Psychological Development in Early Childhood

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Chapter Eight: Psychological Development in Early Childhood (about 4 to 6 years)

Self-Concept - image of oneself; evaluation of self.

- by 18 months, they can recognize themselves in the mirror (self-recognition) - by age 4, they are able to describe themselves
- they begin to form impressions of themselves and can make qualitative evaluations - they can provide self-descriptions of themselves (name, where they live, activities they like) - real self vs. ideal self

Self-Definitions: A Neo-Piagetian View - children proceed through three stages of self-definitions

Age Four - Single Representations

- limited view of self
- describe themselves in simple all-or-nothing statements
- no 'blend' of different qualities (not possible to be "happy" and "scared" at the same time)

Ages Five and Six - Representational Mapping

- understand that they possess many different qualities
- but, still define themselves in all-or-nothing statements

Ages 6 to 12 - Representational Systems

- begin to integrate specific features into a more holistic view of the self.

Shame and Pride - these emotions govern much of our self-concept

Harter Study (1993) - children were told two stories, one in which a child steals money, the other in which the child performs a difficult gymnastic task. Each story was presented in two versions: one in which the parent is present, and one not present. How would they and their parents feel in each circumstance?

4 and 5 years - didn't uses words like shame or pride to describe feelings (linguistic limitation) - they use terms like "worry" or "scared" and "happy" or "excited"

5 to 6 years - said their parents would feel either shame or pride, but didn't mention these feelings for themselves (concern for parental evaluation)

6 to 7 years - said they would feel shame or pride, but only if observed by their parents

7 to 8 years - said they would feel shame or pride, even if their parents didn't observe

The point? While young children are aware of themselves, but can't describe themselves in terms of pride or shame. (They don't have the cognitive or language skills.) Older children (6 to 7) appear to need parental approval before recognizing their own feelings of pride or shame. Initiative versus Guilt -- Erickson's Developmental Stage

- mental conflict arises between what children can do and want to do - regulating these opposing drives helps children develop virtue of purpose, so they can pursue goals without being too inhibited by guilt or fear - if these conflicting forces aren't resolved, a child may turn into an adult who: - constantly strives for success or showing off, is self-righteous and intolerant; or

- is inhibited and unspontaneous, suffers from impotence or psychosomatic illness

Self-Esteem - judgement that one makes about one's worth

- not necessarily a realistic appraisal of one's abilities or personality traits; perceived self-worth - most children can't articulate their self-worth until around 8 years old. - younger children tend to overestimate their abilities and rely on parents' evaluation of their worth - supportive behavior by loving parents contributes to self-esteem - when self-esteem is high, children are motivated to achieve - children with low self-esteem

- feel ashamed and don't view themselves as competent
- don't view tasks as challenging and give up easily
- become helpless (learned helplessness)
- view poor performance as a sign of being "bad" (all-or-nothing view) - the sense of being "bad" persists into adulthood

Gender Identity Development

Gender Role - behaviors, interests, attitudes, skills, and personality traits that a culture considers appropriate for males and females.

- learned through socialization
- traditionally, women were expected to be devoted to domestic matters - traditionally, men were expected to...
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