This paper observes a boy and a girl both age 11 years old. It follows the developmental process of early childhood. Several observations were made of both children to determine if they were following the developmental sequences in the psychology textbook. This paper explores the parenting styles of these children's parents. It also comes to a conclusion by the writer if the children are following the order they are supposed to or have gotten sidetrack because of life's roadblocks.
Webster defines childhood as the "condition of being a child; the period of life before puberty (Dictionary, 2010). This basically is the time in an individual's life that falls between infancy and puberty. Childhood is a critical period in a child's life. This point in life is a series of ups and downs and can be scary at times. It is an adjustment period with a lot of unknowns and independence is starting to come about in middle childhood. Erik Erikson deemed this age middle childhood and the age is from 6 to eleven years old (Dacey et al., 2009). He proposed that this is the industry versus inferiority stage (Dacey et al., 2009). Children begin to get out and venture into the world, and play starts to develop meaning for them. A child should begin to feel like he or she is accomplishing tasks or the sense of inferiority will prevail (Dacey et al., 2009). Jean Piaget deems this age to be a concrete operational stage. He believes that this is the "level of human development at which individuals first see causal connections in their surroundings" (Macionis, 2008). The child begins to focus on how things happen and why these things occur. An observation is remarks or comments based on what one has noticed or seen happen. This paper will explore and observe two children ages eleven years old. Both of the children are unique individuals with very different lifestyles. One obvious difference is one is a girl, and the other one is a boy. For purposes of this research paper and protecting the children's privacy this paper will use pseudo names. The girl will be called Patty, and the boy will be known as Shane. This paper will take an in depth look at these children's development by observing them in normal everyday activities.
Background information of Patty
This first observation is of an eleven year old girl named Patty born in the month of May. Patty was born with a heart defect that was repaired with an Amplatzer Occluder Device. Until recently she lived with her mother and father in an apartment complex. The mother and father were having marital problems and have separated. The parents plan on filing for divorce when their taxes are filed. Now, she lives with her mother in another apartment complex in the same town. Patty has no siblings so she is considered an only child. The living arrangement is a two bedroom apartment with only her mother. There were pets involved, but the new apartment complex does not allow animals so she lost her 3 dogs and 1 cat. The father picks her up every other weekend and on Wednesday nights. The living arrangement on those days is staying with her father at the grandmother's house. The father lives with his new girlfriend, but is not yet ready to inject another mother figure into the life of the child. This choice is very smart on the father's part because studies have shown that during a divorce "youngsters are particularly vulnerable" (Dacey et al., 2009). Typically mother's usually gain custody of the children when the parents are going to get a divorce. Studies have shown that men entrepreneurs typically earn more than women which is approximately fifty percent more (Warren, 2006). The well-being of the child depends on the father's commitment to making regular child support payments. The ethnic background of the family is Caucasian. The socio-economic status of the child's mother is disability because her mother was born with Cerebral Palsy, and she gets a disability check. The father has been at his current job as a department manager for approximately eleven years. The father's socio-economic status has greatly improved upon moving in with his girlfriend because they both work and now are a two income household. The mother's status has drastically dropped forcing them to move into an apartment based on the mother's disability check. Government assistance such as food stamps is now a part of the child's life because of the divorce. Money now is causing a lot of arguments between her parents. If the father buys the child a gift when he is keeping Patty the mother calls and screams that he cannot buy her gifts because she cannot afford to. Spending some time with the father and child the phone calls were observed. Both of Patty's parents only received a high school diploma so both of their incomes totals less than forty thousand a year. The father's mother is a very big part of Patty's life since the day she was born. She used to live next door to her grandmother so a huge quantity of time was spent visiting her grandmother and grandfather. The mother of the child is a hypochondriac. Upon spending some time with her she talks excessively about health problems that she may get or she has. The mother spends a great deal of time going to the doctor and is on anxiety medicine and anti-depressant medicines. This type of behavior is rubbing off on the child as evident when the child is always talking excessively about health issues and doctors.
