Whereas “preteens” show the cumulative effects of childhood, preadolescents have decision-making skills and know their own minds. Children aged ten to twelve can develop interpersonal intimacy; they have evolved their cognitive and emotional ability, and they have internalized a sense of morality and caring. They develop a capacity for assessing others and for self-re- flection. They can seem very capable. Each passing year offers more freedom, more responsibilities; many of them are babysitting, delivering newspapers, or working at other part-time jobs. They are making choices about their lives, thinking about the future, anticipating changes. They seek to understand life more completely, but when affected by a crisis they still seek parental guidance and reasoning. The preceding decade of learning allows the preadolescent, who remains a little awkward, to emerge into the person he or she will be. Linguistically, fifth graders have command of between thirty-nine thousand and forty-six thousand words (Anglin 1989). Younger children, however, have a capacity to grasp new language; they have greater linguistic capabilities and greater plasticity in brain structures associated with language acquisition. Placed in a new environment, younger children will easily adopt a new language and retain a native compre- hension of the language, but this is less likely after age twelve. The academic transition to junior high or middle school, which occurs dur- ing this period, has been identified as a stressful life event for children, some- times associated with depression, academic failure, and the use of addictive substances. Preparation for junior high school that includes building skills for responding to peer pressure and for decision making has been recognized as a way to deal with the stress and to minimize subsequent deviant behavior (smok- ing, drinking, and using drugs) as a means of adjusting (Epstein, Griffin, and Botvin 2000; Gilchrist et al. 1988; Snow et al. 1986). Preadolescents want to spend more time with their peers, although they still go along on family vacations and enjoy family time. They are more aware of their sexuality and are beginning to be interested in more intense individual relationships. Sexual preferences, it is claimed, are determined by adolescence, suggesting that at this age children explore and question their initial feelings about sexuality. In keeping with this tendency, appearance is a major issue. At this time, a perceived drop in self-esteem can seriously affect a child’s outlook on Copyright @ 2008. Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO : eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 1/17/2018 1:38 PM via POST UNIVERSITY (TRAURIG LIBRARY) AN: 461117 ; Austrian, Sonia G..; Developmental Theories Through the Life Cycle Account: ns017336.main.eds
N A N C Y F. C I N C O T TA | 98 life. Twelve year olds enter adolescence grounded in reality, which serves them well when they experience the volatility of the teen years.
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