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Essay: Observation – child attachment level, psychosexual and psychosocial placement

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  • Subject area(s): Health essays
  • Reading time: 5 minutes
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  • Published: June 16, 2021*
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  • Tags: Child Development Essays
  • Observation - child attachment level, psychosexual and psychosocial placement
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The name of the child we observed is Sophia. She is a girl who is 7 years three months old. She has a father and mother who are happily married and has an older brother by the name of Max. She also has six pet fish. Sophia tends to get excited really easily, especially when people come over. She also plays tennis and competes in tournaments to relieve her energy. Her emotional sensitivity level is high after she comes back from practice and her father doesn’t give her what she wants and same with her mother. But she is a very happy and energetic little girl who is always eager to try new things. Our observations of Sophia will explain more about her and her psychological development so far.

Observation A – You and the child alone

1. Once we gave Sophia her M&Ms in a pile and showed her our pile, we asked her if we had she same amount. She answered with “yes.” Once we laid them out in lines and our line was longer we asked her again. Sophia answered with “yes” again, and when we asked how she knew that she said she was able to count how many M&Ms there were.

2. Once I laid out the pennies and M&Ms, I told her “Now you buy some candy. Give me a penny and I’ll sell you an M&M” five times. After she bought three M&Ms, I hid the pennies that she gave me in my hand and asked Sophia “How many M&Ms have you got?” She replied with the correct answer, “Three!”. Then I asked, “How many pennies have I got?”. She replied with the correct answer again, “Three”.

3. For the cut up pieces of paper, we took out one. After asking Sophia where to put it herself, she did. The piece of paper was the smallest piece of them all. She placed it after the more medium sized strip. When we asked her why, she said because it was the smallest it shouldn’t be near the biggest strip, but near the smaller strips. The child is aware of size and following the rules of going from smallest to biggest. This shows that she is developing through spactial (as well as size) awareness.

4. When I asked Sophia “Which glass has more water?”, she replied with “The bigger cup, because the small is down and the big is up”. According to the Piaget theory, Sophia’s answer tells me that she is in the preoperational stage of cognitive development. At her age (7), she has well-developed mental representation and use of language but have not understood the concept of constancy or conservation.

5. We asked Sophia “Do you have a brother?” which she responded yes to. We then asked for her name and she responded with her brother’s name, Max. However, when we asked her if her brother has a sister, she seemed confused and responded with no. When we asked “Why is the sky blue?” she proceeded to get even more confused, pause, and eventually say “I don’t know.” When we asked “Why does it get dark out?” she responded with “Because it’s time to sleep and the sun is gone!” When we asked “Is a tree alive?” she responded with no, and when we asked “Is a car alive?” she said no again, laughing. Sophia’s responses tell us that she understands the more basic questions, but when they become more confusing or complex, she blanks out. Since she is so young, she hasn’t been fully exposed to everything in the world yet, therefore she wouldn’t know some of the answers.


(comments and analysis in section C)

7. We told Sophia the story in simple version. If she had to choose between having cake and ice cream or helping the hurt boy up, she chose “Help her up”. Along with that, between Johnny’s and Mark’s accident with their mom’s dishes in the follow-up story, Sophia said “Johnny because she tried to steal a cookie behind her mommy’s back”. This shows that the Kohlberg level of moral reasoning that Sophia has been staged on is the preconventional level, meaning that they make decisions that will likely avoid punishment. Sophia is the kind of child to think that stealing a cookie is wrong because if she causes damages, like breaking plates, then she would most likely get caught and be punished by her mother. This can correspond with her Piaget level since it seems as though her mental representation is well-developed.

8. Some things Sophia said throughout the interview were:

” “Ummm…umm…um…I don’t know.” Sophia would say this when we asked a question (like “Why is the sky blue?”) and she truly was too confused to know. She would look around, look at us, look at her mother, and continue to say “um.”

” “Why do we have to do this? What are we doing?” Sophia would always say this after we asked her one of our procedural questions. She sometimes would interrupt and ask this (whereas sometimes her mother would intervene and say “pay attention!”), or sometimes would say this as she was doing the activity.

” “Ooooh I love M&Ms! Can I eat the M&Ms now?” Sophia would continuously ask this over and over after an activity. She was polite, however, and asked after the activity was done, and said please.
All of these quotes shows the stages she is in, and that her language development is going well! However, she seems to be confused with certain things, but asks good questions when she is confused (‘initiative vs. guilt’ stage).

Observation B – Child and peers

When we asked Sophia to go play, she immediately went to go play with her older brother, Max, who is 9. When we asked her to skip, it took her a while to get her to pay attention and do it, but she eventually did, then went back to playing. It was clear that Max was the alpha, because he was much more physical and bossier towards Sophia. It was also very clear that Sophia was the beta, because she gave into Max’s bossiness and went along with it. In our opinion, neither of the children were the delta because there were times that the roles switched for a bit, and so did their behaviors. Both children are the floaters, because when we were interviewing Sophia, Max easily entertained himself. When Sophia and Max were playing together, there would be times where Sophia would go off and do something herself. Both children knew how to interact with each other, but also knew how to be independent and alone.

Observation C – Child with primary caregiver

From what I observed watching Sophia and her mother, Sophia’s attachment level is definitely secure. When her mother explained how we could not play with her made her upset and asked “Not even for a little?”. When the mom told Sophia she was leaving she repeatedly told her “I love you” and walked her out to the door, waving bye as she saw her leave. When she walked back in the door she screamed “Mommy!” and ran up to hug her. Sophia was playing with her toys in front of her mom. Although she wasn’t distressed when she left, every time she needed something she would call for her. Her mother’s parenting style is obviously authoritative. She shows Sophia love and cares for her needs and pays attention to her and what she feels. Whenever Sophia does something her mother does not approve of, she punishes herby yelling “No Sophia!” or pulls her to the side to make sure she acknowledges that what she is doing is not right. She threatens her play time and TV time if she does again and usually she doesn’t. In Sophia’s drawing of her family, she demonstrated who each person was chose to draw them in certain colors because “This is their favorite colors”. This drawing shows how her home life with her family makes her happy and she loves being with her family and cares about them deeply.

Other Observations – Psychosexual Issues and Psychosocial Placement

It seemed to us at times that Sophia was still in the Phallic stage of Freud’s psychosexual stages. Whenever she needed something, or was proud of something she did (whether it was making a fake dinner while playing, or drawing her family) she clung to showing the mother and seeking her attention and affection. In addition, it seemed like she was in the ‘initiative vs. guilt’ stage of Erikson’s psychosocial stages. Sophia continually asked random questions or commented freely on things, sometimes getting distracted. It seemed like she didn’t know what ‘having a filter’ is yet. If she did something wrong, like eat or drop an M&M, she experienced guilt and felt bad and apologized.

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