Developmental Theories: Social Competence as a Young Child

My social competence as a young child was characterized as a high-status child who had successfully undergone Erik Erickson’s stages of psychosocial development. I developed the virtues of hope, will, purpose, and competency, attributed to my good relationship with my parents and caregivers at a young age. My parents encouraged and supported me to do things independently, which brought a sense of independence. Instead of being punished, my parents would encourage me whenever I made a mistake, which gave me a sense of initiative (McLeod, 2018b). I was also able to conduct logical operations such as reversibility, conservation, and having a logical conversation as evidence that I had reached the concrete operational stage (McLeod, 2018a)By the time I was in grade six, I had much self-esteem and believed in what I could do.

In most cases, I used to play with both low and high-end-status children who demonstrated superiority in themselves. Being a high-status child, I had much confidence in myself, and therefore, I always wanted to keep winning in everything. This inspired me to play with the best children in the game despite their social status. This can be attributed to Lev Vygotsky’s theory on more knowledgeable others, which states that children are likely to associate with those who better understand different activities (McLeod, 2018c). For instance, if we were playing football, I would strive to be on the team with the children who play football better than me. If it is playing video games, I would also love to team up with other better children than me.

I was a popular child in school. Most children knew me because I was always willing to take risks and challenges posed by both the teachers and my peers. For instance, I would not hesitate to play with the most talented children on the playground even though my performance in sports was poor. During class time, I was also willing to answer questions even if I was unsure if my answer was correct. I had a higher level of self-confidence which made children know me in school.

Alex was one of the most popular children in the school. He was a good-looking boy from a very high-status family. He was always the first child to come up with the newest toys in school and the most expensive one in that case. This gained him a lot of popularity and influence among the students. One of their main characteristics about Eric was that he was very confident and was not afraid of other children. His high social status gave him influence over other children, making him trust in himself. What made Alex famous was his confidence and imitation of one of the American heroes in the fiction movies, Captain America. He liked Captain America’s toys, and often he would come to school dressed in captain America’s look-alike attire.

Alex’s popularity may be based on Albert Bandura’s social learning theory. This theory emphasizes how observing, modeling, and imitating can influence behavior. The theory is divided into four steps: attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963). Alex must have paid much attention to captain America’s movies which grabbed his attention. He then must have undergone the retention process whereby he had noticed the behavior and internalized it. The third step was reproduction which is the ability to perform the behavior. Since Alex was from a well-off family with supportive parents, he was able to get the custom-made Captain America toys and attire. The final step was motivation to perform the imitated behavior (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963). When Alex came to school with his Captain America toys, other children were always looking up to him, which gave him a lot of popularity; therefore, the rewards of the behavior outweighed the perceived costs, which is why Alex was nicknamed “Captain America” and very popular in school.

An example of an unpopular child school was Irene. Irene was an introvert who was very calm and quiet in school. She came from a low-status family that could not afford all the luxury amenities that high-status kids such as Alex would afford. However, some of the main characteristics evident in Irene include the lack of self-confidence, whereby she had too much doubt in herself. This may indicate that she did not complete Erik Erickson’s stages successfully, leading to fear in her. For instance, Irene was afraid of playing with other children in school and isolated herself most of the time.

Irene’s situation is directly related to Eric Erickson’s theory. According to Eric Erickson, in his second stage of autonomy versus shame, children are likely to adopt the virtue of will if they successfully pass the stage (Brenman-Gibson & Mickels, 2022). However, on the contrary, when children are overcontrolled and not allowed to assert themselves, they are likely to lose self-esteem and have shame in themselves (McLeod, 2018b). Irene’s mother was very tough when she dropped her at school and did not give her free time to interact with other children as she was always on time at the school gate to pick her up. According to Kohlberg’s theory, Irene was under the first stage, which entails obedience or punishment (Cherry, 2021). She believed that by staying within her mother’s, teachers, and other common rules in school, she could avoid punishment. On the other hand, Alex was always curious and sometimes punished for making some mistakes. This shows that the children had different perspectives of the world, whereby one (Alex) was a risk-taker and the other one, Irene, was an introvert who stayed quiet to avoid problems.


Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (1963). Imitation of Film-Mediated Aggressive Models. Journal of Abnormal & Social Psychology, 66(1), 3-11.

Brenman-Gibson, M. & Mickels, R. (2022). Erik Erickson: A life’s Work. Web. 

Cherry, K. (2021). Levels of developing morality in Kohlberg’s Theories. Verywell Mind. Web.

McLeod, S. (2018a). Concrete Operation Stage. Web.

McLeod, S. A. (2018b). Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. Simply Psychology. Web.

McLeod, S. A. (2018c). Lev Vygotsky. Simply Psychology. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Developmental Theories: Social Competence as a Young Child." September 7, 2023.