SECTION 4: EARLY CHILDHOOD
Chapter 9: Socioemotional Development in Early Childhood
EMOTIONAL AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT
Initiative Versus Guilt
o Childrenhave becomeconvincedthat theyarepersons
of their own; mustdiscover what kind ofperson they
o Children at this stage exuberantly move out into a
wider social world.
o The great governor ofinitiative is conscience.
o Their initiative and enthusiasm may bring them not
only rewards but also punishments.
o If children aremade to feelthat their motoractivity is
bad, thattheirquestions area nuisance,andthattheir
play is silly and stupid, thenthey often develop a sense
of guilt over self-initiated activities that may persist
through life’s later stages.
Self-Understanding is the child’s representation of self, the
substance and content ofself-conceptions.
o Based on the various roles and membershipcategories
that define who children are.
o The roots of self-understanding begin with self-
recognition, which takes place by approximately 18
o Young children distinguish themselves from others
through many different physical and material
o The active dimensionis a central component oftheself
in early childhood. Preschool children often describe
themselves in terms ofactivities such as play.
Young Children’s Emotion Language and Understanding
o Between 2 and 3 years ofage, children continue to
increase the number of terms they use to describe
o At 4 to 5 years of age, children show an increased
ability to reflect on emotions.
o They show a growing awareness about controlling and
managing emotions to meet social standards.
Self-ConsciousEmotions requirethatchildren beable to refer to
themselves and beaware ofthemselves as distinct from others.
o Pride, shame, embarrassment, and guilt are self-
o They are especially influenced by parents’ responses
o In one study, girls showed moreshameandpridethan
Emotion-Coaching and Emotion-Dismissing Parents
o Emotion-coaching parents monitor their children’s
emotions, viewtheirchildren’s negative emotions as
opportunities for teaching, assist them in labeling
emotions, andcoach them in how to deal effectively
o Emotion-dismissing parents viewtheirroleas todeny,
ignore, or change negative emotions.
2 to 3 years Increase emotion vocabulary most rapidly.
Correctlylabel simple emotions inselfand others and talk
about past, present, and future emotions.
Talk about thecauses andconsequences ofsome emotions
and identify emotions associatedwith certain situations.
Use emotion language in pretend play.
4 to 5 years Show increased capacity to reflect verbally on emotions
and to considermorecomplex relations betweenemotions
Understandthatthesame event may call forth different
feelings in different people and that feelings sometimes
persist long after the events that caused them.
Demonstrate growing awareness about controlling and
managing emotions in accord with social standards.
Some Characteristics of Young Children’s Emotion Language and
Moral Developmentinvolves the development ofthoughts, feelings, and
behaviors regarding rules and conventions about what people should do in
their interactions with other people.
Piaget’sView ofMoral Reasoning
o 4 to 7 years of age, children display heteronomous
morality, the first stage of moral development in
Piaget’s theory. Children think ofjustice and rules as
unchangeableproperties ofthe world, removed from
the control ofpeople.
o 7 to 10 years of age, children are in a transition
showing some features of the first stage of moral
reasoning and some features of the second stage,
o 10 years ofage andolder, children show autonomous
morality, the second stage of moral development.
They becomeaware that rules andlaws are createdby
people, and in judging an action, they consider the
actor’s intentions as well as the consequences.
o The heteronomous thinkeralsobelieves in immanent
justice, Piaget’s concept that if a rule is broken,
punishment will be meted out immediately.
o The process of reinforcement, punishment, and
imitationareused to explainchildren’s moral behavior.
o Moral behavior is influenced extensively by the
situation. The totally honest child was virtually
nonexistent; so was the child who cheated in all
o Social cognitivetheorists alsobelievethattheability to
resisttemptation is closely tied to thedevelopment of
o Superego, the moralbranch ofpersonality according to
Freud, thatdevelops as thechild resolves theOedipus
conflict and identifies with thesame-sex parent in the
early childhood years.
o Among the reasons children resolve the Oedipus
conflict is thefear oflosing their parents’ love and of
being punishedfor theirunacceptable sexual wishes
toward the opposite-sex parent.
o In the psychoanalytic account ofmoral development,
the self-punitiveness ofguilt is responsiblefor keeping
the child from committing transgressions. That is,
childrenconform tosocietal standards to avoid guilt.
o Positivefeelings, such as empathy, contribute to the
child’s moral development. Empathy is reacting to
another’s feelings with anemotional response that is
similar to the other’s feelings.
