Psychosocial development in children involves development of the individual's sense of self, including confronting issues such as identity, autonomy, intimacy, sexuality and achievement. Children must learn these skills often by interacting with their peers. Through different social activities, children learn more about themselves. They become socially adjusted as they move closer to adulthood.
At-Risk Youth Programs
One population of children deemed at-risk for compromised psychosocial development are poor, urban adolescents. These young people are living in poverty, and they need to be exposed to group activities that provide positive development among peers. Research has shown that participation in out-of-school structured activities for teens can fill this need. A community-based, after-school program through nonprofit or local government assistance can offer activities like games, martial arts, art classes, computer instruction and peer tutoring.
Team sports is another example of an out-of-school activity where children can develop psychosocial skills. The organized sports team helps a child to explore adolescent issues associated with psychosocial development, such as the issue of achievement. In the teen years, kids become more aware that they are taking steps to prepare for their future. By deciding what types of achievement they value, such as the competitive values of team sports, they grow psychologically and socially.
Kids also need to explore their career interests during the adolescent stage of psychosocial development. In the middle school years, schools provide an early form of career exploration with exploratory courses such as home economics, business, computers and wood shop. In high school, adolescents can take vocational classes, such as childcare and auto mechanics, and explore after-school and summer jobs. During school hours, students might work in an internship for academic credit. Even teens who don't work a job can try to shadow professionals in different occupations in order to further their development.
Identity vs. Role Confusion
According to Erik Erikson, children between the ages of 12 and 18 have a long struggle with a conflict of identity vs. role confusion. In these years, children begin to formulate beliefs about sex and sex roles. Adolescents can explore these roles in structured activities with members of the opposite sex. Activities include school dances, coeducational sports and after-school clubs, trips and parties. Adolescents value peer relationships with both sexes outside of the home/family system.
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