Child Observation Study: Personality Development Analysis

  • Ivan Mitsko


Middle childhood is a time when children improve their motor and social skills and become more independent. During this period children experience steady and uniform physical development, they become taller, and gain more weight in faster rates compared to adults. In addition to physical changes children begin to develop their cognitive development and moral values. Due to advanced technology children watch a lot of inappropriate movies and play violent games and it is essential for caregivers to help their children develop proper behavior and self-identity.

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For this project I decided to observe my neighbor’s child who is currently seven years old. His name was David and when I observed him with other kids engaging in different games I could notice his level of performance of fine and gross skills. For instance, when we played soccer I could see that child can develop a good amount of force in order to kick the ball. However, his accuracy was a little bit off from expected pattern. On the other hand, he could easily improve his performance after he practiced the skill. This observation reminded me about the theory that children are fast learners and by practicing certain skill they learn to compete with others which is a useful knowledge in real word. ( compet. Judge)

After observing David I realized that his interest in being active had an influence from his parents. I know George and Marta for over eight years and I can say that they are very outgoing people. They spend a lot of time outside participating in such activities as jogging, hiking, or biking. I believe that it’s a very good approach to educate children of all of the benefits of physical activity.

Unfortunately, many children in this generation have sedentary lifestyle. As most of us already know the rapid technological growth might have some negative impact on many kids. For example, many children prefer to spend more time watching TV, or playing video games rather than being engaged in physical activity with peers. Due to this behavior children could develop psychological and physiological abnormalities when they grow up such as depression or obesity ( Bryant). However, in my case, David was very dynamic child and I decided to make most of my observation while he participates in sport activities with other kids.

When the first time I observed David in the school gym I immediately noticed that he is very social person. All the interaction between other kids is a very important stage of cognitive development. During this time children learn leadership skills, regulate their emotions, develop self-efficacy, and learn to communicate, and handle different types of conflicts (lecture 11). This psychological aspect was very well described by Albert Bandura and his social learning theory. The concept of social learning theory shows how the child adapts to modern world as he learns the habits and norms of modern society. In other words, besides classical and operant conditioning children can learn though imitation or emulation ( cherry).

According to Bandura, the social learning theory is a modeling which includes five conditions; attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation. One of the main reasons of Davis’s active lifestyle can be described by attention. In order to learn something, a person must pay attention to a model that appeals him ( chery). George and Marta had a primary influence on David’s behavior because they showed that engaging in physical activity is fun and it has many health benefits.

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The other interesting psychological behavior I observed was self-regulation. During the game both teams had disagreements and some of the kids started arguing. I paid a very close attention to David’s behavior and noticed that he tried to suppress his feelings in order to avoid a conflict. He was very quiet at the beginning but then decided to speak up and solve the problem. Fortunately, both teams end up replaying a game which shows that self-regulation can help avoid violent behavior. According to Steven Stosny, ‘’ behaviorally, self-regulation is the ability to act in your long-term best interest, consistent with your deepest values and the violation of these values causes guilt, shame, and anxiety, which undermine well-being.’’ ( stosny)

During this period of life David already developed complex emotions such as guilt, shame, or embarrassment. According to research, children have these complex emotions due to self-awareness that depends on parental reaction. In my opinion, one of the main reasons David didn’t get aggressive during argument is his self-awareness that parents will get upset and he will experience negative emotions such as guilt or shame (emotional development,santrock 350-351). On the other hand, I can think of Albert Bandura’s social learning theory and motivation. David’s parents thought him that physical aggression should be always avoided in order develop social stability and control over own emotions. I believe his motivation to avoid punishment helped him to suppress his feelings and gain control over negative emotions.

In most cases children’s behavior depends on parenting style. During my observation I noticed that George and Marta practiced authoritative style. However, there can be some exceptions but I realized that in most cases they respect and encourage self-expression. Any time they have disagreements or any conflicts with David they always try to discus the problem and establish certain rules in order to prevent misbehavior. For instance, when David received ‘’0’’ score for his English homework his parents were very mad. Nonetheless, they didn’t use any power assertion but decided to use inductive techniques which help the child to understand his misbehavior. During that time I was in another room and I could hear the conversation about all of the negative consequences that might affect David if he is not going to prepare for his homework on time. As the result, George and Marta decided to use negative punishment and take away his x-box for the whole week.

The middle childhood is a stage of life when children begin to develop cognitive and emotional schemas. During this specific period of time they begin to understand and perceive moral values and reality; however, development of these values will have an effect on how well the child can succeed in society. During my observation I could clearly see how David’s parents helped him adapt social emotional learning. His friendly interaction with siblings, emotional regulation, and self-awareness are the primary indicators of his future succession. The last and the most important things I learned from this project is that caregivers are the primary people who responsible for child’s behavior. There can be many parenting styles and it’s hard to tell which one is better but teaching a child moral values and self-regulation is the most important goal in cognitive development.

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