Children progress from parental dependency to rising independence throughout their growth and development. My Virtual Child is a comprehensive examination of child development from birth through adolescence. This assignment exposed me to several scenarios related to the various theories of development and issues discussed in class. I will be examining the growth of my virtual child through the lens of Erikson’s psychosocial theory and concerning my child’s cultural surroundings. Erikson’s psychosocial theory of development identifies eight crises that an individual may overcome or fail to overcome at various stages of life. By making choices for my virtual child, I discovered how parenting choices affect a child’s growth through multiple phases.
My Virtual Child Analysis
According to Erikson’s theory, childhood is when children learn to trust or fear the world’s safety. When the infants’ caretakers respond correctly to their demands and offer the youngster affection and comfort, the child develops trust in the world (Kerpelman & Pittman, 2018). The first roadblock I experienced with my virtual child was her inability to acquire weight following delivery. If I were concerned that my infant’s lack of nutrition was getting more severe and threatening her health, I would immediately see a doctor.
Another way I fostered trust with my virtual child was by rocking her to sleep at night when she wailed. This approach, I believed, would teach my kid that I would respond to her anguish and provide a chance for me to demonstrate affection and soothe her. Allowing newborns to cry for a short time before caregivers respond is typical in several cultures since it is considered to educate the baby to self-soothe (Arnett & Jensen, 2019). I also learned to recognize the many sorts of screams my baby made and their meanings. This enabled me to address my child’s requirements better. My individualistic upbringing most likely led me to prioritize responding to my infant’s actions. As my virtual child’s infancy ended, I noticed signals such as smiling and engaging with new individuals and an interest in new settings that demonstrated my child’s faith in the world’s safety.
Erikson’s theory proceeds to the second stage, autonomy vs. guilt and uncertainty. Toddlers acquire a feeling of self and independence throughout this time (Arnett & Jensen, 2019). This is achieved by encouraging children to make their own choices, perform independently, and overcome setbacks and disappointments. When a youngster is denied opportunities for control or is severely disciplined, the child develops doubts about their ability. Around the age of two, my virtual child began refusing to participate in things that she had previously enjoyed. I identified this as an attempt to wrest control of her life from her, and instead of reacting with punishment, I began offering my child options. I would propose a few meals and let her select one, or I would recommend various activities and allow my child to choose one.
At the age of two, my child showed an interest in completing chores such as putting on slippers on her own. I congratulated her on her small accomplishments for completing tasks alone. This demonstrates the influence of western culture, which places a premium on pride, while eastern cultures view pride as a negative trait (Arnett & Jensen, 2019). I also assisted with finishing portions of the job beyond her proximal development zone, referred to as scaffolding. It helped me prevent my child from feeling overly irritated with failure while allowing her to accomplish as much work independently as feasible. Toilet training was a significant success; I began potty training when my virtual child showed interest, emphasizing positive reinforcement over punishment. Excessive punishment during this time will cause a youngster to feel embarrassed and doubt their skills. Successful toilet training is a method for children to gain control of their bodies. My child also entered preschool at this age, and I offered tasks such as categorizing items and sketching shapes.
The ability of my child to overcome frustration and succeed at the activities valued by her culture will decide whether she develops a healthy feeling of independence and confidence in her talents. Early childhood is a period in most cultures when children spend fewer moments with their parents and more supervised free time with other children (Arnett & Jensen, 2019). By this age, many youngsters should have developed confidence in the world and a sense of self and independence. Erikson’s theory indicates that children battle with initiative vs. guilt throughout this period. They will either develop the ability to begin activities and lead others or develop an unhealthy reliance on others and view their errors as personal failures. My virtual child began demonstrating her progress when she began initiating more activities and assuming a leadership role in pretend play at school. Culturally, one way that group play differs between western and eastern cultures is how children react to timid youngsters.
Shy youngsters in western cultures would likely suffer more during this period due to their difficulty starting and leading peer group play. However, in eastern cultures where shyness is not seen negatively, groups of children with shy youngsters tend to be more patient and friendly (Kerpelman & Pittman, 2018). Consequently, shy youngsters should be given additional opportunities to develop a sense of belonging within their peer group prior to beginning and leading play. My virtual child exhibited no shy characteristics among her friends by this age, so her growth was unaffected throughout this phase. Additionally, I saw that my child’s imaginary play frequently included something she had observed or heard from me or others. This illustrates the critical nature of modeling appropriate conduct throughout this period, as this is when toddlers commence pretend play, depending on what they are exposed to.
