Middle Childhood

Social and Emotional Development

Socio-emotional Characteristics and Growth

Erikson stage of Middle Childhood is industry versus inferiority. Children are becoming more independent and learn more skills. They develop a sense of self-confidence by becoming competent in the outside world. If compared negatively to others, feelings of inferiority can surface. Parents and teachers play a vital role in providing positive feedback to encourage children. They can see their own successes and failures, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Children are often eager, friendly, and responsible, having their own job at home or at school is important. Socially, children want to be apart of a group or with friends.

Peer Relationships

As children move into the school environment, peers play a more important role in their lives. Although girls and boys comfortably play together in preschool, many children in early elementary school separate by gender. The opinion of peers is very important. Fitting in becomes more difficult. Groups of friends often choose a leader. A person who is more attractive, has the newest toys, or has the best ideas.


They worry about school failures, unknown circumstances, death, and family problems. Bullying, or the act of intimidating, threatening, or hurting some one else, often over a period of time, can be common during middle childhood. Verbal or physical bullying are often used. Name-calling, teasing, excluding others deliberately, laughing at someone and and spreading rumors, pushing, hitting, and tripping are all forms of bullying.


Play is an important part of socio-emotional development in middle childhood. Group games and team sports become more popular. At the beginning of this stage, children in the middle childhood may not have the interactive skills needed to play in group game. By the time children reach the end of this stage, interactive skills have developed and teams and competition are common.


In all stages of life, today's environment can promote stress. Stress is the body's response when faced with pressures and demands. Typical stress inducers for children come from both inside and outside the home. Inside the home, stress may come from changing family dynamics such as divorce, remarriage, and the subsequent changes in living conditions. They value the opinions of their peers. Popularity starts to become important as they feel judgement of their peers and want to fit in with the crowd. School may become a source of stress. This is especially true for children who are academically struggling as well as those under unrealistic pressure to excel. As a caregiver you need to comfort them and ask them whats bothering them.

Cultural Influences

Media can be educational and a positive form of communication between family members and peers. They can use the internet to research topics to complete schoolwork. They can learn about other cultures and customs. Media can also be negative. It takes up the time you could be having face-to-face encounters that help children learn to communicate and interpret body language, facial expressions, and subtlety of language.