INTRO. TO DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCH - CH 11: PSYCHOSOCIAL
DEVELOPMENT IN EARLY CHILDHOOD (pg. 280-312)
**Read: Focus: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Artist and Educator (pg. 281)**
The Developing Self
The Self-concept and Cognitive Development:
-self-concept: Sense of self; descriptive and evaluative mental picture of
one's abilities and traits. Also has a social aspect: children incorporate into
their self-image their growing understanding of how others see them. Self
comes into focus in toddlerhood, as children develop self-awareness, gain
cognitive abilities and deal with the developmental tasks of childhood,
adolescence and adulthood.
Changes in Self-definition: The 5 to 7 Shift
-Between ages 5 and 7: self-defintion: the way children describe
themselves, typically changes
-Ex: typical of a 4 year old would be to talk about: concrete, observable
behaviours; external characteristics, such as physical features; preferences;
possessions; members of the household. May mention particular skills rather
than general abilities (saying "I can run and climb" rather than "I am
athletic"). What they think about themselve are almost inseparable from
what they do
-By age 7, will describe themselves in generalized traits (popular, smart,
etc.); recognize they can have conflicting emotions and be self-critical and
positive at once.
-Neo-Piagetian analysis describes 5 to 7 shift in three steps:
-(1) Statements are single representations: isolated, one-dimensional
items. Thinkng jumps from one idea to another without logical connections.
Cannot imagine having two emotions at once, cannot decentre. Cannot
acknowledge that real self (person he/she actually is) from ideal self
(person heshe would like to be).
-(2) representational mappings: logical connections between parts of
his/her image of him/herself. Still expressed in positive, all-or-nothing terms,
but can link one aspect of themselves to another.
-(3) representational systems: takes place in middle childhood, when children
begin to integrate specific features of the self into a general, multi-
dimensional concept; more balanaced self-descriptions.
Cultural Differences in Self-definition:
-parents transmit cultural ideas and beliefs about how to define the self. For
example, Chinese parents tend to encourage interdependence and European- American parents encourage independence.
-Children absorb differing cultural styles of self-definition as early as age 3 or
4, increasing with age.
-Ex: American children describe themselves in terms of personal attributes,
personality traits and tendencies and put themselves in an unqualifiedly
positive light. Chinese children talk more about social categories and
relationships, describe specific, overt behaviours and describe themselves
-self-esteem: evaluative part of the self-concept, judgment children make
about their overall self-worth. Based on children's growing cognitive ability to
describe and define themselves.
Developmental Changes in Self-Esteem:
-Do not generally articulate concept of self-worth until about age 8, but may
have developed it earlier. Children's positive or negative self-perceptions at
age 5 tend to predict their self-perceptions and socio-emotional functioning at
-Self-esteem in early childhood tends to be all-or-none: "I am good" or "I am
bad". Not until middle childhood does it become more realistic.
Contingent Self-esteem: The "Helpless" Pattern:
-When self-esteem is high, a child is motivated to achieve; if self-esteem is
contingent on success, child may view failure or criticism as an indictment of
their worth and may feel helpless to do better.
-1/3 to 1/2 of preschoolers, kindergarten and first-graders show elements of
this "helpless" pattern. When trying to succeed in something, may feel
ashamed and give up rather than trying again or trying different techniques.
Older children who fail conclude they are "dumb", but younger children feel
as though they are "bad". Sense of being a bad person may carry on into
-Children whose self-esteem is conteingent on success tend to become
demorlized when they fail. May attribute poor performance or social rejection
to their own personal deficiencies
-Children with high self-esteem tend to have parents and teachers who give
specific, focused feedback rather than critize the child as a person.
Understanding and Regulating Emotions:
-Ability to understand and regulate, or control, one's feelings is one of the key
advances of early childhood. Children who undersand their own emotions are
better able to control the way they show them and be sensitive to others
feelings Understanding Conflicting Emotions
-Younger children confused because they do not understand that they can
experience contrary emotional reactions at the same time. Individual
differences in understanding conflicting emotions evident by age 3, more
sohpisticated understanding of conflicting emotions during middle childhood
Understanding Emotions Directed Toward the Self
-Emotions directed toward self, such as pride and shame, develop during
third year after children gain self-awareness.
-Study: 4- to 8-year-olds told two stories with two different versions: child
taking coins from a jar (with parent absent in one and there in another), and
a child performing a difficult gymnastics defeat (with parent there and
-Children 4-5 did not say whether their parents would feel pride or
shame, instead used words such as "worried", "scared", (coin story)
"excited" or "happy" (gym story).
