Case Study Analysis “Brian`s Pink Sneaker Freak-Out”

CaseStudy Analysis: “Brian’s Pink Sneaker Freak-Out”

CaseStudy Analysis: “Brian’s Pink Sneaker Freak-Out”

Ina shopping trip with his mother, Brian went out of his mind after hissister tried to persuade him to choose pink sneakers like hers. Hisresponse demonstrated his preference to walk in barefoot than wearpink shoes. Their mother interceded and assured Brian that his sisterwas just doing a prankish act. He preferred wearing black cowboyboots that resembled those of his father, and his sister`s preferencewas on pink sneakers.

Brian’sExperience during the Shopping Trip

Theabove case study demonstrates the interaction between emotionaldevelopment and gender schemas in early childhood. During thisshopping trip, Brian was experiencing the unregulated expression ofanger that was influenced by gender Schema. Emotional regulationoccurs when individual controls expressions of his or her emotions.Emotional regulation is affected by various aspects such as time andtemperament. According to Berger, (2011, p. 312, Para 1), the earlychildhood developmental stage forms a critical period for emotionalregulation to develop. Failure to develop emotional regulation skillscan lead to future psychosocial challenges. At age five, Brian is inthe process of learning how to control some expressions of hisemotions although he might not be perfect at it. His reaction (anger)towards his sister could have been explosive (physical), but he wasable to modify it by expressing his preferred shoes although in aharsh gendered way.

TheReason behind Brian’s Extreme Reaction

Ericksonobserved that at this stage, not only do children gain a broad rangeof competencies and skills, but also develop the emotionalregulation. He referred this stage as Initiative versus guilt. Bergersuggests that initiative and guilt is dependent on the aftermath of achild’s projects, abilities, and reactions of other people (2011,p.312, Para 5). The suggestion of Brian`s sister might have triggeredhis reaction of him feeling guilty about his choice of shoes becausehe has been conditioned to believe that pink is a color for girls.Stephanie (2014) defines this mental process as a gender schemawhereby the brain activates knowledge structures of thoughtsassociated with male or female. Moreover, she uses the gender schematheory to explain how children develop the meaning of being male orfemale. She states that through observation, children create mentalconstructs that define the aspect of being male and female in thesociety (Stephanie, 2014). For example, Brian observed that hisfather was fond of black tomboy boots, which he associated with beingmale. The society taught him to envision pink as a feminine color.

Stephanie(2014) observed that children have a tendency of picking upgender-typed behaviors or preferences from their parents, thesociety, and from the media at an early age, and organize theseencounters into gender schemas. The gender schemas help them tointerpret the occurrences of the world. The moment the preschoolerslike Brian realize their sex, they begin to sort out gender schemasthat are compatible with it and apply them to self.

Brian’sextreme reaction towards his sister might also have been triggered byhis belief that his choices were the best than those of his sister,which Berger (2011, p. 313, Para 2) terms as self-concept. Size andgender have an influence on the self-concept of American children,with girls being happy to be girls, and boys being happy to be boys(Berger, 2011, p. 313, Para 3). For example, with pink sneakers,Brian’s sister would be happy, with black tomboy boots, Brian wouldbe happy.

Thisscenario demonstrates both the development of emotional regulationand formation of gender schemas in preschoolers. At the age 3 to 5years, children learn how to express their emotions in a controlledmanner, failure to which can lead to future psychosocial problems.When growing up, children also master different societal associationsthat define men and women, and through these mental images, theystart to identify with things and people that match with their genderlabels.


Berger,K. S. (2011). Early childhood psychosocial development. In TheDeveloping Person Through the Life Span (pp.311-321). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Stephanie,S. (2014, Feb 8). A generaloverview of gender schema theory.[Video File]. Retrieved from