Child Observation Assignment

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Practice being a psychologist!

Select a child or two to observe. Child should be between the ages of 2-8 years old.

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***If you do not have access to a child that you can observe (family or friends, etc) pls contact me and I’m happy to make suggestions or refer you to the childcare center at DeAnza School.

Observe his or her behavior for at least half an hour. TAKE NOTES!
It has been my experience that you learn more from this exercise if you have a particular topic in mind before you begin. Some possibilities that come to mind are:

  • How do children resolve conflict?
  • What methods do children use to attract adult attention?
  • What rules (if any) do young children play by, and how are these enforced?
  • How do the social interactions of popular children differ from unpopular ones?

Please do NOT feel you have to choose one of the topics above, pick any area that is of interest to you.
Some people have a hard time picking a topic and prefer to go observe first and select a topic that strikes them as interesting. For example, you may see one child throw a ferocious temper tantrum and decide to focus on how the other children react or deal with frustration. As I said, I would pick a topic first, but you don’t have to be like me and it doesn’t win you any extra points if you do!


  • Babysitting during an observation
  • Playing with the child: you are there to observe him/her
  • Reporting on a past experience with the child
  • Setting up a time when the child naps or sleeps

DO NOT PUT THE CHILD’S NAME IN YOUR NOTES ANYWHERE! One of the most important ethical values a psychologist must have is trustworthiness. CONFIDENTIALITY is crucial to being a good psychologist and it is never too early to learn. Whatever you observe, whatever you learn about a person, no matter what their age, should be kept in strict confidence and only shared with people who have a need to know. Make up a name for the child, use “Child A” or simply a blank.

Assignment must include:

  • Title page
  • Background information such as:
  • Age(s) or child or children
  • Gender
  • Topic — if you have one
  • Location where behavior was observed
  • Description of behavior you observed
  • Observations – Use headings and/or bold print the following:
  • Select five behaviors the child exhibited. Do not simply list them, the behaviors/concepts should be described in paragraph format. Describe the behavior. Identify the concept from class the behavior illustrated **Please bold the concept from the text within the body of your paper. Explain why this behavior illustrates the concept.
  • Your conclusion — It is perfectly okay to say “This study was a complete failure and I did not learn anything about my topic, but I DID learn —-” Research turns out that way more often than people think. Include speculations, interpretations, and general comments. Include your own personal reflections about/during this observation. I will keep your comments confidential.

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