-Children 5-6 said their parents would be ashamed or proud, did not
acknowledge emotions they feel themselves
-Children 6-7 said they would feel proud or ashamed but only if they
-Children 7-8 acknowledged they would feel pride or shame even if
nobody was around
Cultural Influences on Emotional Regulation
-Researchers compared the way caregivers respond to 3- to 5-year-olds who
express shame or anger (compared Brahmans, high-caste Hindus vs. Tamang,
a Buddhist minority).
-Brahman caregivers ignore child's expression of shame, but dealt openly and
sympathetically with anger; Tamang, on the other hand, rebuke displays of
anger but use nurturance and reason to deal with shame.
-When presented with same hypothetical upsetting situation (such as
someone spilling a drink on their homework), Brahman children would feel--
but control--anger, and Tamang children would be ashamed of having left
their homework near the drink.
Erikson: Initiative versus Guilt
-need to deal with conflicting feelings is at heart of the third crisis of
personality development. Conflict arises from growing sense of purpose,
which lets a child plan and carry out activities, and growing pangs of
conscience child may have about such plans.
-Preschool children want to do more and more, but they are learning that some things they want to do meet social approval while others do not. Marks
split between personality: part that is still a "child" (desire to try new things)
and "adult" (examining propriety of motives/actions).
-If crisis is not resolved, child may turn into an adult constantly striving for
success/showing off, inhibited or unspontaneous or self-righteous and
intolerance, or who suffers from impotence or psychosomatic illness. Key to
healthy balance: opportunities to do things on their own but under guidance
and consistent limits
-gender identity: awareness developed in early childhood that one is male
-psychological or behavioural differences between males and females.
Measureable differences between baby boys and girls are few, but more
differences after age 3. Supports gender similarities hypothesis. 78% of
gender differences are small to negligible, some change with age.
-Larger differences: boys superior in motor performance, especially after
puberty, moderately greater propensity for physical aggression.
Temperamentally, from infancy on girls are better able to pay attention,
inhibit inappropriate behaviour; boys more active and take more intense
pleasure in physical activity.
-Cognitive gender differences small and few: no gender differences in IQ;
females tend to do better at verbal tasks (but not analogies), mathetmatical
computation, tasks requiring fine motor and perceptual skills, males excel
most in spatial abilities, abstract mathetmatical and scientific reasoning.
-Early childhood/pre-adolescence/adolescence: girls tend to use more
responsive language, such as priase, agreement, acknowledgement,
elaborating on what someone else has said.
Perspectives on Gender Development:
-Most influential explanations, until recently, centred on the differing
experiences and social expectations that boys and girls meet almost from
birth. Concern three related aspects of gender identity: gender roles, gender-
typing and gender stereotypes.
-gender roles: the behaviours, interests, attitudes, skills, and personality
traits that a culture considers appropriate for males and females. All societies
have these, but gender roles in North American and European cultures are
-Typical roles include female being compliant, nurturant, and expected to care
for the household and children. Males expected to be active, aggressive,
competitive, and be the providers and protectors. -gender-typing: acquisition of a gender role, takes place early in childhood,
but children vary in degree to which they take on gender roles.
-gender stereotypes: preconceived generalizations about male/female
-they pervade many cultures; seen to some degree in children as young as 2
1/2 or 3, increase during preschool years, peak at age 5. Younger children
attribute positive qualities to their own gender, negative qualities to the
-May be more than 50 genes that may explain differences in anatomy and
function between brains of male and female mice. Suggests sexual identity
may be hardwired into brain.
-By age 5, when brain reaches approximate adult size, boys' brains are about
10% larger than girls' brains (boys have more grey matter in their cerebral
cortex; however girls have greater neuronal density). Corpus callosum is
correlated with verbal fluency, larger in girls and therefore may explain girls'
superior verbal abilities.
-Research focuses on children with unusual hormonal histories. Ex: girls with
congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) have high prenatal levels of androgens
(male sex hormones). Raised as girls but develop into "tomboys". Estrogens
(female sex hormones) on the other hand seem to have less influence on
boys' gender-typed behaviour.
-Case: 7-month-old boy whose penis was cut off during circumcision, at 17
months parents decided to raise him as a girl and 4 months later doctors
performed surgical reconstruction. Child later rejected female identity and
switched to living as a male during puberty. Later married a woman and
adopted her children.
-Another case: Accident occurred at 2 months, penile removal and sexual
reassignment took place by 7 months. At ages 16 and 26, patient identified
as a female, lived as a woman and have relationships with both men and
-Therefore, assignment of gender--at least during early infancy--may have
some flexibility. It is recommended that decisions about gender assignment
of babies with disordered sex development be made carefully but quickly.
