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Social Relationships and Development in Childhood


Child development is a process that begins from conception but it goes on until death. Development in children takes different forms and is influenced by a number of fatore as will be disacussd later in the paper. It inviolves diverse dimensions which peer acceptance and rejection, development of friendship, development of self worth amont other dimentions that will be discussed in this paper. Everyday of a human’s life is growing and experiencing some form of development is influenced every single day. There are many theories that seek to explain the development of human beings from childhood to adulthood. These theories were developed to evaluate why humans behave the way they do and what influences their behavior. Some of these theories include, Erikson’s psychosocial development theory, Piaget’s cognitive development, Vygotsky’s social development, and Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System (Bronfenbrenner, & Ceci, 1994).

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Erickson’s theory is the most common theory that explains the development of human biengs from childhood to adulthood through stages. Erikson’s development theory divides the human development into eight distinct stages (Bronfenbrenner, & Ceci, 1994). Humans according to this theory are expected to go through these stages from their date of birth to their adulthood (Bronfenbrenner, & Ceci, 1994). With each of these stages, an individual must face and conquer different challenges. This paper will discuss six developmental aspects, which include, peer acceptance and rejection, development of friends, development of self, gender differences and social relationships, cultural differences and children with disabilities.

Activity 1: Learning Disability and Conduct Disorders

Peer Acceptance and Rejection

Peer acceptance and rejection refer to the level that a child or an adolescent is accepted and embraced by his her fellow children. Peer popularity is very important in measuring the level that their fellow children accept a child. This includes the ability for a child to establish peer relationships. This concept involves the social and emotional development of peer and their ability to form friendships among further peers. Peer acceptance is based on several factors including social competence. Social competence on the hand is influenced by aspects such as attachment wit e caregiver, the nature of interaction in early and mid-childhood with varied groups of people as well as the parenting environment.

Children are accepted and valued in their groupings based on different characteristics and some of the major reasons are very clear. The more opportunities a child gets for social interaction the more they build their confidence hence getting attention from their peers. As a child or an adolescent grow older, the need to feel a sense of belonging and to be identified with a particular group becomes more exaggerated. During a person’s teen years, this need becomes more strong and firm (Erikson, 1964). The interaction of an individual with the rest of his or her peers can be hindered by the fear of competition (Erikson, 1964). Such children require opportunities that are less competitive also known as non-threatening interactions (Erikson, 1964).

Development of Friendship and Gender Roles

Friendship is based on relationships between two or more people who hold mutual affection for each other. Friendship begins at a very young age when a child is still young and can grow up to adulthood. Friendship and its development include emotional and social aspects between the two parties. Friendship demonstrates a tendency for the two children to desire the best for each other (Erikson, 1964). Friendship is also characterized by the two friends showing sympathy and empathy towards each other (Erikson, 1964). The formation of friendship goes on the entire life of a person since humans are social beings. As a child grows, he or she develops a mutual inclination to another child, hence forming a very close reciprocity or mutuality (Erikson, 1964).

As children grow, they learn their differences with respect to ender disparities and through this they are aware of their roles based on the same. Children e learns that certain behaviors and activities are for the male and others to the female (Erikson, 1964). Children learn these roles from various mediums but the closest and the immediate channel is through the mother and close family friends. However, there are other avenues or platforms that a child can access. For instance, children learn a lot from each other based on what they have been taught at home. In addition, they can learn through observing the older people’s behaviors and reactions to different situations.

Activity 2: Development of Friendship

Development of Self ‘Sense of self’

An effective development in a child’s growth must include the development of self. This includes factors that help children to develop self-esteem. Self-esteem is defined as the perception an individual has of him or herself (Bronfenbrenner, & Ceci, 1994). Children develop self-esteem through a number of factors. The greatest influence on self-esteem is the way a person views himself or herself. However, other people’s perceptions of an individual shape their attitude towards themselves hence influencing the establishment of self-esteem (Bronfenbrenner, & Ceci, 1994). Children develop their sense of self according to how other close people view them. For instance, a child who is always treated well in the family and is always motivated with positive words from the parents is more likely to a very high self-esteem compared to one who is not.

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Self-esteem is depicted by the display of a sense of security and confidence in one’s self (Bronfenbrenner, & Ceci, 1994). Young children, as they grow, they require to be protected by their caretakers in order to develop the sense of belonging. Children develop a high self worth if they feel loved, and belonging to the family, the group of schoolmates, sports team and all other available social settings. If a child lacks a sense of belonging, the probability for such a kid to develop a low self-esteem is high. Children are nurtured to develop personal competence and pride in their ability to raise against their own specific challenges this influences the sense of personal power hence boosting the self worth of a child. Lack of personal power weakens the child’s worth and confidence in their selves.

