1. jmh105
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    jmh105 Member

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    Questions on Child Psychology

    Discussion in 'Research' started by jmh105, Dec 8, 2015.

    Hello, everyone,

    I wrote a short story for school in which my character is a transgender kid around 7 years old. He decides to go off on his own to return a dress his mother had bought for him.

    I am worried that the dialogue/his perspective on shopping and especially gender are not fitting of a kid his age. Is it also strange for a kid to be going out on his own at that age in general, even if the store and his house are in close proximity?
     
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  2. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It would be strange for a 7 year-old (e.g. 1st grader in US) to be going to a store on his own. Depending on the family, I could see it being more likely if he was accompanied by an older sibling or cousin that was at least middle school-aged.

    Gender roles/norms/stereotypes are the most rigid around the ages of 4-6, and kids of this age are very aware of them (even if they don't describe them as an adult would). Kids of this age tend to play with other kids of the same gender due to social pressure and different styles of play, so this may present difficulties for him and cause him to become socially rejected.

    IMO the dialogue feels off. Kids' dialogue is hard to create, though, and the best thing for that is to actually be around kids of that age and listen to how they speak. If you can't do that, I'd recommend watching/reading other movies/TV shows/books that have children in them. I'd focus more on the way that children think at that age rather than the exact vocabulary and syntax.
     
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  3. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'd never let my 7 year old go to the store unaccompanied, heck no. And if one did, I'd imagine that someone in the store would be calling Child Protective Services. Lol. My son also doesn't really fully comprehend gender norms yet. Now, I've gone out of my way to create an environment that's not super gender specific, so that might be unique to him. But he's just started saying things like, "such-and-such is for boys," and he's been in school for two years. So it kinda depends on the kid and their environment/what their parents model for them.
     
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  4. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's a good point on the gender norms. Some of the textbooks I've read are 10ish years old, and that may have changed some in recent years due to an increased focus on gender identities. I would think it's still somewhat unusual to just be starting that phase, but probably not as unusual.
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    When is the story set? Years ago it might be more likely than now. My parents would go out of town for a day or two when I was 11 or so, and you don't see that much anymore. When I was 14 I'd take the Bronco and drive to the local store and buy beer and cigarettes for my dad, which you definitely wouldn't see today.

    A 7 year old going to the store? In decades past, in certain parts of the country, I could see it. In a small, rural community I can see it happening today (where I lived in rural Missouri, little kids walked to get ice cream or something by themselves from time to time). In a larger city in the U.S., I doubt it.
     
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  6. jmh105
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    jmh105 Member

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    That would undoubtedly happen if I let things go as they are, now. :rofl:

    My story takes place in a big city ~10 or so years ago. With the location in mind, especially, I can see the concern! In that case, dragging an older peer around with him would sound more probable. However, what kind of person would my character enlist--if he can bring himself to do so? Based on my characterization of him, he would be pretty anxious explaining (at that moment in time) to a relative or friend just why he was trying to return the dress. Even so, he might be just as anxious to go alone, too! It seems like he's sandwiched between these two probabilities. What would you guys suggest he would do in regards to getting someone to go with him?

    That's an excellent suggestion! My best bet, then, is to read/watch other materials that incorporate how children think and speak. But wouldn't how a child thinks translate into how they speak/what they say? Does the exact vocabulary matter?

    Also a great point, especially with the environment. It definitely makes sense, and based on what I (think) I have/can develop on his parents/household, I can work with that!


    Thanks, everyone! :-D
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm a little befuddled by your story. The child seems to be unaware that he is regarded as a girl. Surely he'd be aware of that? Yes, he rebels against it and rejects it, but the idea that he's actually puzzled by it strikes me as, well, puzzling.
     
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  8. jmh105
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    jmh105 Member

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    I think what I was going for was that while he's aware that he is dressed like a girl, he is unaware that they actually see him as one, too. I agree; I am confused, as well, haha. I'm glad you brought this up to me!

    Would it work just as well (if not better) if I had him aware of all that, but just a bit hesistant to tell people (such as his mother) off, for example?
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It would make a lot more sense to me, yes.
     
  10. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Vocabulary matters, but I think getting an understanding of the content of their thoughts leads more naturally to understanding how they would communicate with their vocabulary/syntax as opposed to vice versa. And if I had to pick between mediocre (in terms of realism) vocab/syntax with good content versus good vocab/syntax with mediocre content, I'd pick the former.
     

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