In this paper, I am using a case study of an adolescent child to investigate whether he is typical or not. At every stage of development, there are particular milestones that children and adolescents are expected to achieve (Kazi & Galanaki, 2019). I will be relating the concepts learned in class to real-life by analyzing the interview responses from an adolescent I am acquainted with. The concepts that I will be studying are family, cognitive development, peers, motivation/self-concept, moral development. First, the family is the basic unit and then the first point of socialization for all children. With the concept of family, my focus will be to compare what the boy’s family looks like to what the text says about families. The focus will be to determine the parenting style that the adolescent is subjected to. Cognitive development refers to how children think, explore and figure things out. Under this concept, I will be investigating whether the subject has the cognitive abilities that Piaget would expect of his age. The concept of peers refers to the relationship with age mates. I will use the interview responses to justify whether the responses are typical of other children of this age. Lastly, the concept of self-concept or motivation refers to how the adolescent perceives her behavior, abilities, and unique characteristics.
My subject is a 14-year-old boy. He is my nephew to whom I am fairly acquainted. We have met before on several occasions, although I do not know all the inner details about his life. From general observation, he was jovial and eager to respond to my interview questions. The interview was conducted in a familiar place and in a relaxed mood to ensure he answered each of my interview questions as openly as possible.
The interviewee for the case study is a boy of 14 years of age. He is in fourth grade expecting to join ninth grade soon. He is slightly overweight and is pre-diabetic. He is healthy and generally well-groomed. This information was retrieved from the preliminary questions about school, my observation and the general knowledge I have due to previous interactions.
I asked the boy to tell me about his family, such as the kinds of things that they do together, the rules that his parents have at home, how he views these rules. I also asked him about the chores that he often does and how his parents allocate the chores between him and his younger sister. I also asked him about his parents’ concern for his welfare, such as asking about his friends and what he does when he is in school. Further, I asked him whether his parents constantly follow up on his school performance. Lastly, I asked how he relates to his parents, such as whether his parents allow discussions in the family about the rules and whether his parents encourage him to have his own ideas.
From the responses, I can determine that the parenting style is permissive. Permissive parents set very few rules and boundaries and they are reluctant to enforce rules. This is a parenting style where the parents are warm and indulgent, but they do not like to say no or disappoint their children (Hosokawa & Katsura, 2019). The response from the boy indicates that his parents always allow him to have what he wants. There are rules at home, but generally, his parents do not enforce these rules. For instance, a response from the boy was that “my parents allow us to eat what they want and go out any time we want.” The parents are not controlling and neither are they demanding. They give the children freedom to be themselves. While it is a good thing to allow children some freedom, the text suggests that this parenting style may have negative outcomes in the long term. Children of permissive parents tend to have worse self-control, possess egocentric tendencies and often cannot follow the rules (Hosokawa, & Katsura, 2019).
- Cognitive Development
For this concept, I had the boy do a hypothetical/logical reasoning task. The task was meant to test his hypothetico-deductive reasoning. According to Piaget, children of this age should have developed this type of reasoning. (McLeod, 2018). The hypothetical reasoning test I gave to the boy was “what if there were no snakes in the world. If all snakes were to be eliminated, would our lives be better? His response was that our loves would be much better. According to him, “snakes obviously kill human having no snakes around is a good thing for sure.” With this question, I expected the boy to deduct that snakes keep the population of rats in check. Advanced reasoning would enable him to deduce that if snakes are all gone, the number of rats will increase, and with more rats, we would have diseases. From this reasoning, his conclusion should have been that having no snakes would mean our lives got worse. From my observation, the boy is yet to develop the cognitive abilities that Piaget would expect of his age. A child of his age would have deduced the underlying relationships between snakes and the environment and given the correct answer (McLeod, 2018). Therefore, the boy is not typical and does not have the sensorimotor reasoning skills that Piaget would have expected of his age.
Under this aspect, my goal was to know more about the boy’s view of friendships and whether he has friends. I asked him whether he has friends, why he chose these particular friends, whether there are specific friends that he does not like, whether it is nice to have friends, how he feels having or not having friends, and how he can tell the difference between a best friend and someone who is just a friend. While asking these questions and receiving responses, I also observed the boy’s demeanor when talking about friendship, his best friend and what he expected from friends. From my observation, he is upbeat when talking about his friends. He has many friends but mentions only three best friends. According to him, best friends are those friends he can ‘borrow things from, go on a hike with and invite over to our house over the weekends.’ He has spent a night over at these three friends’ homes, and he considers them as more important than the other friends that he talks to or shares class with every day. All his best friends are his classmates and two of them are from his extended family. He values friendship and says that it is nice to have friends he can play with and ask for help from.
A child of this age is expected to know the meaning of friendship and form close relationships based on logical motivations. At 14 years, children form friendships based on shared interests which is evident in this case. The boy recognizes the emotional support he finds from having friends. His friends are people that he shares common interests, which shows he is a typical adolescent. Notably, his best friends are all boys, which is typical for children at this age.
Under this concept, I asked the boy about how he thinks about himself. I asked whether he thinks he is intelligent when he compares himself to his friends. I also asked him whether he believes knowledge from friends and parents helps him the same way that knowledge he is taught in class. The aim of these questions was to investigate his view of intelligence. From the responses, the boy’s view intelligence as incremental. According to the incremental theory, intelligence is not fixed and can be improved through enough effort. In the boy’s response, he indicates that he is intelligent but not as the adults. He believes that he will be more intelligent as he grows up and learns about more things. He also has a mastery of performance goals as he indicated in his response that every end of a school term, he reviews his performance to see if he has achieved what he wanted to.
From the interview questions and personal observation, the boy is fairly within the expected range of the natural course of development expected of children of his age. The only deviation is his level of cognitive development which seems to be lower than what Piaget would expect of his age. This could be attributed to the permissive parenting style or the fact that he is just getting into the adolescent age and is yet to achieve full cognitive development.
Hosokawa, R., & Katsura, T. (2019). Role of parenting style in children’s behavioral problems through the transition from preschool to elementary school according to gender in Japan. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(1), 21.
McLeod, S. (2018). Piaget’s Theory and Stages of Cognitive Development. Developmental Psychology, Simply Psychology.
Kazi, S., & Galanaki, E. (2019). Piagetian theory of cognitive development. The encyclopedia of child and adolescent development, 1-11.
Appendix: Interview questions
- What is your age?
- Which grade are you currently in?
- Have you been diagnosed with any illness?
- Do you have any special needs?
- Tell me about who’s in your family.
- What kinds of things do you do together?
- What do your parents do or say when they want you to do something?
- What rules do you have at home? What happens when you break the rules?
- What do they do if you hit someone on the playground; if you don’t do chores; if you come home late?
- How often do parents ask about your friends? Do your parents know where you are after school? On weekends? In the evening when you go out?
- Do your parents encourage you to have your own ideas?
- Do they say you shouldn’t argue with adults? Do they ask your opinion about things?
- What do you do if you have a problem?
- Do you discuss it with parents? Can you count on them to help? Or is it best they don’t know?
- What is a friend? Or: Tell me about a friend of yours and why he or she is your Probes: What is important about that? If a person was not like this, would he or she still be your friend?
- Why is it nice to have friends? Probes: How does it feel to have a friend? To not have a friend? Is it important to have lots of friends or just one? Why?
- How can you tell that someone is a best friend? How is this different from just a friend?
- What is your idea of intelligence?
- Do you think you are intelligent? What about your friends?
- Do you believe adults are more intelligent or children are?
- Do you have life goals? What do you do to achieve your goals?