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Child Observation

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I observed my 12 years old male cousin called John. He lives with his family consisting of father, mother and two sisters. He is the first born in the Caucasian family that stays in New York, where John goes to school. He is currently in 7th grade at The Carl Ullman School. The father is a lawyer while the mother is a teacher.

John weighs 89 pounds and has an approximate height of 58.5 inches. He does not suffer from any physical disability. The observation happened both at home and at school, and he was in a shirt and a pair of shorts. He had short hair and did not seem different from the other children.

In terms of physical development, John significantly resembles his father in many ways. These include the walking style, physique as well as the color of eyes. However, John’s way of speaking differs from the father’s in a significant way. While the father talks extremely fast, John speaks in a slow and kind way. It is essential to note that most of the students at John’s school exhibit the same mode of talking. The theory of nature versus nurture can successful explains John’s physical development. The walking style, physique, and eye color are a result of nature, which means that John acquired them through heredity. On the other hand, the difference in the way he talks might result from nurture, which means that John’s environment (the school) influenced his mannerisms. This means that both nature and the environment influence John’s physical development. Besides, John’s body had started showing signs of adulthood, a characteristic of the adolescence stage (Bornstein & Lamb, 2005).

Besides, a close look revealed that John had an Adam’s apple, some pimples as well as a small beard. On the same note, John was muscular and had a deep voice. Thus, John met the expectations of the psychoanalytic theory on adolescence, as proposed by Sigmund Freud. Freud argued that, between childhood and adulthood, children pass through adolescence, which is characterized by immense physical changes, among other things.

Discrominating animate and inanimate

Concerning cognitive development, John had an ability to discriminate animate from inanimate beings and recognize small numbers of objects. For instance, he knew that the television was not a person. Besides, he could remember the names of some of his classmates. He expressed his point of view soundly and accepted the opinion of other people. For example, during the observation, John had a deep argument concerning the existence of the character Superman. He was able to convince his young sisters that Superman was just a fictional movie character. This showed that John was well passing Piaget’s sensor and motor stage, preoperational stage and concrete operational stage, as he could appropriately use logic (Bornstein & Lamb, 2005). He was now entering the formal operational stage (which begins from adolescence and goes into adulthood). However, it was evident that John was not fully into the formal operational stage, as he did not show any instance of abstract thought. This meant that he was yet to develop skills in hypothetical reasoning that were necessary for systematic solutions of problems using logical and methodical ways.

Intriguing observations concerning John’s emotional and social development

First, John preferred talking and staying with females rather than males. Whenever he needed assistance, for instance a pen, he always approached girls from his class. Another point was that John seemed to spend a lot of time stealing glances at members of the opposite sex. These tendencies seem to agree with Sigmund Freud’s proposition of developmental phases. Freud believed that sexual urges as well as aggressive instincts formed the bases of human acts. According to this theory, John is in the initial phase of the genital stage. Reawakening of sexual urges has resulted to John’s fondness of associating with girls. He not only focuses on his genitals, but also on fostering sexual relationships with people of the opposite sex. According to the principles of Freud, humans aim at maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain, and the basis of actions are selfish goals (Bornstein & Lamb, 2005). This might explain John’s lack of preference for males. He might be viewing fellow boys as threats to his sexual goals as they compete also for the attention of the girls. As a result, John chooses to minimize the pain of competition by relating with girls rather than males.

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In addition, Albert Bandura’s theory of social learning might give further insights into John’s social behavior. Bandura posits that children learn by copying the actions of others (Bornstein & Lamb, 2005). The child might have observed the actions of the other boy towards girl and might be imitating them. In fact, during the observation, two boys from John’s class started a brawl. This could mean that John had learned that boys are more hostile to each other than to girls. This observation might have determined John’s choice of friends. Besides, a combination of Freud and Bandura’s theories might explain John’s social interactions. John might be imitating what he has heard (social learning theory) as the best way to satisfy his increasing sexual needs (psychosexual theory); that is, being close to girls might improve his chances of having a sexual gratification.

Emotional development

Regarding emotional development, John was rather lonely when compared to his classmates. For instance, while his classmates were fast in leaving the classroom for break, John stayed indoors the entire time and opened a book. John’s loneliness and preferences for members of the opposite sex might be explained by Erik Erickson’s’ psychosocial theory of development. Erikson posits that every stage of human development has a focus on overcoming a conflict (Bornstein & Lamb, 2005). In the case of the adolescence period (John’s current stage), focus is on overcoming the conflict between identity and role confusion. As a result, John is trying to establish an identity by preoccupying himself with the girls and reading during break time. He wants to know who he is, and what he can be in his current life. The result is a skewed relationship that favors girls to boys and brings instances of loneliness. This means that John’s emotional development meets Erickson’s expectations.

Moral development

Besides, Kohlberg’s moral development could explain John’s emotional development. The theorist argued that children first experienced the pre moral sate. The characteristics of the stage involved behaving in the best way that would maximize rewards and minimize punishment. The next stage was acting on what seemed to be the best for the group. The final stage was acting to get approval of others (Bornstein & Lamb, 2005). According to Kohlberg, John might have stagnated in pre moral period instead of moving to the other stages that would make him behave like the other children. He might be thinking that staying back to read is better than accompanying other students to play. However, Kohlberg is quick to note that moral development is not universal, which means that individual differences are to be expected.

As a whole, John meets the most of the milestones and stages highlighted by the various theorists. Thus, I agree with the theorists’ categorization of development. Physically, John has the characteristics of an adolescent. This should be the case as he is of 12 years old. There are various opinions on the age of onset of adolescence (Bornstein & Lamb, 2005). However, what stand out is that the onset depends on the nature of the individual child. Thus, it was not surprising that John's age mates had no sign of puberty.

Cognitive development

In the case of cognitive development, John meets the expectations of Piaget. A 12-year child should be leaving the concrete operational stage for the formal operational stage. John showed instances of using logic and appreciating the points of view of other children. These are characteristics of the concrete operational stage and pointers to the formal operational stage (Piaget, 2001).

In the area of social and emotional development, John’s successful completion of developmental milestones depended on the theory used for the observation. For instance, in the case of Freud, John is exhibiting perfect milestones of the genital stage. His obsession with females is in consonant with Freud’s psychosexual theory. Bandura’s theory of observational learning also expects John to replicate the behaviors of his companions, which John does by talking like them, and befriending girls. When we use Kohlberg theory on motives, we notice a discrepancy in John’s mannerisms. John should have moved from the pre moral stage into, at least, level two, where he would appreciate the overall benefits of the group. This was an unexpected turn of events, as John scored highly in all the other aspects of development. Besides, John met the stages of psychosocial development proposed by Erickson. His tendencies of relating with the opposite sex and avoiding male company were the early signs of the conflict between identity and role confusion.

Social relations

The major deficit that John showed was concerning his social relations. John’s fondness for the opposite sex was extremely high, even by Freud’s standards. The behavior exhibited would be appropriate in the late years of adolescence, but not for a 12-year-old boy. This could mean that John is way ahead of his peers in maturity. The presence of Adam’s apple, pimples and small beard is further evidence of the early maturity. Besides, John’s loneliness in the break time incidence is unusual. However, this discrepancy needs further observation in order to ascertain its validity and reliability. On the same note, John’s giftedness lies in his early maturity. For instance, his cognitive skills are outstandingly superior. Despite his age, he expresses his point of view, appreciates the contribution of others and uses logic. It is a matter of time before he starts reasoning hypothetically. The cognitive superiority might be advantageous if he channels into academics. In conclusion, the observation reveals that John is a normal child who does not have significant deficits.

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