Erikson’s Theory: Initiative vs. Guilt
-Erikson described early childhood as a period of “vigorous unfolding”. Theyre eager to tackle new tasks
and discover what they can do with the help of adults
-He regarded play as a means through which young children learn about themselves and their social
world. The negative outcome of early childhood is an overly strict superego that causes children to feel
too much guilt because they/ve been criticized too much by adults.
As self-awareness strengthens, they focus more intently on qualities that make the self unique. They
begin to develop a self-concept, the set of attributes, abilities, attitudes, and values that an individual
believes defines who he or she is. This mental representation of the self has profound implications for
children’s emotional and social lives, influencing their preferences for activities and social partners and
their vulnerability to stress,
Foundations of Self-Concept
-Pre-schoolers’ self concepts largely consist of observable characteristics, such as name, physical
appearance, possessions, and everyday behavior.
-Direct references to personality traits must wait for greater cognitive maturity
-A warm, sensitive parent-child relationship seems to foster a more positive, coherent early self-
concept. Elaborative reminiscing is associated with a more organized, detailed autobiographical memory
-As early as age 2, parents used narratives of past events to impart rules, standards for behaviors, and
evaluative information about the child.
Emergence of Self-Esteem
-Another aspect of self-concept emerges in early childhood: self-esteem, the judgements we make
about our own worth and the feelings associated with those judgements.
-By age 4, preschoolers have several self-judgements (learning things well in school, making friends,
getting along with parents)
-they usually rate their own ability as very high and often underestimate task difficulty, because they
have difficulty distinguishing between their desired and actual competence. But this contributes to
enthusiasm and motivation to master skills.
-Parents should avoid promoting self-defeating reactions by adjusting their expectations to children’s
capacities, scaffolding their attempts at difficult tasks, and pointing out effort and improvement in
children’s work or behavior.
-Gains in representational, language, and self-concept support emotional development in early
childhood. They become emotionally competent
1- First, they gain in emotional understanding, able to talk about and feel others’ feelings
2-Second, they become better at emotional self-regulation 3- Often experience self-conscious emotions and empathy, which contribute to their developing sense
Cognitive Development and Emotional Understanding
-Preschooler’s explanations of emotions tend to emphasize external factors over internal states, a
balance that changes with age.
-Overall, preschoolers have an impressive ability to interpret, predict, and change others’ feelings. At the
same time, they have difficulty interpreting situations that offer conflicting cue about how a person is
feeling. They focus on the most obvious aspect of a complex emotional situation to the neglect of other
Social Experience and Emotional Understanding
-The more mothers label emotions, explain them, and express warmth and enthusiasm when conversing
with preschoolers, the more “emotion words” children use and the better developed their emotional
-Discussions in which family members disagree are particularly helpful
-Pretending is an excellent context for early learning about emotions.
-Language also contributes to preschoolers’ improved emotional self-regulation, or ability to control the
expression of emotion.
-Effortful control, in particular inhibiting impulses and shifting attention, also continues to be vital in
managing emotion in early childhood
-3 year olds who can distract themselves when frustrated tend to become cooperative school-age
children with few behavior problems. Emotional “masks” are largely limited to the positive feelings of
happiness and surprise. Children of all ages find it harder to act sad, angry, and disgusted than pleased.
-Temperament affects the development of emotional self-regulation
-Warm, sensitive parents who use verbal guidance, including suggesting and explaining emotion-
regulation strategies, strengthen children’s capacity to handle stress.
-By age 3, self-conscious emotions are clearly linked to self-evaluation. But they need messages from
people they look up to.
-Beginning in early childhood, intense shame is associated with feelings of personal inadequacy.
-Sufficient amount of guilt helps children resist harmful impulses, and it motivates a misbehaving child
to repair the damage and behave more considerately.
Empathy and Sympathy
-Empathy becomes common in early childhood, and serves as an important motivator of prosocial, or
altruistic behavior—actions that benefit another person without any expected reward for the self.
they rely more on words to communicate empathic feelings.
-Feeling with another person doesn’t always yield acts of helpfulness. Sometimes, it becomes personal distress and the child focuses on their own anxiety rather than on the person in need. As such, empathy
does not lead to sympathy- feelings of concern or sorrow for another’s plight
-Temperament plays a role in whether empathy prompts sympathetic, prosocial behavior or a personally
distressed, self-focused response.
