Emotional and Social Development in Middle Childhood
Industriousness- the energetic pursuit of meaningful achievement in one’s culture—a major change of
Erikson’s Theory: Industry vs. Inferiority
-According to him, children whose previous experiences have been positive enter middle childhood
prepared to redirect their energies from the make-believe of early childhood into realistic
-industry vs. Inferiority is resolved positively when experiences lead children to develop a sense of
competence at useful skills and tasks.
-In industrialized nations, the beginning of formal schooling marks the transition to middle childhood
-Erikson’s sense of industry combines several developments of middle childhood: a positive but realistic
self-concept, pride in accomplishment, moral responsibility, and cooperative participation with
-In middle childhood, children become able to describe themselves in terms of psychological traits. This
has a major impact on children’s self esteem.
-During the school years, children refine their self-concept, organizing their observations of behaviors
and internal states into general dispositions. Major change happens between 8-11.
-Older school age children are far less likely than younger children to describe themselves in extreme,
-These evaluative self-descriptions result from school-age children’s frequent social comparisons-
judgments of their appearance, abilities, and behavior in relation to those of others.
Cognitive, Social, and Cultural Influences on Self-Concept
-Cognitive development affects the changing structure of the self (ex. Better reasoning about the world,
stable psychological disposition, blend positive and negative characteristics)
-The changing content of self-concept in a product of both cognitive capacities and feedback from
others. Mead’s ideas indicate that perspective-taking skills in particular are crucial for developing a self
concept based on personality traits.
-Children form an ideal self that they use to evaluate their real self. a large discrepancy between the two
can greatly undermine self-esteem, leading to sadness, hopelessness, and depression
-parental support for self-development continues to be very important. Although parents and adults
remain influential, self-concept is increasingly vested in feedback from close friends.
-Content of self-concept varies from culture to culture. In western cultures, independence in values, and
interdependence in other cultures.
-Strong collectivist values also exist in many subcultures in Western nations (village in Puerto Rica) Self-Esteem
-Preschoolers’ self-esteem is very high, but as they enter school and get feedback about their
performance, etc, self esteem adjusts to a more realistic level
A hierarchically structures self-esteem
-by age 6, 7, children in Western cultures have formed at least 4 broad self-evaluations: academic
competence, social competence, physical/athletic competence, and physical appearance.
-The capacity to view them in terms of stable dispositions permit school age children to combine their
separate self-evaluations into a general psychological image of themself—an overall sense of self-
-Children attach greater importance to certain self-evaluations than to others
-During childhood and adolescence, perceived physical appearance correlates more strongly with overall
Changes in Level of Self-Esteem
-Self-esteem declines during the first few years of elementary school as children evaluate themselves in
-To protect their self-worth, children eventually balance social comparisons with personal achievement
goals. For this reason, the drop in self-esteem in early years is not harmful. Then from 4 grade on, self-
esteem rises for the majority of young people who feel good about their peer relationships and athletic
Influence on Self-Esteem
-From middle childhood, individual differences in self-esteem become increasingly stable.
-Academic self-esteem predicts how important, useful, and enjoyable children judge school subjects to
be, their willingness to try hard, and their achievement.
-individuals with favourable self-esteem tend to be well-adjusted, sociable, and conscientious.
-Cultural forces profoundly affect self-esteem. An especially strong emphasis on social comparison in
school explains why Chinese children despite their higher academic performance score lower in self-
-Asian children rely less on social comparisons to promote their own self-esteem, and tend to be
reserved about judging themselves positively but generous in their praise of others.
-Gender-stereotyped beliefs also affect self-esteem (appearance in girls)
-By the end of middle childhood, girls feel less confident than boys about their physical appearance and
athletic abilities. With respect to academic self-esteem, boys are somewhat advantaged and also in
math and science.
-A widely held assumption is that boys’ overall sense of self-worth is much higher than girls’ (because
they internalize negative cultural messages)
-African American children tend to have slightly higher self esteem because of warm extended families
and a stronger sense of ethnic pride.
