The Transition from Childhood to Adulthood

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Holinger wrote a letter to the New York Times editor to air his views on the impact of corporal punishment in children’s development. He asserted that physical punishment among children should be viewed as a potential national health problem and should be outlawed both in homes and schools (Holinger par. 1). He supports his opinion by quoting two recent independent types of research which concluded that corporal punishment does not guarantee positive results in the emotional development of children. Misuse of corporal punishment may lead to the development of other forms of antisocial behavior that are sometimes portrayed as negative habits in adulthood. He concludes by urging parents and teachers to seek effective alternative disciplinary measures instead of embracing corporal punishment. He asserts that offering counseling instead of physically confronting their children might be useful in reducing violence in society.

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His perspective of reasoning is apparently in agreement with Kohlberg’s Pre-conventional Level of Moral Understanding. To be more specific, the Punishment and obedience orientation stage postulate that children have been found to adjust their moral behavior, not because they seek to be well behaved but due to fear associated with punishment (Dreyer 53). Such children will strive to display upright morals only when in the presence of an adult or authoritative body. In other words, they are likely to behave badly in the absence of authority.

A related but different approach was undertaken by Dreyer who wrote a letter to the New York Times editor in response to findings on how young children acquire learning. He presents contrasting views to Ms. Gopnik’s research conclusions on the development of young children (Holinger par.3). He claims it is wrong for Ms.Gopnik to promote play over classroom teaching as the best method in which children acquire knowledge. He asserts that children learn through interaction with knowledgeable individuals such as parents, teachers, and caregivers. His main criticism is directed towards how Ms.Gopnik interpreted the results of the research experiment. Therefore children should not be viewed as solo learners but as learners who imitate adult moral values through interaction with teachers, caregivers, and parents. The moral issue presented and which perceives children as imitators is in agreement with Kohlberg’s conventional level of moral reasoning.

At this level, children conform to social norms of society through observation of how their role models carry out moral duties or generally conduct themselves. Despite their limited understanding of how moral actions will benefit their life, children will strive to imitate authority figures to maintain harmonious relationships. Therefore, as Dreyer asserts, children can improve their moral understanding as they interact through play with teachers and parents. Although this perspective may be perceived as generic, it has been proved to work in various circumstances.

Sayfan and Lagattu (1756) carried out research among children ranging from 4 to 7 years of age to investigate their understanding of fear management whether imaginary or real. Their research problem was informed by previous research that focused on examining how the ability to make distinctions between physical and mental fears developed in young children. The previous research had concentrated on investigating whether the children understood differences between realities versus imagination as well as making a distinction between fantasy and pretense. The two researchers also explored previous studies that demonstrate how children, right from preschool to early elementary level developed the ability to identify the above distinctions. However, they identified some research gaps in the sense that previous studies had overlooked as well as failed to account for how the ability to make the above distinctions was interconnected with children’s understanding of emotions such as fear (Dreyer 71). The two researchers are also quite categorical that fear is an important factor as a parameter in research studies since it assists in seeking or investigating as well as understanding how emotions are developed in children in the process of growth. Moreover, they emphasize that although strategies may vary from one child to another when it comes to coping with fearful situations, the source of fear, which may be classified as either real or imagined, is what accounts for differences among children. To develop a specific research problem, Sayfan and Lagattuta (1756) expound that as far as previous researches have extensively investigated sources of fear among young children, they have failed to explore whether the children understood the causes of fear, and how to regulate the fearful emotion when faced with scary situations. The present study, therefore, aimed to build on previous studies by addressing the questions that previous studies had failed to address.

They adopted a qualitative research methodology to explore 48 kids between the ages of 4 to 7 years to determine whether they understood how age and gender affected how individuals reacted to a fearful situation. In addition, they aimed to determine whether the children understood the strategies that people adapt to deal with fearful situations. They presented the sample under study with a graphical representation of children in fearful situations. They then asked the children participants to predict and explain the emotions that the characters in the picture were likely to experience. In addition, they were asked to suggest ways in which the protagonist could alleviate their fears, and what avenues their parents, friend and the like could use to help the protagonist overcome their fears (Arnett 43).

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Having successfully collected all the necessary data, the two authors analyzed the results to establish a relationship between variables under investigation. Indeed, this is an important phase of any empirical research study. The study concluded that young children as studied understood that individuals reacted differently to different fearful situations and that coping strategy depended on how a person interpreted the fearful situation. In addition, young children understood that age and gender variables were the main determinant when it came to the perception of the fearful situation (Sayfan & Lagattuta 1758). It was positively concluded that children were aware of what situations were likely to cause fear, and also on the remedies available to deal with fear, which the children identified to be directly originated from the mind (Sayfan & Lagattuta 1769). The research was not without shortcomings mostly arising from the limitation in scope which created gaps that would be filled following further research. Their study failed to establish whether the evaluation and interpretation of the fearful situation and subsequent coping strategies varied with age. Such weaknesses in past researchers have led to a seemingly unending debate in the sense that several loopholes have not been filled in several research documentations in this field.

