Stages of social development begin in earnest with the school-aged child. It is during this period that the child is confronted with the need for competence and mastery in two areas - academics and social skills.
When a child is old enough, they must go off to school. It's another world for them...and now they have a full day of challenges to face. Furthermore, they are no longer the center of attention as they begin comparing themselves to each other.
If children have had successful outcomes in the preceding stages they are likely to be prepared to make the transition smoothly.
However, because the outcomes in each previous stage sets the foundation for the next stages of social development, some children start out with challenges other kids do not have to face.
Along with the multitude of rapid-fire changes involved in attending school, these kids also must contend with negative outcomes such as shame, fear, and guilt which complicate these tasks even further.
Many parents tell their kids that they "are in school to learn something -- not to socialize". This could not be further from the truth...
Learning to fit in with their peers can give them the confidence and sense of competence to also excel academically. It's therefore very important to help them acquire good social skills -- and as with anything else, it takes practice.
Kids who are bright academically but less than talented socially may become loners, shy and inhibited. They can develop a sense of inferiority despite their excellent academic achievements.
Kids who are socially gifted can likewise develop a sense of inferiority if they are less able to succeed in the classroom. They may find ways to compensate for their intellectual shortcomings through sports or music.
In many cases, kids who have a negative outcome in this stage are likely to strengthen their leanings toward being an Internalizer or Externalizer -- The Internalizer wears their sense of inferiority like a badge, while the Externalizer covers theirs up behind a mask of grandiosity.
Internalizers tend seek others out to follow and take care of -- seeking their approval, attention, protection, and validation from someone they perceive as stronger than themselves.
Because they are frequently drawn to the opposite direction, they attach themselves to Externalizers and end up being made fun of, pregnant, abused, and/or dropping out -- unless they have enough ability to make it academically despite their social difficulties.
Externalizers are the rebels, delinquents, bullies, and "hard-cases" who get all the negative attention. They have over-compensated for their sense of inferiority through reaction formation. Their outward grandiosity is a smokescreen to cover up their inward feelings of fear and inadequacy.
Other kids escape into video games or anything else they can master and feel the enthusiasm of accomplishment -- even if it's dangerous, such as extreme sports, fighting, or drugs to name a few.
Click on the following link to go to the The Iceberg Discussion Forum.
Unmet needs in these stages of social development can be observed in present-day symptoms. For each of the following statements assign a rank between 10 (High) and 1 (Low).
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