This post will look at a theory on development that is not often covered in teacher preparation courses. The theory we will look at is called Interpersonal Maturity levels and was developed in 1957 by Sullivan, Grant, and Grant in 1957. This continuum of maturity was developed primarily to explain delinquency. We will look at this theory within the context of delinquency and extend its use to the classroom.
Defining Interpersonal MAturity LEvels
- Level 1-A persons can discriminate between themselves and someone else
- Level 2-A person separates between persons and objects
- Level 3-Begin to learn rules and move within an environment
- Level 4-Begin to see things from another person’s perspective
- Level 5-Begins to notice patterns in behavior and roles in a society
- Level 6-Learn the difference between who they are and the function(s) they play
- Level 7-Learns and implements various methods for dealing with the world
Levels 1-3 are often related to babies and small children and don’t apply to delinquents. Delinquents are often found to be somewhere between levels 2 through 4. Level 4 is especially telling because it indicates a lack of empathy for others. Another important point is that youths who commit crimes are unsurprisingly not fully developed regarding their understanding of interpersonal relationships. They do not see how their actions are detrimental to other people.
Teachers may encounter these various levels of interpersonal maturity as well. Students who only care about themselves and their own pleasure are probably at lower levels of interpersonal maturity. Students struggling with their various societal roles and overcoming these challenges are probably at a higher level. Teachers need to be able to support students at different levels of interpersonal maturity to the benefit of the student and other students in the classroom.
Lower-level students will need to develop an awareness of the perspective of others. This could be achieved by asking them questions about how others perceive their actions. In addition, asking them reflective questions about their impulsive actions could help them become more mindful of the people around them.
Students who are more mature in terms of interpersonal relations need more help finding practical answer’s to life’s problems. Perhaps for them, modeling could be a good tool. Given that teachers are usually older and have more experience than their students, the teacher can offer life advice and share with the students how they faced similar life challenges at their age.
No theory explains everything about a phenomenon. INterpersonal maturity plays a role in delinquent behavior. The ideas presented here help people to understand why young people choose to disobey. Since teachers deal with delinquent young people, it is possible that this theory’s ideas can help them understand we kids disobey in the classroom.