Child Development Interview

While interviewing several students at various stages of development, the scientific reasoning behind the theories of educational psychology come to life. One cannot merely digest the theories that educational psychology is founded on without examining the subjects of study in a more personal context. Reading and discussing can bring about understanding, but the level of understanding is given much more depth if educators examine students through the eye of an educational psychologist; that is studying the developmental levels by analyzing the personal responses of students to various open-ended questions. In this document four students ranging in age from six to 17 were given a sample of open-ended questions. The questions were formed to examine social, emotional, moral/spiritual, and cognitive development. Their exact responses were recorded and can be viewed in the attached appendix.
Interview 1
The first interviewee was a 6-year old girl. She provided excellent examples of her moral, social, and emotional development with her responses. When asked if it were ok to ever break a rule she very quickly said, ???no??? and reasoned that ???it might make your parents mad???. Her response very clearly represents Piaget??™s heteronomous morality and Stage 1 of Kohlberg??™s preconventional morality- seeing rules as rigid , and having negative consequences (Slavin, 2012). She understood rules to be established by a higher authority, and to be followed to avoid punishment, an egocentric type of behavior. In question two, she was asked what makes her angry. She stated that when her parents or her friends tell her what to do that she becomes angry. She would then respond by crying or not playing with her friends. She seems to reason that when her parents tell her what to do they are bothering her. This type of behavior exemplifies autonomous development, a trait noted in Stage II of Erikson??™s Psychosocial Development Theory (Slavin, 2012).
Although she exhibited some autonomous behavior with her response to question two, she still showed a dependence and social connection with family with her response to question three. When asked who the most important people in her life were she responded, without hesitation, that her family was most important to her. She associated the importance of her family with her needs, stating she needed love, food, and other things to live- things she reasoned only her family could provide her. This is showing advancement through Erikson??™s Trust Versus Mistrust Crisis (Slavin, 2012), and also supports the various theories that state the family as a critical part of the earlier stages of social development. Over time, the role the family plays in the social, moral, and emotional development, is limited by the increasing interactions with peers (Slavin, 2012). However, when asked what her favorite thing to do was, she stated playing with toys and dancing. Most of a preschooler??™s interactions with peers occur during play (Hughes, 2010). Playing with toys could be characterized as solitary play (Parten 1923), as she was playing with a set of spinning tops during the interview process. The dancing could be characterized as parallel play (Parten, 1923) since she takes dance classes with peers of the same age group, but made no reference to cooperative dancing. In her response to the last question, she stated that she feels sad when she tries something and fails. The basis of her feelings is identified in Stage IV of Erickson??™s Psychosocial Development Theory. Her sense of failure or inferiority may stem from her parents expectations of her. She states that if she failed her parents would yell at her and she would feel embarrassed. Failure to resolve this crisis may cause challenges later in life (Miller, 1993).
Interview 2
Although there is four years of difference in age, interviewee two also presents a bold ???no??? when asked if it were ever ok to break a rule. Two interesting statements were made, ???it??™s like breaking the Ten Commandments,??? and ???you might get into a lot of trouble.??? This individual student also demonstrated preconventional and heteronomous morality, but with a spiritual connection. Instead of the authority figure being solely the parents or another adult, she recognizes God as the unwavering law provider and seems to understand that none of God??™s law should not be forsaken (Matthew 5:18-19). Advancement into the conventional morality Stage IV may be assumed by the fact that the Ten Commandments are given on the premise of loving God and loving your neighbor (Luke 10:27). She also makes a reference to God in her response to question three, regarding the most important people in her life. She says God is important because ???He takes care of me, He knows right and wrong, He helps me through troubled times and difficult situations.??? In this response she is showing a degree of trust in her Creator and may be even displaying characteristics of Erikson??™s Stage V (Slavin, 2012) associating her identity as part of God??™s creation.
Personal identity seems to be an ever increasing aspect of her development. This is a characteristic of maturation. The theorists seem to agree that the family role in cognitive and social development decreases as the role of peer influence increases (Hay, Payne, & Chadwick, 2004). This is supported primarily by her response to question four, even though she mentioned family rather than peers as being the most important people in her life. In her answer to question four, she makes a social comparison (Borg, 1998) by identifying herself as an athlete. She mentions playing softball, a team sport, as her favorite thing to do demonstrating a form of cooperative play (Parten, 1932). In addition, her answer to question two was that she becomes frustrated when people ignore her, showing her need for acceptance and recognition.
It is theorized that as children mature their peer relationships have greater influence on the outcomes of their cognitive, social, emotional, and moral development (Slavin, 2012). The next two interviews support this theory.
Interview 3
The third interviewee, a 14 year old, made several references to peers in response to questioning. The most notable response was what made her angry. She stated that broken promises caused her to become angry with the offender. If the offender was her peer she would be less likely to overreact in contrast to if it were her parent. She stated, ???I would usually throw a tantrum with my mom, but with a friend, I don??™t think it would be as bad.??? When asked who the most important people in her life were she did reference her family first stating, ???if you don??™t have family you don??™t have the support you need.??? Her response validates her security in her family, but her latter response, ???friends are pretty important,??? shows that peer relationships are commonplace in her life. Her two favorite activities, dance and cheer, even involve social interaction with her peers. Based upon these responses, she seems to be operating in Erikson??™s Stage V, Identity Versus Role Confusion (Slavin, 2012).
When asked if rules were ok to break she said, ???it depends on the situation???. This conditional response is reflective of an expansion of the social world in a child??™s life (Slavin, 2012). Piaget would likely categorize her response as a form of autonomous morality, bringing into consideration a set of extenuating circumstances that influence whether a rule should be followed or not. Kohlberg??™s Stage 3 of conventional morality seems like the most appropriate diagnosis of such a response, bringing into view the feelings of others when making moral decisions (Slavin, 2012). Though her peers seem to have somewhat of an influence on her, she seems to have a strong sense of autonomy; it doesn??™t appear that peer interactions have caused any long term negative outcomes. Her demeanor and mannerisms during the interview portrayed confidence. This may stem from the establishment of positive peer relationships, giving her high self-esteem. However, when asked how she feels when failing at an activity she described herself as frustrated and depressed. She labeled the depressed feeling as a ???darn-depressed??? in an effort to illustrate that she is able to shrug off failure rather than dwell on it.
Interview 4
Although similarities arise between the last interview and interview four, a 17 year old, in social development there is a stark contrast in moral development. In a typical 17 year old response to whether a rule was ok to break, one might expect a conditional response like the one given by the 14 year old in interview 3. However, the 17 year old simply stated, ???No, our parents taught us what we were supposed to do or not supposed to do.??? This level of reasoning does not show any indication of peer influence of moral reasoning. Rather, it indicates a strong reliance on adult authority, therefore exhibiting heteronomous morality and a preconventional level of morality (Slavin, 2012). However, a transition from preconventional to Stage 4 of the conventional level of morality may exist.
In regards to socioemotional development, the 17 year old placed a great deal of emphasis on peer relationships. When asked who were the most important people in her life, she stated that her immediate friends, ???the ones who have been with me the longest from elementary and middle schools,??? were the most important, ???then my family.??? Clearly, by this comment the role of the family has been replaced by the role of her peers, at least in some aspects. These peer relationships were crucial to her over time as she references elementary and middle school. Her favorite activities- talking and listening to music with her friends- involve social interaction with her peers as well. This is an indication that she is most likely operating within Erikson??™s Stage V of Psychosocial Development (Slavin, 2012). An indicator of this is her response to question five. When asked how she would react after failure she stated that she would feel frustrated, but knew that if she tried again she could succeed. Seeing herself as able to succeed, even after failure, illustrates a progression through the Industry Versus Inferiority crisis (Slavin, 2012).
Conclusion
Through the interview project it can be concluded that social networks do play a critical role in developmental levels and stages of progression. Certain responses can be seen as benchmarks, characteristic to certain theorized stages of development. However, the stages of personal and social development are played out in constant interactions with others and with society as a whole (Slavin, 2012). One might even argue that children fluctuate back and forth through the stages of development given a number of environmental factors, not in a form of regression, but in a way of establishing foundational stepping stones of development.