Additionally, when youngsters demonstrate increased initiative, they may become less obedient. I saw this conduct in my virtual child and maintained strict adherence to the rules at home. This time may be challenging for parents because they endeavor to strike a good balance between establishing necessary limits and discouraging their children from taking the initiative (Arnett & Jensen, 2019). A clue that my virtual child was successful at this stage of development was her ability to cope with somewhat stressful events, such as new tasks or being urged to speed up when beginning kindergarten. This indicates that she is self-assured and unafraid of failure.
Children have developed the physical capabilities, cognitive capacity, and self-control necessary to acquire culturally valued skills and information by middle childhood. Erikson’s theory characterizes this period as one of industry versus inferiority (Maree, 2021). Children in this period begin culturally beneficial labor and are interested in self-directed projects. Success in this phase instills a sense of competence and worth in their society in youngsters. If youngsters experience failure, they may lack self-confidence and excitement for studying. Parents should encourage their children during this period, regardless of whether they are suffering, to teach youngsters that their worth is not contingent on their accomplishments. My virtual child’s experience was markedly different from that of youngsters from other cultures during this time. Child work is permissible in certain developing nations, and children of this age would need to master agricultural or industrial skills to succeed.
In many industrialized countries, the culture values education; teachers’ assistance and support are very critical in these situations. My virtual child was having difficulty with her reading and language abilities. To assist her in learning, I read to her and engaged her in activities to hone these abilities. This enabled my child to catch up with the other youngsters and experience academic achievement. When she developed an interest in culturally valued abilities such as science and violin, I encouraged her to pursue them. I assisted her in achieving success by enrolling her in scientific camps and music lessons. Additionally, my virtual youngster demonstrated industry by being willing to work to save money for a scooter. I supported this while instilling in her a sense of the importance of hard work by assigning her jobs around the house and compensating her. I believed that my virtual child had developed industry well since she liked studying in school and was willing to participate in other culturally significant projects or activities outside of school.
According to Erikson’s theory, the ultimate developmental crisis that my virtual child encountered was identity vs. role confusion throughout adolescence. Teenagers struggle to find their position in society during this time. Success in this stage culminates in developing an emerging adult who is self-sufficient, has a strong sense of self, and is capable of planning for the future (Arnett & Jensen, 2019). Adolescents who are unsure of their identity may feel uneasy and unable to make future goals. Additionally, teenagers are more influenced by social groups, friends, cultural trends, and the media. At 18 years, my virtual child began exploring her identity in various ways, including spending time with multiple groups of friends and joining new organizations and activities. She also became interested in discussing her own political and religious views and even began visiting the church for the first time with her buddy.
I encouraged my youngster to try new things and develop fresh perspectives. When my child inquired, I provided counsel and my viewpoint but let her create her views and make her judgments independently of my opinions. I assisted my child in developing self-monitoring abilities by setting expectations that homework and housework should always be completed but allowing her to choose what to do with her leisure time. During a school field trip, my virtual child stole an item from a store with a buddy. The school suspended her, and I spoke with her about why that was wrong. I then presented her with several hypothetical circumstances and asked her to consider what she would do in them. This was a critical time for my kid to explore her identity and see that her choice was incorrect and should not be repeated. My virtual child has developed a strong sense of identity, as evidenced by having a nice set of friends and aspirations to complete college.
My Virtual Child compelled me to contemplate parenting and development scenarios that I had not before considered. This assignment has helped me better understand the real-world applications of Erikson’s theory, as well as the several other approaches discussed in class. Additionally, this exercise increased my awareness of the influence of culture on child development. Cultural ideas and customs shaped numerous events, potential answers, and my choices. I now have a better grasp of the parenting decisions I would make. Additionally, I have a greater understanding of cultural variations in parenting and development.
Arnett, J., & Jensen, L. (2019). Human development: A cultural approach (3rd ed.). Pearson.
Kerpelman, J. L., & Pittman, J. F. (2018). Erikson and the relational context of identity: Strengthening connections with attachment theory. Identity, 18(4), 306-314.
Maree, J. G. (2021). The psychosocial development theory of Erik Erikson: Critical overview. Early Child Development and Care, 191(8), 1107-1121.