Developmental Psychology Term Paper

Essay Assignment 2 Rebecca’s Rebellion 1. Describe the changes in physical growth and development that she would have experienced in the past 3-4 years and how these changes could be impacting her current state. A number of factors have contributed to Rebecca’s current rebellion against her parents, most of them being normal and healthy parts of development.
However, it would seem that one aspect of her physical development somewhat strayed from the normative; an issue that, according to several findings in the field of developmental psychology, has had a negative catalyzing effect on her body image, peer-acceptance, relationship with her parents, and overall emotional stability. This umbrella issue is Rebecca’s pubertal timing; specifically, the early onset of it relative to her peers. As cited in our textbook, from several different studies, “(E)arly-maturing girls were unpopular with -drawn lacking in self-confidence, anxious, and prone to depression, (… were more involved in deviant behavior (getting drunk, participating in early sexual activity) and achieved less well in school. ” This behavioral trend is mostly reflected in Rebecca, who as early as 10-11, hit a growth spurt that made her much taller and leaner, “such a notable growth spurt often signals the coming of menarche within a six month period,” and as early as 12 year old became both sexually attracted to men, and began developing an unhealthy self-image in the form of a perceived weight problem as a result of gained weight in the hips, “another common signal of menarche. The trend of early onset puberty in caucasian girls has been demonstrated to impact both body-image and self-esteem as a result of their awkward and differing appearance to their peers as well as the hormonal influenced emotional changes that are typical of early adolescence. Often a result of this desire for peer-acceptance, early-onsetters tend to gravitate towards older and more sexually matured individuals who match their stage of pubertal development, and “who often encourage them into activities they are not ready to handle emotionally, including sexual activity, drug and alcohol use, and minor delinquent acts. Rebecca has engaged in somewhat delinquent behavior from time to time prior to early adolescence, but with the exception of her little ruining the neighbor’s garden stint, she has been completely in accordance with the law, and ultimately respectful of following house rules. However, the influence of this garden-trampling partner in crime is still most likely a contributing factor to Rebecca’s current state of rebellion. Early-onset puberty aside, a desire for distance from one’s parents at this age is a completely normal, evolutionary-based aspect of human development.
It is a behavior replicated in primates, as it is ultimately a nature-based mechanism which serves to, “discourage sexual relations between close blood relatives. ” Even in our modern American society, such behavior is replicated, albeit in a fundamentally different way; “(A)dolescents in industrialized nations, who are still economically dependent on parents, cannot leave the family. Consequently, a modern substitute seems to have emerged: psychological distancing. Rebecca’s unique physical development has most likely been a large contributing factor on her current behavior via its effect on her self-image. Though it might be a large part of current state, and perhaps the primary catalyst, it is not the end-all be-all of it so much as its part of a complex mixture with her relationship with us, people her age, and other environment related factors. 2) Describe the stages of cognitive and moral development in this developmental period as theorized by Piaget and Kohlberg.

