Why do children, in the most transitional part of their lives (middle childhood and adolescence), deserve a little extra empathy?

Child development is important to understand because children are going through many changes in the major domains of their lives, such as physical, cognitive, emotional, and social. Middle childhood (6-12) contributes to adolescence (12-18), these are stages in which children are learning and adapting to the world around them to prepare for the adult they’ll become. In this period of transition, children are experiencing things physically and emotionally they never have before which means they deserve some extra empathy. We will evaluate the transitions children go through and the research findings to determine why they deserve extra empathy.

 

  • Puberty refers to the rate of physical maturation that involves hormonal and body changes that start the transition from childhood to adolescence. The gonadal hormones from the ovaries (progesterone) and testes (testosterone) released during puberty influence emotions and behaviors. These changes happen naturally and children are not aware of what is happening to their bodies nor the reason for emotional mood swings which is why they need the surrounding people to have a good understanding of what they are feeling. If we look at the research from the iCATS study we can see that there is also a correlation between brain structure/function and puberty. So, in puberty children are not only going through physical and emotional changes but cognitive changes as well.

 

  • Empathy is simple the emotional ability to understand the feelings of others. Basically, empathy is when your able to put yourself into someone else’s “shoes” or situation by understanding how they are feeling. Many times adults forget to be empathetic towards children because it’s been some time since they went through puberty. However, no matter the time that has passed since their puberty adults need to steer children in the right direction by becoming sympathetic helpers (Dewar 2020).
  • Children’s feelings matter especially when the world around them is changing that they feel they cannot keep up with. It is necessary for adults to show them that they are deserving of someone who understands that these changes are hard, but they will get through it. Also, it is proven that showing them to be empathic towards in their transitional period will help them in the future be more understanding towards others.

To Conclude children experience a transitional period in their life where they go through cognitive, physical, emotional, and social changes. These affect every domain of their lives which leads to mood swings, behavioral changes, body changes, and even changes in the brain. Children not only need but deserve an empathic adult to guide them through this metamorphosis because it is not easy especially in those younger years of life. Moreover, children just need a break, so if they’re acting out or have an attitude showing them someone understands can make the process just a little easier. And at the end of the transitional period with the guidance of an empathetic person, they will break out of the old shell and come out the other side of their developmental stages ready for the world.

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