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Moral Assumptions

Children develop at different speeds, and with different personalities, and yet there are some fundamental commonalities within that development. These general rules apply both to the emotional development of the child as well as to their physical growth. The difference between the socialization of a child, and the personal beliefs or morals we live by, is that socialization is the practice of acquiring the general rules and roles of society. There is a careful balance to be struck in what is socially appropriate behavior, and what is personal choice. However, development of the awareness of these social norms is extremely critical, because they comprise the basic tools of affective communication.

Language enables us to communicate... There is a `natural' language of gesture, and so on, but because of the `open' nature of our `instinctual' drives this has to be supplemented by `cultural' languages, or languages that have to be taught and learnt. Language binds us together with some people and separates us from others... We speak many `languages'... [Dunlop, 1984].

The goal of all agents of socialization is to increase a child's social competence - to teach children what their society expects of them and to give them the skills needed to meet those expectations... The universal goals of socialization [are as follows:]
1. To fulfill physical needs in appropriate ways.
2. To control aggression.
3. To master the physical environment.
4. To master the social environment.
5. To perform essential skills.
6. To behave in accord with the society's moral values.
7. To prepare for the future.
8. To be both an effective individual and an effective member of the group [Fischer, 1984].

Morals are the personal goals we each choose to live by. In creating the Affective Tigger it was important to build upon the social norms listed above, and to leave the personal `gray areas' untouched. The universal truths I leveraged off of stem from the assumption that the Affective Tigger is more than just a toy. His animal form makes him ``almost alive'' (From a conversation with Sherry Turkle (1999)) which allows me to make some assumptions regarding what behaviors exhibited by the child are `right' or more acceptable (i.e. hugging, bouncing, etc.) whereas others are less acceptable and therefore labeled `wrong' (i.e. hitting, poking, etc.). While it is true that my assumptions do not hold true in all occasions and for all cultures, `for example we can imagine a culture that hunts and eats the meat of tigers, wherein it may be highly encouraged for children to gain the courage to poke at the eyes', they are a conservative place to begin given the children I was likely to encounter in these trials.

The affective education of a child is a very large task indeed, involving parents, siblings, and peers, as well as teachers. It begins almost at birth and continues to evolve throughout one's lifetime. During Piaget's pre-operational stage, from age 2 until about 7, the child undergoes the most radical socialization. The child is transformed from a dependent egocentric infant to a compassionate caring school-child. A review of the literature on this transformation is the basis for the rest of this chapter.

next up previous contents
Next: Emotional Recognition in the Up: Child Development Previous: Child Development

Dana L Kirsch
Tue May 25 08:59:22 EDT 1999