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I Was Such a Cute Kid

A Story of Developmental Psychology by Katie Cook

My mother had a very easy pregnancy with me. She only gained 25 pounds (she said it looked like she just had a basketball under her shirt). She maintained a healthy diet with no real cravings; however, she did find herself loving McDonald’s fries more than usual so she had to watch out and make sure she didn’t eat too many of them. Both my mother and I benefitted from her healthy pregnancy practices. My mom had a lot of energy during pregnancy: she was a Girl Scout leader, a room mom for both of my older siblings, a Cheerleading coach- she actually did a cartwheel when she was 7 months pregnant, but that didn’t seem to affect me or my fetal development.

 

In the final weeks of her pregnancy, my mom became very uncomfortable and requested to induce labor. According to her, "the drugs did their thing for a minute but then you got the hang of it and was ready to roll."

Names if I were a Boy:

  1. William (after my maternal grandfather)

  2. David (after my father’s brother who passed away)

Names if I were a Girl:

  1. Riley Grace
  2. Maydel (my paternal great-grandmother’s name)
  3. Katherine May (May after the same great-grandma)

 

In the mid-to-late 80s, there was a TV show called Kate and Allie. My mom loved the way the names sounded together, and since she named my older sister Allison (she goes by Allie), all she needed was a Kate (or in my case, a Katherine and that goes by Katie).

? ? ?

Why?

My parent's wanted to my gender unknown until I was born, so they planned a few names for either outcome.

Katherine McKenzie Cook

But they chose the name:

On my second birthday I recieved a Barbie themed motorcycle. Which was easily my favorite toy for years. While it was decorated in such a way that was atypical for the gender norm of a young girl, it didn't promote a sense of any sort of gender conforomity. Riding on it made me feel confident, powerful, and in control. These things are very important to teach young tots, especially young girls.

Name choices give children a predesigned sense of gender identity. Based on how their given name is labeled in society, as either male or female or gender-neutral, they will begin to associate that gender with themselves as they develop an association with their name and their identity. Children will either grow to embrace their name or resent it. I associate myself with the female pronouns that come with my name, my only issue with my name is how generic it is.

Gender Identity

Because my parents didn’t want to know my gender before I was born, my nursery was decorated with a gender neutral theme and primary colors and did not affect my gender identity in any certain way.

This shows that imitation plays a role in language development. Children learn language through exposure and will be more likely to repeat words or phrases that they are repetitively exposed to. 

Language Development

I was a very vocal infant. I would babble complete conversations, waving my hands with serious passion, pacing back and forth, yet no one could understand me. And just as I quickly went from crawling to running rather quickly, the rate at which my speech developed was rather fast. I used uncharacteristically large words for my age and would engage in full blown conversations from a very young age.This was most likely because my older siblings were 7 and 10 years older than me, and their friends were always around as well, so I was motivated to mature at a faster rate in order to be like them. 

First word: Molly (although it sounded more like "Mahwr-ry"

Age: 11 months

Why: Molly was our dog, she ad been apart of the family longer than me, and she was a significant part of the family- like Nana is for the Darling family in Peter Pan.

 

I also had two "catchphrases" when I was young: "hold-you both" and "lover-pete".

Hold-you both came about when my younger brother was born. I was two and I wanted my mom to hold me, but she was holding my infant brother so she couldn't. She'd tell me, "Katie I can't hold you right now, I'm holding Tommy," and I'd respond with "Hold you both?" meaning: will you hold us both?

Lover-pete was my attempt at imitating my parents' and sibling's frequent use of "for the love of Pete".

Physical Development 

**Unable to see on the graph: I lost my first tooth when I was 7 years old, while the average is 6 years for most children.**

As a developing infant, I was surrounded by siblings who were significantly older than me and was therefore motivatd to be like them. Both my physical devlopment and my language development are proof of this. I was a fast learner, or at least, I drove myself to be one. I wanted to just like my older siblings and their friends and so I learned quickly in order to better imitate them. The only thing I achieved after the average age was losing my first tooth, though I tried very much to lose one earlier (I did a lot of pulling on teeth that were not at all ready to come out). 

Puberty: a developmental stage in which adolescents reach sexual maturity and the ability to reproduce (it also tends to include a lot of awkwardness and terrible photos).

Although puberty typically occurs during the same time for most adolescents, there is not a specific time at which it will begin- it varies for each individual. This means that some young girls can experience their first menstrual cycle at an age such as 10-years-old while others may not experience this menarche until well into their high school career. 

Angie and Ari are best friends and have been for several years; the two girls are very similar in most ways. there is, however, one specific differentiation between the pals, and has caused them both great strife.

Angie began puberty in the 5th grade, well before any of her peers; she began developing breasts, having a period, experiencing hormone-imbalance-based mood swings, etc. while the rest of her friends were unable to sympathize at all. She looked significantly different (more developed) and was teased because of it. She suffers from body dysmorphia as she was trained, by her peers and her own insecurities, to see herself as a freak

Ari, on the other hand, has the opposite problem. She is about to start her freshman year of high school and has yet experienced any of puberty's symptoms. She is afraid to admit this to anyone because whenever she does, people gawk at her and tend to laugh. Ari is constantly feeling alienated, as though everyone else has a unifying bond because she has yet to experience this coming-of-age menarche. She suffers from social anxiety and severe insecurities, just as Angie does.

