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PEPSI Screening

PEPSI Screening

Seidy Portillo

College of Southern Nevada

23 April 2018


In this paper I will use the "PEPSI” screening method to evaluate the physical, emotional,

philosophical, social, and intellectual development of my sister Maria. This is to understand the

different dimensions of a child, and how she is compared to children who are her age. The

comparisons will be presented on a graph so that one can visually see where their child stands

with just a quick glance. I will also provide recommendations for her parents on each

developmental area.


This PEPSI screening is on Maria Flores, my nine-year-old sister who is a fourth grader

at El Cortez Elementary School. She lives with her mother and youngest brother and was raised

in Las Vegas, Nevada. Maria has six half siblings, two sisters (including me) and four brothers,

and she is the second to youngest out of all of them. Maria and I have the same mother, but

different fathers. Both of her parents are Hispanic immigrants. Maria spent all of her childhood

in a foster home because her mother was neglectful, and her dad is a felon. She has only met her

biological father once and does not remember much of him. Maria and two of her brothers were

fostered by a family named the Fishers, while the rest of us were taken into custody by our

biological father. Although our family is broken, and I was not raised with her, we are still close

to one another. Only recently have we begun seeing each other more often, because last month

she moved back in with our biological mom for the first time ever. Maria and her biological

mother have a distant relationship. Her mother battled with drug abuse for about fifteen years, so

she missed out on a lot of Marias childhood, but they are slowly trying to connect and build a

better relationship. Maria does not know why she lived with different people growing up, and

she has never really gotten an explanation for it either. She is curious about the world around her,

and has many hobbies. She enjoys bracelet making, drawing, painting, skating, and more. We do

a lot of crafts together; I can tell she looks up to me because she is always taking interests in my

hobbies, and saying she would like to grow up like me. She misses two of her brothers that are

still living with their foster parents, she is barely settling in to the new environment at her mom’s

house. It is worth mentioning she begged her foster parents for almost a year to go and live with

her biological mom. As stated before, Marias mom is an immigrant and does not have a job. She

lives off of the little government assistance that she gets for her two youngest children. Her

mother’s boyfriend also helps her pay the rent, but they are essentially living day by day. Ever

since Maria moved in with her mother, she has been spending a lot of time at my house. In fact,

she spent her entire spring break here.


Maria seems to be exactly where she is so supposed to be at physically. As stated in

chapter 3 of Psychology Applied to Teaching, “In general, there is a decrease in the growth of

fatty tissue and an increase in bone and muscle development…As a result, the typical child will

tend to have a lean and gangly look.” She seems to fit the criteria: 4ft 3in at 60 pounds. Although

she does not think so, she is already developing insecurities. She recently told me she wished she

was as skinny as her friend Kaleigh. I tell her that she is beautiful, and that there’s no need to

worry or compare herself to others. She is not engrossed in any sports, but has developed

mastery over large and small muscles, as she should by this age. She likes skateboarding but is

not confident about it because of gender roles; her mom also tells her that skating is a “boy

thing”. Due to gender role stereotyping, Maria is better at flexibly and balance than sports related

motor skills she also enjoys strolling through the neighborhood, and shopping. Maria has poor

eating habits. I do not think she eats enough vegetables and fruit because she is a picky eater, and

the fact that her mother does not control or monitor what she eats causes her diet to consist

mainly of junk, and grain foods like rice and bread. Luckily, she is not suffering from obesity, as

that becomes an issue for some children in this age group. This is “a period of relative calm and

predictability in physical development” (Snowman 89). Although she is only nine, Maria meets

all of the criteria for an early maturing middle school girl as stated on page 94 in Psychology

Applied to Teaching; the “leggy” fashion model look, likely to have lower self-esteem, and

likely to suffer from eating disorders.


She is curious about the opposite sex but tells me she does not like any one right now,

and that “boys are stupid.” She often asks about my relationship with my boyfriend. She is

interested in when we are hanging out next, where we will be going, what we talk about, etc.

Once, she would not let me leave because she was jealous I was going to paint with him instead

of her. She often complains about her hand hurting at the end of a school day and has calloused

areas on her fingers and wrists. She has not begun puberty yet, and she knows a little bit about it.

I try to talk to her about the changes she will experience, but she gets uncomfortable and changes

the subject. I understand what it is like to be that age, so I never try to force conversation.

Recently she asked me to buy her training bras, which means she is more comfortable with

asking me than anyone else. She is not at all competitive, Maria would rather do things for and

by herself. She is takes pride in being independent, and is aware of her feelings, and the feelings

of others.