Gender refers tothesocialand psychological dimensions ofbeing male or
Two aspects of gender bear special mention:
1. Gender identity is thesense ofbeing maleor female, which most
children acquire by the time they are 3 years old.
2. Gender role is a set ofexpectations thatprescribes how females
or males should think, act, and feel.
o Estrogens, such as estradiol, influence the
development offemale physical sex characteristics.
o Androgens, such as testosterone, promote the
development ofmale physical sex characteristics.
o Parents are onlyone ofmany sources through which
children learn gender roles.
o Social Theories ofGender
1. Social Role Theory, which states that gender
differences result from the contrasting roles of
women and men.
2. Psychoanalytic Theory of Gender, the child
identifies with the same-sex parent,
unconsciously adopting the same-sex parent’s
3. Social Cognitive Theory of Gender, children’s
gender development occurs throughobservation
and imitation, and through the rewards and
punishments children experience for gender-
o Parental Influences
o Parents by actionand by example, influence
their children’s gender development.
o Mothers are more consistently given
responsibility for nurturance and physical
o Fathers aremore likely to engage inplayful
interaction and to be given responsibility
for ensuring that boys andgirls conform to
existing cultural norms.
o Fathers seem to play as especially
important partin gender-roledevelopment.
They are more likely than mothers to act
differently towards sons and daughters.
o Peer Influences
o Gender composition of children’s groups.
Around the ageof3, children already show
a preferenceto spend time with same-sex
playmates. From 4 to 12 years ofage, this
preference for playing in same-sex groups
increases, and during theelementary school
years children spend a large majority of
their free time with children oftheir own
o Group size. From about 5 years of age
onward, boys aremore likely to associate
together in larger clusters than girls are.
Boys are also more likely to participate in
organized group games than girls are. Girls
were more likely than boys to play in dyads
or triads, while boys were more likely to
interact inlarger groups and seek to attain a
o Interaction in same-sex groups. Boys are
more likely than girls to engage in rough-
and-tumble play, competition, conflict, ego
displays, risk taking, and seeking
dominance. By contrast, girls are more
likely to engage in “collaborative
discourse,” in which they talk and act in a
more reciprocal manner.
o Two cognitivetheories stress thatindividuals actively
construct their gender world:
1. CognitiveDevelopmental Theory ofGender states that
children’s gender typing occurs after children think of
themselves as boys and girls.
2. Gender Schema Theory states that gender typing
emerges as children gradually developgender schemas
of what is gender-appropriate and gender-
inappropriate in their culture.
o Schema is a cognitivestructure, a network
ofassociations that guide an individual’s
o Gender schema organizes the world in
terms offemale and male.
According to Diana Baumrind(1971), parents should neither punitive nor
aloof. Rather, they shoulddeveloprules for their children and beaffectionate
with them. She identified four types:
1. AuthoritarianParentingis a restrictive, punitive style in which
parents exhort the child to follow their directions and respect
their work and effort; places limits and controls and allows little
verbal exchange;might spank the child frequently, enforce rules
rigidly but not explain them, and show rage toward the child;
Childrenareoften unhappy, fearful, andanxious; they oftenfailto
initiate activity, and have weak communication skills.
2. AuthoritativeParentingencourages children to be independent
but still places limits and controls on their actions; extensive
verbal give-and-take is allowed; children are often cheerful, self-
controlled, self-reliant, and achievement-oriented; maintain
friendly relations withpeers, cooperatewith adults, andcopewell
3. Neglectful parenting is a style in which the parent is very
uninvolved in the child’s life; Children tend to be socially
incompetent; may have poor self-control and don’t handle
independence well; Frequently have low self-esteem, are
immature,andmay bealienatedfrom thefamily. Inadolescence,
they may show patterns oftruancy and delinquency.
4. Indulgent Parentingis a style ofparenting in which parents are
very involved with their children but place few demands or
controls on them. Theseparents let their children do what they
want. Childrenrarely learn respectfor others and have difficulty
controlling their behavior. They might be domineering,
egocentric,noncompliant, andhave difficulties in peer relations.
