Development of Social and Emotional Identity

The interview was conducted with an adolescent 18 year-old sophomore at a Alternative Education Program named Phil (fictitious name for confidentiality). Phil was a senior athlete, majored in English and was on the honor roll. The interviewer asked the question, “How would you describe yourself,” Phil sat up straight and stated that he had some problems during his elementary, middle and high school because of his choice of peers some who smoked marijuana. Phil denies any psychiatric illness during this time. Phil relates that at the age of three, he struggled with his parents and siblings over autonomy issues, although his parents were very involved in his academic goals. The first years of school are an important if not critical arena time for social, identity and conflict-management skills. Gibbs, J.T., (1987)
Phil stated as hockey practice began, he had a falling out with his teammates due to a girl he was dating which was a peer’s ex-girlfriend. Phil relates that he realized social acceptance from his peers to be very important at this time. Phil stated ‘feeling intense negative feelings from his teammates had leaded him to withdrawal”. Phil states that being an unpopular student made him react in ways that are inappropriate to the situation; he tried to join others by calling attention to himself, talking about other students, inserting his own opinions and feelings and asking informational questions just to fit in with people. In Phil’s sophomore year, he realized that he had to make accurate judgments about the social competence of his peers.
When asked the question “How important is popularity at school?” Phil stated that popularity is a measure of a student’s social standing with peers. Studies that include observation of elementary, middle and high school student in the classroom and in the playground show that popular students have specific positive qualities that appeal to peers (and to their teachers, too) Gibbs, J.T., (1987). Phil also stated, “The students are people who value other people and know their own value to other people. Students are sought out as friends, and actively seek others out for friendship” (Phil, 2010)

Phil, he states that social status can change at the drop of a baseball cap, such as the popular students are well liked by many children ( and adults), disliked by few, and they have emotionally close, long-lasting one-to-one friendships with peers. These students make friends easily and well, and they keep them. Their friendships are intimate and satisfying. Phil mentioned that he realized what he had been through and the sad truth is, once a student in elementary, middle and high school is rejected, because of their social status seems to be more a matter of default than the product of a specific behavior style. He goes on to say, “if one thing has become clear it is that social emotional and identity status becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.” (Phil, 2010)
For most teenagers, adolescence is a time of fast growth physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. This period is mark by developing a sense of identity, self-esteem, and relationships with peers (Reference here). Although teens may experience new encounters and abilities during this period, it also can be painful as they try to make sense of the world and their place in it.
Phil went on to say that in some students, the hyperawareness of social performance can bring on social anxiety and insecurity and shyness symptoms, as well a new image of themselves as shy and eager around others. In addition to Phil’s statement, he replied that the emphasis on emotional control of middle and high school students’ gives way to mature social problem solving in which emotion and social reasoning become integrated. Increasing maturity also brings the ability to make finer distinctions in the social behavior and acceptability of their peers (Phil, 2010).
As the interview culminates, Phil mentions that even if victimized elementary, middle and high school students change the way they are with peers, they will not become popular overnight. It takes time to change negative reputation among peers. Phil states that increasing the social opportunities of all students, and those who have been victimized would help individual outcomes. Troubled children and students need to experience positive social interactions that can benefit many aspects of their lives (Phil, 2010).

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