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What are the primary psychosocial developmental tasks for school-age children?

From a psychosocial theory standpoint, what are the primary tasks that a school-age child (approximately age 6-10) is challenged with? How do children resolve the psychosocial issues presented to them at this developmental stage, and how can adults (such as parents and educators) assist them in successfully navigating this stage? What are some of the signs that a child might be struggling with this developmental stage?

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According to the psychosocial theory of development, the primary psychosocial crisis for early school age children is the crisis of initiative versus guilt. The central process involved in resolving this crisis is the process of identification, and the successful resolution is purpose, while difficulties in resolving this crisis lead to inhibition (Newman & Newman, 2012). The skills developed during this stage of life have a powerful impact on a child's sense of self, moral reasoning, and ability to identify with their family, peers, and culture.

The crisis of initiative versus guilt suggests that the primary task for children at this age is to explore, question, and interact with the world. While at a younger age children were developing autonomy, related to their developing motor skills and increased physical ability to interact with and manipulate people and objects in their environment, children at the early school age are developing initiative, related to their developing cognitive abilities and their increased awareness of gender, social interactions, and self-esteem (Santrock, 2007). Identification with parents at this stage in development leads a child to identify with and internalize the values and qualities of their parents, which results in the development of an ideal self-image, or ego-ideal (Newman & Newman, 2012). Through a process of discipline and encouragement, parents establish expectations for the child and either reward or discourage the child's natural desire to explore and question. As children internalize these expectations, they experience guilt when they feel that they are not meeting expectations or living up to the ideal self, and they experience increased self-esteem and confidence when they feel that their behavior is in line with these expectations and ideals (Newman & Newman, 2012).

Guilt is not an entirely negative feeling; it drives children to conform to the moral, social, cultural, and parental expectations they understand as being ideal. It helps to balance the endless drive to explore, question, and test limits that comes with initiative (Newman & Newman, 2012). The result ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides a description of the developmental tasks of the school-age child through the psychosocial theory of development. It includes the primary issues present in this stage of development, possible indicators that a child is struggling to meet the developmental milestones of this stage, and ways that adults such as parents and teachers can assist children at this stage of psychosocial development.