Observations of Patty
Observing Patty at her grandmother's house with her father shortly after the divorce showed signs of how traumatic a divorce is on younger children. The younger children are unable to understand the reasons for the family being torn apart because their inability to "engage in abstract thinking is still limited, and they lack the vital aspect of cognition-the ability to reverse their thinking (Dacey et al., 2009). This child witnessed the many years of her parents fighting and cussing but still shows signs of blaming herself for the breakup of the family structure. The long term effects on children of divorce go way beyond money and stability. Divorce tears children from familiar surroundings, involves them in "bitter feuding", and separates them from the other parent whom they dearly love (Macionis, 2008). Listening to Patty and her father talk there was evidence that she felt the father was not going to spend as much time with her as he had in the past. While visiting with the father and daughter the phone was constantly ringing because the mother is very angry about the divorce. The child's facial expressions were evident that she was experiencing a lot of pain and was trying to hide it. The father demonstrated a lot of self-control by not speaking badly of the mother when the child was present in the room. Patty vocalized to the people in the room that her mom was a spaz case. When asks questions about her mother Patty would either change the subject or say something negative about her mother. She made a comment that her mother did not even know how to grocery shop and that was stupid. Each time the phone would ring she would roll her eyes when her mother asked to speak with her on the phone. When Patty got on the phone with her mother she always walked out of the room.
In every part of an individual's life body parts are constantly changing and growing. The brain is no exception because it is constantly changing throughout a person's lifetime. During the middle childhood the brain is helping to "improve memory, attention is sharpening, decision making is becoming more mature, and problem solving is progressing" (Dacey et al., 2009). Children at this age should start to show more of these cognitive skills because of increased brain function. The frontal lobe "continues its aggression formation of neural circuits; the temporal lobe acts to help hearing become more acute thus focusing attention" (Dacey et al., 2009). Patty's brain is obviously slow in developing. This child shows all of the signs of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder). While observing her she is constantly going one hundred miles an hour. Patty was playing with other children while the observation was taking place. All of the children decided to watch a movie then she wanted to play tag. The other children came to play tag with her, and then Patty decided she wanted to play video games. Every time the children agreed to do what she wanted to do then Patty would decide on something else. It was almost as if she had drunk an entire case of energy drinks. At the moment the other children did not agree with her she became aggressive and ran to tell on them. Her grandmother stated the fact that her mother was constantly taking the child on and off of medicines for ADHD. This presented to be part of the child's problem.
During the first few years of life physical development rapidly increases height and weight (Dacey et al., 2009). During middle childhood it happens at a much slower rate. Patty is extremely obese in proportion to her height and age group. While spending some time with her at her grandmother's house the topic of cooking came into the conversation. The child was adamant that her mother did not even know how to cook. She stated that her father always done the cooking when he got home from work or they ate fast food. Upon asking Patty who cooks now she just basically stated that she finds whatever is in the kitchen. This kind of eating has led this child to be extremely over weight which will have serious health consequences later on in life. Watching this child for a few hours was quite disturbing because she ate everything in sight and then wanted more. It was almost like she was a starving child, but her weight showed no signs of being malnourished. There is an estimated 25 million children ages 17 and under who are obese or overweight (Dacey et al., 2009). "It is essential that children get their required nutritional needs met in the formative years, and this could be as early as when they enter school because this is when their brain starts to develop to its full potential by gathering various ideas and observing different things" (Kimmy, 2010). In order for the brain to properly develop it needs adequate nutrition just like the body does. Proper amounts of glucose, iron, vitamin a, vitamin b, zinc, and folic acid are essential for the brain to properly develop to its full potential. Patty seems to get enough food to provide all of the essential brain food, but she gets it in excessive quantities.
