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Case Study

Gemma Crowell

College of Southern Nevada


Case Study


For my observation, I observed a neighbor's child, Madison. Madison is nine years old,

white, has brown hair, and speaks English only. She is an only child of her parents, an only child

of her mom and the youngest of four children of her dad. Madison and her family came from

Kenosha, Wisconsin. Her older siblings live there, they are all adults that live on their own or

with their own families. She lives in a middle-class neighborhood and attends a high performing

school in the county. Madison's father is a real-estate agent and a reserve active duty member of

the US Army. Her mother stays at home managing her online business selling various items on

eBay. In her home, they have three dogs. Two of the dogs her family owns are older and stays

mostly inside their house, but the younger one is a one-year old Doberman puppy that they take

out for walks.

I have first met Madison last year when she and my daughter went to the same house to

trick or treat and I have found out that they are both classmates. Since then, Madison and my

daughter have been playing together on weekends at my house or have gone to the park to play.

My observations with Madison have been ongoing since that time also. I have only paid a closer

attention to her behaviors when the assignment came up and have only started to ask her a few

questions that is relevant to the assignment. As what I have discovered for her age and is the

same for my daughter, she gives very few answers and most of her answers are short.

In this case study, I will be describing how Madison's development aligns with the

physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and moral development theories of a few psychologists.

I will also describe whether Madison's development is consistent or not with Maslow's Theory of

Growth Motivation and within each level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Lastly, I will be

detailing my recommendations for each section of physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and

moral category for Madison's further development in these areas.


The first developmental milestone, Physical, is the first guideline that I have used in

observing Madison. Madison is very active and has a busy after-school schedule during the

week. She practices soccer twice a week and plays one game on either Saturday or Sunday. She

also attends a gymnastics class once a week and ballet lessons once a week. Children in

Madisons age group are described to tend to be extreme in their physical activities. They have

excellent control of their bodies and develop considerable confidence in their skills (Snowman

& McCown, 2013. P. 53)

When she is at my home, she is usually eating lunch or having snacks with my daughter

at the table, and she has a good appetite. She is open to trying new foods, such as Teriyaki

chicken, and trying on a new juice flavor, such as the Capri-sun Cherry. She tends to "wolf down

her food" and may even try to talk with her mouth full of food, and "belch spontaneously"

(DSHS Fosterparentscope, 1993). As she seems fit and in excellent health, she has an overall

"improved health" and has had a "few short illnesses", such as a cold or cough, or a rare occasion

of flu (DSHS Fosterparentscope, 1993).

Madison's physical development is within Maslow's Theory of Growth Motivation's

physiological needs. She is secure in her basic survival needs of "food, water, and oxygen"

(Snowman & McCown, 2013. P. 252). Madison's parents own a home and have jobs that also

provide stability for Madison's physiological development. My recommendation is for her


parents to be "tolerant of her eating habits and to offer comfort if faced with challenges involving

her after-school activities" (DSHS Fosterparentscope, 1993).


The next developmental milestone is Emotional. The normal characteristics listed in this

milestone and Madison has displayed is about being "cheerful, outgoing, curious, and helpful"

while also being "bossy, demanding, giggly and silly" (DSHS Fosterparentscope, 1993).

Madison likes to be in charge and display leadership abilities. She may get into an argument with

children her age with connection to "requests and instructions", such as who gets to throw the

ball for the catch first, but she tends to agree to a compromise or "will obey eventually", as when

she willingly agreed to play at the water splash pad rather than at the swing set area at the park,

and also sometimes depending on the type of arguments (DSHS Fosterparentscope, 1993).

Madisons character is consistent of a child who think of herself as socially adept not just

because she is popular at school but because she has always been well-liked and gets along well

with adults, as well as peers, in a variety of situations (Snowman & McCown, 2013. p. 57).

Here it shows that Madison can go to a park where she can enjoy childhood activities.