-A community who feels well-represented have fewer self-esteem problems. Child-Rearing Practices
-Children whose parents use an authoritative child rearing style feel good about themselves. Firm but
appropriate expectations backed up with explanations help them evaluate their own behavior against
-Controlling parents communicate a sense of inadequacy to children. Many rely heavily on peers to
affirm their self-worth
-Indulgent parenting is correlated with unrealistically high self-esteem—they tend to lash out at
challenges to their overblown self-images
-Children do not benefit from compliments that have no basis in real accomplishment. Achievement
fosters self-esteem which contributes to further effort and gains in performance.
-Those who are high in academic self-esteem and motivation make mastery-oriented attributions,
crediting their successes to ability—a characteristic they can improve by trying hard and can count on
when faced with new challenges.
This incremental view of ability—that it can increase—influences the way mastery-oriented children
interpret negative events.
They attribute failure to factors than can be changed and controlled, such as insufficient effort or a
-Children who develop learned helplessness attribute their failures, not their successes, to ability. When
they succeed, they are likely to conclude that external factors, such as luck, are responsible.
They hold a fixed view of ability—that it cannot be improved by trying hard. They give up without really
-Mastery-oriented children focus on learning goals—seeking info on how best to increase their ability
-Learned-helpless children focus on performance goals—obtaining positive and avoiding negative
evaluations of their fragile sense of ability.
-Because learned-helpless children fail to connect effort with success, they do not develop the
metacognitive and self-regulatory skills necessary for high achievement.
Influences on Achievement-Related Attributions
-Adult communication plays a key role. Children’s self-evaluations and school grades conform more
closely to parental ability judgments that do those of children whose parents deny that ability is fixed.
-Children with a learned-helpless style often have parents who believe that their child is not very
capable and must work much harder than others to succeed.
-Teachers’ messages also affect children’s attributions. Teachers who are caring and helpful and
emphasize learning over getting good grades tend to have mastery-oriented students. Students with
unsupportive teachers regarded their performance as externally controlled (by their teachers or by luck)
-For some children, performance is especially likely to be undermined by adult feedback.
-Cultural values affect the likelihood that children will develop learned helplessness. Asian parents and
teachers hold an incremental view of ability. They attend more to failure than to success because failure
indicates where corrective action in needed. -US mothers offered more praise after success, whereas Chinese mothers pointed out their
-Regardless of success or failure, Chinese mothers made more task-relevant statements aimed at
ensuring that children exerted sufficient effort to do well.
Fostering a Mastery-Oriented Approach
-An intervention called attribution retraining encourages learned-helpless children to believe they can
overcome failure by exerting more effort.
-Attribution retraining is best begun in middle childhood, before children’s views of themselves become
hard to change
-Greater self-awareness and social sensitivity support gains in emotional competence in middle
-Self-conscious emotions of pride and guilt become clearly governed by personal responsibility.
Children no longer feel guilty for mistakes; rather, they only do for intentional wrongdoing, such as
cheating, lying, etc.
-They view specific aspects of the self as leading to success or failure. They tend to feel shame when
their violation of a standard is not under their control. May also experience shame after a controllable
breach of standards if someone blames them for it.
-Pride motivates children to take on further challenges, whereas guilt prompts them to make amends
and strive for self-improvement. Profound feelings of shame are particularly destructive.
-Children at this age are likely to explain emotion by referring to internal states. And they increasingly
report feeling more than one feeling at the same time.
-Appreciating mixed emotions helps children realize that people’s expressions may not reflect their true
feelings. 8 to 9 year olds understand that pride combines two sources of happiness—joy in
accomplishment and joy that a significant person recognized that accomplishment
-As children move closer to adolescence, advances in perspective taking permit an empathic response
not just to people’s immediate distress but also to their general life condition.
-Emotional understanding and empathy are linked to favorable social relationships and prosocial
-By age 10, most children shift adaptively between two general strategies for managing emotion.
In problem-centered coping, they appraise the situation as changeable, identify the difficulty, and
decide what to do about it. If problem solving does not work, they engage in emotion-centered coping,
which is internal, private, and aimed at controlling distress when little can be done about an outcome.
-With age, they increasingly prefer verbal strategies to crying, sulking, or aggression.