Activity 3: Gender Differences in Social Relationships

Observation of Behavior Code Sheet

The gender roles and differences begin to be taught to children by their parents or caretakers at a very young age. Parents start showing the difference between the boys and girls at a very tender age through clothing. Boys are taught to dress in a particular way while the girls on the other hand are taught the same. The gender inequality begins at this age as well. Stereotypes such as male are independent, assertive and dominant are characteristics that children learn from an early age. Women on the other hand are seen as loving, gentle, social, and supportive as well as being passive (Bronfenbrenner, & Ceci, 1994). Women are expected to obey and listen to the men, as they are the dominant in the society.

The roles of women in social relations are different from that of men and this is clearly set by the environment that we live in. The differences in gender are cross-cultural and therefore they cannot be attributed to any local culture (Bronfenbrenner, & Ceci, 1994). Nonetheless, the gender stereotyping is only rampant in the adolescent. Young children do not pay much attention to gender role disparities compared to the adolescent. Gender differences in social relationships are achieved through observation of older and other people around the child. Children observe and pick up behaviors from the people around them.

A child’s response to a particular behavior is influenced by their parents’ perception of the same. Children through observation learn their gender differences and embrace their roles in the social platform. There are many and different types of code behaviors that is not directly taught to children but they learn through observation. Such behaviors include things that males can or cannot do and things that and things that females can do or not do. Females for instance are responsible for preparing food for the family and organizing the house while, men are expected to fetch for the family. Women are not supposed to participate in some activities that are regarded to be for their male counterparts.

Activity 4: Observation of Behavior Code Sheet

Cultural Differences

Cultural disperaties influence the development and growth of chidren in a very significan manner. Children are shaped as they grow through the cultural trends and beliefs. A childs cutrural background determines his or her character and beliefs as they grow to adulthood. The differences in cultural behaviours include, behavioural exopectations of both the girl child and the boy child. Different societies have diverse cultures and beliefs about the social roles and responsibilities of different genders. While in other culture males are expected to do the manual work such as farming and building houses, other communities believe the other way round. Especially in palces like Africa, some communities believe that women should provide food for the family.

There are beviours that attract the attention of the entire community due to the thought that it is an ubnormal behavior. Male children who have hormonal imbalances hence behaving like women are treated differently depending on the culture in question. Children growing in a society that believes that albinism is curse with carry that thought along from their childhood to their adulthood. This shows how our cultures shapes our generation and the generaitions to come. Othe behavior are considered to be bad behaviours in one culture while in another culture there is no problem seen in the display of such behaviours. This cultural disperities influence the groeth of chidren since they grow with a certain mentality in thire minds about a gender question.

For instance, in the middle east, their culture does allow them to eat pigs or products made from pork. This is considered to be a act of contempt of their religion and spiritual beliefs. The chinese culture allows them to eat frogs, snakes and other reptile animals that are very rare in the menu of some other cultures like the west for instance. Cultures regarding clothing are also influenctial in child development. As a child grows from childhood to adulthood, they are tought how dress in accoedance to the accepted gender standards. In some cultures, the feamale have their own clothing while the males have thrir own clothing. this contributes to the stereotyping as discussed earlier in the paper.

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Activity 5: Erikson and cultural identity

Identity crisis occurs when an individual does not truly realize his or her real self and creates imagination’s of whom he or she really is. Erickson’s theory explains such a situation and names it an Identity Crisis. According to him, this is a time when an individual is undergoing an intensive analyssus and exploration of the different ways in which they look or perceive themselves (Bronfenbrenner, & Ceci, 1994). There are some people who spend most of their lives living lives that do not reflect their real selves. These are people who try to pretend to be who they are not and view themselves in a different way from their actual personality. When an individual is in the state of such confusion, he is said to be in an identity crisis according to erickson’s theory.

Identity crisis occurs in the teenage years where teenagers struggle to identify themselves with something or someone as well as balancing with feelings. There are four identity statuses which include, identitiy achievement, moratorium, foreclosure, and identity diffusion. The identity achievement is a situation where an individual goes through various exploration in search of an identity and settles on one. Moratorium is a statys where an individual is actively involved in searching for an identityand has not settled on any yet. Foreclosure on the other hand is a status where an individual has settled on an identity without going through the exploration stage. Lastly, identity diffusion is the status where there is no both identity commitment or exploration.

This can be attributed to his psychosiocial development theory. The main elements of erickson’s psychosocial theories is the ego identity. Ego identity is defined as the conscious sense developed by humans through social interaction (Bandura, 1992). The ego identity changes from time to time due to different social experiences in addition to the information that one acquires (Bronfenbrenner, 1992). Interaction with others, friends and peers, helps individuals to to create new ego experiences and hence the notion that ego identity is not constant. Each step of the ericksons development theory is based on the sense of competence ina certain level and achieving such competence is called ego strength (Bronfenbrenner, & Ceci, 1994). It makes an individual believe in them selves and have confidence in their ability to survicves.

