** Please note: This blog post was written in whole or in part as an assignment for a class that I was taking. If you decide to use some of my work in your own assignments, please give credit where credit is due and cite your source! Thanks :) **
For this assignment we were to observe children in some way and then give an example of the following:
- Sensorimotor behavior: object permanence testing or purposeful action
- Preoperational behavior: egocentrism, animism, artificialism, or objective responsibility
- Concrete operational behavior: decentration or subjective moral judgments
In addition, we were to think back to our preteen years and list examples of behavior (from ourselves or our friends) that were consistent with the following developmental theories:
- deductive reasoning
- imaginary audience
- personal fable
- postconventional moral reasoning
- ego identity and/or role diffusion
The past couple of days I’ve spent hanging out with my sister and her kids, ages 15, 11, and 11 months. I was able to observe sensorimotor behavior with my 11 month old nephew, Oliver. We were playing with his “learning table.” This is a table that has a lot of objects on the top that he can play with such as colored buttons that squeak, places to attach big chunky toys, pieces to move around, and things like that. One of the things on the table is a big hole that you can put toys into and they slide down into the table, out of sight. Oliver demonstrated object permanence by holding the toy up to me and then putting it in the hole. He would look up at me and giggle, then reach into the table and pull out the same toy to show me again.
Last week I was reading a post from a friend on Facebook where she was talking about her 2 year old son and a conversation they had while in line at the store. The conversation seemed like an example of objective responsibility. The woman in front of them had told her little son that if he didn’t behave then he would get a spanking. My friend’s son overheard and asked why the other little boy would get a spanking. His mom told him that that’s what that boy’s mother does as punishment when he isn’t behaving. Her son turned around and asked who punished the momma for hitting. After hearing the response, he said that the momma should get a time-out because hitting isn’t being nice.
An example of concrete operational behavior comes from watching my 11 year old nephew. Recently he had been running around like crazy and not listening to anything my sister had been telling him to do, even ignoring her in favor of a computer game. She eventually got mad and sent him to his room, at which point he burst into tears and stormed off, slamming the door on his way into the bedroom. I went in to talk to him a few minutes later and found him still crying on the bed. He said that he wasn’t doing anything wrong and that his mom hates him. I (of course) said that’s not true… to which he responded “I know, she loves me, but she’s being mean!” I’m sure he knows that she’s not just being mean, too, but this was a good example.
As an avid reader through my whole life, I think I had a good grasp on deductive reasoning. I was able to read books that were above my reading level and understand them, maybe not on the level that an adult would have, but certainly on a level where I was able to deduce the problems going on in the plots. When I was 10 I wanted to read “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott but the librarian at school wouldn’t let me check the book out, saying it was too old for me. My mom took me to the local library and I checked it out there and did a book report on it. I still have that book report and reading it over, I would say that my deductive reasoning skills were good at that age!
Going into my preteen years, I can remember thinking frequently that people were always looking at me, the concept of the imaginary audience. I was overly concerned with every pimple that popped out, and I distinctly remember trying to walk differently because I was sure that everyone was looking at me and laughing at my funny walk. Looking back, I’m sure I wasn’t even walking “funny” but something had gotten into my head that I did, and I remember actively trying to change my gait. This also ties in with the personal fable concept when I tried to have a conversation once with my mother about babies and she looked at me and said “well, of course!” I still remember the feeling of being annoyed that she wasn’t more proud of my profound comment!
An example of postconventional moral reasoning brings to mind a situation in which a group of myself and some friends had gone to a coffee house one weekend night. We met some new people there who invited us to a party. Everyone wanted to go to the party, so we did. At the party, a couple of my friends were drinking but not all of them, and not me. After the party one of my friends wanted to stay so the rest of us went home. After a while, we decided that it wasn’t a good idea for her to be there so a few of us went back for her. Nothing had happened at that point, but we dragged her home. A few nights later we found out that a girl had be raped at the same party, later in the night. We were glad we brought her home!
I can also distinctly remember at what point in my life I developed ego identity. This was later than my preteen years, happening the summer after my freshman year in high school. Up until that point I had been a follower, always trying to wear the same clothes and do my hair the same way as my friends at school. It didn’t matter that the clothes didn’t look good on me at all (I was overweight), and it didn’t matter that my hair was too fine to hold the hairstyles everyone else was wearing (big poofy bangs). During that summer, though, I somewhat suddenly gained the knowledge that I didn’t care what everyone else was doing, and that I didn’t necessarily like the things that they liked, and that I didn’t like those clothes or that hair style. That summer, and into the school year that fall, I was almost a completely different person. I stopped using hairspray on my hair at all, I changed my style of clothing to what I thought was “cool,” not what they thought was cool, and I started engaging in activities that I enjoyed, which didn’t include cheerleading like “everyone else.” I gained a lot of new friends in that time and those friendships have stuck with me even now, whereas most of my old friends are just acquaintances now.