Chapter 4: Middle Childhood Module 4.3 Social and Personality Development in Middle Childhood
Erikson – Psychosocial Development
Industry vs. Inferiority
6 to 12 years of age
Industry = feelings of mastery and proficiency and a growing sense of competence
Inferiority = feelings of failure and inadequacy
Characterized by a focus on efforts to attain competence in meeting the challenges related to:
Other complexities of the modern world
School Age Children
During middle childhood, children begin to view themselves:
Less in terms of external physical attributes
More in terms of psychological traits
Children realize they are good at some things and not so good at others
Self-concept and self-esteem continue to develop
Development of Self-esteem
Children look to others who are similar to themselves
Children increasingly compare themselves to others
Children are developing their own standards
Development of Self-esteem
Overall, self-esteem increases during middle childhood:
As children progress into the middle childhood years, however, their self-esteem is higher for some areas and lower in others. For example, a boy’s overall self-esteem may be composed of positive self-esteem in some areas (such as the positive feelings he gets from his artistic ability) and more negative self-esteem in others (such as the unhappiness he feels over his athletic skills).
On the other hand, students with high self-esteem travel a more positive path, falling into a cycle of success. Having higher expectations leads to increased effort and lower anxiety, increasing the probability of success. In turn, this helps affirm their higher self-esteem that began the cycle.
Promoting Development of Self-esteem
Use authoritative child-rearing style:
Authoritative parents are warm and emotionally supportive, while still setting clear limits for their children’s behavior.
In contrast, other parenting styles have less positive effects on self-esteem.
Parents who are highly punitive and controlling send a message to their children that they are untrustworthy and unable to make good decisions—a message that can undermine children’s sense of adequacy.
Highly indulgent parents, who indiscriminately praise and reinforce their children regardless of their actual performance, can create a false sense of self-esteem in their children, which ultimately may be just as damaging to children.
Race and Self-Esteem
Early research found that African Americans had lower self-esteem than whites - Set of pioneering studies a generation ago found that African American children shown black and white dolls preferred the white dolls over the black ones (Clark & Clark, 1947).
Picture is more complex regarding relative levels of self-esteem between members of different racial and ethnic groups:
White children initially show higher self-esteem than black children, black children begin to show slightly higher self-esteem than white children around the age of 11. This shift occurs as African-American children become more identified with their racial group, develop more complex views of racial identity, and increasingly view the positive aspects of their group membership.
Hispanic children, also show an increase in self-esteem toward the end of middle childhood, although even in adolescence their self-esteem still trails that of whites.
In contrast, Asian-American children show the opposite pattern: their self-esteem in elementary school is higher than whites and blacks, but by the end childhood, their self-esteem is lower than that of whites.
Social Identity Theory
Members of a minority group accept negative views held by majority group only if they perceive little realistic possibility of changing power and status differences between groups
If minority group members feel that prejudice and discrimination can be reduced, and they blame society for the prejudice and not themselves, self-esteem should not differ between majority and minority groups.
As group pride and ethnic awareness on the part of minority group members has grown, differences in self-esteem between members of different ethnic groups have narrowed.
Children of Immigrant Families
More than 13 million children in the U.S. are either foreign born or the children of immigrants—some one-fifth of the total population of children.
Tend to have equal or better grades than children with US born parents
Often more highly motivated to succeed and place greater value on education than do children in nonimmigrant families
Show similar levels of self-esteem to nonimmigrant children
Report feeling less popular and less in control of their lives
The story is less clear, however, when immigrant children reach adolescence and adulthood.
Moral Development: Kohlberg
Proposes series of fixed stages in development of moral reasoning
Uses moral dilemmas to assess moral reasoning
Provides good account of moral judgment but not adequate at predicting moral behavior
Preconventional Morality (stages 1 & 2): people follow unvarying rules based on rewards and punishments
Conventional Morality (stages 3 & 4) is where people approach problems in terms of their own position as good, responsible members of society
Postconventional Morality (stages 5 & 6) is where universal moral principles are invoked and considered broader than a particular society
Based solely on observations of members of Western cultures
Theory initially based largely on data from males
Way boys and girls raised leads to differences in moral reasoning:
Boys view morality primarily in terms of justice and fairness.
