Middle Childhood Developmental Stage

Adrienne is one of the twins aged nine years from their mother’s marriage. Based on the case, Adrienne is thriving in school, socially and developmentally, unlike her brother Ben, who is struggling in some or all areas. Both Adrienne and Ben are in the middle childhood developmental phase. The phase is manifest of several self-conscious stages. Middle childhood is met with significant change, and thus numerous specific developmental milestones happen out of this typical lifespan development. Most of the changes are fast and can arise apparently unbeknownst to a child. Hence some children meet them with contempt and others with excitement. Several theories explain the physical, cognitive, emotional, moral, and social changes in the middle childhood stage.

Physical Development

In middle childhood, physical development is caused by neurophysiological and biological development, motor skills enhancement, and bodily health. Middle childhood is a stage marked with relative stability in preparation for the approaching teenage changes. In this phase, children continue to improve their regulation of gross motor skills because of increased flexibility. Girls tend to develop fine motor skills somewhat faster than boys (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2016). Motor skill refinement can be witnessed in several tasks, such as artistic skills, handwriting, learning to type, playing musical instruments, and mastery of communication tools like phones and computers. In the phase, an important hormonal event happens (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2016). Androgenic hormones generated by adrenal glands increase. Adrienne is successful in school, as she is now improving in most of her motor skills. Her motor skills are seemingly better than her brother’s, explaining why she is thriving while her brother is struggling.


Social/emotional development

Social/emotional development involves the development of skills for controlling and expressing emotions and managing social relations (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2016). Erik Erikson and Harry Stack explain social and emotional development in middle childhood. While Erickson stresses the development of a sense of industry, Sullivan’s theory explains interpersonal relationships in middle childhood (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2016). Erickson claims that during middle childhood, children are industrious or busy. They are continuously planning, doing, playing, achieving, and getting together with their friends. They are in an active phase when they are developing a sense of how they measure up compared to their peers. In his theory, Sullivan argues that preadolescence is marked with increased friendship closeness, characterized by intimate drive (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2016). Adrienne is at a phase that she is industrious, continuously striving to measure up to her friends’ expectations. At this stage, she has acquired the ability to express and regulate her emotions and manage her social relationship. Hence she can maintain healthy relationships with her peers who she aims to please.

Cognitive development

Cognitive development entails children acquiring the ability to consciously, pro-actively, and thoughtfully choosing to pursue goals, rather than merely responding to the environment. It comprises the development of reasoning abilities, memory capacities, and intellectual language (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2016). Piaget proposed the theory of cognitive development, which emphasizes the degree to which children in the middle childhood phase attain the ability to think logically, reason, and solve problems in different tasks. Concrete Operations is the middle childhood phase in Piaget’s cognitive development theory. This phase’s defining characteristic is that a child’s logic or connected to what is tangible or concrete (Miller, 2016). Meaning the thoughts are specific to things, places, and individuals a child may have smelled, seen, tasted, or touched. The Theory of Multiple Intelligence, proposed by Howard Gardner asserts that people have diverse abilities and ways of solving issues. Hence, as children in middle childhood develop cognitive abilities, their strengths and ways of solving issues develop to different strengths and in different ways. Adrienne is developing logic based on the things, places, and people she has encountered in her life. Perhaps her experience resulting from her parent’s divorce may cause her to make choices that uphold relationships. Based on Howard Gardner’s theory, her strength of intelligence is different from her brother Ben since children develop different strengths and ways of dealing with problems. The two cannot thus make similar decisions, although in a similar situation and age.

Moral development

Kohlberg suggested three phases of moral development, including pre-convention, conventional, and post-conventional. In his argument, children in the middle childhood are the conventional level. During this phase, a person’s logic of morality is related to collective and individual relationships (Miller, 2016). Children still accept the rules set by an authority figure, but it is due to their belief that it is necessary for positive relationships and societal order. In Adrienne’s case, she may accept the rules set by her parents and teachers to have good relationships with them and her siblings and for order at school and at home. She may accept her blended family because she believes it is necessary for positive relationships with her mother. James Fowler’s moral development theory equates middle childhood with the Mythic-Literal Faith stage of the theory. Fowler posits that children in this phase believe in fairness and justice in moral issues, a sense of reciprocity in how the world works (Miller, 2016). Children tend to take faith metaphors literally, sometimes resulting in misunderstandings. At Adrienne’s developmental phase, she may tend to strive to attain fairness and justice in her dealings with people at home and school.


In the middle childhood, children experience developments related to their bodies. They are also socially developing, trying to have healthy relationships with their friend. They thus tend to measure up compared to their peers. Cognitively they begin to think logically, reason, and solve problems in different tasks. However, each child is unique in their cognitive strengths and ways. Regarding moral/spiritual development, children in the middle childhood sense of morality is based on their societal and personal relationships. Their moral choices are impacted by fairness and justice.


Capuzzi, D., & Stauffer, M. D. (2016). Human growth and development across the lifespan: Applications for counselors. Hoboken, New Jersey : Wiley

Miller, P. H. (2016). Theories of Developmental Psychology. New York: Worth publisher.