How do preschool-age children develop a concept of themselves?

Social/Personality Development in Preschool

Learning Objectives

How do preschool-age children develop a concept of themselves?

How do children develop their sense of racial and gender identity?

How do preschoolers interact with people?

What kinds of disciplinary styles do parents employ?

How do morals develop?

How does aggression develop?

Psychosocial Development- Erikson

Initiative vs. Guilt Stage

Psychosocial Development- Erikson

Initiative vs. Guilt Stage- “LET ME DO IT”


Identity/set of beliefs about what he/she is like as a person

Culturally influenced



Collectivistic or Individualistic?

Your culture of heritage?

Collectivistic or Individualistic?

Your culture of heritage?

American culture?

Racial Identity

Implicit Association Test- measures reaction time and accuracy

Black Faces + Negative words, White Faces + Positive Words

White Faces + Negative words, Black Faces + Positive Words

Children of every race display racial bias against non-white people

Don’t necessarily have lower self-esteem

Gender Identity

Girls tend to be rewarded for pleasing personalities

Boys tend to be rewarded for curiosity and intellectual achievement

Play tends to be segregated

Inflexible views of gender performance

Perspectives on Gender Roles

Biological- hormone exposure as a fetus, evolutionary needs?

Psychoanalytic- do you remember?

Perspectives on Gender Roles

Biological- hormone exposure as a fetus, evolutionary needs?


Boys: identify with father after castration anxiety and Oedipus Conflict

Girls: identify with mothers to resolve penis envy and Electra Conflict

Perspectives on Gender

Social Learning- we mimic what we see from social environment and media

Cognitive- develop gender schema, certain behaviors assimilated or accommodated into that schema

Study table 8-1 in your book Four Approaches to Gender Development

Preschool Social Relationships


At age 3- all about the fun

By end of the stage- all about trust, mutual interest, support, see friendship as stable

Play Categories

Functional- for the sake of being active

Constructive- build stuff

Social Aspects

Parallel Play- not interactive, but same toys and same activity

Onlooker Play- Watching others play, might chime in

Associative Play- two children interact, share borrow, but do different things

Cooperative Play- playing together, take turns, compete

Pretend Play

May expand cognitive skills

Preschoolers, at age 3, can pretend things are happening and respond accordingly

Becomes less realistic as we age

Use objects as representations/symbols more at the end of the stage

Preschool Thoughts

Age 3-4: sense motives

Can tell people have been fooled but don’t get beliefs

False Belief Task

Language skills improve cognitive development

Socialization promotes cognitive development

Culture influences causal reasoning

Parenting Styles

Authoritarian Parents

Permissive Parents

Authoritative Parents

Uninvolved Parents

Parenting Styles

Demanding Undemanding
Highly Responsive Firm, clear limits, consistent, strict but loving, reasonable, provide explanations/rationale Lax, inconsistent with feedback, irresponsible, few limits, not controlling
Low Responsive Controlling, punitive, rigid, cold, “Because I said so,” expect obedience without question, no tolerance for disagreement Indifferent towards children, reject them, detached emotionally, only provide necessities, can be neglectful

Child Temperament

Demanding Undemanding
Highly Responsive Independent, friendly, assertive, cooperative, strong motivation to achieve, likeable, successful, regulate easily Dependent and moody, poor social skills, poor self control, very much like their parents
Low Responsive Withdrawn, not sociable, anxious around peers, boys are hostile, girls tend to be dependent on parents Feel unloved, emotionally detached, physical and cognitive impairments sometimes

Child Abuse

Types of abuse (% experienced by those who are abused)

Medical neglect (2-5%)

Psychological abuse (5-10%)

Sexual Abuse (5-10%)

Physical Abuse (10-15%)

Neglect (63%)

Risk Factors

Stressful living environment: poverty, single parent, high marital conflict


History of spousal violence

3-4-year-olds, and 15-17-year-olds at highest risk

Abused children

More behavior problems, resistant to control, less adaptable

More medical problems, bed wetting

More anxious

Signs of Child Abuse

Visible, serious injuries that have no reasonable explanation

Bite or choke marks

Burns from cigarettes or immersion in hot water

Feelings of pain for no apparent reason

Fear of adults/care providers

Covering up in warm weather

Extreme aggression, passivity or withdrawal

Fear of physical contact

Effects of Abuse

Cycle of Violence

Brain changes- reduced amygdala and hippocampus

Low self esteem, lying, misbehavior, underachievement, criminal behavior, aggression, depression, anxiety

Moral Development

Learning right from wrong

Children at age 3 can tell the difference between accidents and purposeful bad behavior

Children are reinforced for prosocial behavior

Children are punished for antisocial behavior (includes feeling guilt and shame)

Learn rules through modeling and observation

Empathy may fuel moral development

Aggression and Violence

Aggression- intentional infliction of harm on another person

Instrumental Aggression- hurting someone for a goal: “I want that toy”

Relational Aggression- nonphysical aggression that is intended to hurt someone’s feelings: name-calling, “mean girls”

Why does aggression develop?

Low emotional self-regulation

Instinct? Evolutionary need?

Modeling- Bobo Doll

TV and Video Game violence too early

Misattribution of intention

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