Girls see morality in terms of responsibility and compassion toward individuals and a willingness to sacrifice for relationships.
Suggests Kohlberg’s theory inadequate and places girls’ moral reasoning at lower level than boys’
Gilligan’s Stages of Morality in Girls
Friends in Middle Childhood
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
Allow children to practice relationship skills
Damon’s Stages of Friendship
Stage 1 (ages 4-7 years)
Children see friends as like themselves
Children see friends as people to share toys and activities with
Children do not take into account personal traits
Damon’s Stages of Friendship
Stage 2 (ages 8-10 years)
Children now begin to take other’s personal qualities and traits into consideration
Friends are viewed in terms of kinds of rewards they provide
Friendships are based on mutual trust
Damon’s Stages of Friendship
Stage 3 (ages 11-15 years)
Friendships become based on intimacy and loyalty
Friendships involve mutual disclosure and exclusivity
Children’s friendships show clear hierarchies in terms of STATUS
STATUS is the evaluation of a role or person by other relevant members of a group
High Status Children
Form friendships with high status children
More likely to form exclusive and desirable cliques
Tend to play with a greater number of children
Have greater access to resources such as games, toys, books, and information
Low Status Children
Form friendships with other lower status children
Tend to play with a lower number of children than higher status children
Are more likely to play with younger or less popular children
Tend to follow the lead of higher status children
Social Competence - A collection of individual social skills that permit children to perform successfully in social settings.
High social competence correlated with popularity
Helpful and cooperative
Good sense of humor
Good emotional understanding
Ask for help when necessary
Not overly reliant on others
Adaptive to social situations
Social problem-solving skill competence
Although generally popular children are friendly, open, and cooperative, one subset of popular boys displays an array of negative behaviors, including being aggressive, disruptive, and causing trouble. Despite these behaviors, they may be viewed as cool and tough by their peers, and they are often remarkably popular. This popularity may occur in part because they are seen as boldly breaking rules that others feel constrained to follow.
Lack social competence
Immature or inappropriately silly
Overly aggressive and overbearing
Withdrawn or shy
Unattractive, handicapped, obese, or slow academically
Lack of popularity may take two forms:
NEGLECTED CHILDREN receive relatively little attention from their peers in the form of either positive or negative interaction
REJECTED CHILDREN are actively disliked and their peers may react to them in an obviously negative manner
Teaching Social Competence
Several programs teach children set of social skills that underlie general social competence:
Susan H. Spence. (2003) Social Skills Training with Children and Young People: Theory, Evidence and Practice. Child and Adolescent Mental Health : 2, 84–96.
Making Friends: Parents Can Teach Children How to Make Friends/Boystown Tip Sheet. Available at: http://www.boystownpediatrics.org/ParentTips/makefriends.asp
160,000 U.S. schoolchildren stay home from school each day because they are afraid of being bullied
About 10 to 15 percent of students bully others at one time or another.
About half of all bullies come from abusive homes.
Some 90 percent of middle-school students report being bullied at some point in their time at school, beginning as early as the preschool years
Characteristics of Bullied Children:
Loners who are fairly passive
Often cry easily
Lack the social skills that might otherwise defuse a bullying situation
The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School--How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence Barbara Coloroso
Bullying - Relational Aggression Among Girls
Odd Girl Speaks Out: Girls Write about Bullies, Cliques, Popularity, and Jealousy Rachel Simmons
Mean Chicks, Cliques, and Dirty Tricks: A Real Girl's Guide to Getting Through the Day With Smarts and Style Erika V Shearin Karres
GirlWise: How to Be Confident, Capable, Cool, and in Control Julia Devillers
Mean Girls Grown Up: Adult Women Who Are Still Queen Bees, Middle Bees, and Afraid-to-Bees Cheryl Dellasega
Surviving Ophelia: Mothers Share Their Wisdom in Navigating the Tumultuous Teenage Years Cheryl Dellasega
Avoidance of opposite sex becomes very pronounced during middle childhood
Children’s friendships are almost entirely sex-segregated
When sexes interact it is called “border work”, it is often romantic, and helps emphasize clear boundaries between sexes
Boys and Friendship
Larger networks of friends than girls do
Strict DOMINANCE HIERARCHY - which is composed of rankings that represent the relative social power of those in a group hierarchy.
