These parents have an obedience and status-focused mindset, and they expect their instructions to be followed without question. Little Harriet is in the process of transitioning out of the cognitive development stage known as the “concrete operational stage”. This stage typically starts around age seven and lasts until around age eleven. (Harriet is currently depicted as a nine-year-old.) During this stage, children develop a better grasp of mental processes. They become more adept at thinking logically about tangible situations but struggle with comprehending abstract or hypothetical ideas.
Harriet, in her exploration of the world around her, is experiencing a growing understanding and a desire to document her observations, all while contemplating what lies ahead. She is currently entering the “formal operational stage” of cognitive development, a phase that typically commences around age twelve and continues into adulthood. Throughout this stage, individuals acquire the capacity to contemplate abstract concepts and cultivate skills such as logical thinking, deductive reasoning, and methodical planning.
Harriet is displaying a level of maturity beyond her peers, as seen in the company she keeps. Despite her young age, she is transitioning into adolescence earlier than expected. She is largely independent, with her nanny encouraging independent thinking and emotions. Towards the movie’s conclusion, Harriet’s parents assume a more authoritarian role, imposing rules and expectations on her, akin to parents with an authoritative parenting style.
However, this parenting style is characterized by democracy. Authoritative parents are receptive to their children and open to answering questions. Instead of punishing, these parents provide comfort and forgiveness when expectations are not met. They oversee and communicate explicit guidelines for their children’s behavior. They assert themselves without being intrusive or overly strict. Their disciplinary approach is supportive rather than punitive. They encourage their children to be assertive, socially responsible, self-regulated, and cooperative.
In the beginning of the film, Harrier’s parents impose rules on her without truly understanding her. However, it takes a chain of important events for them to acknowledge their mistakes and change their behavior. By the end of the movie, they become more attentive and start genuinely listening to Harriet. They now show concern for her growth, development, thoughts, feelings, and personal journey.