Psychologists study human development to know more about how humans develop and their personality. Many psychologists have come up with various theories over the years to explain how children grow and learn (Neaum& Neaum, 2016). It is crucial for educators to know these theories because they provide different approaches for dealing with children (Jeyaraj, Lasetso, Jessy, Giri, & Christian Forum for Child Development, 2013). Also, theories help one to develop their values and beliefs regarding learning, and provide a better understanding of the strategies that are essential to children’s development (Jeyaraj, Lasetso, Jessy, Giri, & Christian Forum for Child Development, 2013). Psychologists observed children and the experiences they had with the children and that are how they came up with these theories. This essay examines the theoretical ideas that explain children’s social and emotional development and analyses their differences, strengths, and weaknesses.
Bowlby, a child psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst came up with the attachment theory in an attempt to explain the significance of the relationship between a mother and her child. A child starts bonding with his or her mother when still in the womb (Davidson& Kanopy, 2016). According to this theory, the relationships that a child has with his caregivers play a significant role in the development of the child and the social relationships he’ll have in the future (Davidson& Kanopy, 2016). In the words of Bowlby, an attachment is ‘a lasting psychological connectedness between human beings (Marrone, 2014).’ Bowlby went further to say that an important part of human nature is to develop strong emotional bonds with certain people (Marrone, 2014). He introduced four features of this scenario; proximity maintenance, safe haven, separation distress and secure base (Watson&Teaching Company, 2015). Proximity maintenance is all about the need that a child feels to be physically close to the people he is attached. Safe haven implies that when a child feels scared or threatened, he looks for the persons he feels attached to for comfort and security. Separation distress occurs when the attachment figure in a child’s life is absent. A secure base regards the attachment figure or figures in a child’s life providing the child with a safe base for them to explore their surroundings.
Bowlby observed that a child who knows he or she can count on his or her primary carer tends to be less fearful compared to a child that does not have the same reassurance (Watson&Teaching Company, 2015). Having this kind of confidence enables an infant to have a healthy development throughout their adolescent stage and in their adulthood(Constantino, 2015). A child tends to bond with other family members apart from the mother. Having these stable relationships contribute towards making a child feel secure. That is why it is advisable for a child to have a regular carer whom they can develop an attachment to during their early years. Jean Piaget came up with the theory of how children develop their cognitive abilities. She said that children go through different stages in which their cognitive skills are developed through taking in new information and understanding it(Newman& Newman, 2016). Piaget was of the view that children have the desire to explore and learn their environment right from birth and that is how they develop self-confidence (Newman& Newman, 2016). Piaget agrees with Bowlby that parents play a significant role in a child’s development. Bowlby says that mothers who are active in their children’s lives create a sense of security in the children’s lives from the time they are infants (Constantino, 2015). When an infant knows that he can rely on his caregiver, it gives him a secure base, and he becomes less afraid to explore the world. Piaget too says that caregivers can improve a child’s learning through giving them adequate opportunities to explore the world and also monitoring them to ensure their safety (Watson&Teaching Company, 2015). Bowlby’s theory has a weakness in the sense that it emphasizes the role of the mother and forgets that attachment to the father can also influence a child’s behavior and development(Kagan, 2013).
One of the most important aspects of an infant during the developing stage is being able to function on his own (Lear, 2015). During the early months, a child wholly relies on his mother. Slowly, the child develops the ability to think and to express what he wants. Sigmund Freud described this process as a tripartite psychodynamic one (Lear, 2015). He said that there are three elements associated with this process; the id, the superego, and the ego(Low, 2013). Freud said that the id refers to the primitive and instinctive personality part that humans have, and that reacts to perceived wants and needs (Low, 2013). Everyone has id from the time they are born. An individual develops the superego later on. This refers to the ability to have a moral conscience which enables one to think about other people’s views (Low, 2013). The ego is in charge of control the tension between the id and the superego because they have conflicting perspectives (Low, 2013). These three elements make up an essential part of a person’s personality (Lear, 2015). Both Freud and Piaget agreed that at some point in a child’s development process, he becomes egocentric (Lerner, 2013).
Freud and Piaget both share the view that how people developed and grew up influences their thoughts and actions (Lerner, 2013). According to them, if one is to understand the behaviors of an adult, they need to know how they developed. Second, Freud’s and Piaget’s theories argue that children decide how they want to grow up. Although other people play a significant role in a child’s life, the child makes their own decisions and choose how to act. Freud’s theory talks about the sexual development of children in their early years while Piaget says that the development a child goes through in that stage is connected to the method and process of learning (Lerner, 2013). Freud’s theory has had more influence on thinking and western culture regarding the process of social and personality development compared to other psychological theories.
