Social, Emotional and Moral Development in Children
As children grow from infancy to adulthood, they are affected by the environment around them as well as the genetics they are born with. As they grow older the change and develop in many ways. Children go through many stages pf social and moral development from the time of early childhood through adolescence, and they also face many social and emotional developments.
Infancy is the time period of a child's life that starts at birth and goes through the age of 2 years old; during infancy children develop socially and morally. From birth babies begin to realize that humans are not inanimate objects. Infants realize that "unlike objects, people are active, expressive, and responsive"; they also realize that "people have an "inner life" that objects do not" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 415). At this early age a child begins to realize how to behave in order to accomplish a goal. An infant will reach for and point at an object that it wants. In the second year of infancy children "become increasingly cognizant of other people's mental states", and "they clearly have some awareness of other people's attentional focus and emotions" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 415). By the age of 18 months children become extremely aware of how their actions influence the people around them. At this point in time children become knowledgeable of what behaviors cause certain emotions from the people around them, and they act accordingly. Infancy is the beginning of childhood, and it is the beginning of emotional, social, and moral development for children.
Early childhood ranges from the age of two years old to six years old. During this time period children develop a lot, and they become increasingly aware of the mind frame of the people around them. As early as two years old, children " spontaneously use words that refer to people's desires and emotions (e.g., want, feel sad), and by age 21â"2 or 3, words such as think and know appear in their speech", and "by the time children are 3, they realize that the mind is distinct from the physical world-that thoughts, memories, and dreams are not physical entities" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 415). Although children at this age are aware of a lot they do not always understand their own ability of thought. Sometimes children assume that "what they know is what other people know as well", and "Not may be unintentional. Early childhood is an important age of development. until age 4 or 5 do children appreciate a false belief: They realize that circumstances may reasonably lead people to believe something different from what they themselves know to be true" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 416). At the end of early childhood it is easier for a child to understand intentions, and what
Middle childhood is the age group that encompasses children of the ages six through ten. During this age group children become much more aware of a persons mental state. Children of this age "are more tuned in to the subtle nuances of other people's behavior, and they realize that people's actions do not always reflect their thoughts and feelings-for instance, that people who appear happy may actually feel sad" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 417). During this time children are also beginning to realize that thinking is a constant thing. Children of the middle childhood age group are beginning to realize that "people interpret what they see and hear, rather than just "recording" it verbatim, and so children realize that people may occasionally misconstrue an event they have witnessed" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 417). At this age children are becoming extremely more aware of how complex the mind and emotions are.
Early adolescence is an age group that covers children of the ages 10 years old to 14 years old. "As children move into early adolescence, they begin to appreciate that people can have ambivalent feelings about events and other individuals" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 417). At this age children also become aware that they may have many conflicting emotions and thoughts at the same time. This age group is so significant because it is the time when children "become increasingly thoughtful about such matters, and their ability to recognize the complexity of thoughts and emotions in themselves is correlated with their ability to recognize them in others", and "courtesy of their expanding cognitive abilities, memory capacity, and social awareness, young adolescents increasingly engage in recursive thinking" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 418). Recursive thinking is when a child can think about and reflect on the thoughts of others and how they affect themselves in many different ways. This age group is a time when other people's perspectives can be taken into consideration.
Late adolescence is the time period that encompasses children of the age of 14 through 18, and it is the time where children are learning to become adults. Children of this age group "may increasingly conceptualize knowledge as an integrated body of ideas (rather than a collection of discrete facts) that continues to evolve over time, and they may begin to discover that how people think about information affects their ability to learn it" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 418). During this time children have a large knowledge base to refer to in order to think and feel. They have had many life experiences that affect their emotions and thoughts. At this age children also "realize that other people are not always aware of why they act as they do" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 418). At this point the thought, social, and moral processes of a child are extremely complex.
The social and emotional development of middle childhood children and infants are similar but extremely different as well. Infants are directly responsive to the emotions of others, and "by 3 months, infants imitate the happy, sad, and angry faces their mothers make" " (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 376). Infants are increasingly aware of emotions and how they cause reactions from the people around them as well. During middle childhood children are capable of seeing themselves in more complicated terms. Children of the middle childhood age range "develop a generally positive-or negative-sense of their worth as human beings: They believe either that they are good, capable individuals or that they are somehow inept and unworthy" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 396). While infants are aware of their emotions and how they affect their situations; middle childhood children are concerned with how other's points of view affect their own self esteem. Both of these age groups are important, and should be taken into consideration when teaching children.
It is amazing how a child grows and develops. From as early as infancy children are aware of the world around them; they are aware of emotion and intentions. As children get older their thoughts and emotions become more complex, and they are able to understand and analyze the emotions of others as well. It is important as a teacher to be aware of all of these developments in order to fully understand and reach the students.