Not all children are measured the same when it comes to intelligence. Some children are naturally more intelligent than other children in the same age group. Children need "thinking skills and problem solving strategies that enable them to adapt to constant change" (Dacey et al., 2009). The knowledge alone is not enough the child must know what to do with the knowledge he or she has obtained. While observing Patty she requested to play some different video games. It was evident that one or two of them she had never played before. She picked up on the object of the games very quickly demonstrating that her cognitive level was up to speed for her age group. Her report card grades reflect a different story. The ability to do the work is there, but the child exhibits extreme signs of laziness and defiance against being told what to do. Her mother pulled her out of public schools for a year to home school, but the mother did not properly teach her the necessary skills to make good grades. She expressed extreme hatred for school by saying that she hated school. When asked about homework she said she would rather play video games. Her father said that the mother never makes her sit and study, and she is definitely lagging behind the other students in her class. If the child is put in front of a new video game she will spent hours trying to accomplish it. When given a task that she does not want to do she gets extremely aggressive and refuses to do what she is told to do.
Morality is a very important part of life. This word is a matter of what is right and wrong in the world. All through life people have to conform to rules each and every day of their lives. Becoming an adult is no exception to the rules. There will always be rules everywhere a person goes in life. Children have to be taught a sense of what is right and wrong. They also have to learn that there are consequences to their actions. Children need to learn to be "good, truthful, kind, wise, just, courageous, and virtuous, and they need to behave according to an internalized code of conduct" (Dacey et al., 2009). A person's conscience plays an important role in behaving in life. The consequences of not being a moral person have to be faced at some point in life. While observing Patty at a car show with her father she exhibited some signs of being a moral person. She needs a lot of work on behavior. Her father asks her several times to stop touching the cars, and she kept touching them. Some of her defiance was to get attention from the others around her. Her mother mostly stays in the bedroom constantly on her laptop while the child just finds stuff to do on her own. The child faces no form of punishment no matter what type of behavior she exhibits. The whole day her father or grandparents did not get on to her one time for all of the bad behavior she was expressing. The only form of discipline she received was she was told to stop. On other occasions when her parents were together the mother constantly yelled at the child. Now that she lives with only her mother the child's life consists of getting ignored or yelled at on a daily basis. Patty's language development seems to be progressing at the proper stage for her age. She uses the proper assortment of words when having a conversation. There are a lot of adjectives in her statements when trying to tell a story. While picking out movies to watch she seemed to have little trouble reading the backs of them to see what the movie was about.
Self-esteem is a word that describes what people feel about themselves deep inside their own mind. The old saying that people cannot be happy with others until they are happy with themselves is true. Learning to completely be happy with life is a hard concept for many people to grasp. A person's self-concept is what he or she thinks when looking in the mirror. Not just what is visible in the mirror, but the complete package is important. Patty's self-concept is not very positive as noticed when she constantly talks about what size clothes she wears. The statement that her clothes were women sizes and bigger than her mother's was heard several times throughout observing her. The self-concept she has of herself has a direct impact on her self-esteem issues. While watching television with her remarks about skinny girls on the television shows were voiced several times.
Friendships are just as important in a child's life as any other part. Children typically seek friends who are "psychologically compatible with themselves" (Dacey et al., 2009). Patty does not ever talk about friends from school. The only friends she seems to have are adults and relatives children. The other children do not like to play with her because she is very controlling and has to have things her way all of the time. Most of the activities she participates in do not require friends such as watching movies and video games. Her life is mainly about what next video game she has just accomplished. Patty does not have sleep overs because she still sleeps with one of her parents every night. She expressed tension when ask when she was going to start sleeping in her own bed like other children her age.
