Table of Contents
Middle childhood developmental stage signifies the phase between early childhood and adolescence. For the most part, this stage of development is a time of uneventful and smooth physical growth, but as Berger (2017) explains, majority of the physique variations in this stage are caused by nutrition or inheritance. A significant number of theories have been established to explain the development of children, right from early childhood through to middle childhood and to adolescence. These theories, moreover, largely describe the development and changes that are expected between the different stages of human childhood life. Berger (2017) points out that for each of the stages, theorists have assigned a name to each age range that falls within a particular stage. Across the different literature sources, theoretical constructs indicate that the intermediary or middle childhood phase of development encompasses children of between six to twelve years of age.
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The purpose of this paper is highlight how a child aged between 6 and 11 years functions based on the set theories of development. This discussion uses the book “The developing person through life span” to expound more on the course of its discussion. In so doing, the observation draws reference to three domains of development: biosocial, cognitive and psychosocial. The discussion begins by providing a summary of this developmental stage, looking at the contributions made by the theories in defining the stages of human development. This will lead the paper to provide an overview of middle childhood development, before proceeding to provide analysis of middle childhood development based on each of these three domains. The focus of this paper is on the development of the child between the ages of 6 and 11 years. Therefore, it is imperative to explore, identify and understand the critical elements that the middle childhood developmental phase entails, hence bringing the different aspects of development into the picture.
Overall summary of middle childhood developmental stage
According to Berger (2017), middle childhood is referred to as the latency period. This is often a period identified by tranquility and innocence, with children refining the skills they attained from early childhood. The term latency as used to refer to the middle childhood developmental stage paints a picture of a period of dormancy, perhaps to prepare the child for future trials after being through the extreme stage of early childhood. To highlight the validity of this attachment, Berger (2017) observed that majority of the childhood programs and policies are focused on providing support, resources and opportunities to infants, pre-school children and the adolescents. In many instances, middle childhood years are marked by limited structural provisions to accommodate their transforming demands.
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In middle childhood, the world of children expands, as they begin to experience an environment that is different from that which they had at home during their early childhood stages of development. Between 5 and 6 years, a child marks the first significant entrance into institutions that are beyond the family, such as school. Besides, during this phase, children begin to interact with the wider community, as they navigate a wider social sphere that encompasses sports, school, community work, religious activities and interaction with peers.
Judging from the above outline, one can argue that the developmental stage referred to as middle childhood plays a pivotal role in determining the healthy development of children on their path towards adulthood. However, as Berger (2017) explains, there are several theoretical viewpoints that have specific emphasis on the development in the middle childhood phase. Besides, the author explains that the healthy development of children in middle childhood phase is denoted by developmental areas and developmental tasks that children ought to have mastered in between the ages of 6 and 11 years. In a bid to fit the middle childhood developmental stage into its proper position with regard to child’s development, Berger (2017) took note of the diverse theoretical viewpoints that concern childhood development.
Some common themes and concerns apply generally in middle childhood. However, the core aspect of this phase of development lies in the fact that the life of children between the ages of 6 and 11 is quite different from their lives between 2 and 5 years, similar to between 12 and 16 years. A comprehensive exposition of the developmental differences between the age groups within the middle childhood developmental phase begins by the analysis of the development between 5 and 6 years. Between these ages, children exhibit a higher concern of their immediate, concrete needs and advantages. Seven year old children, on the other hand, have a higher understanding of their widening social network, as they show signs of shifts in their achievement and relationships. The gradual development in the ability to apply learnt concepts in new tasks is a common feature of children aged between 8 and 9 years. For ten year old children, the growing consciousness of the importance of relationships is complemented by predominant moral thinking abilities that are reflected in the behavior of children.
Berger (2017) summarizes in conclusion that in the middle childhood children attain new levels of emotional, cognitive and social functioning that enables them to interpret concepts better, engage with their social environments and interact with people better. The emphases on the different developmental areas that expand in middle childhood are of more significance to this study, as development is an all-rounded concept that envisages the comprehension of emotional, physical, biological, psychological, social and cognitive aspects.
Biosocial development in middle childhood
The biosocial theory refers to a developmental theory that analyses the biologically-determined traits and their reactions to the stimuli in the environment. Berger (2017) explains that middle childhood is a period identifiable with variations in physique among children. During the period between the ages of 6 and 11 years, children experience body maturation, as their emotional and physical health become subject to the physical activities to which the child is subjected. Middle age, moreover, is denoted by the influence exerted by diet. Obesity among children is diagnosed mostly during the middle childhood developmental stage.
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However, the brain functions exhibit significance advances during middle childhood. Children in this developmental stage have higher capability to concentrate, and exhibit a higher response to mastering routine activities. It is often easier to map the emotional and mental intelligence of middle childhood children. For many children , however, the growth of new skills, social relationships and thinking patterns is hindered by difficulties presented by certain disorders including hyperactivity, autistic spectrum disorder and attention deficit.
The biosocial theory of development considers the growth of the biological features. Between 6 and 11 years, children have a lower growth trajectory when compared to early childhood. Berger (2017) explains, moreover, that this is the healthiest period of the entire human lifespan, but is denoted by uneventful biosocial development. Children in this age bracket exhibit growth in muscle strength, with internal organs such as the heart and the lungs increasing in size. The response of the human body to physical activity is highest during the middle childhood developmental phase.
