react more negatively to the drawings of black children than to those of white children.
However, these negative reactions did not translate into lower self-esteem for the African American subjects.
Instead, their preferences appear to be a result of the powerful influence of the dominant white culture, rather than a disparagement of their own racial characteristics.
Nature of pretend, or make-believe, play changes during the preschool period:
Becomes increasingly un realistic and more imaginative
Change from using only realistic objects to using less concrete ones
At the start of the preschool period, children may pretend to listen to a radio only if they actually have a plastic radio that looks realistic. Later, however, they are more likely to use an entirely different object, such as a large cardboard box, as a pretend radio.
Children of authoritarian parents tend to be withdrawn, showing relatively little sociability. They are not very friendly, often behaving uneasily around their peers. Girls who are raised by authoritarian parents are especially dependent on their parents, whereas boys are unusually hostile.
Permissive parents have children who, in many ways, share the undesirable characteristics of children of authoritarian parents. Children with permissive parents tend to be dependent and moody, and they are low in social skills and self-control.
Children whose parents show uninvolved parenting styles are the worst off. Their parents’ lack of involvement disrupts their emotional development considerably, leading them to feel unloved and emotionally detached, and impedes their physical and cognitive development as well.
Children of authoritative parents fare best. They generally are independent, friendly with their peers, self-assertive, and cooperative. They have strong motivation to achieve, and they are typically successful and likable. They regulate their own behavior effectively, both in terms of their relationships with others and emotional self-regulation.
Almost half of mothers with children less than 4 years of age have spanked their child in the previous week, and close to 20 percent of mothers believe it is appropriate to spank a child less than 1 year of age. In some other cultures, physical discipline is even more common.
Spanking is associated with lower quality of parent-child relationships, poorer mental health for both child and parent, higher levels of delinquency, and more antisocial behavior. Spanking also teaches children that violence is an acceptable solution to problems by serving as a model of violent, aggressive behavior. Consequently, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the use of physical punishment of any sort is not recommended.
CYCLE-OF-VIOLENCE HYPOTHESIS - argues that the abuse and neglect children suffer predisposes them as adults to be abusive
Victims of abuse have learned from their childhood experiences that violence is an appropriate and acceptable form of discipline. Violence may be perpetuated from one generation to another, as each generation learns to behave abusively (and fails to learn the skills needed to solve problems and instill discipline without resorting to physical violence) through its participation in an abusive, violent family.
Some children survive and grow into psychologically healthy adults
Others suffer long-term damage:
Low self-esteem, depression, suicide
Underachievement in school
Abuse and Brain Development: A Tragic Relationship
Brains of victims undergo permanent changes
Reductions in size of amygdala and hippocampus in adulthood
Changes due to overstimulation of the limbic system
The stress, fear, and terror produced by abuse may also produce permanent changes in the brain due to overstimulation of the limbic system. Because the limbic system is involved in the regulation of memory and emotion, the result can be antisocial behavior during adulthood.
Aggression - Intentional injury or harm to another person; relatively stable trait
Early preschool years and aggression
Often addressed at attaining desired goal
Declines through preschool years as does frequency and average length of episodes
Extreme and sustained aggression is cause of concern
Aggression among preschoolers is quite common, though violent attacks are not. The potential for verbal hostility, shoving matches, kicking, and other forms of aggression is present throughout the preschool period, although the degree to which aggression is acted out changes as children become older.
Instrumental aggression - is aggression motivated by the desire to obtain a concrete goal, such as playing with a desirable toy that another child is playing with.
Motivated by desire to obtain a concrete goal
Higher in boys than girls
Relational aggression - which is non-physical aggression that is intended to hurt another person’s feelings.
Intended to hurt another person’s feelings through non-physical means
Higher in girls than boys
Explanations for Aggressive Behavior Among Children
FREUD: death drive leads aggressive actions and behavior
LORENZ: fighting instinct found in all humans
SOCIOBIOLOGISTS: strengthening species drives aggression
SOCIAL-LEARNING: prior learning shapes aggression
COGNITIVE: interpretation of others’ actions and situations influences aggression
Albert Bandura Social Learning Theory and Aggression
Bobo doll studies:
(click on the link below or cut and paste the URL)
Albert Bandura Social Learning Theory and Aggression
As predicted by social learning approaches, the preschool-age children modeled the behavior of the adult. Those who had seen the aggressive model playing with the Bobo doll were considerably more aggressive than those who had watched the calm, non-aggressive model playing with the Tinkertoys.
Findings have profound consequences, particularly for children who live in communities in which violence is prevalent.
One survey conducted in a city public hospital found that 1 in 10 children under the age of 6 said they had witnessed a shooting or stabbing. Other research indicates that one-third of the children in some urban neighborhoods have seen a homicide and that two-thirds have seen a serious assault. Such frequent exposure to violence certainly increases the probability that observers will behave aggressively themselves.
Children’s television programs actually contain higher levels of violence (69 %) than other types of programs (57%)
Results are primarily correlational, the overwhelming weight of research evidence is clear in suggesting that observation of televised aggression does lead to subsequent aggression. Longitudinal studies have found that children’s preferences for violent television shows at age 8 are related to the seriousness of criminal convictions by age 30.
Observation of media violence can lead to a greater readiness to act aggressively, bullying, and to an insensitivity to the suffering of victims of violence.
See APA Online study: http://www.apa.org/releases/media_violence.html
The One-Eyed Monster? Children’s programs contain more than twice as many violent incidents than other types of programs.
How to Increasing Moral Behavior and Reduce Aggression
Provide opportunities for preschool-age children to observe others acting in a cooperative, helpful, prosocial manner. Encourage them to interact with peers in joint activities in which they share a common goal. Such cooperative activities can teach the importance and desirability of working with—and helping—others.
Do not ignore aggressive behavior. Parents and teachers should intervene when they see aggression in preschoolers, and send a clear message that aggression is an unacceptable means to resolve conflicts.
Help preschoolers devise alternative explanations for others’ behavior. This is particularly important for children who are prone to aggression and who may be apt to view others’ conduct as more hostile than it actually is. Parents and teachers should help such children see that the behavior of their peers has several possible interpretations.
Monitor preschoolers’ television viewing, particularly the violence that they view. There is good evidence that observation of televised aggression results in subsequent increases in children’s levels of aggression. At the same time, encourage preschoolers to watch particular shows that are designed, in part, to increase the level of moral conduct, such as Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Barney.