Classification ofParenting Styles
Here are some of the reasons whyspanking or other forms ofintense
punishment with children should be avoided:
o When intense punishment such as yelling, screaming, or
spanking is used,the adult is presenting the child with an
out-of-control model for handling stressful situations.
o Can still fear, rage, or avoidance in children.
o Tells children what not to do rather than what to do.
o Can be abusive.
Most child psychologists recommend reasoning with the child,
especially explaining the consequences ofthe child’s actions for
others, as thebestwayto handlechildren’s misbehaviors (Strauss,
Time-out, in which thechild is removedfrom a setting where the
child experiences positivereinforcement, can also be effective.
Child Abuse is a diverse condition, that it is usually mild to
moderate in severity, and that it is only partially caused by
personalitycharacteristics ofthe parent. The abuser is a raging,
uncontrolled physical abuser, in many cases the abuser is an
overwhelmed single mother in poverty who neglects the child.
o The public andmany professionals use the term child
abuse to refer to both abuse and neglect,
developmentalists increasingly use the term child
The four main types ofchild maltreatment:
1. Physical abuse is characterized by the infliction ofphysical
injury as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting,
burning, shaking, or otherwise physically harming the child.
2. Child neglect is characterized by failure to provide for the
child’s basic needs.
a. Physical neglectincludes refusal of, or delay in,
seeking health care; abandonment; expulsion
from the home orrefusal to allow a runaway to
return home; and inadequate supervision.
b. Educational neglect involves the allowance of
chronic truancy, failure to enroll a child of
mandatory school age in school, and failure to
attend to a special education need.
c. Emotional neglect includes such actions as
marked inattention to the child’s needs for
affection; refusal of or failure to provide
necessary psychologicalcare; spouseabusein the
child’s presence; and allowing drug or alcohol use
by the child.
3. Sexual abuse includes fondling a child’s genitals,
intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism, and
commercial exploitation through prostitution or the
production ofpornographic materials.
o Most underreported type of child maltreatment
because ofthe secrecy or “conspiracy ofsilence”
4. Emotional abuse (psychological abuse/verbal
abuse/mental injury) includes acts oromissions by parents
or other caregivers thathave caused, or could cause, serious
behavioral, cognitive, or emotional problems.
Parental cooperation and warmth are linked with
children’s prosocial behaviorandcompetence in peer
Good Parenting Takes Time and Effort
Sibling Relationships and Birth Order
Sibling Relationships includehelping, sharing,teaching, fighting,
and playing. Childrencan act as emotional supports, rivals, and
Birth order by itself often is not a good predictor of
The Changing Family in aChanging Society
o As Lois Hoffman (1989) commented, maternal
employmentis a partofmodernlife. The needs ofthe
growing childrequirethemother to loosen her hold on
o A number ofresearchers have found no detrimental
effects of maternal employment on children’s
Children in Divorced Families
o Are children better adjusted in intact, never-divorced
families than in divorced families?
Most researchers agree that children from
divorced families showpooreradjustment.
More likely tohaveacademic problems, to
show externalized problems, and
One recentstudy found that 20years after
their parents had divorced when they were
children, approx.80% ofadults concluded
that their parents’ decisionto divorcewas a
o Should parents stay together for the sake of the
Marital conflict may have negative
consequences for children in thecontext of
marriage or divorce.
o How much do family processes matter in divorced
A number ofresearchers have shown that a
disequilibrium, which includes diminished
parenting skills, occurs in the year following
the divorcebutthat, by twoyears after the
divorce, restabilization has occurred and
parenting skills have improved.
o What factors are involved in the child’s individual risk
and vulnerability in a divorced family?
Child’s adjustment prior to the divorce, as
well as the child’s personality and
temperament, gender, and custody
Children in join-custody families were
better adjusted than children in sole-
custody families (Bauserman, 2002).
Gay and Lesbian Parents
o Approximately 20%oflesbians and 10% ofgaymenare
parents, mostofwhomhavechildrenfrom a
heterosexual marriage thatended ina divorce
o An important aspect oflesbianand gay families with
childrenis thesexual identity ofparents at the time of
a child’s birthor adoption (Patterson,2002).
o Another issue focuses oncustody arrangements for
children(Peplau &Beals, 2004).
o Researchers havefoundfew differences among
childrengrowing upwith lesbianmothers or gay
fathers andchildrengrowing upwith heterosexual
parents (Patterson, 2002).