Attempt to maintain and improve status in hierarchy, makes for a style of play known as restrictive play where interactions are interrupted when status is challenged.
Girls and Friendships
Focus on one or two “best friends” of relatively equal status
Conflicts solved by compromise, ignoring situation, or giving in
Can be confrontational with other girls not their friends
Language is less confrontational and direct than boys’
Closest friendships largely with others of same race
Decline with age in number and depth of friendships outside own racial group
By the time they are 11 or 12, it appears that African American children become particularly aware of and sensitive to the prejudice and discrimination directed toward members of their race.
At that point, they are more like to make distinctions between members of ingroups (groups to which people feel they belong) and members of outgroups.
A good deal of research supports the notion that contact between majority and minority group members can reduce prejudice and discrimination (Kerner & Aboud, 1998; Hewstone, 2003).
Reducing prejudice through contact between groups:
Must occur in equal status settings
Enhanced through cooperative activities that are important to children
Must promote equality and disconfirm negative stereotypes
What Parents and Teachers can do to increase social competence:
It is clear that building and maintaining friendships is critical in children’s lives:
Encourage social interaction. Teachers can devise ways in which children are led to take part in group activities, and parents can encourage membership in such groups as Brownies and Cub Scouts or participation in team sports.
Teach listening skills to children. Show them how to listen carefully and respond to the underlying meaning of a communication as well as its overt content.
Make children aware that people display emotions and moods nonverbally and that consequently they should pay attention to others’ nonverbal behavior, not just to what they are saying on a verbal level.
Teach conversational skills, including the importance of asking questions and self-disclosure. Encourage students to use “I” statements in which they clarify their own feelings or opinions, and avoid making generalizations about others.
Don’t ask children to choose teams or groups publicly. Instead, assign children randomly: It works just as well in ensuring a distribution of abilities across groups and avoids the public embarrassment of a situation in which some children are chosen last.
Middle Childhood in the 21 st Century
Co-regulation with parents - children and parents jointly control behavior.
Sibling relationships and rivalry - Although brothers and sisters can provide support, companionship, and a sense of security, they can also be a source of strife.
increase in the number of parents who both work outside of the home
increase in divorce rate
increase in single-parent families
When Both Parents Work Outside the Home
In most cases, children fare quite well
Are sensitive to their children’s needs
Provide appropriate substitute care
Good adjustment of children relates to psychological adjustment of parents, especially mothers:
In general, women who are satisfied with their lives tend to be more nurturing with their children.
When work provides a high level of satisfaction, then, mothers who work outside of the home may be more psychologically supportive of their children.
Children with mothers and fathers who work full-time spend essentially the same amount of time with family, in class, with friends, and alone as children in families where one parent stays at home.
Youngsters who let themselves into their homes after school and wait alone until their parents return from work
Consequences of being a latchkey child are not all harmful
Some children report being lonely
Some children develop a sense of independence and competence
Some research shows latchkey children have higher self-esteem because they are helping family
Only half of children in the U.S. will pass through childhood living with both parents each of whom has been married only once
School-age children tend to blame themselves for the breakup
By the age of 10, children feel pressure to choose sides, taking the position of either the mother or the father. Because of this, they experience some degree of divided loyalty.
For many children, there are minimal long-term consequences.