Present evidence (from her developmental history information) for which stage you think Rebecca demonstrates. Based on her history, it can be readily observed that Rebecca has achieved the final stage of Piaget’s stages of cognitive development, otherwise known as the Formal Operational Stage. She has demonstrated the capacity for abstract, systematic, and scientific thinking, by demonstrating hypothetico-deductive Reasoning, and propositional thought, the only two requirements of attaining Piaget’s last stage.
Hypothetico-Deductive Reasoning: Rebecca has demonstrated her ability to take into account several abstract variables in her reasoning by virtue of the complex nature of conclusions she has made on her own in the past. For instance, her evaluation of her parent’s parenting-style was that, “we are as supportive and approving of her as the average parent, (… ) but stricter than other parents. ” The veracity of such a conclusion aside, “and despite our lack of knowledge as to the specific variables she used to make such an evaluation,” t can be readily observed that the pro-con nature of her evaluation was the result of a consideration of several factors, as well as their relationship to one another. Propositional Thought: Despite having an initial lack of confidence in math and language arts at the age of 12, “proficiency in which becomes increasingly tied to propositional reasoning skills,” a lack of confidence does not equate a lack of competence.
Her above average scores on her grade reports in middle school, and in her outstanding performance in English in her first year of high school would most likely indicate her ability to use abstract symbols to represent both concepts and real world objects, “its almost certain that she’s taking a high school algebra or higher based on her past academic performance level. ” According to Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, Rebecca is solidly in the 3rd stage, morality of interpersonal cooperation.
This conclusion is based solely on her expressed opinion of the shoplifting incident that occurred during her first year of high school, when several students on a team field-trip were caught stealing. She agreed with the punishment because, “they did not live up to the expectations of their parents, their coach, or their teammates. ” Such reasoning indicates her belief that rules must be followed out of ideal-reciprocity, which in turn demonstrates the intent to maintain good relationships with friends, family, teachers, and others with whom she has some level of a personal tie to. ) Describe Erikson’s stage of Identity versus Role Confusion and how you think this applies to Rebecca’s current emotional state. Erikson’s conflict theory, specifically the Identity versus Role Confusion stage, states that upon reaching adolescence young people have an identity crisis, the successful resolution of which is determined by the successful resolution of earlier conflicts and/or “if society limits their choices to ones that do not match their abilities and desires. ” In his view, negative resolution of this stage resulted in individuals who, “(… appear shallow, directionless, and unprepared for the challenges of adulthood. ” Without going too far into Rebecca’s past, the stage preceding Identity v. Role Confusion known as Industry v. Inferiority, “6-11 years,” appears to have been properly resolved. Although occasionally displaying a lack of confidence in her abilities prior to completion of an activity, school or otherwise, she has almost always performed at a level above her peers, and received no shortage of praise or support from her parents concerning such activities.
However the second condition of becoming “role confused” is a bit trickier. While we have supported her in all her positive undertakings, we have also recommended many choices to her. Though that might not be blatantly telling her she can’t do an activity or pursue an interest that is prosocial in nature, the fact that we were so actively involved in not only maintaining good behavior, but actively steering her life might have ultimately resulted in feeling trapped in an identity that wasn’t hers.
Whether she likes an activity or not, the fact that so much of what she has undertaken in her life was initially recommended to her by us could have had an adverse effect on her sense of self in this time of natural psychological distancing from one’s parents. Supporting the claim of a possible state of role confusion being linked to her parents; during the summer of her 12th year, “the beginning of Identity v. Role Confusion,” Rebecca had a tendency to initially reject most of her parent’s suggestions for activities, but would eventually, “start in on some of them later as if it was her own idea. Again, it wasn’t the activity itself that she was rejecting so much as it was the fact that it was her parents recommending it. Perhaps this method of creating a sense of identity independent of her parents has only grown with age, and ultimately devolved into a complete rebellion against the practices and values instilled by her parents. She has come to associate her excellent school performance, following of the rules, and other practices as part of an identity that is fundamentally not her own by virtue of feeling as if she was given no choice, rather than if she herself was content with living such a lifestyle. ) In retrospect, can you see any patterns in her developmental history that might have been precursors to her current difficulties? As stated above, her current emotional state is primarily a combination of her unique growth during adolescence and the relationship between her parents/peers to her identity. That being said, her tempermant leading up to adolescence seems to be consistent with her behavior during the majority of adolescence.
Rebecca was not a difficult child, but she did have issues getting comfortable with new surroundings and people, and detaching herself from her parents. Keeping environmental factors in mind, the possibility remains that that Rebecca’s difficulties with adjustment, identity, and emotional regulation, have a more genetic basis than is understood. This view is ultimately conjectural as even today our understanding of the relationship between genetics and behavior, “let alone personality types,” is far from advanced enough to support claims to a determining relationship between the two. ) As Rebecca’s parents, how do you think you should respond to these changes in her behavior? First off she would need to be punished for the possession of Marijuana and Cigarettes. She would be grounded and prevented from visiting anyone, “bad influence kids included,” for a month to give her some time to dry out. However, it would be important that we, her parents, explained to her the dangers of abusing such substances, “particularly marijuana,” at her age, while her brain is still developing.
I believe that Rebecca needs to talk out her issues with another individual who shares our values, but is more experienced in dealing with teenage issues, I. E. a psychologist who specializes in talk-therapy. She needs both a better means of coping with life stressors, as well as positive reinforcement towards developing an identity that is in line with her pre-rebellious behavior yet giving her the perception that such constructive behaviors, though influenced by us, are in fact part of her own identity.
After her punishment, it would be important for us to be less “hands on” in making life choices for her, “choosing sports, clubs, activities, etc.. ” but to still praise her for her success. Rebecca needs space, but it remains a necessity to respond to detrimental behavior, and punish her accordingly but still keeping in line with our authoritarian parenting style.

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