Adolescence and Early-Childhood Development

1. a) Body image is the way in which people perceive their physical appearance and attractiveness. In an era where the media plays a near-monopolistic role in determining the kind of information that people receive either as news or entertainment, media portrayal of the ideal body image has a big influence on people’s perceptions of beauty. Perhaps, as a result of media stereotyping, adolescents strive to avoid putting on weight, since big bodies are associated with negative images/ugliness and obesity. One negative impact of this media-based perception of beauty is the adoption of unhealthy eating habits that eventually develop eating disorders such as under-eating /consuming less than is sufficient to meet the body’s physiological needs. It disrupts the body’s normal metabolism, leading to a psychological disorder – anorexia.

b) Anorexia is “a fear for fatness and a craving for thinness” (Sheppird, 2010, p. 67). Symptoms include fluctuating body weight, being over-conscious about gaining weight, observing weight loss behaviors, and following a restrictive diet. Treatment therapies include counseling to change one’s attitude about being fat and adopting healthy eating habits.

c) Society pressurizes the youth by glorifying slim and tall bodies as the embodiments of beauty. Even in the corporate world, the popularity of fashion models like Kate Moss and Angelina Jolie promotes the ideology of slim-body beauty. On the other hand, having a big body is perceived as a shortcoming in terms of physical appeal. Consequently, it influences eating habits among the youth in their efforts to either lose or avoid gaining weight. This is especially the case among female youths and teenagers who are more conscious about their body image than men or older people.

2. a) Reading and listening fosters language by allowing learners to practice their language skills. Reading helps learn how to pronounce words correctly and improve the articulation abilities.

Listening helps learners improve their conversational skills by exposing them to practical situations of language usage. They learn how to follow conversations/stories, choose the main ideas, and commit them to memory.

b) My favorite book for fostering language skills is You Can’t Say “You Can’t Play”, by Vivian Gussin Paley. It is a children’s book that is filled with fairy tales. Fantasies play a key role in the development of cognitive skills among children. They hook children’s attention and activate their imaginations. In addition, fantasies are the means through which children learn about and understand the world around them. For example, animal stories teach children about honesty (such as a hare caught and punished for lying), good friendship, and obedience. The book’s fairy tales provide material that children can relate with easily. Thus, children can improve their language skills by reading the stories or listening to the teacher as he/she narrate them.

3. Kohlberg’s six stages of moral development are:

Level I: Pre-conventional morality.

Stage one: obedience and punishment orientation: children believe that there are fixed sets of rules that they must obey, otherwise they will be punished. An example is the conviction that “stealing is bad” because it leads to punishment.

Stage two: individualism and exchange: at this stage, children realize that what the authority says is not what everyone follows. They learn that “right” is relative depending on the situation, for example, stealing food due to the feeling of hunger.

Level II: Conventional morality.

Stage three: good interpersonal relationships: at this stage (early teenage-hood), the child learns that morality is not just about breaking laws but also about conforming to family and societal expectations as well. These expectations include respecting older people, honesty, trustworthiness, and caring for others (e.g. friendship).

Stage four: maintaining the social order: children expand their circles of relationships from family members and close friends to encompassing society at large. Children become aware that they are responsible to society and not just their friends and families (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2009). An example is helping people whom one has never met before because that is how a good society should function. I remember one incidence, when I was about ten, my mother asked me to help an old lady with her luggage because we were going the same way. I responded that I did not know her and why I had to help the old lady. She responded that one should help anyone if one is in a position to, regardless of whether one knows them or not.

Level III: Post-conventional Morality.

Stage five: social contract and individual rights: individuals reach a stage when they begin to look at morality and their responsibilities critically. The debate about what makes a functional society, their rights, and responsibilities of others. For example, one learns that he is his neighbor’s keeper, but that the neighbor should also be a responsible citizen.

Stage six: universal principles: at this stage, individuals become concerned about justice for all. They become worried about the rights of minorities and the need to strike a balance between the needs of all parties by being impartial and objective in making judgments. For example, a thief may be spared by asking, “Why did he still? Was it because of an unfair system that denies him the opportunity to meet his needs through legitimate means?”

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