When I was a kid, I used to have a really good time. I had supportive parents who took care of me and gently but firmly corrected my social behaviors. Luckily, I was a smart kid who learned easily. I easily understood that what I was doing was not resulting in a favorable outcome and quickly changed tactics. For example, Even though my parents used to put shoes on me, at times, they would ask me to put shoes on myself. In most cases, I would put the left shoe on my right foot and my right shoe on the left. Severally, my parents would correct me, and sooner, I realized they would giggle before correcting me. I then learned that their giggle before correcting me meant that I had shoes on the wrong feet. I come from a high-status family, and therefore, my family could afford different types of toys that my peers also had. With a high level of self-esteem and social competencies, I grew up as a popular child whom many children liked to play with. I would even get invited to other children’s houses, and their parents also loved me. Unfortunately, the attention from peers did not allow me to develop abilities to approach others. Initiating contact was, therefore, a social situation I had difficulty with.
Piaget’s preoperational stage coincides with my childhood, between 2 and 6 years. According to Piaget’s theory, a child in the preoperational stage is egocentric and thinks from their perspective only (Lally & Valentine-French, 2019). According to the child, other people, be they adults or children, have the same feeling, behavior, and understanding as the child. Piaget’s preoperational stage also asserts that a child operates oblivious of his or her surrounding; for example, two children in the preoperational stage, playing next to each other, would play alongside each other rather than with each other. The children may even talk to each other in sequence, but each will talk with little concern about what they are saying and only concentrate on their dolls. As a kid, Piaget’s second part of the preoperational stage, the intuitive thought stage, applies to me. I remember scribbling on the ground, flying my finger around like an airplane, and pretending that a teddy bear was a baby. However, between 4 to 6 years, I was aware of myself and could think rationally. I could even perform simple calculations. I, therefore, think Piaget underestimated children’s intellectual abilities.
When I was a kid, I had memories of most events that had a significant impact on my life. Memories of my life in the church, a visit to family friends, friends I made, and even memorable meals. As a popular kid, I had a lot to remember as I considered it unsocial not to recall a friend’s name. According to Vygotsky’s Cognitive Development Theory, children develop advanced cognitive abilities if they are socially guided and constructed. While children can have intrinsic developments, it is the culture and the environment through language, writing, and concepts that children develop the highest level of cognitive thinking (Lally & Valentine-French, 2019). While some of my memories in my childhood between 2 and 6 years are abstract, I still have distinct memories of different events. I could also recognize that different people had different emotions about particular events. I could differentiate an angry person from a happy one. This is probably the reason why I was a popular kid.
When I was a kid, we had little understanding of the difference between males and females. Despite understanding that one was either a boy or a girl, we had little understanding of anything beyond that. As we progressed from grade one through grade six, we slowly got accustomed to living and behaving as either boys or girls. According to Albert Bandura’s social learning theory, children learn behaviors through observation, modeling, reinforcement, and punishment (Lally & Valentine-French, 2019). Through punishment and reward, children learn to conform to their assigned genders. In addition, children observe the behavior of adults around them and develop ideas on what behaviors are appropriate for each gender (Endendijk et al., 2018). Our gender stereotypes are, therefore, strong as they are based on our cultural beliefs and understanding.
When I was a kid, there was a popular kid in school who used to attract a lot of attention. Her name was Annette. Annette was an attractive girl who was good at almost everything. She used to dress nicely, and her parents were nice. Annette was a prosocial girl who was kind to everyone. Her academic performance was also good, and she used to have a positive approach to handling conflict. She was popular among other kids, teachers, and parents in the neighborhood. In the 6th stage of development in Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, several factors influence attraction and hence popularity. First, similarity affects attraction, as people tend to get attracted to others who have the same values and beliefs (Chung, 2018). When people like what they like, it introduces a sense of consensual validation, thus creating attraction. The second factor is self-disclosure. This is where people communicate effectively in an accepting and empathetic manner. If the other person reciprocates, then we get attracted to each other. Lastly, people get attracted to people with whom they are in close proximity. Based on Erickson’s view, Annette may have been popular due to her nature of communicating effectively, being kind and empathetic, and generally being a good performer.
When I was a kid, there was an unpopular kid in school named Jack. Jack was disliked by almost everybody. Jack was an anti-social and bossy child. He was disruptive and difficult to deal with. During break time, he would disrupt other children’s games or demand participation without following the necessary rules of the game. Unfortunately, Jack’s parents also contributed to his unpopularity, as rather than reprimanding him and modeling positive behavior in him, they would demand special treatment for him. This inflated his ego greatly and thus increased his unpopularity.
Popularity during childhood can happen if the child exhibits certain characteristics. According to Lally and Valentine-French (2019), children have a different conceptualization of who a friend is. Children between grades two and six would categorize a friend as someone with whom they have a normative expectation (Lally & Valentine-French, 2019). This is a person who shares with them or is kind to them. As the child grows, they include a requirement of empathy and understanding where the “friend” is expected to be loyal and committed to the relationship (Ma, 2013; Lally & Valentine-French, 2019). This may include keeping secrets. Comparing these characteristics to those of Jack, the unpopular child in school, Jack’s unpopularity could have been a result of lacking conventional morality. Based on Lawrence Kohlberg’s Levels of Moral Reasoning, Jack could have been unpopular as our level of understanding of friendship and morality was preconventional (Zhang & Zhao, 2017; Söderhamn et al., 2011). His lack of Fair-weather cooperation and constant disruption of social activities greatly affected other children’s ability to like him.
In conclusion, my childhood was filled with great memories and good moments. Different theorists such as Erikson, Piaget, Vygotsky, Bandura, and Kohlberg provide different perspectives on how people change or stay the same as they grow from being infants to adults and finally to death. As a kid, I had the experience of being a popular kid. This is because I was kind and approachable and could communicate effectively. Unpopularity in school and the neighborhood could result from being anti-social, being a bully, or failing to meet the fair-weather cooperation that other kids might expect.
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Endendijk, J. J., Groeneveld, M. G., & Mesman, J. (2018). The gendered family process model: An integrative framework of gender in the family. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 47(4), 877–904. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-018-1185-8
Lally, M., & Valentine-French, S. (2019). Lifespan development: A psychological perspective (2nd ed.). College of Lake County.
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