Social and Emotional Domain


Does your child want to spend more time with their same-gendered playmates? Does he/she want more responsibility in household chores? Do you find your child comparing themselves to to their friends and peers at school? Welcome to Middle Childhood!

The social/emotional domain in middle childhood consists of several factors: self-esteem, sense of self, moral reasoning, motivation, self regulation, and relationships with others. Although there are some gender differences throughout, most children ages 6-10 are going through the same things.

- Serious commitments to peers, especially to playmates of the same gender and age
- Learn a lot from getting in and out of scuffles with playmates.
- Increasingly view their relationships in terms of mutual responsibilities
- Expect parents to keep tabs on them and celebrate successes.
- Gradually realize that relationships with family members will endure despite occasional conflicts.
- When relationships with parents are seriously disrupted, for example, a death of a parent or divorce, the child may become angry, aggressive, or physically ill, and may withdraw from customary activities.

Sense of Self:
- Tend to see themselves in more complex physical and psychological terms.
- Aware that they do some things well and other things poorly.
- Most receive some critical feedback from teachers and observe some of their peers outshining them so their self-assessments typically decline from the overconfidence in early childhood.
- Most maintain reasonably positive self-esteem.
- Increasing distinction among various aspects of oneself (academics, athletics, and personal likability)
- Increasing internalization of others’ standards for performance
- Increasing tendency to base sense of self on how ones own performance compares with that of peers.

- Increasing ability to delay gratification.
- Increasing awareness of how one’s own performance compare with that of peers.
- Increasing prevalence of performance goals.
- Increasing distinction between effort and ability as possible causes of success and failure; tendency to attribute successes to hard work.

Moral Reasoning:
- Sense of distributive justice increasingly taking into account people’s differing contributions, needs, and special circumstances.
- Increasing empathy for unknown individuals who are suffering or needy.
- Feelings of shame as well as guilt for moral wrong-doings.

- Children gradually learn to curb their emotional reactions in ways that are socially acceptable and help them maintain good relationships with others. (For example, accepting a birthday gift they didn't like from a relative.)
- Increasing ability to regulate emotions.

There are some overall gender differences, however. For instance, girls more often report feeling sad, fearful and guilty in middle childhood and also respond more negatively to failures. Some girls dwell on their problems rather than taking action or distracting themselves while boys begin to put on a self-confident front when they feel vulnerable. Girls are also more apt to judge themselves as being well-behaved in school and considerate in social relationships. They rate their physical appearance less favorable than boys and are more preoccupied with how they look, reflecting imaginary audience. At school, girls tend to be more confident in reading and writing. Boys,on the other hand, see themselves as being better athletes and have a greater self-confidence in their ability to control the world and solve problems. They also evaluate themselves highly in math and science.