Developmental Analysis: Personal Introduction of Childhood – Adolescence

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Personal Introduction of Childhood – Adolescence

Speaking about my early years, I would not say that these life stages were filled with constant stress or troubles causing enormous emotional suffering. Raised in a two-parent family with two siblings, I received enough care and attention just like many of my peers from happy families. Being an older sister encouraged me to develop compassion and a sense of responsibility very early since I was entrusted to look after my younger sister when my mother was too busy with work and household chores. The parents were my key support structure even though my father could not spend as much time as he wanted with us because of his military service.

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Before I turned nine, I also had close contact with my maternal grandparents and lived in their house in the countryside almost every summer. A retired school teacher, my grandmother taught me to read and write, so I entered kindergarten with good skills for my age.

Starting at seven and through my school years as an adolescent, I experienced issues in building close ties with peers. A child of military parents, I sometimes had to move and change schools a few times a year, which exposed me to the stress of being a new student many times. In the psychology literature, such children’s stress of building new social networks is known as part of the military family syndrome (Ormeno et al., 2020). In my life, the pain of having to break up with friends was severe only in the first years of school. Later, I acquired some coping mechanisms to adapt to frequent changes in social surroundings, which prevented me from emotional suffering.

Theoretical Perspectives of Development

Stages of Development According to Freud

In Freud’s theory, the phallic developmental stage is preceded by oral and anal ones. This stage takes place between 3 and 6 years old and involves the Oedipus/Electra complex and the child’s growing awareness of sex differences (Sayers, 2020). At this age, I was curious and asked my parents to explain why boys and girls should use different bathrooms, and they provided some age-appropriate explanations. The Electra complex emerges between the age of three and six and causes a girl to “compete” for father’s attention with her mother. In neo-Freudian psychology, it is explained by the subconscious sexual attraction girls feel for their fathers (Sayers, 2020).

As per my parents’ memories, I was heavily emotionally attached to my father at this age and could even express discontent when not receiving enough attention, but there was no aggression towards my mother. I once got angry when I saw him talking to his female colleague and laughing and pretended to be ill to encourage him to go home. Of course, there were no sexual thoughts behind such behaviors; it was all about identification with him and admiration for his kindness.

Stages of Development According to Erikson

There are parallels between Erikson’s early childhood and preschool stages and my developmental history. The early childhood stage occurs between 18 months and 3 years and is concerned with the development of autonomy, including toilet training or learning to eat independently (Knight, 2017). According to my mother, I started to demonstrate the need for autonomy quite early by touching the spoon in her hand to have better control of the feeding process or refusing to play with toys that I did not like. The preschool stage takes place between 3 and 5 years old and involves the conflict of initiative and guilt and the extensive exploration of one’s abilities (Knight, 2017).

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At the age of four, I developed a fear of doing new things after experiencing a near-drowning event while learning to swim. With my parents’ support and encouragement as strengths helping my developmental progression, I got rid of the fear rather quickly.

Erikson’s school-age stage also finds reflection in my personal history. The stage occurs between 5 and 11 years old and deals with overcoming a sense of inferiority by achieving academic and social success (Knight, 2017). Because of the need to change schools, I had to become accustomed to new teachers, their personal teaching styles, and expectations of me, so my grades depended on how well I coped with that. As a grade five student, I had an ongoing conflict with a maths teacher, resulting in lower grades than I thought I deserved. This, however, did not make me doubt my intellectual abilities, probably due to the parents’ support and success in other subjects and sports activities.

Stages of Development According to Piaget

Piaget’s widely criticized theory of cognitive development suggests the presence of four developmental stages. The sensorimotor stage (0-2 years old) involves active exploration through physical sensation and the emergence of object permanence (Babakr et al., 2019). As per Piaget, infants lack object permanence in the first eight months (Babakr et al., 2019). From my mother’s words, at six months, I would cry when she put my favorite plush toy outside of my field of view, probably thinking that it disappeared. Piaget’s preoperational and concrete operational stages take place between 2-7 years old and 7-11 years old, respectively (Babakr et al., 2019). During the preoperational stage, children are explicitly egocentric; in my preschool years, I would often misunderstand others’ physical boundaries, assuming that what was comfortable for me would be the same for other individuals. As a school student, I overcame that perspective and became more careful and empathetic.

Nature versus Nurture

Modern researchers assume that less than 20% of the variance in human traits is attributable only to environmental factors, and the interplay of nature and nurture affects the development process (Kandler & Zapko-Willmes, 2017). One example of nurture overpowering potentially heritable traits is that I learned to read very well for my age as a five-year-old child. I have a few genetic relatives with dyslexia, but my grandmother’s determination to teach me how to read and the amount of time she devoted to it resulted in excellent outcomes. Interestingly, I share some psychological traits, such as dominance and independence, with my parents. However, considering that my biological parents were my main caregivers, it remains unclear whether such influences are genetic or result from their influence as my role models.

