The juvenile era begms with the appearance of the need for peers or playmates of equal status and ends when one finds a single chum to satisfy the need for mthnacy. In the United States, the juvenile stage is roughly parallel to the first 3 years of school, beginning around ages 5 or 6 and ending at about age 8V2. (It is interesting that Sullivan was so specific with the age at which this period ends and the preado-lescent stage begms. Remember that Sullivan was 8V2 when he began an intimate relationship with a 13-year-old boy from a nearby farm.)
During the juvenile stage, Sullivan believed, a child should learn to compete, compromise, and cooperate. The degree of competition found among children of this
Chapter 8 Sullivan: Interpersonal Theory 227
age varies with the culture, but Sullivan believed that people in the United States have generally overemphasized competition. Many children believe that they must be competitive to be successful. Compromise, too, can be overdone. A 7-year-old child who learns to continually give in to others is handicapped in the socialization process, and this yielding trait may continue to characterize the person in later life. Cooperation includes all those processes necessary to get along with others. The juvenile-age child must learn to cooperate with others hi the real world of interpersonal relationships. Cooperation is a critical step in becoming socialized and is the most important task confronting children during this stage of development.
Dining the juvenile era, children associate with other children who are of equal standing. One-to-one relationships are rare, but if they exist, they are more likely to be based on convenience than on genuine hithnacy. Boys and girls play with one another with little regard for the gender of the other person. Although permanent dyadic (two-person) relationships are still hi the future, children of this age are beginning to make discriminations among themselves and to distinguish among adults. They see one teacher as kinder than another, one parent as more indulgent. The real world is coming more hito focus, allowing them to operate increasingly on the syn-taxic level.
By the end of the juvenile stage, a child should have developed an orientation toward living that makes it easier to consistently handle anxiety, satisfy zonal and tenderness needs, and set goals based on memory and foresight. This orientation toward living readies a person for the deeper interpersonal relationships to follow (Sullivan, 1953b).
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