Background information of Shane
The second observation is of an eleven year old boy named Shane born in the month of July. Shane lives in a house off of a dirt road with a huge lake behind it. He lives with his mother, stepfather, and sixteen year old half-brother. Shane has three other half- brothers that do not live with him. He is the youngest of four half-brothers. The father of Shane lives about forty minutes away from him with his stepmother and two step sisters. Shane's parents divorced about five years ago, and both of them have remarried. Studies have shown that "four out of five people who divorce remarry, most within five years" (Macionis, 2008). The men who divorce are more likely to remarry than women. This is the case in Shane's life. His father remarried first then about two years later his mother remarried. Remarriage often creates blended families that are hard for some children to feel like they fully belong (Macionis, 2008). His step sisters and half-brothers lives in two different households. His brothers and sisters are scattered among three different households which makes it hard for him to see them all. The ethnic background is Caucasian, and all of his step parents and siblings are Caucasian as well. The mother's socio-economic status is office work when she keeps a job. There have been many different companies that his mother has worked for over the course of the last five years. She gets extra income from his father in the form of child support because his father makes regularly monthly payments on time. The father of his half-brother who lives with him is behind on child support and regularly goes to jail for back child support. Almost half of the children legally entitled to child support only receive partial payments or no payments at all (Macionis, 2008). The mother has another source of income because the step-father works as an electrician making good money. The education of his mother is a high school diploma. His father's socio-economic status is working full time for a company for the past two years. The father's employment is steady because he has to make child support payments on time and support another family. The education level of Shane's father is a high school diploma as well. Shane's parents do not get along so Shane sees his father at the grandmother's house pretty regularly. Shane used to go to his dad's house bi-monthly and during holidays and summers, but the mother created many problems with the father's new family. There is a lot of tension between his parents that get into heated arguments so they just do not talk with each other ever. The father's mother is very involved in his life, and she picks him up every other weekend and on holidays. His grandmother is the peacemaker which allows the father to see Shane more often.
Observations of Shane
Observing Shane at the grandmother's house showed signs of how much he misses his father being in his life every day. It is quite obvious when he is constantly hugging his father or holding hands with him. Divorce changes the course of many children's lives, causing emotional and behavioral problems, and raises the risk of dropping out of school or getting in trouble with the law (Macionis, 2008). While observing Shane at his grandmother's house the grandmother got a phone call about his half-brother who is in jail for 5 years. The older brother's path he chose to take in life was to keep breaking the law. Studies show that children of divorced parents are more likely to break the law. Shane looked at his father and said he was not going to be like his brother when he got older. He seems to constantly try and gain acceptance from the people around him all of the time. While observing him the child kept asking did he do well or were the people around him proud of him.
Physical development is part of the process of growing into a strong and healthy adult. During middle childhood most children grow about 2 inches in height per year (Dacey et al., 2009). The same applies to weight gain. Other areas of a person's body changes as well. Body proportions changes, and head size comes more in line with body size (Dacey et al., 2009). During middle childhood the body is more like that of adults. Shane's height is in line for his age and bone structure. His father is very tall so he probably will get a lot taller as he goes through adolescence. All of his brothers were short for their ages, but eventually caught up with the appropriate height.
Brain development is an important part of the middle childhood years. These years are a time when "children demonstrate considerable competence" (Dacey et al., 2009). While observing Shane and his father play basketball he was using his brain to try and figure out how to get the ball in the goal. He tried several different moves to get around his father before finally putting the ball in the basket. His father is a very large man so it took some brain power to make it around him without getting the ball taken away. During this time period memory in the brain is starting to improve (Dacey et al., 2009). His report card reflects grades that are on task with his age group. The child showed great memory recall when he was bringing up stuff that him and his father had done together many years earlier. Shane was able to recall the details as if the event had just occurred that day. He was talking with his father about a movie called The Mummy that they had watched together when his parents were still together. At this stage the brain is becoming more mature in decision making (Dacey et al., 2009). He showed signs of maturing way beyond his years while observing him. Shane spoke of being left alone by his mother and stepfather for a few days at a time while they went out of town. He spoke of frequently being left alone for hours at a time after school. His maturity level is greater than it should because a lot of the time he has to be the mature one and fend for himself.
