Archive | September, 2014

Piaget and How School-age Children Express Feelings

25 Sep

Once upon a time the renowned child psychologist Jean Piaget studied his own children as they progressed from the preschool to the elementary school periods.  We can learn a lot from Piaget if we take his observations of their mental processes and apply them to how children ages six to 12 deal with feelings — how they express various feelings and what the attendant behaviors are.

Piaget called the years from six to 12 the “concrete operational period.” Intellectually, these were the tasks he saw school-age children performing at this stage in their lives:

  1. Decentering: That is, the ability to change perspective — to see a different side to an object or a problem. Unlike the preschool child, this older child no longer feels that s/he is the center of the universe.
  2. Reversibility: That is, the ability to undo something that you have done earlier; for example, “taking back” a chess move.
  3. Conservation: That is, the ability to recognize that the mass of an object remains constant despite its being in different shaped containers or forms; for example, water poured into different containers or a ball of clay formed into different shapes.

Now — on a feeling level — decentering may mean that the school-age child no longer locates a feeling in another person or object. Thus the child begins to acknowledge his/her feelings as his or her own.

Correlating emotional development to Piaget’s history of intellectual development would also address reversibility. The school-age child begins to recognize that feelings may be described in the past, present, or future. This means that feelings may be amended by new knowledge, by one’s physical state, by better communication, and a host of other factors.

Parallel to intellectual and emotional development, the school-age child also develops the ability to think in a more sophisticated way about moral issues. The parent whose judgments had previously been absolute now becomes just one source of knowledge about right and wrong among other sources, such as teachers, community leaders, and peers. Moral judgments are beginning to be pluralistic, and these youngsters are learning to resolve conflicts in a number of ways, none of which may be termed the “absolute answer.”

If you have children in this age group, I hope the above is helpful as a background understanding from which to enjoy and communicate better with YOUR children!

Children Learn What They Live!

14 Sep

This brief poem conveys a lot in a brief space. Enjoy the poem and then think about what YOU are teaching your children via your own behavior. Hopefully, you are instilling positive values in your children’s lives.

“Children Learn What They Live”

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.

If a child lives with ridicule, she learns to be shy.

If a child lives with shame, she learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with praise, she learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.

If a child lives with security, she learns to have faith.

If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, she learns to find love in the world.


Erikson’s First Five Life Stages and the “Good Enough” Parent

3 Sep

Erikson came up with seven life stages and what the goals were to accomplish in each stage. Five of these stages take us from infancy through the teen years. If you’ve been worried about whether your parenting makes the mark, take a look at these descriptions of each of the five first stages and see where you fit in!

Trust vs. Mistrust (12 – 18 months of age): The superparent attempts to care for the infant, run the household, be social director for the couple, be a professional, etc. This person does not make an allowance for self-care.

The good-enough parent lets go of some outside responsibilities to spend time with the infant; feels it’s OK to take FMLA; it’s OK to “date” partner and leave baby with a trusted caregiver.

Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (18 months to 3 years): The superparent takes it as a personal failure if the child is not toilet-trained by 2 – 2 1/2 years; s/he rearranges the house so it won’t be necessary to say No to the child.

The good-enough parent demonstrates flexibility with toilet training; s/he works around the No saying to sometimes give the child what s/he wants in fantasy.

Initiative vs. Guilt (3 – 6 years): The superparent expects more from the child than s/he is capable of. This parent may say, “You’re acting like a baby,” and will discourage the child from playing with finger paints. The child must appear acceptable to others.

The good-enough parent teaches responsibility, such as by asking the child to pick up his/her toys and to share. However, the good-enough parent allows the child to be a child.

Industry vs. Inferiority (6 – 12 years): The superparent pushes the child to belong to “X” number of groups and activities, all the while modeling perfectionism. This person displays a whirl of busyness but does not model self-care.

The good-enough parent allows the child to dabble in a variety of hobbies and leisure-time activities. This parent refuses to play the martyr, so the child will not be forced into feeling guilty. At this stage, the parent lets the child make mistakes and experience “humanness” by modeling it and by allowing the child to experiment and sometimes fail.

Identity vs. Role Confusion (12 – 18 years): The superparent makes sure the child has a tutor for the SAT exam; s/he will pump the teen for information or get involved in extracurricular activities as a “band parent.” S/he may also go in the opposite direction and neglect the teen in a bid for career enhancement.

The good-enough parent makes an effort to attend some sports events and other activities. S/he LISTENS, OBSERVES, AND ADMITS HIS/HER OWN MISTAKES!

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