Erick Erikson is a psychologist who came up with a theory to explain the social-emotional development of human beings. Erickson was of the opinion that the development of human beings takes place throughout their lives (Engler, 2014). His vast experience in psychotherapy and his extensive interaction with children and adolescents enabled him to come up with this theory. Erikson said that there are eight phases of the socialization process; hope, will, purpose, competence, fidelity, love, care, and wisdom (Engler, 2014). The first stage (hope) occurs from birth until a child reaches one or two years. It is where a child learns necessary trust and the basic optimism (Lerner, 2013). The ‘will’ stage involves a child learning autonomy rather than shame (Lerner, 2013). The purpose stage is the play stage of a child from 3 1/2 years (Green, & Piel, 2016). The competence crisis happens at the school age and can extend to junior high school (Green, & Piel, 2016). Adolescents go through the fidelity stage where they know who they are (Cervone, & Pervin, 2017). Young adults get to the love stage because they can experience real intimacy which can lead to a good relationship or marriage. The care stage occurs in adulthood where many people are dealing with marriage and parenthood. The wisdom stage is where a mature adult has developed maximum adjustment and integrity (Cervone, & Pervin, 2017). He has trust in himself, works hard, has defined his role in life, and is independent. These stages are connected, and a crisis or social conflict takes place during each stage(Ashcraft,2015). These crises require personal and social solutions (Ashcraft,2015). A child needs to satisfactorily complete one stage before moving on to the next step.
According to Erickson, a child’s social environment determines his personality and his social interaction skills (Newman & Newman, 2016). Erickson’s theory is relevant because it has given humans a new perspective on how people form a healthy character. This theory emphasizes the emotional and social aspects of human growth (Newman & Newman, 2016). Erickson added that maturity and social forces are essential to resolving these conflicts or crisis. Bowlby and Erickson believe that teachers, parents, neighbors, and friends can give children the social opportunity and support they need to resolve each crisis and to help in their future development.
Language acquisition is the first language a child acquires, and this is usually the native language (Slobin, Isaac, Ed, 2017). Several theories have been suggested to help explain how children develop the ability to understand and speak a particular language (Slobin, Isaac, Ed, 2017). Examples of these theories include Genie’s Theory and Noam Chomsky’s Cognitive Theory. Language is important in the development stages of a child. Acquisition of language depends on the child’s cognitive and motor skills. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EFYS) has standards for learning care and development of a child from birth to five years old. The prime areas for learning according to EFYS depend on the physical development, language, communication, social and emotional development. The key areas of learning can also depend on the genes of a child and these include activities, experiences and their environment.According to Rymer’s novel, Genie is suspected of mental illness for the first 10 years and her father because of these complications neglected her. Genie’s father kept them and her mother in protective custody as virtual prisoners to his gross nurturing environment. Genie grew up neglected and isolated resulting to certain concerns over her cognitive and motor development. This case is an important example for psychological theories that concern learning and acquisition of language.
The fundamental role of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is primarily to set standards that all childcare providers have to adhere to ensure that their kids learn, develop and are kept safe and healthy. It mainly incorporates the required standard of care for a child between times of birth up to five years. It stipulates the legal requirements that childcare providers need to provide as; providing personal, social, and emotional development, physical development and communication and language.
There is a great relationship between Genie’s case in her language acquisition and the standards set in EYFS. Genie language acquisition was so poor because of the hostile environment that her father had set for her. The EYFS relates to the case of Genie in the sense that Genie’s father violated the terms set and therefore can be held responsible for the poor language acquisition that Genie had. The EYFS requires that the child providers, like Genie’s father, should support their children through challenging, planned, enjoyable and playful opportunities and experiences. It is through the above mentioned factors that a child can have an effective language acquisition process. This therefore explains the reason why Genie did not effectively acquire language. On the other hand, Chomsky is well known transformational, nativist and contributor to the study of language. Chomsky’s theory states that language is an innate trait. Language is based on abstract ideas that are supported by data or scientific experiments. In this case, if a child is not given the opportunity to acquire and learn language from other people, then the child might present with language difficulties. According to Chomsky, socially isolated children do not portrays themselves often. The concept of language requires progressive neural structure and environmental interactions.
According to Chomsky, language has a uniform way of developing(Chomsky, 2014). Chomsky believed that one’s brain is ready to absorb language from the moment they are born and being exposed to speech activates that ability in a person (Chomsky, 2014). Noam Chomsky stated that there is a crucial period in which language learning needs to take place(Berwick & Chomsky, 2017). According to him, there is a period in which it is easy for the human mind to learn a language and before this period or after it, learning a language does not come naturally (Bickerton, 2014). Chomsky’s theory has some limitations. He paid more emphasis on grammar, and therefore a lot of his work has complicated explanations regarding grammar rules(Chomsky, 2014). Chomsky did not interact with real children to come up with his theories. His work was theoretical. Chomsky’s theory focuses on children’s exposure to language, and it fails to account for the interaction that children have with their careers (Chomsky, 2014). In addition, it does not take into consideration why children may be interested in the functions of language.
