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middle childhood

the period between early childhood and early adolescence, approximately from age 7 to 11.


in an adult, having a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more. In a child, being above the 85th percentile.


in an adult, having a BMI of 30 or more. In a child, being above the 95th percentile

FTO gene

a particular allele inherited from both parents that make a child much more susceptible to obesity.


a chronic disease of the respiratory system in which inflammation narrows the airways from the lungs to the nose and mouth, causing difficulty in breathing. Signs and symptoms incldue wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.

reaction time

the time it takes to respond to a stimulus, either physically (with reflexive movement such as an eye blink) or cognitively (with thought).

selective attention

the ability to concentrate on some stimuli while ignoring others.


a process in which repetition of a sequence of thoughts and actions makes the sequence routine, so that it no longer requres conscious thought.


the potential to master a particular skill or learn a particular body of knowledge.

IQ tests

tests designed to measure intellectual aptitude, or ability to learn in school. Originally, intelligence was defined as mental age divided by chronological age, times 100- hence the term Intelligence Quotient or IQ.

achievement tests

measures of mastery or proficiency in reading, math, writing, science, or any other subject.

Flynn effect

the rise in average IQ scores that has occurred over the decades in many nations.

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for children WISC

an IQ test designed for school age children. The test assesses potential in many areas, including vocabulary, general knowledge, memory, and spatial comprehension.

mental retardation

literally slow, or late thinking. In practice, people are considered mentally retarded if they score below 70 on an IQ test and if they are markedly behind their peers in adaptation to daily life.

children with special needs

childre who, because of a physical or mental disability, require extra help in order to learn.

developmental psychopathology

the field that uses insights into typical development to study and treat developmental disorders and vice versa.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR

the American Psychiatric Association's guide to the diagnosis (not treatment) of mental disorders.


fourth edition text revision

attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder ADHD

a condition in which a person not only has great difficulty concentrating for more than a few moments but also is inattentive, impulsive, and overactive.


the presence of two or more unrelated disease conditions at the same time in the same person.

learning disability

a marked delay in a particular area of learning that is not caused by an apparent physical disability, by mental retardation, or by an unusually stressful home environment.


unusual difficulty with reading; though to be the result of some neurological underdevelopment.


a developmental disorder marked by an inability to relate to other people normally, extreme self-absorption, and an inability to acquire normal speech.

autisitic spectrum disorder

any of several disorders characterzied by inadequate social skills, impaired communication, and abnormal play

asperger syndrome

A specific type of autistic spectrum disorder characterized by extreme attention to details and deficient social understanding.

individual education plan IEP

a document that specifies educational goals and plans for a child with special needs.

least restrictive environment LRE

a legal requirement that children with special needs be assigned to the most general educational context in which they can be expected to learn.

resource room

a room in which trained teachers help children with special needs, using specialized curricula and equipment


an approach to educating children with special needs in which they are included in regular classrooms, with "appropriate aids and services", as required by law

concrete operational thought

Piaget's term for the ability to reason logically about direct experiences and perceptions.


the logical principle that things can be organized into groups (or categories or classes) according to some characteristic they have in common


our sense of self; according to Erikson, the adolescent's task is to solidify a sense of self by testing and integrating various roles.


The logical principle that certain characteristics of an object remain the same even if other characteristics change.


A child's ability to reverse operations and therefore recognize that the qualities of an object remain the same despite changes in appearance. Occurs in Piaget's Concrete Operational Stage of Cognitive Development (e.g., 1+2=3 to 3-2=1).


the logical principle that a thing that has been changed can sometimes be returned to its original state by reversing the process by which it was changed.

information-processing theory

the view of cognition as comparable to the functioning of a computer and as best understood by analyzing each aspect of that functioning-sensory data input, connections, stored memories, and output.

sensory memory

The first of three memory stages, preserving brief sensory impressions of stimuli

sensory memory

The component of the information-processing system in which incoming stimulus information is stored for a split second to allow it to be processed. Also called sensory register

working memory

Second stage of short-term memory; in it attention and conscious effort are brought to bear on material.

working memory

the component of the information-processing system in which current conscious mental activity occurs. also called short-term memory

long-term memory

Third stage of memory. The component of the information-processing system in which virtually limitless amounts of information can be stored indefinitely.

knowledge base

a body of knowledge in a particular area that makes it easier to master new information in that area


"Thinking about thinking" or the ability to evaluate a cognitive task to determine how best to accomplish it, and then to monitor and adjust one's performance on that task

English-language learner ELL

A child who is learning English as a second language

total immersion

A strategy in which instruction in all school subjects occurs in the second (majority) language that a child is learning.

bilingual education

a strategy in which school subjects are taught in both the learner's original language and the second (majority) language

ESL English as a second language

An approach to teaching English in which all children who do not speak English are placed together and given an intensive course in basic English so that they can be educated in the same classroom as native English speakers.

no child left behind act

a U.S. law passed by congress in 2001 that was intended to increase accountability in education by requiring standardized tests to measure school achievement. many critics, especially teachers, say the law undercuts learning and fails to take local needs into consideration

National Assessment of Educational Progress

an ongoing and nationally representative measure of U.S. children's achievement in reading, mathematics, and other subjects over time; nicknamed "the nation's report card," NAEP

Reading first

A federal program that was established by the No Child Left Behind Act and that provides states with funding for early reading instruction in public schools, aimed at ensuring that all children learn to read well by the end of third grade.

hidden curriculum

The unofficial, unstated, or implicit rules and priorities that influence the academic curriculum and every other aspect of learning in school.

