John Bowlby theorized that infants and children need a loving and continuous relationship with the mother in order to grow up mentally healthy. Infants typically initiate the attachment process through stimuli such as smiling and clinging, but the parent’s response to the stimuli determines the strength or security of the bond. Camila showed a secure attachment to both my partner and me throughout her development. Since birth, I was very attentive with Camila and respond quickly to her needs. I spent as much time as possible engaging with her and was supportive of her preferences. I returned to work full time three months after Camila was born and placed her in childcare. Camila displayed a secure attachment according to Mary Ainsworth’s theory of attachment. Camila appeared distressed and would sometimes cry when I dropped her off at daycare, but she calmed down fairly quickly and was happy when she returned home. She also experienced stranger anxiety around new people but was friendly with strangers when I was around.
This problem did not continue as she started grade school. Hutchinson states that children become accustomed to routines of separation and reunion, therefore a child who is securely attached will not continue to show signs of distress overtime when left in childcare or school. This proved to be true of Camila, after spending some time in daycare, she enjoyed attending and was no longer distressed when I dropped her off. In adolescence, Camila had a positive relationship with my partner and I. We communicated well, and she often came to me for help or advice. She was also respectful of our rules and requests. Even when Camila was upset as a teenager, it often had to do with something outside of the home, and she did not project her feelings unto others or me. Parenting Style I was an authoritative parent while raising Camila. I set high expectations and made sure the rules and consequences were clear and consistent.
When Camila started school, she was having some difficulty following the rules and socializing. The teacher suggested I enforce some of the same rules and consequences at home. Camila was often given a warning or reminder before being put on time out. Although I was fairly structured, I allowed her to make some of her own choices as a young child. During middle childhood and throughout adolescence, Camila did not really have restrictions on television or social time as long as her chores and homework were done first. She was always independent and did not have any problems completing her tasks. Camila was interested in a variety of activities and chose to engage in new things often. She did not try to take advantage when I was more lenient with the rules. In grade school, Camila stated that I was more involved and loving than some of her classmate’s parents, but that I also had a lot more rules. She felt the same way during adolescence.
A goodness of fit describes the interactions between a parent and child that help the child function in their environment. When there is a ‘good fit’ or ‘demands are in tune with the individual’s capacities,” the child develops appropriate ways to interact with their environment. I believe my parenting style fit well with Camila’s temperament. I usually “go with the flow” and I engaged her activities that were of her interest. Since she was slow to warm up, I introduced strangers and new activities gradually. Doing this seemed to help Camila feel secure in her environment. My consistency in parenting style and choices of discipline proved to be effective when Camila was an adolescent. She often turned to me for support when she was upset or was facing a difficult decision. Camila was independent but did not display signs of aggression or rebellion.
There was one incident where Camila spent the day with her boyfriend and did not tell me where she was going like she usually did. Camila may have been exerting her independence, but luckily was out doing community service and not engaging in dangerous activities. Temperament is an individual’s innate disposition. It is determined by nine components: activity level, regularity of biological functions, the initial reaction to new stimuli, adaptability, the intensity of reaction, level of stimulation needed to evoke a response, quality of mood, distractibility and attention span. Easy, slow to warm up and difficult are the three temperament styles that an individual can be born with. According to Alexander Thomas, Stella Chess and Herbert Birch, temperament appears after birth and remains consistent throughout life. My virtual child was consistently slow to warm up throughout her development. At eight months, Camila was very cautious around strangers and new situations but engaged quickly after observing the environment. As an infant, Camila consistently demonstrated low activity, cooperativeness, high self-control, moderate sociability and moderate emotionality.
Camila preferred quiet activities like puzzles and building toys. She often participated in physical activities at school and enjoyed dancing and gymnastics, however when given the option, she would choose to build structures rather than run around with the other children. Camila displayed low aggression and high cooperativeness in school. She was generally not aggressive towards others, although there was a short period of time in her toddler years where she had a difficult time following rules and sharing with the other children. After much consistent discipline and socialization, she became cooperative, compliant and got along well with others. This behavior continued throughout her adolescence. Camila had many friends in school and was popular. Camila appeared to have plenty of self-control even as a young child. She was patient, focused for long periods of time and was able to follow instructions at home and at school. Camila displayed a moderate level of sociability.