Appendix
Interview Project Questions & Interviews
1. Is it ever ok to break a rule Why or why not (moral/Spiritual)
2. It??™s natural to get angry at times. What are some things that make you angry and how do you show it (emotional)
3. Who are the most important people in your life and why (social)
4. What is your favorite thing to do Describe it. (Social/Emotional)
5. How do you feel when you try to do something and fail (can??™t do it)
6. If you could go anywhere, where would it be and why
7. If someone were in danger what would you do

Interview 1
Female
Age 6
Grade 1

1. Is it ever ok to break a rule Why or why not (moral/Spiritual)
???No, because you might do something bad that you??™re not supposed to do. You might make your parents mad.
2. It??™s natural to get angry at times. What are some things that make you angry and how do you show it (emotional)
???When my parents were bothering me and I get really mad. My parents yelling at me..sometimes I cry. When they tell me what to do and my friends tell me what to do. When my friends pick me first I don??™t play with them.
3. Who are the most important people in your life and why (social)
???My family, because I need love to keep me alive and things to eat to keep me alive and everything like that.???
4. What is your favorite thing to do Describe it.
???Play with toys because it??™s so fun and my favorite thing to do is dance to my favorite song, because it??™s so fun to dance???
5. How do you feel when you try to do something and fail (can??™t do it)
???Sad, because my parents might yell at me or something. I would feel embarrassed or scared??¦when everyone is looking at me.
6. If you could go anywhere, where would it be and why (OMITTED)
???To an eating place, because I might be hungry or something??¦ If I had money or something (Note: Asked before lunch time). ???California Adventure next to Disney World??? (Note: Asked again while she was eating)
7. If someone were in danger what would you do (OMITTED)
???I would call 911???