-Overall, psychosexual development inflluenced by a number of factors: sex-
chromosome genes, brains tructure, family dynamics, social circumstances,
prenatal androgen exposure.
Evolutionary Developmental Approach
-sees gendered behaviour as biologically-based with a purpose. Children's
gender roles underlie the evolved mating and childrearing strategies of adult
males and females. -According to Darwin's theory of sexual selection-the selection of sexual
partners is a response to the differing reproductive pressures that early men
and women confronted in the struggle for the survival of the species.
-More a man can "spread his seed" the greater his chances to pass on his
genetic inheritance; women invest more time and energy in pregnancy and
can only bear a limited number of children, so each child's survival is of
upmost importance. Looks for a mate that will remain with her and support
their offspring. Explains why women tend to be more caring and nurturant
than men. Male competitiveness/aggressiveness, and female nurturance
develop during childhood as preparation for these adult roles.
-If theory is correct, gender roles should be universal and resistant to change.
However, even though women do tend to be children's primary caregivers,
there is evidence that men have greater involvement in childraising today in
-Women in traditional societies prefer older men with financial resources, men
prefer younger women with homemaking skills; however preferences less
pronounced in more egalitarian societies where women had reproductive
freedom and educational opportunities
-According to Freud, identification-the adoption of characteristics, beliefs,
attitudes, values, and behaviours of the parent of the same sex. Identification
occurs when a child represses or gives up the wish to possess the parent of
the other sex and identifies with the parent of the same sex.
-Some evidence shows that preschoolers tend to act more affectionately
toward the opposite-sex parent and more aggressively toward the same-sex
-Influential explanation but difficult to test, most developmental psychologists
favour other explanations.
Social Learning Approach
-According to Walter Mischel-children acquire gender roles by imitating
models and being rewarded for gender-appropriate behaviours
(environmental stimuli). Choose models seen as powerful or nurturing, such
as their parent, often the same sex parent, other adults or peers.
-Behavioural feedback and direct teaching by parents and other adults,
reinforces gender-typing. In this model, behaviour precedes gender-
knowledge. Studies cast doubt on power of same-sex modeling alone for
-Albert Bandura social cognitive theory-expansion of social learning
theory, incorporates some cognitive elements. Observation enables children
to learn much about gender-typed behaviours before performing them. Social
cognitive theory recognizes that children select or even create their own
environments through their choice of playmates and activities. -Critics: Does not explain how children differentiate between boys and girls
before they have a concept of gender, or what initially motivates children to
acquire gender knowledge, or how gender norms become internalized.
Kohlberg's Cognitive-Developmental Theory
-gender knowledge precedes gendered behaviour. Children search for cues
about gender, and as they come to realize which gender they belong to and
adopt behaviours they perceive as consistent with being male or female.
-acquisition of gender roles hinges on gender constancy-more recently
called sex-category constancy-a child's realization that this or her sex will
always be the same. Seems to develop into three stages: gender identity,
gender stability, gender consistency
-Gender identity (awareness of one's own gender and that of others) typically
occurs between age 2-3. Gender stability comes when a girl realizes she will
grow up to be a woman, and a boy will grow up to be a man. Sometime
between age 3-7 or later comes gender consistency: the realization that a girl
will remain a girl and a boy will remain a boy, even if they engage in
behaviour or dress in a way that is not typical of their gender.
-Research challenges view that gender-typing depends on gender constancy.
Long before children attain final stage of gender constancy, they show
gender-typed preferences. Gender preferences in toys and playmates appear
as early as 12-24 months.
-Cognitive-developmental theorists no longer claim that gender constancy
must precede gender-typing. Gender-typing may be heightened by more
sophisticated understanding that gender constancy brings. Achievement of
gender identity may motivate children to learn more about gender. Studies
have found significant link between levels of gender constancy and various
aspects of gender development.
-second cognitive approach-gender-schema theory: views children as
actively extracting knowledge about gender from their environment before
engaging in gender-typed behaviour. Places more emphasis on influence of
culture. Children develop concept of what it means to be a male or female in
-gender schema-mentally organized network of information about gender
that influences behaviour. Develop with age in response to experience. As
children's knowledge about gender increases, it influences not only what they
do, but what they pat attention to and remember
-Suggested that gender schemas promote gender stereotypes leading
children to overgeneralize. Little evidence that gender schemas are at root of
stereotyped behaviour, and gender stereotyping does not always become
stronger with increased gender knowledge (opposite is often true). -Ages 4-6-tend to notice and remember info consistent with gender schemas
and even exaggerate it, might also misremember information that challenges
-Ages 5-7-develop rigid stereotypes about gender that apply to themselves
-Ages 7-8-schemas become more complex, as children develop complex
beliefs about gender, they become more flexible in their views about gender
-Various theories differ as to what prompts children to enact gender roles and
why some children become more strongly gender-typed than others. One
important factor, according to both cognitive/social cognitive theorists, may
The Role of Socialization
-Begins in infancy, long before conscious understanding of gender begins to
form. Shift from socially guided control to self-regulation of gender-related
behaviours may take place between ages 3-4.