Jean Piaget’s cognitive theory postulates that there are numerous cognitive behaviors and language is one of them and that it comes in during cognitive development when one is learning how to think and solve problems(Kohnstamm, 2017). Piaget argues that a child has to learn a concept and then develop the specific language form, which explains the idea learned(Feeney, Moravcik, & Nolte, 2013). Piaget says that children think differently during the various stages of development(Feeney, Moravcik, & Nolte, 2013). This way of thinking has made educators emphasize on how children learn about what they know rather than what the children know.
Daniel Goleman’s idea of emotional intelligence involves various competencies and skills that are essential to leadership performance (Goleman, Boyatzis& McKee, 2013). Emotional intelligence is made up of five segments; self-awareness, self-regulation, social competence, empathy, and motivation (Mittal& Sindhu, 2012). Golman argues that one is not born with emotional competencies (Wilding, 2017). Instead, an individual learns it and works on it to develop an excellent performance with time (Wilding, 2017). Some critics refer to Goleman’s version of emotional intelligence as ‘pop psychology.’
We can do it today.
There are myriad benefits accrued from the EYFS programs. The program can benefit children in developing social skills and their ability to learn. Since the program encourages children to have fun, make friends and start to learn about the world around them, it is integral in ensuring that children grow holistically.
In conclusion, this essay explains the theories of development and discusses what makes children learn and grow. Therefore, it provides a way of modifying and improving children behavior for the better. These theories explain why biology and experiences play a significant role in shaping outcomes regarding child development. Although some opinions present great arguments, they have limitations. For example, Noam Chomsky based his theory on his understanding of language and not on actual interaction with children. Teachers rely on theories of development to teach their students. Therefore, these theories have shaped the way educators teach children. For example, Piaget’s theory has made teachers’ pay more attention to the process that children use to learn as opposed to merely finding out what children know. I would recommend for parents and teachers to understand the circumstances that may promote or compromise development in children and young adults. They can use the information to provide more supportive environments for the children they are molding. When this is done, it is in no doubt that the children social and emotional development is fully supported and the child providers are aware of what is required from them.
- Ashcraft, D. M. (2015). Personality theories workbook.
- Berwick, R. C., & Chomsky, N. (2017). Why only us: Language and evolution. Cambridge (Massachusetts: MIT Press.
- Bickerton, D. (2014). More than nature needs: Language, mind, and evolution.
- Cervone, D., & Pervin, L. A. (2017). Personality: Theory and research.
- Chomsky, Noam.(2014). Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.Vol. 11.MIT press.
- Chomsky, N. (2014). Language and mind with Noam Chomsky.
- Constantino, A. (2015). Attachment theory.
- Davidson, F., & Kanopy (Firm). (2016). John Bowlby: Attachment Theory Across Generations.
- Engler, Barbara. (2014). Personality theories. Belmont: Wadsworth. Glöckler, M., & Goebel, W. (2013). A Guide to Child Health: A Holistic Approach to Raising Healthy Children. New York: Floris Books.
- Feeney, S., Moravcik, E., & Nolte, S. (2013). Who am I in the lives of children?: An introduction to early childhood education. Boston: Pearson.
- Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. (2013). Primal leadership: Unleashing the power of emotional intelligence. Harvard Business Press.
- Green, M., & Piel, J. A. (2016). Theories of human development: A comparative approach. London: Routledge.
- Jeyaraj, J. B., Lasetso, R., Jessy, J., Giri, E., & Christian Forum for Child Development.(2013). Holistic child development. Bangalore: Jointly published by Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and Christian Forum for Child Development.
- Kagan, J. (2013). The human spark: The science of human development.
- Kohnstamm, G. A. (2017). Jean Piaget: Children and the Inclusion Problem.
- Lerner, R. M. (2013). Concepts and theories of human development. New York, NY: Routledge.
- Lear, J. (2015). Freud. London [u.a.: Routledge.
- Low, B. (2013). Psycho-Analysis (RLE: A Brief Account of the Freudian Theory. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
- Marrone, M. (2014). Attachment and interaction: From Bowlby to current clinical theory and practice.
- Mittal, E. V., & Sindhu, E. (2012).Emotional intelligence and leadership. Global Journal of Management and Business Research, 12(16).
- Neaum, S., & Neaum, S. (2016). Child development for early years students and practitioners.
- Newman, B. M., & Newman, P. R. (2016). Theories of human development.
- Slobin, Dan Isaac, ed. (2017). The Crosslinguistic Study of Language Acquisition: Volume 1: the Data. Psychology Press.
- Watson, M. W., & Teaching Company.(2015). Theories of human development. Chantilly, Va.: Teaching Company.
- Wilding, C. (2017). Emotional Intelligence. London: Hodder & Stoughton.