Behavior Problems of Middle Childhood by Peterson


Middle childhood begins from the age of around six years to twelve years. This is a stage where most of the children begin to explore their talents and possibly attain a sense of self-recognition. It is also a stage where parents, teachers, and guardians start to notice and identify behavioral changes among their children or the children they are dealing with. During this time of development, it is of paramount importance to study carefully the behavior of such children because the kind of behavior that they acquire during middle childhood would possibly influence their behavior in a future life (Magnuson, Duncan, & Kalil, 2003). This document is intended to provide a critical review of a journal article, Behavior problems of middle childhood, authored by Donald Peterson (1961) of the University of Illinois.

This study is part of psychology literature in that it investigates and defines the middle childhood behavior problems structurally and at the same time aims to enhance the examination of such behaviors in the middle childhood years. At the same time, the study fits squarely into psychology literature in that it lays the ground for the treatment of such behavioral disorders.

Research Topic

The research topic is “behavior problems of middle childhood.” It encompasses behavioral, developmental, educational, and environmental attributes of middle childhood problems. Although the author portrays behavior as the focus of the study, he goes ahead to investigate both behavioral and personality problems (findings on page 207). He further goes ahead to tackle diseases under personality problems including headaches and stomach aches. A broader research topic could have been used to ensure all issues under investigation are covered. A more inclusive topic is given by Degnan, Henderson, Fox, and Rubin (2008).

Research problem

The author sets the research with the sole aim of improving the definition of children’s behavior problems structurally and enhancing examination of such problems over the middle childhood years. His major aim revolves around defining different behavior problems or disorders in order to improve the understanding of such disorders hence making treatment easier. This approach is also adopted by Knafo and Plomin (2006) who seek to investigate the influence of environmental and genetic factors on the prosocial behavior of children commencing from early to middle childhood. Though these two studies are set by two independent researchers or a group of researchers and at the same time utilize different methodologies, its findings could be used for the same purpose.

Research Questions

The main question in this research is: How can middle childhood behaviors be structurally defined in order to enhance their examination over the middle childhood years? This question can be critically extracted from the general content of the paper. The author, therefore, strives to answer this question through the provision of empirical evidence from his research findings. Answers to these questions could as well provide answers to research questions raised by Magnuson, Duncan, and Kalil (2003) who were seeking to assess the influence of middle childhood behavior in subsequent stages of development, particularly to the adolescent achievement and behavior. At the same time, the study partly provides answers to questions raised by Pedersen, Vitaro, Barker, and Borge (2007) in which they sought to investigate the interrelationship between middle childhood behavior and peer rejection hence linking early behavior to early adolescent adjustment. Therefore, the data collected on such behaviors can be utilized for further research.


This research is quantitative in that the author has adopted the use of numerical data by giving a rate to each of the behavioral attributes. Although the author is dealing with qualitative aspects of behavior, the author strives to make the data numerical hence ending up with quantitative and descriptive data. This has made it possible to analyze effectively the data collected hence coming up with conclusive evidence.

The researcher uses children in their middle childhood years in conducting this study unlike Magnuson et al (2003) who uses adolescents between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one to conduct their research. Therefore, the use of these subjects is an additional strength of the research methodology.

Advancements to the scientific knowledge base and contributions to the theory

The study has a positive contribution to the scientific knowledge base. The fact that the researcher seeks to structurally define behavior problems of children is a positive contribution when it comes to scientific advancements. The findings of this study highlight the major childhood behavior problems hence bringing about an understanding of the subject matter thus making a contribution to theory. The data collection aspect and the analysis of findings were designed to contribute to psychology literature and knowledge advancement in this field. In psychology, the study particularly sheds light on the behavior disorders prevalent in middle childhood years. Therefore, the findings can be used by psychologists specializing in childhood behavior disorders to predict and treat such behavioral disorders as they occur.


In conclusion, despite the author’s shortcomings in the research topic selection and a few research methodology issues, he has made his point. This has expanded the literature base of psychology as well as the knowledge base. Bearing in mind that no research is perfect, the author has utilized his knowledge of the scientific method of inquiry and scientific writing skills to come up with his findings which has been documented for wider dissemination.


Degnan, K.A., Henderson, H.A., Fox, N.A. & Rubin, K.A. (2007). Predicting Social Wariness in Middle Childhood: The Moderating Roles of Childcare History, Maternal Personality and Maternal Behavior. Web.

Knafo, A. & Plomin R. (2006). Prosocial Behavior from Early to Middle Childhood: Genetic and Environmental Influences on Stability and Change. Developmental Psychology, 42(5), 771–786. Web.

Magnuson, K., Duncan, G. & Kalil, A. (2003). The Contribution of Middle Childhood Contexts to Adolescent Achievement and Behavior. Web.

Pedersen, S., Vitaro, F, Barker, E.D. & Borge, A.I. (2007). The Timing of Middle-Childhood Peer Rejection and Friendship: Linking Early Behavior to Early-Adolescent Adjustment. Child Development, 78(4), 1037 – 1051. Web.

Peterson, D.R. (1961). Behavior Problems of Middle Childhood. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 25(3), 205-209.

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