-Parenting style also affects empathy and sympathy feelings.
-Peers provide young children with learning experiences they can get in no other way
-Social development proceeds in a 3 step sequence:
1- nonsocial play- unoccupied, onlooker behavior and solitary play
2- parallel play- a limited form of social participation in which a child plays near other children with
similar materials but doesn’t try to influence their behavior.
3- associative play- children engage in separate activities but exchange toys and comment on one
4- cooperative play- a more advanced type of interaction, children orient toward a common goal
-Sociodramatic play supports cognitive, emotional, and social development.
-with age, preschoolers’ conflicts center less on toys and other resources and more on differences of
opinion—an indication of their expanding capacity to consider others’ attitudes and ideas
-cultural beliefs about the importance of play also affect early peer associations. Peer sociability in
collectivist societies, which stress group harmony, takes different forms than in individualistic cultures.
-As preschoolers interact, first friendships form that serve as important contexts for emotional and
social development. But their ideas about friendships are far from mature—it doesn’t have a long-term,
enduring quality based on trust
Peer Relations and School Readiness
-the ease with which kindergarteners make new friends and are accepted by their classmates predicts
cooperative participation in classroom activities and self-directed completion of learning tasks.
-Negative social outcomes, such as poor quality relationships, impair children’s liking for school,
classroom participation, and academic learning
Social Problem Solving
-preschoolers’ disagreements only rarely result in hostile encounters
-Social conflicts provide repeated occasions for social problem solving- generating and applying
strategies that prevent or resolve disagreements, resulting in outcomes that are both acceptable to
others and beneficial to the self
-The social problem-solving process: notice social cues, interpret social cues, formulate social goals,
generate possible problem-solving strategies, evaluate probable effectiveness of strategies, enact
response, peer evaluation and response
Enhancing Social Problem Solving
-intervening with children who have weak social problem-solving skills can foster development in several ways
-in PATHS, teachers provide children with weekly lessons in the ingredients of social problem solving.
-Children first acquire skills for interacting with peers within the family. Parents influence children both
directly and indirectly (attachments to parents)
-Parent-child play seems effective for promoting peer interaction skills
Foundations of Morality
-At first, the child’s morality is externally controlled by adults. Gradually, it becomes regulated by inner
1- The Psychoanalytic Perspective
In Freud’s theory, fear of punishment and loss of parental love motivate conscience formation and
-Conscience formation is promoted by a type of discipline called induction, in which an adult helps
make the child aware of feeling by pointing out the effects of the child’s misbehaviour on others
-more empathic children require less power assertion and more responsive to induction. Temperament
is also influential
-To foster early moral development, parents must tailor their disciplinary strategies to their child’s
-Guilt is an important motivator of moral action.
-Inducing empathy based guilt is a means of influencing children without using coercion.
2- Social Learning Theory
Morality doesn’t have a unique course of development. Rather, moral behavior is acquired just like any
other set of responses: through reinforcement and modeling.
-Social learning theorists believe children learn to behave morally largely through modeling. Once
acquired, reinforcement in the form of praising the act increases its frequency
-Warmth and responsiveness: Children are more likely to copy the prosocial actions of an adult who is
warm and responsive than those of a cold and distant adult
-Competence and power: Children admire and tend to imitate competent, powerful models
-Consistency between assertions and behavior: When models say one thing and do another, children
generally choose the most lenient standard of behavior that adults demonstrate
-Frequent punishments promote only immediate compliance, not lasting changes in behavior
-Corporal punishment (the use of physical force to inflict pain but not injury)- its frequency and
harshness are elevated among less educated, economically disadvantaged parents. Child’s temperament
decides how they react to this punishment.
Alternative to harsh punishment: time out- involves removing the child from the immediate setting, for
example, by sending them to their room, until they are ready to act appropriately
-Punishments can be effective in 3 ways: Consistency, a warm parent-child relationship, explanations Positive Relationships, Positive Discipline
-The most effective forms of discipline encourage good conduct, by building a mutually respectful bond
with the child, letting the child know ahead of time how to act, praising mature behavior
3- The Cognitive-Developmental Perspective
Regards children as active thinkers about