Thursday, March 1, 2012

Social Awareness in Middle Childhood

A few weeks ago my 9 year old son came to me and asked “Can we watch the ‘I have a Dream Speech’ on the internet?”  Shocked at this random and unique request, I asked him what had caused him to want to watch it.  While we sat down and I began to search for the video, he explained to me about segregation and said “That’s just not right.”  I agree, it is just not right, but how did my 9 year old take such a socially debated topic and turn it into a simple statement?
  During middle childhood children are continuing to develop morally.  They begin moral development in the preschool years, but as they enter the middle childhood they also develop social conventions.  A social convention is what your surroundings and society say is the normal thing to do.  So if you put together the fact a child picks up on what is morally right and wrong and what is normal in their culture, we get children whom have great ideas and opinions about the world around them.  The immediate environment, which is the home, is where children first learn social conventions. 
 In my home, everyone is treated equal.  Black and white, men and women, all people of all ages, are all treated with respect and worth.  Having this surrounding my son, without being pushy, has lead him to accept people for who they are.  So let’s think about other situations.  If we have a child that is raised in a home that is not as accepting of other people, these thoughts will be his first exposure to how he views the culture and society he lives in.  Even if this child goes to school and is taught to be kind to others and treat everyone equally, he will remember what his home is like and what his first exposures were like.  The same goes for a child that is raised with virtually no conventions.  They might not dislike others, but they also might not feel the need to treat others equally. 
So what does all this mean for us as parents?  We are our children’s first exposure to how we want them to see the world.  How we behave and react to social situations is what our children will see and most likely mimic.  So maybe, just maybe, we should stop and think of how we treat others or even feel about others and make sure we are showing our children what is best.  And for the quiet parents in the corner, let's get fired up for what's right.
Samantha York


  1. I am a firm believer of the child's environment playing heavily on him or her in their beliefs and how they respond to others. It is great to hear someone else shar that same viewpoint.

  2. I LOVE THIS POST!!! And I love your son for being the amazing kid he is! Not to mention, WHAT A GREAT MAMMA HE HAS!!!

    I think that it is definitely important to keep this in mind when we look at little kids who have racist or homophobic attitudes....They did not pick this stuff up out of thin air...It is important to challenge these children in a positive way and make them think about what they believe and why...

    I find myself having to do this with my own niece and nephews. My nephew is in 2nd grade and was telling me about this "one kid" at school who is so gay...I asked him why he said/thinks that. He said he is such a jerk. He went on to say it is bad to be gay. He knows I am gay...always had. So, I reminded him. I reminded him about my girlfriend (who he adores) and that we are both gay. You could just see his little wheels a turnin! Something simple, that comes out of love is so eye opening for a young child.

  3. Good post sam! So when i first started to read this the first thing that popped in my head was wow they must of talked about M.L.K. in your sons class and thats awesome that they were spreading that to younger ages, I think its great and very important to show children at a young age what equality really looks like like you said it clearly sets them up later on in life to treat others alike and how you were raised becasue there will be other influences out there.

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  5. Moral development is so important, especially to young children. So often this is left out of any teaching in the home. As parents, it is our job to instill those good qualities in our children. We cannot leave that to teachers, preachers or anyone else. It is our job. It is the same with social conventions. If we want our children to be acceptable of all people, it is up to us to teach them at home. Sometimes we project biases on our children without realizing it. We need to take a stand at home and teach them properly. Susan Davis

  6. I agree with you Susan. I as well believe that moral development is very important. As parents we should teach our kids this. My 7 year old came home from school a few weeks ago and was talking about Abraham Lincoln and how he freed the slaves. Landon said, "It doesn't matter what color you are." When he said that it made me one proud mommy.