Immediately after the Divorce
Both children and parents may show several types of psychological maladjustments for 6 months to 2 years
Rediscovering the Status Quo
After 18 months to 2 years, most children return to their predivorce psychological adjustment
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
How children react to divorce depends on several factors. One is the economic standing of the family the child is living with. In many cases, divorce brings a decline in both parents' standards of living. When this occurs, children may be thrown into poverty.
Almost one-quarter of all children under 18 in the U.S. live with only one parent
Numbers are higher for minority children
60% of African-American children live in single parent homes
35% of Hispanic children live in single parent homes
In majority of cases, single parent is mother
Consequences of living in single parent home depend on:
Whether other parent ever lived at home
Amount of time that the parent is able to spend with the child
Degree of stress in the household
Opportunity for rich experiences and conflicts
Greater among African Americans than among Caucasians
In some families, cultural norms tend to be highly supportive of grandparents taking an active role
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
In 1980, 2.3 million (4%) children under 18 were living in a grandparent(s)' home
Now around 4 million (6%) living with grandparents
48% of grandparent caregivers range between 50 and 64 years
33% under the age of 50 and 19% over the age of 65
I nclude remarried couple that has at least one stepchild living with them
Experts predict that by 2000, over 50 percent of children born in the last decade will be stepchildren
Living in blended family involves role ambiguity, in which roles and expectations are unclear
School-age children often adjust relatively smoothly to a blended family:
Financial status of family improves
More people to share household chore
More social interaction and attention
But…not all children adjust well, especially if the new relationship is threatening
Families with Gay and Lesbian Parents
Between one and five million US families headed by two lesbians or two gay parents - some 6 million children have lesbian or gay parents.
Growing body of research suggests that there is little developmental difference between children whose parents are gay and lesbian and heterosexual parents.
Most studies find children:
Develop similarly to children of heterosexual families
Have sexual orientation unrelated to their parents
Have no more or less gender-typed behavior
Seem equally well adjusted
Have similar relationships with their peers and adults
Have romantic relationships and sexual behavior that are no different from those of adolescents living with opposite-sex parents
What is clearly different for children with same-sex parents is the possibility of discrimination and prejudice due to their parents’ homosexuality.
As U.S. citizens engage in an ongoing and highly-politicized debate regarding the legality of gay and lesbian marriage, children of such unions may feel singled out and victimized because of societal stereotypes and discrimination.
Race and Family Life
Frequently willing to offer welcome and support to extended family members in their homes.
Relatively high proportion of families headed by older adults, such as grandparents, and some studies find that children in grandmother-headed households are particularly well adjusted.
Particularly strong sense of family
Children are taught to value their ties to their families, and they come to see themselves as a central part of an extended family.
Ultimately, their sense of who they are becomes tied to the family. Hispanic families also tend to be relatively larger, with an average size of 3.71.
Stress importance of family life, community, and religious organizations
Although relatively little research has been conducted on Asian-American families, emerging findings suggest that fathers are more apt to be powerful figures, maintaining discipline.
In keeping with the more collectivist orientation of Asian cultures, children tend to believe that family needs have a higher priority than personal needs, and males, in particular, are expected to care for their parents throughout their lifetimes.
Poverty and Family Life
Fewer basic everyday resources
More disruptions in children’s lives
Higher likelihood of stress
The stress of difficult family environments, along with other stress in the lives of poor children—such as living in unsafe neighborhoods with high rates of violence and attending inferior schools—ultimately takes its toll.
Economically disadvantaged children are at risk for poorer academic performance, higher rates of aggression, and conduct problems. In addition, declines in economic well-being have been linked to mental health problems.
Term “orphanage” replaced by group home or residential treatment center
Group homes used for youngsters whose parents are no longer able to care for them adequately
The number of children in group care has grown over 50 percent
About three-quarters of children in group homes are victims of abuse and neglect
Most will eventually return home, however, one-fourth will be in group care throughout childhood
Experts disagree on advantages and disadvantages of group care
Some see them as solution to unwed mothers who become dependent on welfare
Many who work in these homes say they cannot provide adequate love and support as family could
Group homes cost ten times as much as foster care or welfare