Early Childhood - Psychosocial Development

Self & Social World

Initiative vs. Guilt - Erik Erikson, The 3rd of the 8 crises of psychosocial development, in 
which the preschool child eagerly begins new projects & activities.

    * when successful the child exhibits a positive self image
    * feels guilt when his or her efforts result in failure or criticism

Self-Concept & Social Awareness

    * A child's ability to compromise gradually evolves.
    * Older children do feel older, stronger, & more skilled than younger children, they become aware.

        Emotional Regulation is the ability to direct or modify one’s feelings, particularly feelings of fear, 
    frustration & anger.

    Because of brain maturation, emotional regulation becomes more possible during preschool years.

    Learning is crucial to emotional regulation!

        * Caregivers guide children in the appropriate expression of emotion, teaching children to moderate 
           anger or other negative emotions.
        * learning can be negative, producing a phobia which is an irrational fear that is strong enough to make 
          a person try to avoid the feared object or experience

Attachment & Emotional Regulation notes:

    * Secure attachment - These children tend to react to other children’s emotions positively.
    * Insecure attachment - Children who fail to develop secure attachment, can be excessively 
      friendly at age 4 or 5.

Antisocial & Prosocial Behavior

     Antisocial Behavior: hitting, insulting, lying about, or taking from another person intending to harm 
someone else

     Prosocial Behavior: sharing, cooperating, sympathizing, performed to benefit other people

     Aggression is a form of antisocial behavior that is of particular concern. Aggression types:

    * instrumental aggression — aggressive behavior whose purpose is to obtain or retain an object desired 
      by another
    * reactive aggression — aggressive behavior that is an angry retaliation for some intentional or accidental 
      act by another
    * relational aggression — aggressive behavior that takes the form of insults or social rejection
    * bullying aggression — aggressive behavior in the form of an unprovoked physical or verbal attack on 
       another person

Learning Social Skills through Play

During childhood play is the most productive and adaptive activity children can undertake.

    * Rough and Tumble Play - wrestling, chasing, hitting —mimics aggression but actually occurs purely in fun, 
       no intent to harm. This type of play is universal & usually occurs among children with higher social experience.
    * Sociodramatic Play - pretend play in which children act out various roles and themes in stories of their own 
      creation. Provides children a chance to:
          - explore & rehearse the social roles they see being enacted around them
          - test their own ability to explain and convince others of their ideas
          - regulate their emotions through imagination
          - examine personal concerns in a non threatening manner 
    * Girls engage in sociodramatic play more than boys.

Parenting Styles 

Diana Baumrind a researcher on parenting patterns found that parents differed on four important dimensions.

   1. warmth or nurturance
     2. communication
       3. maturity
          4. discipline

     On the basis of these dimensions, Baumrind found 3 basic styles of parenting, they are:

           Authoritarian parenting: warmth = low, discipline = strict, often physical, expectations of 
     maturity = high, Communication = parent to child - high & child to parent - low
           A very restrictive pattern of parenting in which adults impose many rules, expect strict obedience, rarely 
     if ever explain to the child why it is necessary to comply with all these regulations, & often rely on punitive, 
     forceful tactics (that is, power assertion or love withdrawal) to gain compliance. Authoritarian parents are not 
     sensitive to a child’s conflicting viewpoints, expecting instead for the child to accept their word as law and to 
     respect their authority.
          Permissive parenting: warmth = high, discipline = rare, expectations of maturity = low, Communication 
      = parent to child - low & child to parent - high
         An accepting but lax pattern of parenting in which adults take relatively few demands, permit their children to 
     freely express their feelings and impulses, do not closely monitor their children’s activities, and rarely exert firm 
     control over their behavior.
           Authoritative parenting: warmth = high, discipline = moderate, with much talk, expectations of 
     maturity = moderate, Communication = parent to child - high & child to parent - high
           A controlling but flexible style in which involved parents make many reasonable demands of their 
      children. They are careful to provide rationales for complying with the limits they set, and ensure that their 
      children follow those guidelines. However, they are much more accepting of and responsive to their children’s 
      points of view than authoritarian parents are and often seek their children’s participation in family decision making. 
      So authoritative parents exercise control in a rational, democratic (rather than a domineering) way that recognizes & 
      respects their children’s perspectives.

Punishment - an integral part of parenting style.

     Varies between families & cultures

    * Japanese mothers use reasoning, empathy, and expressions of disappointment more than 
      North American mothers
    * U.S. mothers are more likely to encourage emotional expressions including anger

     Physical punishment?

    * popular - seems to work sometimes
    * spanking - boomerang effect - sometimes more aggressive effect results

Boy or Girl: so what?

•  Sex differences are biological differences.
       •  Gender differences are cultural differences.

Developmental Progression of Gender Awareness:

    * At age 2, gender-related preferences & play patterns are apparent.
    * At age 3, there is an understanding that male & female distinctions are lifelong.
    * At age 4, children are convinced that certain toys ( such as dolls & trucks ) and certain roles 
      (nurses & soldiers) are appropriate for one gender and not the other.
    * At age 5 ( clear- cut ), when given a choice children play with children of their own sex.
    * By age 6, children have well-formed ideas & prejudices)

Theories of Gender — Role Development

Psychoanalytic Theory - Freud

    * Phallic Stage - awakening sexual feelings ( boys & girls)
             • Oedipus complex - wants to replace dad ( boys )
             • Electra complex - wants to replace mom ( girls )
    * Identification - copies father
    * Superego - develops conscience

Learning Theory notes:

    * all roles are learned and are the result of nurture not nature
    * gender distinctions that are so obvious by age 5 are evidence of years of ongoing reinforcement 
      and punishment, rather than a product of any specific stage
    * also children learn by observation, example: by watching mom cooking & cleaning

Cognitive Theory - Preschoolers' thinking about gender follows preschoolers ' cognitive patterns which 
are static & egocentric.

Sociocultural Theory notes the pervasive influence of culture patterns.

           Androgyny as a goal: To achieve a balance, within an individual (either gender) such that the 
      individual feels comfortable in breaking through gender stereotypes. 

Epigenetic Systems Theory - points out the biological tendencies that are inherited through genetic transmission 
& explains how these tendencies may affect the child’s brain patterns as well as other aspects of behavior

Conclusions: Gender & Diversity - Biology is NOT destiny, children are shaped by 
their experiences.

Key Questions

1. How would you describe preschoolers' evaluations of themselves ?
2. How do children learn emotional regulations?
3. What are the types of aggression, and which are the most troubling?
4. What are the similarities between rough-and-tumble play & sociodramatic play?
5. What can children learn from peers that they are unlikely to learn from adults?
6. What behaviors in preschool children might be the result of an insecure early attachment?
7. How do the three classic parenting styles differ?
8. How does punishment of young children influence their behavior?
9. What evidence do you know of that indicates that preschool children are aware of sex differences?
10. Which theory of development seems to offer the best explanation of gender roles, & why? 
11. In your experience can you describe a parenting style that influenced the types of discipline used by the parents?

                                                         Robert C. Gates