The stages of the erickson’s theory begin from birth. The first stage is actually from birth to one year of life (Erikson, 1964). Thi sstage is the most fundamental and most important point of life. Here the development of trust is cultivated although it depends on the caregiver’s ability to make the child have a sense of trust (Gesell, & Amatruda, 1947). Development of trust in a child makes them feel safe and secure in the worls or surrounding that they come from. The second stage of developmet occurs from erly childhood and here the children begin to show some sense of autonomy seeking self control (Rosenbaum, 2006). The most important basic of this satge is the toilet training which gives the child the autonomy to decide and respond to the nature calls. This stage makes the child feel very proud and it boost their confidence and competence. Those are the two major steps accrding to erickson’s theory that infkuence growth and development.

Activity 6: children with disabilities

Children with disadilities face more challenges compared to their counterparts who do not have any form of diability. Children disability is known as neurodevelopmontel disabelities and they are the conditions that begin in early childhood (Rosenbaum, 2009). Many options of treating early childhood disabilities are available in the health practice. They include theoretically-based treatment approaches (Gesell, & Amatruda, 1947). In addition, the perception of disability in children has changed from being a superstitious one to a medical condotions (Gesell, & Amatruda, 1947). Ealier people though a diabled child was an act of cursr from God (Gesell, & Amatruda, 1947). The general view with respect to disability has changed and undergone different changes over the past few years. Children with disabilities re no longer treated like the least in the society but they have set a palce for them in the society

The treatment for children with disabilities is neurologically-based which looks at a disabled child as a child who has a problem that needs to be rectified or adreesed. The helth practitioners asses the problem and from their assessment they develop ways of solving the problem medically. However, treatment of disabilities is changing from the solving the problem angle to promoting activity (Gesell, & Amatruda, 1947). In the modern treatment of disabilities in chidren doe not focus on making the children beahave normally. Rather, the treatment of such diseases forcusses mostly concerned with making the disabled children function the best thay can in different situations (Gesell, & Amatruda, 1947).

A new treatment of childhood disability is gaining popularity and it involve management of the disability situation. Bearing in mind the probable scope for contact between thoughts of developmental disability and of child development, it is astonishing how diminutive has been inscribed about their joint. The works of developmental theorists are predominantly unsatisfactory in this honor. None of the protuberant theories revealed above has taken a close look at what transpires to growth when something goes wrong, or how disability might affect developmental routes. Nor have developmental modifications been used to examine developmental theories. This is a noteworthy gap in the developmental literature, because a developmental theory which could truly be functional commonly should have to be able to house those with disabilities.

Intervention approaches generally endeavor to do one of two things. Put very simply, they aim either to fix the problem or to inspire role to arise in spite of the problem. In the literature describing most of the treatment approaches referred to above, there is little mention of the significances of disability on areas of expansion other than sensorimotor systems (Rosenbaum, 2009). There is even less mention of how these evolving and practical complications might be banned (Rosenbaum, 2008).

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Disability in children is no longer a big issue as it used to be in the past. In places like china, children with disabilities were hidden away fro the puclic and in some cases they would be killed. The perception was that such children were a curse or that they brought bad lack the fanily. This nortion has been replaced by the new treatment theories that have shade some light on the reality about disability in children. Today more children are being taken care of in health care facilities and the results or outcomes of their treatment is very positive. Children receiving such treatments are doing very well with regard to their response to the treatment.


This paper has outlined the major levels of childhood development. In the paper, several theories that explain the growth of a child from infancy althrough to adulthood have been discussed. The paer has discussed how chidren form their friendship and cultivate the sense of belonging to their peer groupings. Children begin their training at a very young age and they start acquiring their personalities from a very tender age. Social interaction among small kids have been discussed and their social grouping evaluated. The paper has also discussed the way in which children are affected by culture and the effects of cultural practices on the growth of children. The identity crisis which is a very rampant effect on tenagers have been discussed and evaluated.

As the children grow, they are taiught the differences between being a boy and being a girl. The stereotyping of women and male therfere begins to take shape as early as in childhood. The position of women in the society is defined to children when they are very young and the same goes for the boys and role of men. As such, they grow with an already set worlview of what is expected of them as males and females.


Bandura, A. (1992). Social Cognitive Theory. In R. Vasta (Ed.), Six theories of child development. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1992). Ecological Systems Theory. In R. Vasta (Ed.), Six theories of child development. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Bronfenbrenner, U. & Ceci, S.J. (1994). Nature-nurture reconceptualized in developmental perspective: A bioecological model. Psychological Review, 101 (7), 568-586.

Erikson, E.H. (1964). Childhood and society . New York, NY: Norton.

Gesell, A. & Amatruda, C.S. (1947). Developmental diagnosis: Normal and abnormal child development – clinical methods and pediatric applications (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Harper & Row Publishers.

Inhelder, B., Sinclair, H. & Bovet, M. (1974). Learning and the development of cognition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Rosenbaum, P. L. (2006). Variation and “abnormality”: Recognizing the differences. Journal of Pediatrics, 149(1), 593-594.

Rosenbaum, P. (2008). Effects of powered mobility on self-initiated behaviours of very young children with locomotor disability. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 50 (2), 644-650.

Rosenbaum, P. (2009). Putting child development back into developmental disabilities [Editorial]. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 51 (1), 251-260.

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