Trends in math and science study

an international assessment of the math and science skills of fourth- and eighth-graders. different countries' scores are not always comparable because sample selection, test administration, and content validitiy are hard to keep uniform, TIMSS

Progress in international reading literacy study

inaugurated in 2001, a planned five year cycle of international trend studies in the reading ability of fourth- graders. PIRLS

collaborative learning

Learning that takes place when students work in groups to discuss and solve problems together.

phonics approach

teaching reading by first teaching the sounds of each letter and of various letter combinations

social comparison

the tendency to assess one's abilities, achievements, social status, and other attributes by measuring them against those of other people, especially one's peers

culture of children

The particular habits, styles, and values that reflect the set of rules and rituals that characterize children as distinct from adult society.

deviancy training

The process whereby children are taught by their peers to avoid restrictions imposed by adults.


The specifics vary tremendously-stamps, stickers, liquor ads, matchbooks, baseball cards, and many more- but the impulse to collect, organize and trade certain items is characteristic of school age children. For a few years, in south Florida and elsewhere, the coveted collector's item was Yu-Gi-Oh cards.

preconventional moral reasoning

Kohlberg's first level of moral reasoning, emphasizing rewards and punishments.

conventional moral reasoning

Kohlberg's second level of moral reasoning, emphasizing social rules.

postconventional moral reasoning

Kohlberg's third level of moral reasoning, emphasizing moral principles.


rejected by peers because of antagonistic, confrontational behavior


rejected by peers because of timid, withdrawn, and anxious behavior

social cognition

the ability to understand social interactions, including the causes and consequences of human behavior

effortful control

the ability to regulate one's emotions and actions through effort, not simply through natural inclination


Repeated, systematic efforts to inflict harm through physical, verbal, or social attack on a weaker person.


someone who attacks others and who is attacked as well. Also called provocative victims because they do things to elicit bullying, such as taking a bully's pencil

family structure

The legal and genetic relationships (e.g., nuclear, extended, step) among relatives in the same home.

family function

The way a family works to meet the needs of its members. Children need families to provide basic material necessities, encourage learning, develop self-respect, nurture friendship, and foster harmony and stability.

nuclear family

a family that consists of a father, mother, and their biological children under age 18

single-parent family

a family that consists of only one parent and his or her biological children under age 18

extended family

a family of three or more generations living in one household

blended family

a family that consists of two adults and the children of prior relationships of one or both parents and/or the new partnership.


Freud's term fr middle childhood, during which children's emotional drives and psychosocial needs are quiet (latent). Freud thought that sexual conflicts from earlier stages are only temporarily submerged, to burst forth again at puberty.

industry versus inferiority

The fourth of Erikson's eight psychosexual development crises, during which children attempt to master many skills, developing a sense of themselves as either industrious or inferior, competent or incompetent.


The capacity to adapt well to significant adversity and to overcome serious stress.


the time between the first onrush of hormones and full adult physical development. Puberty usually last three to five years. Many more years are required to achieve psychosocial maturity


a girl's first menstrual period signaling that she has begun ovulation. Pregnancy is biologically possible, but ovulation and menstruation are often irregular for years after menarche


a boy's first ejaculation of sperm. Erections can occur as early as infancy, but ejaculation signals sperm production. Spermarche occurs during sleep (in a wet dream) or via direct stimulation


an organic chemical substance that is produced by one body tissue and conveyed via the bloodstream to another to affect some physiological function. Various hormones influence thoughts, urges, emotions, and behavior


A gland in the brain that responds to a signal from the hypothalamus by producing many hormones, including those that regulate growth and control other glands, among them the adrenal and sex glands.

adrenal glands

pair of endocrine glands located just above the kidneys that produce hormones (including stress hormones epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine)

HPA axis

The hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, a route followed by many kinds of hormones to trigger the changes of puberty and to regulate stress, growth, sleep, appetite, sexual excitement, and various other bodily changes


The paired sex glands (ovaries in females, testies in males), produces hormones and gametes.