PEER RELATIONS, PLAY, AND TELEVISION
Good peer relations can be necessary for normal social
development. Special concerns focus on children who are
withdrawn and aggressive.
Peers are children of about the same age or maturity level.
Play is a pleasurable activity that is engaged in for its own sake.
o Play increases affiliationwithpeers,releases tension,
advances cognitive development, increases
exploration, and provides a safe haven in which to
engage in potentially dangerous behavior.
o According to Freudand Erikson, play is an especially
useful form ofhuman adjustment, helping the child
master anxieties and conflicts.
Play therapy allows the child to work off
o Piaget maintained that play advances children’s
cognitive development. Play permits children to
practice their competencies and acquired skills in a
relaxed, pleasurable way.
o Vygotsky also considered play to be an excellent
setting for cognitive development.
o Daniel Berlyne described play as exciting and
pleasurablein itselfbecause it satisfies ourexploratory
Parten’s Classic Study ofPlay (Mildred Parten, 1932)
o Unoccupied play. The child may stand in one spot or
perform randommovements that donotseemto have
o Solitary play. Happens when a child plays alone and
o Onlooker play. Takes place when the child watches
other children play.
o Parallel play. Occurs when thechild plays separately
from others but with toys like those the others are
using or in a manner that mimics their play.
o Associative play. Involves socialinteraction with little
or no organization. Children seem to be more
interested in each other than in the tasks they are
o Cooperative play. Consists ofsocial interaction in a
group with a sense of group identity and organized
activity. Formal games, competitionaimed at winning,
and groups formed by the teacher for doing things
together are examples ofcooperative play.
o Sensorimotor play is behavior that is engaged in by
infants toderivepleasure fromexercising their existing
o PracticePlay involves therepetition ofbehavior when
new skills are being learned or when physical or
mental mastery and coordination ofskills are required
for games or sports. Ex. Running, jumping, sliding,
twirling, and throwing balls or other objects.
o Pretense/Symbolic Play. Occurs when the child
transforms the physical environment into a symbol.
Many experts on playconsider the preschool years the
“golden age” of symbolic/pretense play that is
dramatic or sociodramatic in nature. This type of
make-believeplay often appears at about 18 months
ofage and reaches a peakat 4 to 5 years ofage, then
o Social play. Playthat involves social interaction with
o Constructive play. Combines sensorimotor and
repetitive activity with symbolic representation of
ideas.Occurs when children engage in self-regulated
creation or construction of a product or a problem
o Games. Are activities that are engaged infor pleasure
that includerules and often competition with one or
In one study, thehighestincidenceofgame
playing occurredbetween 10 and 12 years
ofage (Eiferman, 1971).
In the 1990s, children watched an average of 26 hours of
television each week, whichis more than any otheractivity except
sleep (NationalCenter for Children Exposed to Violence, 2001).
Up to 80% of the prime-timeshows includeviolentacts, including
beatings, shootings, and stabbings. The frequency ofviolence
increases on theSaturday morning cartoon shows,whichaverage
more than 25 violent acts per hour.
Effects of Television on Children’s Aggression and Prosocial
Exposure tomedia violenceat 6to 10years ofagewas
linked with young adult aggressive behavior for both
males and females (Heusmann & others, 2003).
There is increased concern about children who play
violent video games,especially those that are highly
realistic (Vastag, 2004).
Adolescents who frequently play violent electronic
games are more likely to engage in delinquent
behavior and are rated as more aggressive by their
teachers (Anderson & Dill, 2000).
A recent panelofleading experts concludedthat media
violencecan haveharmful short-term and long-term
effects on children (Anderson, 2003).
Televisioncan also teach children that it is better to
behave inpositive, prosocial ways than in negative,
antisocial ways ( Wilson, 2001).
Kail, R. V. and Cavanaugh, J. C. (2013). Human Development: A Life Span View. 6th
edition. Cengage Learning Asia Pte Ltd.
Santrock, J.W. (2006). Life-Span Perspective.10th
Edition. McGraw-Hill. New York.
Mrs. Maria Angela L. Diopol