Maria is very attentive and responsible. She loves helping me baby sit our brother and

niece. She puts others before herself and often makes sacrifices to please others. For example,

when we are eating, she makes sure the children get their plate served first, then she will allow

everyone else to go; or when someone asks for a favor, she will stop what she is doing for you

with no questions asked. On April 13th, I came home from a long day and she asked if I was

feeling okay. I was taken back by it because at that age I honestly cannot recall caring about

what anyone else was going through or experiencing. I help Maria with her homework.

Unfortunately I’m the only person who can since her mom didn’t pass high school and knows

very little about English grammar and math. She is a very considerate girl, who I rarely see get

angry. She can sometimes be overindulged, but she has her bad days like everyone else. She

rarely has an attitude, which is funny because growing up she was very demanding and sassy.

Maria is currently going through stage four of Erik Erickson’s 8 Psychosocial Stages. She

seems to be developing a sense of industry vs. inferiority in different aspects of her life. For

example, she likes skateboarding, but she is embarrassed to do so since “only boys skate” and

has feelings of interiority. Yet, with things like school she has a sense of industry since she

knows she is clever and has at least one person to aid her. She is surprisingly autonomous for her

age. She appreciates going out to experiencing the small responsibilities of an adult, like giving

the money to the cashier, or helping wash the car. Our mother gives Maria praise when she wins

awards like student of the month, which she often does. She will take pictures of her with her

certificate and buy her snacks or something along the lines of that. I do not think it is excessive. I

warned our mother that excessive praise could have a negative outcome, so she is aware. This is

a critical time for Maria, as she should be developing “a more global, integrated, and complex

self-image” (Snowman & McCown 90). Her self-esteem, self-description, self-concept, and self-

image are all being molded and distinguished. Maria meets many of the criteria for eight and

nine-year-olds in the J’Anne Ellsworth Age Chart. Here are a few that are especially applicable

to her, “tendency to overdramatize failure, appears to be ready for everything but tends to be

easily hurt, and expresses a sense of personal dignity and self-responsibility.” She often

expresses her seemingly trivial worries to me, some of them being what she will wear to school

the next day, or how she’ll face her friends after an argument.


Philosophically I would say she falls under the third stage of the second level of

Lawrence Kohlberg’s Moral Reasoning. She is in the Conventional, Good girl/boy stage, which

states that, “the right action is one that would be carried out by someone whose behavior is likely

to please or impress others.” As I have declared before, she is always doing things that will

please others. I am unsure if it’s because she wants to be liked, or because she genuinely wants to

help people. She is very open minded and knows how to see things from the perspective of

others. She is always comparing herself to others, I find that I am often preaching to her about

self-love. She asks our mom, “Will I be as pretty as you when I grow up?” Once, she told me

while I was curling my bangs, “You’re so pretty like that” while pulling her bangs up to hide her

face. I offered to cut hers like mine and she said, “I would look bad.” I feel horrible knowing she

has low self-esteem. I recently introduced her to one of my favorite books, titled, “Walk Two

Moons.” It is about a girl learning a lesson about walking in another person’s shoes. Once I find

it I plan to give it to her to read because I think it will give her some insight on seeing things

from a different perspective, since it had such a positive impact on me. She is very respectful

around adults, but with other children she begins to act like them instead of herself.

I have not seen her hang out with her school friends, but when she is around our cousins

and siblings (who are her age) she acts like them. She can even be malicious if that is what they

are being like. She is easily influenced by others and I think it is an attempt to impress everyone

she is around. She recently moved to a new school when she moved in with her mom. She tells

me she regrets it and even though she has “made at least twenty new friends”, she would rather

have her old friends back. I pity her, but I know she will develop good friendships at her current

school as well. Sometimes she seems confident and will stand her ground, but other times she

will seem insecure and I don’t know why.



Maria seems more socially adjusted than most 9-year-old girls. Her communication skills are

excellent, she can carry a conversation with strangers and friends of all ages. She is not shy or

awkward, but changes the way she acts depending on who she’s around. Even adults do this, but

it does not seem that she has developed a sense of self, or individuality yet. That is probably why

making friends is easy for her, because she is what people want or expect her to be. The only

reason she has not joined any clubs or activities is because of the extra time and money that

would have to be invested into it. Marias mom is living on a tight budget, but her foster parents

had a financially stable and secure home. Maccoby’s Family Systems might be able to provide

an explanation for some of Marias insecure behaviors. According to Gaziano’s research findings

on The Family System Theory, Marias uncertainties could stem from a lack of loving

relationship between her biological parents. “The Family systems theorists would emphasize

study also of the mother-father relationship, as a critical component in the family system”

Gaziano also states that children with neglectful mothers tend to have low self-esteem, be less

empathetic, and are often in unhealthy peer relationships. Maria meets many of the social

characteristics of a middle school student, as well as all the ones for elementary grades. I do not

know much about her peer groups, but it does seem that she is desperate to gain the attention of

others. Her friendships are extremely selective, she tells me she only talks to girls her age who

like the same music as her, although she still plays with different types of children. Her favorite

thing to play with her younger cousins are hide and seek and freeze tag. One thing that I believe

Maria may suffer from is a loss of voice. She speaks her mind with close friends but follows the

stereotypical timid female role.



