Parental Influences on the Acquisition of Skills and Competencies (page 2)
Based on their level of success in mastering the skills valued by their parents and other significant adults, school-age children judge themselves as competent or incompetent, productive or failing (Erikson, 1982). Children are assisted in their quest for competence when their parents (a) encourage them to tryout new things, (b) provide the materials and instruction needed to learn new skills, (c) pay attention to the progress their children are making in developing competence in a particular area, and (d) provide direct help when needed. Two of the most meaningful activities for the development of skills and competencies during the school-age years are sports and hobbies. The discipline, self-direction, and sense of competence that come from working on a hobby or playing sports contribute to school-age children's developmental need for a sense of industry. Furthermore, investing the necessary time to become knowledgeable about or skillful in these types of activities help define for children the ways in which they are unique, thereby contributing to their later identity development (McHale, Crouter, & Tucker, 2001). The development of skills and capabilities also contribute to children's development of a strong sense of self-worth. It has been shown that children who feel confident in at least one area of their lives are likely to have a higher self-esteem in comparison to those children who lack confidence in their abilities across several areas of their lives. Furthermore, high self-esteem helps children to view the rest of their lives from a more positive perspective. They are able to believe, for example, that even when their efforts are not successful in certain academic, athletic, or social situations, they are still worthwhile individuals (Colarossi & Eccles, 2000; Harter, 1998).
Parent-Child Coregulation of Behavior
Another way in which parents contribute to their school-age children's social development is through sharing social power with them. Children are prepared for a greater sharing of social power during middle childhood due to their advances in cognitive development. Thus, parent-child coregulation becomes a predominant aspect of appropriate child socialization during this developmental stage (Masten & Coatsworth, 1998). The advantage of parent-child coregulation is that is has been associated with fewer behavior problems in school-age children (Deater-Deckard & Petrill, 2004). An example of coregulation is demonstrated in the following exchange: Charlie: "Mom, can I invite Tommy and Mike over for dinner?" Mom: "Sure, that will be great. We're having spaghetti; I remember that those two seem to like my spaghetti. If Tommy and Mike come for dinner, will you please be sure that they pick up their dishes, rinse them off, and put them in the dishwasher after we have finished eating?" Charlie: "Okay, Mom."
What This Means for Professionals
It is important that parents make adjustments in their child socialization patterns to accommodate their children's need to develop the skills of coregulation during the school-age years. Whereas it is desirable for parents to support parent-child coregulation in many daily activities, the entire parent-child relationship is not coregulated. It is essential that parents of school-age children continue to structure their school-age children's daily activities, monitor their whereabouts, require certain levels of responsible behavior, and step in to exercise more control when necessary. It is possible, however, for parents to provide guidelines for their children's behavior without taking away their children's developing ability to work with parents in the coregulation of their behavior.
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