-Usually experience in the family seems to reinforce gender-typical
preferences and atittudes. "Seems" because it is difficult to separate parents'
genetic influence from the influence of the environment they create. Parents
may be responding to rather than encouraging chidren's gender-typed
-Boys tend to be more strongly gender-socialized concerning play
preferences. Fathers especially show more discomfort if a boy plays with a
doll than if a girl plays with a truck-girls have more freedom than boys in their
clothes, games, choice of playmates.
-(Egalitarian) father's role in gender socialization especially important. Study:
Boys/girls whose fathers did more housework and child care less aware of
gender stereotypes and less engaged in gender-typed play.
-Siblings influence gender development. Secondborns tend to become more
like older siblings in attitudes, personality and leisure activities, firstborns
more influenced by their parents and less by younger siblings. Young children
with older sibling of same sex more gender-typed than those whose older
sibling is of the opposite sex.
-Peer group is major influence on gender-typing, begin to reinforce gender-
typed behaviour by age 3, their influences increases by age, influence
increases with age. Children show more disapproval of boys who act like
"girls" than vice versa, and children who play in same sex groups are more
gender-typed than those who do not. -Study: children as young as 5 preferred fictituos boys/girls whose behaviour
was more in keeping with stereotyped behaviour of children's own sex. Boys
preferred masculine boys/girls, girls preferred feminine boys/girls.
-Social cognitive theory predicts that children who watch a lot of tv will
become more gender-typed by imitating models they see. Although women
and men are shown out of their stereotypes, still most common to show them
within their "own roles".
-Children's books also have stereotypes. Proportion of women as main
characters has increased, children more frequently shown in nontraditional
activities. However, women still shown mostly in domestic roles, with men
seldom doing housework or caring for children. Fathers are largely absent an
when they appear, are often shown as withdrawn and ineffectual
-Do parents and peers treat boys abnd girls differently because they are
different, or because the culture says they should be different? Does
differential treatment produce or reflect gender differences? Possible
-cognitive, environmental and biological factors are all important. Biosocial
theory-holds that psychological aspects of gender arise from interaction
between the physical characteristics of the sexes, their developmental
experiences, and the character of the societies in which they live.
Play: The Business of Early Childhood
-Play is more than just "having fun". It is the work of the young, and
contributes to all domains of development-children stimulate senses, learn
how to use their muscles, coordinate sight with play, gain mastery over their
bodies and acquire new skills with play.
-**pg. 294-Does Play Have an Evolutionary Basis?**
-Children need plenty of time for free exploratory play. Things such as
enrichment videos and academically oriented playthings, as well as full-day
kindergartern are valuable but all reduce time for free play
-Researchers categorize children's play by its cognitive complexity (what
children do when they play) and social dimension (whether they play alone or
Cognitive Levels of Play
-Piaget and others identify 4 types of play: functional play, constructive play,
dramatic play, formal games with rules.
-functional play: simplest form, begins during infancy, involvces repetitive
msucular movcements (such as rolling or bouncing a ball). Consists of
repeated practice in large muscular movements. -constructive play: second level of cognitive complexity seen in toddlers
and preschoolers. Using objects or materials to make something, such as a
house of blocks or a crayon drawing. Children spend estimated 10-15% of
their time playing with objects such as blocks.
-dramatic play: third level, also called fantasy play, pretend play,
imaginative play. Rests on symbolic function, which emerges near end of
sensorimotor stage. Typically begins during last part of second year,
increases during preschool years, declines as school-aged children become
more involved in formal games with rules. Functional and constructive play
precede dramatic play in Smilansky's hierarchy, but three kinds often occur at
-formal games with rules: 4th level, Organized games with known
procedures and penalties, such as hopscoth and marbles.
-Children who play imaginately tend to cooperate more with other children,
more popular and joyful than those who don't. Children who watch a great
deal of tv tend to play less imaginatively. Studies: quality of dramatic play
associated with social and linguistic competence. Tv also seems to have
influence on kinds of roles preschoolers choose to play (may model dramatic
play after tv adventure heroes rather than real peo