However, obesity remains to be the single most serious problem of middle childhood. Obesity is a condition that subjects the child to other health hazards such as high blood pressure diabetes, asthma and high levels of cholesterol concentration in the body. The genetic orientation is among the leading causes of obesity among children in the middle childhood developmental phase, as the genes determine the body type, the food preferences, metabolic rate and activity level. However, as Berger (2017) elucidates, environmental factors play a pivotal role in the action of genes.
Parental activities, such as allowing children to watch television and drink soda, coupled with lack of adequate physical activity promote the prevalence of the certain health conditions, according to the biosocial theory. Other advances in middle childhood that are explained by the biosocial theory include the brain functioning. Middle childhood is a period in which the child exhibits the ability to attend to information through concepts of automatization and selective attention.
Cognitive development in middle childhood
The cognitive development between 6 and 11 years is denoted by significant refinement and development of the experiences in early childhood. Jean Piaget referred to middle childhood as the concrete operational stage. It is during this period that children exhibit significant intellectual development, as they become more conversant with understanding concrete and logical information. However, according to Piaget, children in the concrete operational stage of development still struggle to understand hypothetical and abstract concepts. The ability of children in middle childhood to focus on the diverse aspects of a situation or a problem is expanded beyond the egocentrism that defines early childhood.
Changes in memory are perhaps the most striking difference that defines middle childhood from early childhood. Between 6 and 11 years, a child experiences a gradual growth in the ability to pay attention, to remember and to express of speak about ideas. According to Piaget, three memory dimensions can be used to define the development of memory in middle childhood. These include the work memory, semantic memory and episodic memory. The ability of children aged between 8 and 11 years to remember is a determining factor that Berger (2017) used in explaining the basis of the increased knowledgebase of these children.
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The cognitive abilities of memorizing and concentrating improve drastically for children aged between 6 and 11 years. The attention span in middle childhood expands when compared to that of early childhood. In addition, the selective attention also improves with advancements in age to compliment the ability to think. This means, therefore, that children in the age bracket earmarked as middle childhood have the unique capability of achieving concentration by tuning out irrelevant discussions. Similarly, the ages between 7 and 11 are denoted by considerable increases in the short-term memory.
With reference to Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory, Berger (2017) explains that the middle childhood phase is characterized by the appropriate and active use of logic. These children exhibit limited logical abilities, which stretch only as far as the concrete examples or the real world. The author argues that this can be explained by the lack of readiness for anfractuous abstract thinking among children aged between 6 and 11 years. Looking at the contributions made by Piaget, a summary can be developed to understand the aspects of operational thinking during middle childhood. These include logic: where the child learns how to draw conclusions from appearances; decentration: which refers to the coordinative abilities between situation and time; causality: which is the understanding of cause and effect of the consequence; and reversibility: the ability to change objects and numbers.
Psychosocial development in middle childhood
During middle childhood, psychosocial development manifests through the prominent role take by peer friendships. Children aged between 6 and 11 years begin to develop a sense of their personality, and they begin to discover their capabilities and how they fit into their respective social spheres. Friends play an essential role in enabling children in middle childhood to develop ideas about their personal responsibility, and in making a difference between what is wrong and right.
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Berger (2017) used the scientific view developed by Erik Erikson to espouse the psychosocial development in middle childhood. This theorist derived his developmental theory from a belief that the social interactions played a significant role in impelling development of personality and the human behavior. Berger (2017) augments on this theory regarding middle childhood and explains Eriksen’s view that children exhibit more awareness about themselves as individuals during the ages between 6 and 11 years. Middle childhood is identified through more reasonability, as the child exhibits abilities to cooperate and share. Besides, children within this age bracket are more eager to accomplish complex tasks, as well as learn through reading, telling time and writing. Middle childhood psychosocial development further explains the formation of moral values and expressions of independence through disobedience, rebellion and taking back at others.
Psychosocial development theory also analyses the energy levels across the different phases of development. During middle childhood, children direct their energy to productivity and creativity. While referring to Eriksen’s view, Berger (2017) explained that children aged between 6 and 11 years often strive to employ useful skills in accomplishing competencies and tasks that would guarantee them recognition among peers and adults. Self-esteem is another aspect that is used by Eriksen to identify psychosocial development.
Between 6 and 10 years, children establish their identity. Independence and individuality are common features that are identifiable with middle childhood, as children in this developmental stage have high self-esteem, and demonstrate respect to the social structures that include their friends and family. This reflects the identity awareness that Erikson linked psychosocial development in middle childhood. However, middle childhood may inflict low self-esteem among certain children. This may affect the social relationships of the children, as well as impair the academic performance of the children.
This study summarizes middle childhood and the abilities, concerns, needs and attributes of children in this developmental phase, the development of children in middle childhood can be paralleled with the gradual changes in the biological features, the psychological capabilities and the social interaction patterns exhibited by the children. Across the three theories used to expound more on the development in middle childhood, the paper points to the need for more awareness on the risks to which children aged between 6 and 11 are exposed with regard to their biosocial, cognitive, and psychosocial development.
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- Berger, K. (2017). The developing person through the lifespan (10th ed.). New York: New York Worth Publishers.