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Bowlby’s Attachment

Bowlby’s ideas regarding secure bond formation can be applied to my early life. As per the main propositions of the attachment theory, attachment security perceived by the child is a resource to support resilience-building and successful social and psychological adjustment (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2019).

Among the four attachment styles, secure attachment stands out due to being the most conducive to healthy psycho-emotional development and preventing the fear of abandonment (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2019). The style’s behavioral consequences include the development of adequate distress regulation mechanisms in the child and viable strategies peculiar to building long-term relationships as an adult. In contrast, insecure attachment styles lead to the recurrent cycles of negative emotions’ emergence, activation, and suppression, which often results in mental health concerns.

I can classify my childhood and adolescence experiences with the parents as a manifestation of secure attachment since I never thought that my parents could actually abandon me even when I had to spend a few days with other adults. In line with the cited theory, as a child, I would experience certain distress when I had to spend time without my parents, but I would be happy to see them again (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2019).

As my mother recalls, when I started kindergarten, I would protest and become anxious seeing her or the father leave, and the teacher would help me to get distracted. That anxiety, however, would not last a long time since I always knew that my parents would take me back home after a few hours. Thanks to the sense of security promoted by my parents, I developed rather good stress-coping skills, which supported me during the adolescence stage and the necessity to adapt to new school environments.

Faith Development

Fowler’s classification explains the gradual emergence of faith and an understanding of spirituality. The intuitive-projective faith development stage occurs between 2 and 7 years old (Cresswell & Smythe, 2021). It involves a markedly egocentric state of mind and the inability to look at one thing from more than one perspective. Also, during this time period, children are heavily influenced by the visible examples of faith and religious stories but without any deep understanding. In my life, this stage’s characteristics were manifested in my interest in listening to scripture stories adapted to children and illustrated books discussing religion.

The mythic-literal stage (7-12 years old) involves a gradual reduction in egocentrism. Its typical characteristics include a better understanding of the universe’s laws of reciprocal justice and the tendency to understand religious metaphors too literally (Cresswell & Smythe, 2021). I remember that my oversimplified understanding of metaphorical language made me question the validity of religious faith. When I was eight, my grandmother took me to church and told me that I would connect with God and “see” Him. When everyone started praying, I looked around and did not notice anything extraordinary, which made me a bit skeptical. I just could not understand that my grandmother had talked about connections and “seeing” God at a spiritual level.

The syncretic-conventional stage starts at 12 and covers a person’s teenage years. The stage is marked by the evolution of self-identity and the emergence of reflexivity and personal values (Cresswell & Smythe, 2021). As an adolescent, I was not a devoted believer, but I definitely became interested in the biblical narrative tradition and the moral messages behind the well-known biblical verses and stories. Thus, I would sometimes read the scripture just as a piece of literature, trying to draw parallels between the characters’ challenges and decisions and my own life.

Challenges and Success

Additional challenges relevant to my development include temporary failures in maintaining relationships with peers. In primary school, I found it difficult to resolve conflicts with peers and react to verbal aggression properly. I was sometimes scolded by the teacher for hitting other children in response to name-calling because I did not know how to express my disagreement in other ways. Notably, I was not aggressive towards anyone in the family and did not experience any physical violence, so it could probably be the manifestation of extreme distrust towards children I did not know well. Thanks to the teacher’s and my parents’ involvement, the issue was resolved. Nevertheless, I believe that it still echoes today in my outspokenness in interpersonal conflicts.

References

Babakr, Z. H., Mohamedamin, P., & Kakamad, K. (2019). Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory: Critical review. Education Quarterly Reviews, 2(3), 517-524. Web.

Cresswell, J., & Smythe, W. E. (2021). A divine voice or the psychology of faith. The European Legacy, 26(3-4), 384-389. Web.

Kandler, C., & Zapko-Willmes, A. (2017). Theoretical perspectives on the interplay of nature and nurture in personality development. In J. Specht (Ed.), Personality development across the lifespan (pp. 101-115). Academic Press.

Knight, Z. G. (2017). A proposed model of psychodynamic psychotherapy linked to Erik Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 24(5), 1047-1058. Web.

Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2019). Attachment orientations and emotion regulation. Current Opinion in Psychology, 25, 6-10. Web.

Ormeno, M. D., Roh, Y., Heller, M., Shields, E., Flores-Carrera, A., Greve, M., Hagan, J., Kostrubala, A., & Onasanya, N. (2020). Special concerns in military families. Current Psychiatry Reports, 22(12), 1-7. Web.

Sayers, J. (2020). Sigmund Freud: The basics. Routledge.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Developmental Analysis: Personal Introduction of Childhood – Adolescence'. 1 September.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Developmental Analysis: Personal Introduction of Childhood – Adolescence." September 1, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/developmental-analysis-personal-introduction-of-childhood-adolescence/.

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