Both girls wish they had their friend's situation instead of their own. 

As a child, I loved to play pretend. As a child, I was also very bossy. I would tell my playmates what to say and when to say it as though we were on a movie set. Once, when I was about 4 and my brother was 2, we were playing in the bath and he said something and I cut him off, waving arms and saying:  “Uh! Do that again, that’s a deleted scene, do it again!” 

Imaginary Audience:

Cognitive Development

Piaget proposed a theory in which there were four main stages of cognitive development. Looking back on my past educational experience, as well as observing the children I am tutoring right now, it is very evident that there is a limit to how much a child at a certain, less-developed stage can understand. The courses one takes increasingly gets more complex as the student moves forward in their academic career and several topics, such as those having to do with complex theories or hypotheticals, are saved until middle school. In middle school, an adolescent will reach the formal operational stage and will then be able to better understand certain topics that they might learn.

The character doesn’t understand that the sign is meant for the general public and not just them specifically. They’re exhibiting egocentrism- they can’t/don’t understand the concept that there are other people with different lives and understandings, separate from them

I developed a deep attachment to a stuffed pig I called Piggy.

I received Piggy shortly after I was born and became quickly extremely attached to her. She was very soft and I found comfort in hugging her and sleeping with her- very similarly to how Harlow’s monkeys and their terrycloth mothers; however, I of course still preferred my real moth to any inanimate object.

Contact Comfort: according to Harlow’s theory, an infant receives physical and emotional reassurance when in contact with a comfortable object (typically the mother, but many soft and warm objects do as well).

Ducks imprint. Humans do not.

Imprinting occurs in several different animal species and is when the young animal creates attachments during a crucial period of time. For example, many animals bond to whatever is the first thing they see when they are born that moves (this is why there are cases of ducks following around people or dogs as though that is their mother, it’s because they associate that being as its mother).

Though I grew up strongly attached to both of my parents, I had a special attachment to my father, but for no specific reason. We joke that he's "the fun one", but that didn't come about until much later. 

Social Development

Moral Development

There is a lot wrong in our society. Too much anger and discrimination, not enough love and acceptance. Every person, no matter their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs deserve to be treated kindly and with respect, however, this is seldom the case. I find it very important to demonstrate love and kindness to everyone, and to stand up for what I believe.

According to Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development, my morality lines up with the post-conventional stage. I have a sense of shared duties and rights, and my morals are based on others, rather than myself.

In the eight stages of Erikson’s theory of personality, there are obstacles that each person must overcome. In the 5th and 6th stages, an individual must conquer the concepts of “ego identity v. role confusion” as well as “intimacy v. isolation”. Overcoming one is difficult enough, but according to Erikson, we are faced with these dilemmas sequentially during our development.

Starting around the age of 12, humans begin to ponder their individual identity and how they are to exist in society. This can lead to a lot of herd-following: mobs of adolescents morphing into clones of one another, all trying to be like everyone else in order to feel accepted by their peers. As the young teenagers mature, however, they begin to recognize that there are other options in life than following a crowd of indiscernible-yet-all-too-strict rules; they begin to break off from the heard, branch out, explore. In my case, I tried desperately to be like my companions whom I had labeled as “popular”. I would mimic every aspect of their wardrobe, right down to jean length, but I never felt secure in how I looked. I was desperately trying to be someone I just couldn’t be. I became increasingly insecure and struggled with an unstable sense of self for several years. It wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year that I truly began embracing myself as I was and recognized that no one should be able to be labeled as one specific type of person and that we each serve an important role in the world, but none of us are meant to be the same. This belief is difficult to embrace, however, because in being unique is the danger of being isolated and unloved.

One of the most common fears for the human being is autophobia, the fear of being alone or isolated, and it drives people to do strange things in order to achieve the approval of others. Already, I have experienced the pain of being left. I have grown to understand that, especially in the riotous immaturity that is high school students, people will come and go in my life and I cannot cling to hard to those that wish to leave. This is but a moment, and so I try not to stress about how others perceive me. But I am only mortal and I still struggle with a desire to be loved. I am very lucky to have a core group of friends (I decided that 5 is the best number to feel adequately supported without feeling stressed about being an equally good friend to all of them).

In the past, my zealous cravings for attention and acceptance led to my abuse from a boy who claimed to love me. I have since they developed how I address dating and relationships of the like. In order to save myself from further abuse or heartbreak, I have built up walls against those who pursue romantic relations with me. I know that it won't be for a while that I'll be truly ready to love anyone, so right now I date for the fun of the moments.

I don't struggle too much with a need to be loved, just as I don't struggle to understand who I am or need to be. I have trust that there is a plan for me and my future, and in which I shall base my worth on how my creator sees me, and my husband or wife will be all I need to be reminded of that. 
Proverbs 31:25 & Jeremiah 29:11 

Personality Development

Overall, I believe that nature and nurture have large roles in how we develop. A lot of who I am is because of my environment. However, my sexuality and mental disorders are also a large part of who I am and neither were because of my environment. But overall, my friend's and family's unconditional compassion and support for me have shaped me into who I am today. I have been allowed to figure out who I am and who I want to be in a safe place. Though some key aspects of my character are nature-based, it is overall the safety and security of my environment that has had more of a lasting affect on me and my life.