The neighborhood that she lives in offers her the "security and safety" that a child needs in order

to grow healthy emotionally (Snowman & McCown, 2013. P. 252). I recommend her parents to

continue to "encourage her efforts, and to provide small but meaningful rewards for any tasks

that are completed or goals that are accomplished" (DSHS Fosterparentscope, 1993).


The third developmental milestone that I have used as a guideline in observing Madison

is the Intellectual milestone. Madison is very inquisitive, she frequently asks questions, such as

"where did this (Lego) part go or why did this charger not work or why can't I play with my

tablet?" Some abstract ideas can often escape the understanding of an elementary aged child

such as Madison (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 58). However, according to Piaget, children in

the concrete operational stage are often more capable of learning advanced concepts than most

people realize. In her age group, a few of Madisons abilities include asking questions about

objects, conducting simple observations, and constructing and communicating explanations (as

cited in Snowman & McCown, 2013, p. 27).

Madisons questions on the location of Lego parts can be described as creative ability.

According to Sternberg, this type of ability involves inventing, discovering, imagining, and

supposing (as cited in Snowman & McCown, 2013, p. 74). Her questions on why a charger does

not work or why she cant play on her tablet is a concept that according to Vygotsky, children

learn various facts and concepts and rules and they do so as a result of engaging in play or other

activities and by communicating with peers and parents (as cited in Snowman & McCown,

2013, p. 34).

She is confident in herself and "overestimates her own ability", as when she was at the

park and she tried to climb a tree and did not reach the branch that another child at the park was

sitting on. I have not heard her say any "general statements of failure" nor have I heard her ask

questions about "information about pregnancy and birth" (DSHS Fosterparentscope, 1993).

Although Madison has not yet reached the height to easily climb a branch on a tree, her desire to

do so can be described as a bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. According to Gardner, this type of

intelligence is the ability to control ones body movements and handle objects skillfully (as

cited in Snowman & McCown, 2013, p. 75).


Madison's development in this area is related to the Esteem level of Maslow's Hierarchy

of Needs. When a child has a high appreciation of herself, these good feelings can be connected

to a "successful classroom achievement" (Snowman & McCown, 2013, p. 253). I recommend

her parents to "be available when she asks questions and to be patient in answering her questions,

and to continue to provide challenges" (DSHS Fosterparentscope, 1993).


The next developmental milestone, the Social milestone, is what I have used as a

guideline in observing Madison. As she is involved in after-school activities, she is a part of a

group that focuses on teamwork, cooperation, discipline, and decision-making. She practices

soccer twice a week and plays one game on either Saturday or Sunday, attends a gymnastics

class once a week and ballet lessons once a week. Her involvement with these activities help

Madisons self-esteem and sense of industry. According to Eriksons Theory, when children at

this stage are encouraged to make and do things well, helped to persevere, allowed to finish

tasks, and praised for trying, industry results, (Snowman & McCown, 2013, p. 19).

Madison is close to her friends from the same sex, and one of them is my daughter.

According to Snowman and McCown (2013, p. 53), children at Madisons age become

somewhat more selective in their choice of friends and are likely to have a more or less

permanent best friend. Friendships are typically of the same sex. When I took her and my

daughter to the park to play, she also "makes new friends easily" (DSHS Fosterparentscope,

1993). Madison plays well with other children. She was able to take turns at the swing and the

slide, play chase and tag, and can have conversations with them. According to Marcias Identity

Statuses Table, Madisons identity achievement is described as strong, possessing a high self-

esteem and more likely to form close interpersonal relationships, (Snowman & McCown, 2013,

p. 21).

Madison's social development is consistent with the "belongingness and love" level of

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (Snowman & McCown, 2013, p. 252). Madison has a healthy

friendship with my daughter and is securely loved by her parents. My recommendation is for her

parents to continue to "love her and accept her personality, and to be consistent in understanding

her needs and feelings" (DSHS Fosterparentscope, 1993).


