Solidarity/Performance STRUCTURE HANDOUT Ages 7 – 12 years
THEME: Can I perform to the best of my ability, can I support others to be their best, and can I still feel equal and be cared about and accepted by my family and my peers?
For the child in the Solidarity/Performance age period, the defining social characteristic, the core task in terms of mutual connection, is to learn to master the group situation. The challenge is to engage other peers deeply, and to develop a sense of self while having an identity as a group member. It is quite important that a child become deeply invested in a group as a group member. This will allow them to feel included by others and that they have value.
When a child does not have positive experiences at this age, then later in life they may lack the sense of being able to trust group experiences. Then, at work or in social structures they may be vulnerable to alienation and a sense of lacking core value. They may miss the experience of mutual connection with the larger community, and may not become full participants.
TO HAVE a healthy S/P child: This is a very important time since kids are now sensing and valuing themselves more and more in relation to their peers. Parents should encourage and support the child to try many things, to explore and join groups. They should give attention and recognition to the child’s efforts more than his performance, as well as for his engagement with and support of others in the groups. Parents can help a child to recognize his fears and develop strategies to deal with them. They can remember that fears and failures often imply that a child is working near his limits and not way below.
A healthy S/P child experiences that his abilities and his performance are realistically valued and that he receives contact for victories and defeats. He can give his best and also accept when he fails or when another is better. He is comfortable doing what is needed by his group, and is able to recognize other peoples’ skills and support them if they need assistance.
He is able to establish a positive sense of himself in a group and feel deeply a part of a group. He gains value by being able to move between doing his best and helping others to be their best, and between leading or going along with and supporting the group and others, as needed.
Physically the healthy child has a straight back, an erect posture, and flexible and fluid movements. She is becoming stronger and more coordinated in her movements. She may repeatedly practice skills that require strength and balance, like dancing, sports, skating, or skateboarding. Her eyes have developed more depth perception and she can gauge speeds and directions better. Her boundaries now relate more to territorial space, e.g., separation from her parents.
If all this does not happen well enough, we get the EARLY and LATE positions.