A typically developed ten-year-old becomes stuck in a small space and is not found and rescued for ten hours. A ten-year-old child understands their bodies natural needs of eating, drinking, and relieving oneself. Once the child realizes they are unable to free themselves, panic would be the first response, most likely followed by screaming for help. Each hour the child is stuck will add to the panic and despair felt by the child. Once someone has located the child, they will be able to reassure the child that help is on the way, and depending of the extent of the confinement the first responder can also provide the child with food and water until his rescue is complete. This paper will discuss this scenario based on Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development perspective and Erickson’s Psychosocial Perspective, along with discuss the effects the scenario will have on the child’s development to adulthood.
Jean Piaget was a developmental biologist who focused his research on the intellectual abilities of children throughout their four various stages of development (Tela Communications, 2014). What is interesting to understand is the stages explain what happens to a child as they develop on a normal path, but can also explain how negative experiences to children can divert the child from the normal path which results in a well-balanced adult. The sensorimotor stage is used to define how infants are busy discovering relationships between their body and their environment (Tela Communications, 2014). This is relevant to the scenario because this experience will cause the child to have more care related to the way they became stuck in confinement in the first place. This could also stop the child from participating in activities that bring them back to the location of their crisis.
Erikson’s psychosocial perspective is similar to the work of Sigmund Freud because it explains how children develop in a series of stages (Cherry, 2015). Erikson takes the idea a bit further and does not only discuss the stages of a child, but continues the stages throughout adulthood as well. The fourth psychosocial stage is Industry v. Inferior which is the most relevant because it covers the ages five through eleven and explains the time frame children develop pride in themselves (Cherry, 2015). This is relevant because this crisis could divert a child’s feeling of pride in themselves because they were unable to solve the problem and get themselves out of danger before help was needed.
The major issue with this scenario is how long it takes for the child to be found and rescued. If a child is stuck in a crisis situation alone for a long period of time they could feel less than valuable because the reality could be there was no one looking for the child for a long period of time. This loss of value can make the child believe they are unable to complete tasks set before them, whether they are school assignments, athletic events, or other types of social environments.
In conclusion, a child that lives through a crisis situation can use the experience in one of two ways, either they use it constructively and move forward with their life, or they allow the experience to consume them with fear, sadness, or despair. I think what is important is the response from first responders, family members, and other community members because if these entities make the child feel uncomfortable or undervalued the child can have negative effects that could plague the likelihood the child will be successful in the future.
If the child is treated as an example by the community which will allow the child to feel their actions could have been repeated by any child in the community. Some schools take the opportunity after a crisis to explain clearly to parents what happened, not necessarily stating the child’s name, but give the facts of the case and explain what can be done to stop this crisis from happening again. Instead of being labeled as unsuccessful or not smart, the child can become an advocate for safe behavior.
Cherry, K. (2015, December 17). About Health. Retrieved from Erik Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development: http://psychology.about.com/od/psychosocialtheories/a/psychosocial.htm
Tela Communications. (2014). In a Nutshell. Retrieved from Pisget's Stages of Cognitive Development: http://www.telacommunications.com/nutshell/stages.htm#top