She often needed to observe the situation to get comfortable, and waited for others to approach her first. As she continued to be exposed to social situations, it became easier for Camila to make friends. In adolescence, she was very outgoing, but also enjoyed time for herself. Camila appeared to be less emotional as compared to other children. She was generally happy and showed sadness when it was appropriate. In middle childhood, Camila sometimes acted out when my partner and I had arguments but seems to bounce back fairly quickly. She asked questions when she was feeling upset and sought out explanations to the situations surrounding her. In her teenage years, Camila had a few incidents where she became overemotional and stressed, especially in social situations. She also occasionally became upset when there were discussions about rules and responsibilities. Camila often needed some time to process when she had arguments with her friends. She would mope around the house for a few days but was able to resolve the issues and return to her standard happy mood without any observable long-term consequences.
My virtual child successfully completed the first five stages of Erikson’s psychosocial development theory: Trust Versus Mistrust, Autonomy Versus Shame and Doubt, Initiative Versus Guilt, Industry Versus Inferiority and Identity Versus Role Confusion. According to Erikson, “each stage of development is characterized by a crisis in which the ego assists the individual in attaining a balance in a series of alternative basic attitudes”. At stage one, Trust vs Mistrust, Camila developed trust. Her physical needs, like feeding, were always met quickly and her routine was consistent from the beginning. At three months old, she was very interested in everything around her. She sometimes cried when she was separated from me, but always recovered quickly. She had a positive relationship with her parents, sister and other individuals around her. At stage two, Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt, Camila successfully achieved autonomy. When potty training began, she was embarrassed when she had an accident. I included her in the clean up of the mess and praised her often when she successfully used the toilet. Camila was fully potty trained at the age two. At stage three, Initiative vs Guilt, Camila achieved initiative. She had average motor and language skills for her age.
I helped her develop her skills by talking to her often, reading many stories and singing songs. I was very consistent in disciplining her; I always gave her a warning, then a timeout. Camila’s social skills improved with age as I continued to expose her to new people and situations. In her earlier years, Camila was very confused about social roles. There was one incident where I was pulled over by a female cop with Camila in the car. Later, Camila mentioned that she did not agree that women could be cops, even though she had met one earlier that day. My partner and I chose not to impose stereotypical gender roles on Camila and taught her that women and men can do the same jobs. My partner helped me with teaching her gender neutrality by helping out with chores around the house. Camila was not expected to play only with ‘girl’ toys and had a variety of activities to choose from. As she has got older, some of her female friends were described to be more “tomboyish.”
Camila achieved stage four, Industry vs Inferiority by developing industry. She demonstrated strength in all school subjects and was cooperative in the classroom. When she was six, she occasionally got upset in stressful situations but recovered quickly. At age eight, she seemed to focus well and be attentive. She loved science and liked participating in the afterschool programs. Camila had strong musical abilities, she sang and learned several instruments. She was proud of her musical skills and liked to perform for others. In adolescence, Camila successfully achieved identity in Erikson’s fifth stage, Identity vs. Role Confusion. Camila’s interest and strengths were consistent throughout her development. She continued to participate in the same activities and excelled in all school subjects. Camila communicated positively with my partner and me. She developed many appropriate coping skills and used them when she was under stress. Overall, Camila made good choices and had friends that were similar to her in interests and values. Some of the other students in her high school were caught with drugs and weapons. Camila was somewhat fearful of these incidents and did not have any desire to get involved. She was not easily influenced by the behaviors or opinions of others because she had a strong sense of identity.
Camila was tolerant of other’s beliefs. She had a conversation with another student on the bus and disagreed with many of their views on religion and politics. Camila listened to her classmate, but came home and shared her beliefs with me. This is an example of appropriate identity formation and high self-esteem. The article by McCarthy states that people with high self-esteem are more likely to self-disclose or express their thoughts and feelings. These individuals also have closer and more satisfying relationships with those around them. McCarthy states those with high self-esteem are more willing to disclose their feelings because they are ‘confident that others see them positively and will not reject them”. Camila knows who she is, has strong beliefs and feels confident expressing herself with those she trusts. Piaget theorized that there are four universal stages of cognitive development: sensi-motor, pre-operational, concrete operations and formal operational. In Piaget’s sensimotor stage, children typically master object permanence and develop pre-language skills.
