Middle Childhood Through the Prism of Psychological Disorders

Various approaches are applied to differentiate between the levels of intelligence. For instance, aptitude tests serve to predict one’s performance in certain areas, while achievement tests assess the current abilities of a person (Katz & Brown, 2019). The IQ measurement is used to examine an individual’s cognitive state and determine abnormal thought processes (Katz & Brown, 2019). Stern’s corresponding formula – one’s mental age divided by their chronological age and multiplied by a hundred – is appropriate for children but not suitable for adults who do not reach measurable developmental steps (CrashCourse, 2014). Sternberg distinguishes three types of intelligence, such as analytical, creative, and practical (CrashCourse, 2014). On the other hand, Gardner proposes nine types of intelligence, each related to a region of the brain: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and existential (Berger, 2018b). Understanding the common brain patterns for different scopes of the mind helps notice signs of disorders in children and offers special training to manage them.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the issues an individual may encounter in middle childhood. It is characterized by being inattentive, active, and impulsive, which starts before the age of twelve and affects daily life to the point that such a child is significantly difficult to raise and teach (Berger, 2018a). The disorder is connected with the dilemma: parents’ desire to calm children may entail unnecessary prescriptions or even lead to drug abuse; however, caregivers sometimes do not recognize the problem, and ADHD is left untreated. Furthermore, if a child has another condition but is misdiagnosed with ADHD, some psychoactive drugs might exacerbate the existing disorder (Berger, 2018a). In addition, if an individual’s typical behavior is perceived as pathological, the false diagnosis may adversely influence their mood and self-esteem (Berger, 2018a). Thus, children should be carefully examined before concluding ADHD, and non-pharmacological treatment should be considered first.

Specific learning disorders impair academic performance, cause social and psychological problems, and lower the overall quality of life. Dyslexia is the most often diagnosed learning disorder that consists of the unusual difficulty in reading and is associated with some neurological underdevelopment (Berger, 2018a). Dyscalculia is atypical trouble with math probably emerging from a certain part of the brain (Berger, 2018b). One more recognized disorder related to specific learning is dysgraphia – difficulty in writing which can be suspected when a child does not master writing by the age of ten (Berger, 2018a). Children with learning disabilities require a focused approach and help from both parents and teachers to improve the necessary skill.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) brings considerable challenges for children with special needs and people who work with them. Its features include weak social interaction, flawed language, and uncommon patterns of play (Berger, 2018b). The causes and treatment methods of ASD are highly debatable among the scientific community; nonetheless, it is accepted to divide it into mild, moderate, and severe categories (Berger, 2018a). Currently, children with ASD are diagnosed with the help of unusual behavioral signs. They struggle with understanding the emotions of others; children’s verbal and social skills are impaired, but some of them score above average in IQ tests and are talented in certain areas (Berger, 2018a). Therefore, besides finding the treatment of ASD, people should learn to accept children with the disorder and embrace the concept of neurodiversity.

Middle childhood constitutes a new step of psychosocial development that determines an individual’s ability to reach success and overcome obstacles. According to Erikson and his eight psychosocial crises, children enter the stage of industry versus inferiority, which is defined by the struggle between productivity and incompetence (Berger, 2018c). Child masters the skills appreciated by society attempts to take responsibility and develops self-esteem and self-criticism while comparing themself to others (Berger, 2018c). Along with enjoying their achievements and building relationships with peers, children experience disappointment and anxiety and learn to adapt to unpleasant situations. They gain the capacity to overcome stress in adverse conditions – resilience (Berger, 2018c). However, the level of stress increases over time if poorly managed, and routine issues can be more harmful than one-time significant stress (Berger, 2018c). Some children have a greater vulnerability to stress than others because of the lack of factors strengthening their resilience. A child’s perception of situations, personal features such as intelligence and creativity, prevention of parentification, and support of the family and community enhance cognitive coping (Berger, 2018c). Thus, under favorable conditions, children become industrious, competent, and resilient.

In middle childhood, the division of individuals into popular and unpopular is more distinct and interfering with their life. Specific qualities related to culture, socioeconomic status, or origin make one liked or disliked (Berger, 2018c). Researchers distinguish two types of popular and three types of unpopular children in the U.S. (Berger, 2018a). The former include friendly-cooperative, which applies to every age, and aggressive, which is common at the end of middle childhood; the latter are divided into neglected, aggressive-rejected, and withdrawn-rejected (Berger, 2018a). The neglected children are ignored by peers; they do not appreciate school but at the same time are not psychologically harmed (Berger, 2018c). In contrast, aggressive rejection means refusal to become friends with a person who exhibits antagonistic and confrontational behavior (Berger, 2018a). Withdrawn-rejected individuals are disliked because of their timid and anxious characteristics (Berger, 2018a). Unpopular children face issues in communication with peers and lack emotional relief, which may exacerbate their situation. Moreover, aggressive-rejected and withdrawn-rejected individuals risk becoming subjected to bullying or participating in it; therefore, they need both external and internal support to build resilience.

Bullying remains a pressing issue that leads to detrimental outcomes for all involved parties. The concept means repeated systematic actions aimed to hurt a weaker person (Berger, 2018a). Its types include physical, showing as hitting, pinching, shoving, or kicking; verbal, which manifests as teasing, taunting, or name-calling; relational, which ruins peer approval; cyberbullying – harming others through electronic means (Berger, 2018a). Humiliating experiences, such as being kicked, called offensive names, or forced to perform demeaning acts, may cause the loss of self-respect (Berger, 2018a). In extreme cases, children have to quit school or even commit suicide (AntiBullyingPro, 2016). Victims are often selected because of their emotional vulnerability, different background, or culture; however, any feature can become an excuse for harassment (Berger, 2018a). Conversely, bullies are popular, have enough friends, and enjoy their authority in school. Boys prevail in this category and attack weaker peers, while girls tend to use verbal insults directed toward shy individuals (Berger, 2018a). The consequences of bullying comprise serious mental disorders, impaired social understanding, decreased school performance, and relationship issues (Berger, 2018c). The problem requires well-advised solutions aimed at the mutual and comprehensive actions of the school community.


AntiBullyingPro. (2016, July 6). The impact of bullying [Video]. YouTube. Web.

Berger, K. S. (2018a). Invitation to the life span (4th ed.). Worth Publishers.

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Video Voice-overKatz, L. J., & Brown, F. C. (2019). Aptitude and achievement testing. In G. Goldstein, D. N. Allen, & J. DeLuca (Eds.), Handbook of psychological assessment (4th ed., pp. 143-168). Academic Press.

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