Food is one of the basic necessities need to survive in the world. Everywhere a person looks there is food all around. In every town throughout the world there are many different restaurants and grocery stores. On any given day an individual can have food from many different types of ethnic categories. It is as though there is so much food everywhere it consumes people's thoughts because they cannot escape the food frenzy in America. Food in itself is important to a growing boy, but the proper balance of nutrition is more important. Middle school children are full of energy and constantly growing bodies. The quality of food a child is given is more important than the quantity given. "Junk food and processed foods and excessive fats and sugars are to be avoided" (Dacey et al., 2009). Shane is full of energy while being observed. He suffers from ADHD and cannot maintain a long attention span. His diet should include essential fatty acids, vitamin b complex, protein, calcium, magnesium, and trace amounts of minerals to help with his ADHD (Weiss, 2010). Shane should definitely avoid sugar, additives, hydrogenated oils, caffeine, and salt (Weiss, 2010). Observing Shane several times in various situations shows that he eats ten times the limit of stuff that he should avoid in a given day. Part of the child's problem is being left alone so much that he just eats whatever is convenient. Shane is slightly obese in comparison to his height and weight. "Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia are serious, but they are not the biggest eating-related problems in the United States" (Macionis, 2008). Obesity is in the number one spot when it comes to eating related problems. This child is very self-conscious about his weight. He was constantly talking about how his mother calls him fat all of the time, and how she hides the food from him when she is home. Watching him eat at his grandmothers and the fair showed the effects of having food rationed to him when his mother is around. His mother used to be really obese until having gastric bypass and losing 200 pounds. Once being obese herself she should not constantly put her child down for being overweight. The put downs are starting to reflect in Shane's every day interactions with others. "Being overweight can limit physical activity and raises the risk of a number of serious diseases" (Macionis, 2008). He seems to lead a very active lifestyle, but the consequences could be deadly for him when he gets much older if the weight continues to escalate.
Two children of the same gender, age, and backgrounds are as unique as two snowflakes falling from the sky on a cold winter morning. They may have some similar characteristics, but they are essentially as different as winter and summer. Winter and summer are both seasons, but comparing them brings many differences among them. Two similar children can be so different when actually comparing all of their qualities. Children learn at different speeds and levels. Some children are naturals at academics meaning they can be successful with very little effort on their part. Other children struggle on a daily basis just to try and maintain a passing grade. Children need thinking skills, and problem-solving strategies that enable them to adapt to constant change (Dacey et al., 2009). Intelligence can be measured in many different areas, and some children excel in all areas. Shane's intelligence proves to be right on task with children of the same age. He has obviously got the necessary skills to adapt to change. While spending the afternoon with him he expressed how many times he had moved since his parents' divorce. He stopped counting at about 24 times. Shane is very upset at the amount of times he has had to move because it makes it a challenge for him to make friends. His bitterness was written all over his face when he was telling his father that he was tired of moving every time he made a new friend. Considering the continuous changing of residences he seems to have adapted as well as could be expected. When asked about his grades he responded with the answer good.
Having good morality can make a tremendous difference in a child's life. Knowing the difference between right and wrong are important traits for a child to carry throughout a lifetime. "Moral behavior is a complex mixture of cognition (thinking about what to do), emotion (feelings about what to do or what was done), and behavior (what is actually done)" (Dacey et al., 2009). Children have to put all of these processes together to learn how to live a moral life. They are constantly tested on morality each and every day of their lives especially in a school environment. Children have to learn to do what is right instead of what other children are doing around them. "When people talk about moral development, they are referring to their conduct and attitude towards other people in society" (Huxley, 2008). Shane has demonstrated that he practices the concept of morality in his life on a daily basis. His mother constantly puts down his father, brothers, and sisters, but Shane ignores these constant put downs of his family. Despite his siblings being constantly belittled by his mother he demonstrates a strong love for all of his siblings and sees them every chance he gets. The divorce of his parents was a bitter one and sometimes he was put right in the middle of the nasty fights. Observing the love he has for his father shows the strong bond that was created for the first several years of his life. He has not forgotten all of the good times he had with his father over the years. The only sign of negativity that was witnessed is Shane has a tendency to put his mother down in front of his father as if trying to gain acceptance. He was taught that it is okay to talk bad about others by his mother. Children have to learn that ever situation in life there is a right way and a wrong way to do things. All of their actions have consequences that will happen by breaking the rules. Shane's mother is too strict sometimes which reflects him acting out a little bit with his grandmother. He will push her buttons a lot, but then seems to regain his composure and always is very apologetic to her. This young boy demonstrates an extreme love for others and feels bad if he breaks the rules.