There is a vast amount of research on the development of cognitive processes. Some of

the most significant theorists such as Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and Abraham Maslow all have

different aspects that they think determine or guide intellectual development. Maria is currently

in the third stage of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, the concrete operational stage. It is

characterized as inconsistent, yet logical thinking. Although she can understand some abstract

ideas such as freedom, love, and honor. What Piaget does not take into consideration is how

social settings impact learning. Lev Vygotsky stresses social interaction, and states that it is

fundamental for cognitive development. Although his theories are incomplete to due his death,

he made some significant points about how culture, language, environments, and role models all

assist students in obtaining higher mental functions. Maria has grown with western culture and

was essentially raised by an upper middle class white family. She only speaks English and grew

up in a wonderful environment with respectable role models. This may have to do with why she

does so well academically. Her report cards do not have anything less than a B, and she grasps

onto concepts fairly quickly. She is not excelling, but does not need as much assistance as other

students. Another thing that could contribute to her good grades and high self-regulation is the

fact that she is on the third and fourth tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. As reported by Sarah

E. Burleson and Andrew C. Thoron, “Humans are fueled by a desire to achieve goals. Attaining

goals helps humans satisfy specific needs and desires. Needs are categorized into a hierarchy, in

which certain needs must be met before others.” Since Maria has satisfied her lower needs she

should only progress in the loving and belonging and self-esteem tiers. Maria is reflective and

analytical of herself, this assists her learning process, and helps her develop metacognition. Her

mental self-government style can be internal, global, and executive, while her learning style

seems to be visual.


In order to prevent obesity and general unhealthiness, I have recommended her mother to

provide Maria with plenty of fruits and vegetables; limit foods high in solid fats, and monitor

prepare healthier meals. I also suggested that she encourage physical activity, regardless if she

believes it to be strictly for boys. I am considering teaching Maria how to read and follow

serving sizes, but I am unsure, because I developed an eating disorder after I learned how much I

was “supposed” to be eating. I was fourteen when I learned in health class that for years I was

over eating, I began to feel so guilty that I obsessively counted and restricted my calories. I do

not want this to happen to her, but I also do not want her to struggle with obesity. I have

informed her mother that implementing gender biases and stereotypes could have negative

impacts on different aspects of her development, such as social and emotional.

Marias mother also learned that the gender stereotypes she implements could be the

reason for her loss of voice and could lead to lack of: self-confidence, self-efficacy, and self-

esteem. I believe her mother should encourage her to have a positive mindset, and start her day

off with uplifting and inspiring quotes. Encouraging Marias artistic side can lead to her using

healthy stress coping habits in the future. Art can be a stress reliver, I told her to take my word

for it because I can agree and relate that it is a wonderful emotional outlet. Art also puts me in a

zone, where I begin to think about thinking. This can promote Marias philosophical


Independence is already strongly encouraged by our mother, I have told her to also

encourage critical thinking and individuality. I want Maria to know that it is okay to have her

own thoughts and feelings. I always reassure her that she does not have to please everyone, and it

is okay if she can not succeed in making everyone satisfied. Our mother did not like when I

mentioned that her parenting styles could use some adjustments. She claimed that I have no say

in parenting, because I have never had children. I did not get the opportunity to explain to her

that she should not be so permissive.

I suggested that her mother slowly implement more adult like tasks such as paying the

clerk at a store. I think what she is doing is working well, but I also recommended that she pays

attention to how Maria acts around different people. This is to ensure that she does not become a

follower, as that could be dangerous when approaching her teenage years, she may eventually be

easily susceptible to peer pressure.

As I stated before, I informed her mother that too much or not enough praise could lead

to negative effects on all areass of her development. She will continue rewarding Maria for major

accomplishments, and keep verbally praising for good grades. We also agreed that she should not

be made aware of their financial struggles, as it might cause her to worry about the lower tiers in

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This could set her back academically, emotionally, and

physically. Over all my sister Maria is developing above average in most categories, except for

emotional, which I believe is due to her family history and detachment from her biological

mother and father.




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