Human Development – Chapter 10: Middle Childhood – Social and Emotional
In the years between 6 and 12, peers take on greater importance and friendships deepen.
Did you know:
D1 – Children’s self-esteem tends to decline in middle childhood.
> Children’s self-esteem declines throughout middle childhood, reaching a low
ebb at age 12 or 13 and rising again in adolescence.
D2 – The daughters’ of employment women are more achievement oriented and set
higher career goals for themselves than the daughters of unemployed women.
> This is likely due to the role modelling that takes place between mother and
D3 – In middle childhood, popular children tend to be attractive and relatively mature for
> This is true, though more so for girls in the case of attractiveness.
D4 – Some children blame themselves for al the problems in their lives, whether they
deserve the blame or not.
> Children who are depressed are more likely to attribute the causes of their
failures to internal, stable, and global factors that they are relatively helpless to change.
D5 – Children with school phobia should return to school as soon as possible.
> Though understanding the problem can be helpful, getting the child back in
school is the most important step.
L01: Explain theories of social and emotional development in middle childhood.
• Freud: children in middle years are in the latency stage (4 stage, characterized
by repression of sexual impulses and development of skills)
• Erikson: industry vs. inferiority (mastery of tasks leads to sense of industry,
whereas failure produces feelings of inferiority)
Social Cognitive Theory
• Focuses on rewards and modelling; depending less on external rewards and
punishment and regulating their own behaviour; models – parents, teachers, other
adults, peers, tv
Cognitive-Developmental Theory and Social Cognition
• Piaget – concrete operations, partly characterized by a decline in egocentrism and
an expansion of the capacity to view the world and oneself from the perspective
• Social cognition: perception of the social world, our concern for the development
of children’s perspective-taking skills
Table 10.1 – Levels of Perspective Taking
Level Age What happens
0 3-6 Children are egocentric and do not realize that other people have perspectives different from their own. A child of this age will
typically say that Holly will save the kitten because she likes kittens
and that her father will be happy because he likes kittens too. The
child assumes that everyone feels as she does.
1 5-9 Children understand that people in different situations may have
different perspectives. The child still assumes that only one
perspective is ‘right’. A child might say that Holly’s father would be
angry if he did not know why she climbed the tree. But if she told him
why, he would understand. The child recognizes that the father’s
perspective may differ from Holly’s because of lack of information.
But once he has the information, he will assume the ‘right’ perspective
2 7-12 The child understands that people may think or feel differently
because they have different values or ideas. The child also
recognizes that others are capable of understanding the child’s own
perspective. Therefore, the child is better able to anticipate reactions
of others. The typical child of this age might say that Holly knows
that her father will understand why she climbed the tree and that he
therefore will not punish her.
3 10-15 The child finally realizes that both she and another person can
consider each other’s point of view at the same time. The child
may say something similar to this reasoning. Holly’s father will think
that Holly shouldn’t have climbed the tree. But now that he has heard
her side of the story, he would feel that she was doing what she
thought was right. Holly realizes that her father will consider how she
4 12+ The child realizes that mutual perspective taking does not always
lead to agreement. The perspectives of the larger social group also
must be considered. A child of this age might say that society expects
children to obey their parents and therefore that Holly should realize
why her father might punish her.
Development of the Self-Concept in Middle Childhood
• Early childhood – self-concepts focus on concrete external traits (appearance,
activities, living situations)
• Middle childhood – more abstract internal traits, personality traits; social
relationships and group memberships take on significance now
• Self-esteem: preschoolers tend to see themselves as either generally good at doing
things or not; ages 5-7 able to judge performance in 7 different areas (physical
ability, physical appearance, peer relationships, parent relationships, reading,
math, general school performance).
Self-esteem declines throughout middle-childhood, reaching low at
12 or 13; preschoolers are egocentric and self-concepts may be
unrealistic; middle-childhood can compare self to others and arrive
at more honest and critical self-appraisal Authoritative parenting contributes to self-esteem; restrictive,
involved and loving parents = good self-image; authoritarian or
neglecting negative impact
Social acceptance by peers
• Learned Helplessness: an acquired belief that one is unable to control one’s
L02: Discuss the influences of the family on social development in middle childhood.
• Parent-child interactions focus on school, chores, peer activities
• Parents do less monitoring, provide less direct feedback
• Co-regulation – a gradual transferring of control from parent to child, beginning
in middle childhood; children begin to internalize the standards of their parents
• Mothers – caregiving; fathers – recreational activities
• 10-12 year olds evaluate parents more harshly, but rate them as best source of
Lesbian and Gay Parents
• despite the stigma attached to homosexuality, lesbians and gays often sustain
positive family relationships
Generation X or Generation Ex? What Happens to Children Whose Parents Get
• Canadians do not divorce at the same rate as USA, rates fairly stable; 37.6%
divorce by 30 wedding anniversary
• Children no longer participate in daily activities (eating with both parents), go to
ball games, movies, Disneyland with both parents
• Parents now support two households, fewer resources for children; poverty;
working more and spending less time with children
• Children more likely to have conduct disorders, drug abuse, poor grades, physical
• Especially worst in first year of breakup
• Life in Stepfamilies: no rule of thumb, has its risks (more likely to be physically
abused by s