George Herbert Mead Theory of Toddler's Self-Development

According to George Herbert Mead, the development of the self depends on one’s communication with others in his social circle. Self-development commences from childhood when a toddler begins learning his first language. As the child expresses his/her feelings to the people around, he/she develops a sense of self and belonging.

Mead believed that self-development occurs in the following stages:

  • Imitation stage
  • Play stage
  • Game stage
  • Generalised Other stage

The imitation stage occurs when a child is under three years of age. At this age he is very receptive to human expressions and reactions. He observes everyone around him and tries to mimic them in whatever form possible. He may laugh like someone, mimic animal sounds around him or try to walk or behave like those around him. He does not have any awareness of self and his journey in the development process starts by imitating expressions or actions according to his own capacity. For Example, a child under three years of age starts responding to his mother and fathers smile, making funny sounds they make or mimic their laughter.

In the play stage, i.e. over 3 years, a child will start ‘pretend play’, i.e. he starts assuming different roles he observes around him. For example, a child over 3 years will try to play the role of his father or mother or doctor and imitate some of the chores they do like cooking, dusting or moving a lawn or treating patients. This stage sows the seeds of socialization where he assumes the role and interacts with the world.

In the Game stage, a child over 7 years, learns to play more formal games and follow their rules too. He is more organised and perceptive to both his own self and others perspectives in the game. For example, kids this age can differentiate between the do’s and don’ts in a game of cricket.

In the generalised other stage, the child now starts considering others perspectives and behaves the way the community at large expects of him. In this stage of the development process, he can not only assume the roles he desires but also consider others perspective in the society he lives in. Consider an example, of a child selected to be the captain of a soccer team. The child assumes that role and accepts all the responsibilities that the society expects of a team captain. This is the last stage of the development process. 

According  to Mead's thoughts toddler's self-development begin with expressing own thoughts and feelings in the most common way for him. Moreover, Mead had distributed the process of self-development in 4 stage. They can clearly explain what is going on in Toddler's life and what his parents should  expect to be faced with. 

29 April 2022
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