Limitations and questions identified in any research can be filled by conducting subsequent research. From the above research, several questions can be identified which can form a basis for developing a research problem. For this paper, the research problem to be addressed is an empirical investigation to establish whether the children adapted the identified fear management strategies when faced with real situations. A similar sample could be used but this time around the children could be exposed to the real fearful situation to establish whether they would react differently as compared to imaginary situations. Variables such as gender and age will also be included to determine whether they contributed to any disparities when an individual is exposed to a fearful situation. By extension, the emotional response to fear should be investigated to determine how it affected children’s development to independent individuals.

The research to be undertaken is very interesting as it might elicit some very insightful findings that either support or refute the conclusions in the prior research. Indeed, if children were exposed to real fearful situations and they reacted differently from what Sayfan and Lagattuta concluded using imaginary entities, then further research would be necessary to control the confounding factors. However, if similar findings and results were to be arrived at, then this prior research would have passed the litmus test.

The present-day society tends to regard teenagers as child-like. Society has a role to play in condemning teenagers to child-like behavior since they tend to excuse some foolish behavior from teenagers citing stupidity as the contributing factor. The perceptions as cited above vary depending on geographic and cultural disparities. For instance, in some societies especially in less industrialized nations, teenagers are regarded as a brief stepping stone that connects childhood to adulthood; hence such teenagers tend to be treated like adults.

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The same pressures which were faced by teenagers like me in the past are also being felt by modern-day teens. Most of the time, peer pressure greatly influences teenager’s life as they strive to appear up to date to conform to the set standards among their peers. For this reason, most of the teens are tempted to try vices like drugs and alcohol, while others explore sexual encounters to feel part and parcel of the peer groups. The rise of the internet and by extension social media has not made it any better for today’s teens as it exerts even more pressure in their lives as they try to keep up with the trend.

My adolescent experiences cannot be compared to that of my parents simply because they are extremely different. The disparities could be linked to the changes in cultural activities and virtues that have evolved. During their time as teenagers, my parents were not as rebellious as it is commonly seen today. In addition, technological advancement has only emerged recently, and it has brought its fair share of troubles among today’s youth.

The transition from childhood to adulthood is characterized by events such as education, work, marriage, and parenthood. However, the timeline for the occurrence of the above events has shifted as economic situations create delays in the transition. With the emergence of globalization, the job market situation has changed which demands higher education levels than it was evident in yesteryears. As youth strive to attain a high level of education they refuse to grow out of their child-like behavior since society regard students with some kind of immaturity. In addition, their attitude remains rooted in youthful life as they perceive adulthood responsibility with negativity.

Some societies view the teenage phase as just a brief stepping stone that connects childhood to adulthood. The above notion portrays that teenagers in such societies are treated as adult-like hence the brief transition between the two stages of development. Berk (333) exemplifies the disparities by citing a case of Yucatec Mayan children. He explains that in the above society, children are actively involved in adult activities such that by teenage they have already grasped the necessary skills to see them through to young adulthood.

I strongly believe that transition from childhood to adulthood should be based on individual specific cases bearing in mind that developmental stages of children are often affected by a myriad of local factors that may not necessarily be uniform across the board. This may be attributed to the fact that some teenagers outgrow their childhood behaviors quite earlier than their peers. It is also sound to mention that if an individual has the ability and personal initiative to offer fair judgments on various circumstances and is also able to steer their lives purposely, then it is highly likely that transition may have occurred. I am also of the opinion that maturity has little to do with a high level of education, job security, or even the nature of parenthood. Individuals may demonstrate high levels of maturity regardless of their status in society. The latter is largely determined by earlier developmental stages that an individual went through.


Arnett, Jeffrey Jensen. Emerging adulthood: the winding road from the late teens through the twenties. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Print.

Berk, Laura, E. Child Development. Boston, Mass: Pearson. 2008. Print.

Dreyer, Bernard. Rethinking the Way Babies Learn. 2009. Web.

Holinger, Paul, C. Hitting Children, Should it be outlawed? 2011. Web.

Sayfan, Liat & Lagattu, Kristin. “Scaring the Monster Away: What Children Know About Managing Fears of Real and Imaginary Creatures”. Child Development 80.6 (2009). 1756-1774. Print.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, May 29). The Transition from Childhood to Adulthood. Retrieved from


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"The Transition from Childhood to Adulthood." PsychologyWriting, 29 May 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'The Transition from Childhood to Adulthood'. 29 May.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "The Transition from Childhood to Adulthood." May 29, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "The Transition from Childhood to Adulthood." May 29, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "The Transition from Childhood to Adulthood." May 29, 2022.