-When emotional self-regulation has developed well, school-age children acquire a sense of emotional self-efficacy—a feeling of being in control of their emotional experiences. This fosters a favorable self-
image and an optimistic outlook, which help children face emotional challenges.
-Culture influences emotional self-regulation. Western parents emphasize personal rights and self-
Understanding Others: Perspective Taking
-Middle childhood brings major advances in perspective taking, the capacity to imagine what other
people may be thinking and feeling. These changes support self-concept and self-esteem, understanding
of others, and a wide variety of social skills.
-Experiences in which adults and peers explain their viewpoints contribute greatly to children’s
-Children do not just copy their morality from others; they actively think about what is right and wrong.
Moral and Social-Conventional Understanding
-By age 7 to 8, they no longer say truth telling is always good and lying is always bad but also consider
prosocial and antisocial intentions.
-Children of this age regard violations of purposeful conventions as closer to moral transgressions
(separating recyclables from trash to reduce waste)
-With age, they also realize that people’s intentions and the context of their actions affect the moral
implications of violating a social convention.
-In middle childhood, children also realize that people whose knowledge differs may not be equally
responsible for moral transgression (giving more food to girls because teachers thinks that girls need
Understanding Individual Rights
-Notions of personal choice enhance children’s moral understanding
-As early as age 6, they understand freedom rights and regard laws that discriminate against individuals
as wrong and worthy of violating.
-Older school children place limits on individual choice, and typically decide in favor of kindness and
fairness. Prejudice generally declines in middle childhood
Culture and Moral Understanding
-Children and adolescents in diverse Western and non-Western cultures use similar criteria to reason
about moral, social-conventional, and personal concerns. Children everywhere seem to realize that
higher principles, independent of rule and authority, must prevail when people’s personal rights and
welfare are at stake.
Understanding Diversity and Inequality
-By early school years, children associate power and privilege with white people and poverty and inferior
status with people of colour. Mostly non from parents, but media and in the environment and then use their own attitudes as the basis for inferring others’.
-Children pick up much information about group status from implicit messages in their surroundings
-Children don’t necessarily form stereotypes even when some basis for them exists; but when an
authority figure behaves in ways that endorse group status distinctions, children form biased attitudes.
In-Group and Out-Group Biases: Development of Prejudice
-In diverse Western nations, by age 5 or 7, white children generally evaluate their own racial group
favorably and other racial groups less favorably. Minority children assign positive characteristics to the
white majority and negative characteristics to their own group.
-After age 7 or 8, both majority and minority children express in-group favoritism and white children’s
prejudice against out-group members often weakens.
-prejudice may operate unintentionally and without awareness.
-The extent to which children hold racial and ethnic basis varies, depending on the following personal
and situational factors:
1- A fixed view of personality traits- Children who believe that people’s responsibility traits are fixed
rather than changeable often judge others as either “good” or “bad”. They ignore motives and
circumstances and form prejudices on the basis of limited information
2- Overly high self-esteem- Children with very high self-esteem are more likely to hold racial and ethnic
3- A social world in which people are sorted into groups- the more adults highlight group distinctions for
children and the less interracial contact children experience, the more likely while children are to display
-Through intergroup contact, working toward common goals. This cab reduce even subtle, unintentional
prejudices as racially and ethnically different children get to know one another.
-The more children believe that people can change their personalities, the more they report liking and
perceiving themselves as similar to members of disadvantaged groups.
-Becomes an increasingly important context for development.
-They resolve conflicts more effectively using persuasion and compromise.
-Physical attacks decline but verbal and relational aggression continue
-By end of middle childhood, they form peer groups, collectives that generate unique values and
standards for behavior and a social structure of leaders and followers.
-Peer groups organize on the basis of proximity, gender similarity, ethnicity, academic achievement,
popularity, and aggression
-When friendships are followed for a year or longer, big changes can occur, depending on if theyre in the
-The practices of informal groups lead to a “peer culture” that typically involves a specialized vocabulary, dress code, and place to hang out.
-Children evaluate a group’s decision to exclude a peer in complex ways. Most view it as wrong if done
on the basis of physical appearance, especially girls because they experience it more often. But when a