In this last developmental milestone that I have used in observing Madison, the guideline

for a normal characteristic is that a child "may experience guilt and shame". There has not been

an occasion where I have observed Madison to be in a situation to feel guilt and shame, and so

this is not what she has displayed in any of my observations of her. According to Piaget, a child

between 7 to 10 years old seem to regard rules as sacred pronouncements handed down by older

children or adults (as cited in Snowman & McCown, 2013, p. 40), and so, may be the reason

that Madison has no cause for feeling shame or guilt because she has not broken any house rules

when she is over for playdates. However, Kohlbergs Theory, labeled children of Madisons age

to be preconventional morality because children do not yet understand the conventions or rules

of society (Snowman & McCown, 2013, p. 41).

Perhaps the lack of a situation when Madison has not shown guilt and shame could be

that of Gilligans views that females care less about separation and independence and more

about remaining loyal to others through expressions of caring, understanding and sharing of

experiences (as cited in Snowman & McCown, 2013, p. 43). Another reason could be found in

Noddings moral attitude, a human desire for goodness (as cited in Snowman & McCown,

2013, p. 44), that the absence of Madison showing guilt and shame was not shown to me during

my observation of her.

The self-actualization level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs "depends on the satisfaction

of the lower needs and belief in certain values" (Snowman & McCown, 2013, p. 41), and as

Madison's needs in the lower levels are fulfilled, she can freely reach her goals and dreams. My

recommendation is for her parents to "focus on Madison as a person and to treat the behavior

separately. Then, work on changing the behavior, as well as encouraging Madison to be self-

forgiving" (DSHS Fosterparentscope, 1993).


Madison's development in the physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and moral areas

are aligned to the theories of several psychologists. She meets the expected development of the

Child Development Guide. She is within the levels described in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

Madison's basic needs are met satisfactorily. She displays adequate behavior and characteristics

of a typical nine year-old child. As long as her current situation remains, she can continue to

meet the expected development of the Child Development Guide and fall within the description

of the theories of several psychologists. She is a member of a stable family unit, she lives in a

safe neighborhood, she goes to a good school, has extra-curricular activities, and enjoys her

friendships. As long as Madison continues to experience the same kind of home, school, and

public environment, she will grow into a well-adjusted and self-assured individual.


DSHS Fosterparentscope Training: Child Development Guide: Eight to Nine Years. (1993).

Washington State Department of Health and Social Services. Retrieved from

Snowman, J., & McCown, R. (2013). Ed Psych. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning

Observation Notes


- is nine years old, white, brown-haired

-has 3 adult sisters

-has 3 dogs, one a Doberman

-dad is a real estate agent and a reserve active duty member of the Army

-mom stays home and manages online business on eBay

-middle class, goes to a good school

Environment and Time Spent

-at my home, observed for 2 hours

-at the park, observed for 1 hour

-questioning at my home, for only 15 minutes each time.


-very active and has a busy after school schedules (soccer 2x a week and game on weekends,

gymnastics and ballet, 1x a week)

-has a very good appetite, accepts new food, wolfs down food, belches spontaneously

-healthy, has few or short illnesses, a cold or cough, or flu seldom to rarely happens


-inquisitive, asks reasons for why things are


(where did this (Lego) part go? why did this charger not work? why can't I play with my tablet?)

-overestimates herself, has good confidence

(tries to climb a higher branch of a tree and could not)

-does not say general statements of failure

-does not ask about pregnancy or birth


-easily makes new friends and enjoys her friendships

- plays soccer, enjoys being part of her soccer group

- attends gymnastic and ballet classes


-cheerful, outgoing, curious, helpful

-bossy, demanding, giggly, silly

-gets in arguments with other children

-likes to be in charge and a leader

-will compromise or obey (agrees to play at the water splash pad rather than at the swing set



-no observed experience of guilt or shame