Interview 2
Female
Age 10
Grade 5

1. Is it ever ok to break a rule Why or why not (moral/Spiritual)
???No, because if you break a rule it??™s like breaking one of the 10 Commandments. It??™s not good and you might get into a lot of trouble.???
2. It??™s natural to get angry at times. What are some things that make you angry and how do you show it (emotional)
???People ignoring me. I show it by ignoring them. I get frustrated. I make a different face action, I look angry.???
3. Who are the most important people in your life and why (social)
???My family, because they keep me safe.???
God, because He takes care of me, He knows right and wrong, He helps me through troubled time and difficult situations.???
4. What is your favorite thing to do Describe it.
???Play softball because I am an athlete. I like to run, like to play ball, like being outdoors???
???Hunting, because I can be patient; it??™s fun because you get to see deer and other nature.???
5. How do you feel when you try to do something and fail (can??™t do it)
???I feel angry because I feel like I could actually do it, but could have tried harder or done better.???
6. If you could go anywhere, where would it be and why (OMITTED)
???I would go to Six Flags. I have never been and people say it??™s a lot of fun.???
???Sea World because it??™s a water park???
???Heaven, because I can get a lot of things there and I could get what I have wanted; I would have a big Christian family there.
7. If someone were in danger what would you do (OMITTED)
???Call 911 and also run to a neighbor or call someone I know.

Interview 3
Female
Age: 14
Grade: 8

1. Is it ever ok to break a rule Why or why not (moral/Spiritual)
???It depends on the situation. It depends on the rule, how serious the rule is. Like you??™re not supposed to lie, but we make things up for little kids all the time.???
2. It??™s natural to get angry at times. What are some things that make you angry and how do you show it (emotional)
???Two-faced people- a lot of that goes on in middle and high school. I would respond by usually laughing at that person. I think that it??™s kind of ridiculous.???
???Broken promises, my response depends on the person. I would usually throw a tantrum with my mom, but with a friend, I don??™t think it would be as bad. I would be less likely to overreact with a friend than my parents.???
3. Who are the most important people in your life and why (social)
???My family members because if you don??™t have family you don??™t have the support you need. Friends are pretty important but I put my family before my friends anytime.???
4. What is your favorite thing to do Describe it.
???Dance and cheer. I think those two are my favorite. I have been dancing forever and cheer is more fun. Dance is more serious than cheer. I take dance more seriously???
5. How do you feel when you try to do something and fail (can??™t do it)
???I feel bad. I have an upset mood. I think it depresses me kind of. I feel like it??™s a
???darned-depressed.??? I get frustrated when I have completed a project and someone tells me I am wrong.???
6. If you could go anywhere, where would it be and why (OMITTED)
???Disneyland or Disney parks because I am 14 and have never been there. I think it would be fun. All them (adults) have gone and they would know what to do. We would not be wandering around like lost puppies.???
7. If someone were in danger what would you do (OMITTED)
???Call for help. I wouldn??™t??¦(faded off in thought)??¦because me trying to help would be like Lynleigh (6yr old sister) trying to help Reagan (newborn baby). There is not much I could do. Depending on the situation, it would depend on who I would call for help.???

Interview 4
Female
Age 17
Grade 11

1. Is it ever ok to break a rule Why or why not (moral/Spiritual)
???No. Our parents taught us what we were supposed to do or not supposed to do.???
2. It??™s natural to get angry at times. What are some things that make you angry and how do you show it (emotional)
???I raise my voice, like when I have to repeat myself several times because people don??™t listen???
3. Who are the most important people in your life and why (social)
???My immediate friends, the ones who have been with me the longest from elementary and middle schools, and then my family???
4. What is your favorite thing to do Describe it.
???Just hanging out with friends; talking and listening to music
5. How do you feel when you try to do something and fail (can??™t do it)
???Kind of frustrated, but I know that if I try to do it again I can succeed at it. Practice makes perfect.???
6. If you could go anywhere, where would it be and why (OMITTED)
???To a foreign country just to see what life is like there, their society & stuff, how they live, preferably Asian.???
7. If someone were in danger what would you do (OMITTED)
???I would probably do everything possible to help them.???

References
Borg, M. (1998). Test of the internal/external frames of reference model with subject-specific academic self-efficacy and frame specific academic concepts. Journal of educational psychology, 90(1), 102-110.
Hay, D., Payne, A., & Chadwick, A. (2004). Peer relations in childhood. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 45, 84-108.
Hughes, F. (2010). Children, play, and development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Miller, P.H. (1993). Theories of developmental psychology (3rd ed.). New York: Freeman.
Parten, M. (1932). Social participation among preschool children. Journal of abnormal and social psychology, 27, 243-269.
Slavin, R.E. (2012). Education psychology: theory and practice (10th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.