Despite all of the negative words he has heard throughout his short life his self-image of himself mostly reflects positive thinking. Middle childhood is a point in life when children "use their tools and skills and acquire a feeling of satisfaction at the completion of satisfactory work" (Dacey et al., 2009). Whether a positive or negative self-concept develops directly affects the child's development. Shane's image of himself seems proud most of the time because he likes to help others and shows complete satisfaction when he completes a task. Observing him at a local craft show he was very helpful to a lady helping her open her jars of jelly for the show. He walked off with a smile on his face that lit up like a Christmas tree. His grandmother has expressed over and over about how helpful he is at doing yard chores like feeding the horses or hauling hay. Willing to help others shows a good heart that despite his upbringing he has been able to overcome. Self-esteem goes hand in hand with self-concept. They are almost like twins that dress alike. If a person has a good self-concept then high self-esteem is likely to follow. Shane could be heard on several occasions' saying that he was a handsome boy, and that reflected his self-esteem was headed in the right direction despite being called fat by his mother.
Schooling sometimes decides the future life of a child. "Common sense dictates that any environment in which children sharpen their intellectual skills, learn how to get along with others, work with a diverse cultural group of peers, and assess their self-concepts in competition with others must have a powerful effect on development" (Dacey et al., 2009). The many times that Shane has changed schools made it very hard for him to keep a best friend. Shane and his father were looking at his face book page where he was showing his father some of his new friends and even a girlfriend. The very little bit of time that he has been at his new school demonstrates extreme capability of making new friends without hesitation. He definitely does not show any signs of shyness or withdrawal from the world around him. Making friends for him is easy because he is so outgoing. He and his father had several conversations about what he and his new friends did for the summer. Considering some of this child's history he is growing up to be a lovable, helpful, and positive child. Hopefully this attitude will carry on into adulthood for him.
Parents are like the jack of all trades. Their duties are not limited to one thing in life. The job of parents consists of many different job titles with no paycheck at the end of the week. There is no handbook that comes with a child when he or she is born. This job requires a person to learn the steps as he or she goes constantly making judgment errors. All parents want their children to grow up with positive attitudes and become productive members of society, but sometimes the dreams a parent has for a child quickly become nightmares. Not one parent is the world is perfect and everyone has his or her own parenting style. These two children that were observed are very young and not yet completely lost, but there are definitely many mistakes that are being made by both of their parents.
Patty's parents are permissive parents. "These parents take a tolerant, accepting view of their children's behavior, including both aggressive and sexual urges, and they rarely use punishment or make demands on their children" (Dacey et al., 2009). Children are the rulers of the roost in this type of household. Patty's development process is suffering considerably because of this chosen parenting style. It is obvious that she does not have any friends, and hangs out with her parents and video games as her entertainment. The divorce of her parents is recent so maybe the parents are not so much focused on their own problems and can finally begin to put Patty's needs at the top of the list. Her development process is bumpy and has many flaws in it because of her upbringing. The severe obesity of the child will become a huge issue if her parents do not soon take the bull by the horns and put a stop to all of the unhealthy eating. This young girl needs friends in her life in order to feel a sense that she belongs in the world.
Shane's mother is an authoritarian parent. Authoritarian parents are "demanding, and for them instant obedience is the most desirable traits" (Dacey et al., 2009). This type of parent does not see the child's point of view in no way, shape, or form. It is like the old saying my way or the highway. Authoritarian parents will punish their children for even asking a question. Children do not dare ask why they cannot go somewhere while in the presence of an authoritarian. Shane's dad does not see him a whole lot so he has succumbed to the Permissive parenting style. Not getting to see the child on a regular schedule forces his dad to let some things slide. His father does not want to constantly be obsessing over everything because the little time he spends with Shane he does not want to be constantly punishing him. While observing Shane, his father turned into an authoritative parent by explaining why he had gotten on to him. Despite the nasty divorce Shane shows signs of traveling down the right road in his life. He has some minor issues that should be addressed in his life. If his mother would stop moving him around like a gypsy he would not show hardly any kinks in the developmental process. This young boy has one of the biggest hearts in the world because he shows love and dedication to everyone around him especially animals. The major thing that Shane needs is stability in his life, and for his mother to stop constantly belittling the other family that he so desperately loves. If his mother continues down this road of putting down the people he holds dear this will surely backfire when he reaches puberty.