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During the transition period from infant to toddler, core gender identity is solidified. The child can look at a picture and clearly differentiate sexual differences. She or he can distinguish between male and female by means of the differences in hair and clothing. The child continues to be able to identify body parts, and especially areas responsible for excretion. The child also develops distinct pride and pleasure in his or her own body, sometimes specifically in the genital area. Pleasurable genital self-stimulation also enhances this self-satisfaction. At about 21 months, the child can refer to the self by her or his own name, an event pivotal in the emergence of identity. By 2 years of age, the child is able to categorize people into boy and girl and has some awareness of the anatomic differences if she or he has had an opportunity to view them.
During the third year and after that time, the child continues to develop verbal categorizations, which become more precise for the sexes. At the middle of the third year, the child becomes aware of and interested in the parental relationship, including their roles, sleeping arrangements, and bathing. During the last part of the third year, the child continues to refine the meanings of gender terms and the roles associated with them. The father is emerging as a special love object for the female child, as is the mother for the male.
As the child's muscles mature, he is able to hold on and let go. It is during the period of life that Freud would term "anal" that the child must cope with developing a sense of autonomy instead of shame and doubt. At this stage the child requires some parental limits, some guidance in his autonomy. He is particularly vulnerable to shaming experiences, and may be purposefully shamed for acting out sexually in inappropriate places. If he is given an opportunity to develop self-control without losing self-esteem, the child will probably achieve a sense of autonomy instead of shame and self-doubt.
Between the ages of 4 and 5 years, the child experiences a new set of conflicts: the development of initiative versus guilt. The child's mobility at this point, as well as his genitality, leads him to experience pleasure in both his attack and conquest. The child's aggression may indeed lead him to experience guilt. This stage is also what Freud referred to as the phallic age; the castration complex and infantile sexuality help bring about the crisis of turning away from a pregenital attachment to his parents. The child indulges in fantasies at this age and fears that his erotic genitals may be harmed as a punishment for the dreams attached to their excitement. Erikson feels that the "Oedipal stage" not only results in the establishment of a sense of morality but also helps the child to define what is possible for him.
Finally, between the years of 6 and about 11 years, the child encounters yet another set of tasks: developing industry as opposed to a sense of inferiority. This period coincides roughly with what Freud termed the "latency period." It is at this point that the child develops fundamental technologies with which to be useful in the adult world. No longer does he obtain a sense of satisfaction that is restricted to his body or to the pleasure he feels from his genital organs. What he can accomplish becomes important to him.
Sex Differences In Intellectual Function
As the child enters school, a number of sex differences in intellectual functioning become apparent. First, there is a tendency for girls to test higher on intelligence tests during the preschool years and for boys to test higher during high school. The girl's preschool and early school years show a decided advantage in verbal ability. Girls say their first words sooner, articulate better and earlier, and use longer sentences. By the beginning of grade school, however, vocabularies are similar. Girls learn to read sooner, but by the age of 10 years, boys catch up. Girls appear better at grammar, spelling, and word fluency.
Usually girls learn to count earlier, but boys tend to out perform girls on tests of arithmetic reasoning. Boys appear to be more proficient at spatial and analytic abilities, but girls are able to pay more attention to detail. Boys are more apt to break set-that is, pick details that require divergence from the context. Finally, girls obtain better grades than boys during school, but men tend to be more achievement-oriented than women during later life.
In analyzing the above studies, Maccoby attempted to account for intellectual performance on the basis of personality characteristics. She concluded that characteristics such as impulse control, fearfulness and anxiety, aggression and competitiveness, level of aspiration and achievement, and motivation and dependence might account for some but not all differences in intellectual abilities between the sexes. A developmental timetable, sex-typed interests, opportunities to learn, identification, and modeling did not seem to be causal factors of sex differences in intellectual ability. Instead, Maccoby hypothesized that a passive, inhibited person may find it difficult to ignore stimuli emanating from others, and a bold, impulsive, independent person would take initiative in solving a problem. These characteristics seem to be sex-typed, with the male tending to be bold and impulsive and the female passive and inhibited. Assuming that both passive-inhibited and bold-impulsive characteristics have a curvilinear relationship with intellectual performance, then for optimum intellectual development, most girls need to be less passive and inhibited and boys less bold and impulsive.
Bardwick maintains that school systems may be conditioning children to be passive, dependent, and conformist. Since most boys are independent and oriented toward achievement and aggression they are punished. This system breeds learning disorders and behavioral problems for boys because the school's expectations are not congruent with the boy's biophysical immaturity and temperament. The girls, as a result, are given little incentive to take more initiative in their learning.
About The Author
David Crawford is the CEO and owner of a Male Enhancement company known as Male Enhancement Group which is dedicated to researching and comparing male enhancement products in order to determine which male enhancement product is safer and more effective than other products on the market. Copyright 2011 David Crawford of Male Enhancement This article may be freely distributed if this resource box stays attached.
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