Camila’s abilities were consistent with Piaget’s sensimotor stage. Object permanence is the ability to understand that an object or person exists even when they do not see it; this occurs between eight and twelve months. Camila was given the object permanence test at twelve months; she successfully found the object that was hidden under the covers and enjoyed playing this game. At nine months, Camila had developed appropriate pre-language skills and was able to point at objects that she wanted. At twelve months, she was able to understand many words and said her first word while pointing at an object. Robbins states that “Imaginative and symbolic play is important in this stage because it allows children to act out their conflicts in a non-distressing manner, and they become aware of themselves as objects”. In the pre-operational stage, Camila was interested in imaginative play. She often spent hours building structures out of cardboard boxes and pretending she was on a spaceship. I encouraged pretend play during the preoperational stage by providing Camila was many supplies and opportunities to engage, and also by participating when she invited me. While at the concrete operations stage, Camila excelled in school and was less egocentric in her thinking. She did well especially in math and science, mastering the concept of conservation. On one occasion, Camila learned of the terrorist attacks happening in the country. She became afraid that it would happen in our town. Her fears proved to be more realistic than before.
Camila also had multiple interests and was able to focus on more than one activity at a time. For example, she was learning instruments but also participating in sports. In adolescence, Camila reached the fourth stage of cognitive development, formal operations. Camila thought about the future and the outcomes of her actions. When Camila received her scores on the PSAT, she was concerned that her scores would not make her stand out, and she would not get into the college of her choice. I reminded her that she still had time to study and do well on the real test. Camila also had a good understanding of relationships and was able to make her own choices on who she wanted to develop relationships with.
When Camila’s aunt, who she had not seen in five years, came to visit, Camila was cordial and interacted with her, but expressed that she was not ready to develop a closer relationship with her aunt. Camila also understood that there were consequences to all her actions, and was responsible for her mistakes. Camila was in a minor car accident and she had to work to pay off the insurance deductible. She had no problem finding a summer job in order to pay back her debt. According to Piaget’s theory of moral development, Camila was functioning at the Moral realism stage in her school-age years. During the moral realism stage, parents lay down the rules and children respect them although they do not understand the reasons behind them. Children believe that the rules always need to be followed, and breaking the rules results in punishment.
Camila generally followed the rules at school and at home. However, she often cheated in games she played with me at age six, and she got upset and quit when she was caught. At age eight, she was no longer cheating, but began telling lies about school, and leaving out important parts of stories. She also blamed things like messes on her little sister. I told her stories, like “the boy who cried wolf” and talked about how people feel when other people lie to them to help her build her sense of morality. I also praised her when she was truthful. The article by Morse supports the concept that storytelling can develop a child’s morality. It suggests that parents tell children a story about a child who spills a pitcher of milk the parent told them to put on the table. There are a variety of scenarios surrounding the incident that can be added to make the story more relatable to an individual child. The parents are expected to note the reactions of the child and answer questions they may have. In Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, the six stages of morality are divided into three levels: Preconventional, Conventional, and Postcoventional. My virtual child functioned at the conventional level of moral development during adolescence. When Camila was fourteen years old, she attended a class field trip, and some of the students stole from a gift shop. The students were caught and suspended. According to My Virtual Child software, ‘Camila agrees with the punishment because they did not live up to the expectations of their parents, their coach or their teammates’.
This shows Camila was operating at the third stage of conventional moral development because she believed she needed to follow the rules in order to please others. Although I tried to explain to her that her classmates had also broken the law, she was set in her way of thinking, and would not consider other reasoning. The standard ages for conventional moral development are between seven and twelve, however, Kohlberg did not believe that there was a ‘direct association between age and moral maturity’. Kohlberg also stated that most adults continue to operate at the conventional level or moral development, and do not always achieve postconvetional development. It appears that Camila may have stayed at the conventional level throughout her adolescence. There was an incident when she was driving home late and hit a trashcan. She did not confess to this until I noticed the dent, and asked her about it the next day. Camila had been in minor accidents before and knew that she would need to pay for the damages. However, Camila did not tell me right away because she did not want me to be disappointed or upset with her.