A sex hormone, considered the chief estrogen. Females produce more estrodiol than males do.


a sex hormone, the best known of the androgens (male hormones); secreted in far greater amounts by males than females.

secular trend

a term that refers to the earlier and greater growth of children due to impoved nutrition and medical care over the last two centuries.

body image

a person's idea of how his or her body looks

growth spurt

the relatively sudden and rapid physical growth that occurs during puberty. Each body part increases in size on a schedule. Weight usually precedes height, and the limbs preced the torso.

primary sex characteristics

the parts of the body that are directly involved in reproduction, including vagina, uteris, ovaries, testies, and penis.

secondary sex characteristics

Physical traits that are not directly involved in reproduction but that indicate sexual maturity, such as a man's beard and a woman's breasts.

sexually transmitted infection

a disease spread by sexual contact, including syphilis, gonorrhea, genital herpes, chlamydia, and HIV. STI

child sexual abuse

Any erotic activity that arouses an adult and excites, shames, or confuses a child, wheather or not the victim protests and whether or not genital contact is is involved

generational forgetting

the idea that each new generation forgets what the previous generation learned about harmful drugs

adolescent egocentrism

A characteristic of adolescent thinking that leads young people (ages 10 to 13) to focus on themselves to the exclusion of others. A young person might believe, for example that his or her thoughts, feeling, and experiences are unique, more wonderful or awful than anyone else's.

invincibility fable

An adolescent's egocentric convinction that he or she cannot be over-come or even harmed by anything that might defeat a normal mortal such as unprotected sex, drug abuse, or highspeed driving

imaginary audience

Elkind's term for adolescents' delusion that they are constantly being observed by others

imaginary audience

The other people who, in an adolescence egocentric belief, are watching and taking note of his or her appearance, ideas, and behavior. This belief makes teens feel very self conscious.

formal operational thought

In Piaget's theory, the fourth and final stage of cognitive development, characterized by more systermatic logic and the ablility to think about abstract ideas

hypothetical thought

reasoning that includes propositions and possibilities that may not reflect reality

deductive reasoning

reasoning from a general statement, premise or principle, through logical steps, to figure out (deduce) specifics. Sometimes called top down thinking

inductive reasoning

reasoning from one or more specific experiences or facts to a general conclusion; may be less cognitively advanced that deduction. sometimes called bottom up thinking

dual-process model

the notion that two networks exist within the human brain, one for emotional and one for analytical processing of stimuli

intuitive thought

thought that arises from an emotion or a hunch, beyond rational explanation. Past experiencesk cultural assumptions, and sudden impulses are the precursors of intuitive thought. also called contextualized or experiential thought

analytic thought

thought that results from analysis, such as systematic ranking of pros and cons, risks and consequences, possibilities and facts. Analytic thought depends on logic and rationality

sunk cost fallacy

Belief that if time or money has already been invested in something, then more time or money should be invested. because of this fallacy, people spend money trying to fix a lemon of a car or sending more troops to fight for a losing cause.

secondary education

Literally the period after primary education (Elementary School) and before tertiary education (University). It usually occurs from about age 12-18, although there is some variation by school and by nation

middle school

School for children for the grades between elementary and high school. Middle school can begin in grade 5 or 6 and usually ends with grade 8

high-stakes test

an evaluation that is critical in determining success or failure. If a single test determines whether a student will graduate or be promoted, that is a hgh-stakes test.


a consistent definition of one's self as a unique individual, in terms of roles, attitudes, beliegs, and aspirations

identity versus diffusion

Erikson's term for the fifth stage of development, in which the person tries to figure out "who am I?" but is confused as to which of many possible roles to adopt

identity achievement

Erikson's term for the attainment of identity, or the point at which a person understands who he or she is as an individual, in accord with past experiences and future plans

identity diffusion

A situation in which an adolescent does not seem to know or care what his or her identity is


Erikson's term for premature identity formation, which occurs when an adolescent adopts parent's or society's roles and values wholesale, without questioning and analysis


a way for adolescents to postpone making identity achievement choices by finding an accepted way to avoid identity achievement. Going to college is the most common example.

gender identity

a person's acceptance of roles and behaviors that society associates with the biological categories of male and female

sexual orientation

a term that refers to whether a person is sexually and romantically attached to others of the same sex, opposite sex, or both sexes


petty peevish arguing usually repeated and ongoing

parental monitoring

parents' ongoing awareness of what their children are doing, where, and with whom


a group of adolescents made up of close friends who are loyal to one another while excluding outsiders


a larger group of adolescents who have something in common but who are not necessarily friends

peer pressure

Encouragement to conform with one's friends or contemporaries in behavior, dress, and attitude; usually considered a negative force, as when adolescent peers encourage one another to defy adult authority.

deviancy training

destructive peer support in which one person shows another how to rebel against authority or social norms.

peer selection

an ongoing, active process whereby adolescents select friends on the basis of shared interests and values.

peer facilitation

the encouragement adolescent peers give one another to partake in activities or behaviors they would not otherwise do alone, whether constructive or destructive


a situation in which two or more unrelated illnesses or disorders occur at the same time

clinical depression

feelings of hopelessness, lethargy, or worthlessness that last two weeks or more.


repeatedly thinking and talking about past experiences; can contribute to depression

suicidal tendencies

thinking about suicide, usually with some serious emotional and intellectual or cognitive overtones.


any potentially lethal action against the self that does not result in death

cluster suicides

several suicides committed by members of a group within a brief period of time


how often a particular behavior or circumstance occurs


how widespread within a population a particular behavior or circumstance is.

life-course-persistent offender

a person whose criminal activity typically begins in early adolescence and continues throughout life, a career criminal

adolescence-limited offender

a person whose criminal activity stops by age 21

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