Human development is a complex life-long process that involves physical, cognitive, and psychosocial maturation. A child’s mental, behavioral, and social developmental outcomes, as well as physical health, are determined by socioeconomic circumstances. Nurses are responsible for analyzing individual differences of a learner at each developmental level and in regard to these circumstances. I believe that in middle and late childhood when children approach an adult world, the role of a nurse educator is to delineate their specific needs. Accurate evaluation and fulfillment of these needs will support the course of individual progress.
Once I was in the situation of educating and taking care of a six-year-old boy. He was raised by a single mother and had two younger brothers, four and two years old respectively. Hence, he did not receive much attention, and I had to find ways to communicate with him. He had just entered the middle and late childhood developmental stage. At this point, most children already have crucial physical, cognitive, and psychosocial competencies to proceed with formal education (Bastable, 2019). He was motivated to absorb information and use reasoning to establish links between categories. Middle and late childhood is a challenging period in terms of social cognition as children connect previously attained knowledge with new concepts.
Middle childhood is characterized by physical and cognitive maturation as individuals gain experience through intensive social interactions. Since the patient started to develop logical reasoning, he needed a simple yet detailed description of his illness and treatment plans. Casual thinking allows establishing a connection between the cause of an illness and its consequences, including social ones, such as isolation from family and friends. However, at this stage, the boy lacked profound abstract thinking, thus, requiring step-by-step guidance. In this particular case, the patient also had special psycho-emotional needs as an older sibling in the family. Children who interact with young siblings tend to be more caring and attentive to others (Fabes, 2016). The boy demonstrated more robust emotional competencies such as stress resistance and patience in comparison with peers.
Furthermore, this stage of development implies an ability to distinguish fantasy and fiction from reality. The patient wanted to understand key concepts to fight inner fears that are spurred by a vivid imagination. I tried to be as precise as possible, letting the patient feel confident and improving his self-esteem. At the same time, the boy expressed a sincere interest in medical terminology and tools. It seemed necessary to satisfy this curiosity by using analogies and conceptual illustrations. Looking back, I would listen more to determine gaps in comprehending the information given, thus, inviting the patient to discuss and participate. I would also prepare the child for necessary interventions, such as taking a blood test, well in advance. This preparation time gives a chance to deal with emotions successfully and predict further actions.
To conclude, development stages are crucial elements in the process of gaining and improving skills. Middle and late childhood is not a static developmental period but rather a phase when a child begins forming opinions and learns to engage in sophisticated conversations. Widening social interaction and predictive capabilities enhance the variety of tasks children can complete. As a nurse, I tried to employ logical and straightforward explanations and focused on the patient’s cognitive needs. I reckon that it is essential to be flexible and employ step-by-step guidance so that a child has time to coordinate multiple social categories and cooperate with an educator.
- Bastable, S. (2019). Nurse as educator. Principles of teaching and learning for nursing practice (5th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.
- Fabes, R. A. (Ed.). (2016). Emotions and the family. Routledge.