Child Hood Development Have you ever wondered how a baby grows into a child then into an adult? I never really thought about it myself until I had a child of my own. It is amazing to see all the psychological stage she has gone through already in her short life. Before she becomes an adult she will go through may more stages. Some developmental psychologists believe that all children go through the same stages in the same order. That is not to say that all children do things at the exact same time in their life, because some environmental factors can speed up or slow down a child’s development.
A child’s psychological growth depends on the child’s environment. Environment consists of everything that a child comes in contact with on a frequent basis. It simply means that a child can not achieve a later stage without achieving an earlier one first. Psychological growth is also affected by physical factors. For example, advances in learning ability are influenced by the development of the nervous system.
A child is a person between the age of eighteen month’s and thirteen years of age. Childhood, which is one of the major stages in a person’s development, can be divided into four stages based on the periods of major psychological change. These stages are the Toddler Stage, the Preschool Stage, the Early School Years and the Preteen Years. Throughout the developmental stages, there are things called critical periods and sensitive periods. Critical periods are periods in development were specific events must occur for a person to develop normally.
I can give you an example of a critical period for the proper development of vision. If a child is born with cataracts and they are removed before the age of seven, that child’s vision will develop normally. If these cataracts are not removed then they can create extensive damage to their vision for the rest of their life. A sensitive period is a period in a child’s development that is very important for particular kinds of development. If a certain behavior is not learned during this “sensitive time” it just may not develop to its full potential.
For example, if a child is not exposed to language before the age of seven, he or she may fail to acquire it all together. These “preschool years” are significant in a child’s intellectual development. There are many Psychologists with different views and theories about this subject, but I will only talk about the view of one. This theory of the development of a child is outlined by a Swiss Psychologist by the name of Jean Piaget. Jean Piaget was known to be one on the century’s most influential thinkers.
Piaget thought of children as mini scientists who conduct experiments on the world just to see what will happen. He categorized development into four different stages. They are Sensorimotor, Preoperational, Concrete Operational, and Formal Operational. The first two years of a child’s life is the sensorimotor stage. This is the time in an infant’s life when they are discovering everything. They are learning about different object, shapes and actions and even the consequences of some of their actions.
During this sage these infants will also learn the concept of object permanece. This means that an object does not disappear just because it is no longer in sight. My daughter, who is 14 months old, has learned this concept quite well. If she is playing with a toy and I hide it she will not loose interest because she thinks it no longer exists, she will move (sometimes throw) things out of the way until she finds the toy that I hid. On the other hand if an eight-month-old baby was shown a toy and then it was taken from his view, he will most likely loose interest in the first toy and play with something else because to him that toy no longer exists.
The next stage is the preoperational stage. In this stage a child is learning how to use language. They are beginning to use words as symbols, that can represent images or objects and one object might even symbolize another object. For example, a child may think of a shoe as a car and push it around the house making car noises, or even a collection of dolls can become a classroom full of children and they are the teacher. This stage is called the preoperational stage because the child has not learned the concept and rules of operations.
An operation is a “mental routine for separating, combining and otherwise transforming information mentally in a logical manner”. Piaget believes that the key feature of the preoperational stage is that children are unable to center their attention on more than one aspect of a situation at a time. The next two stages or operational stages, they are the concrete operational stage, and the formal operational stage. A child in this stage can perform logical activities. They can do different activities like find their way to a certain place, but they will not be able to draw a map of how they got there.
This means that they are in the concrete operational stage. They are only able to refer to concrete objects. The final stage is the formal operational stage. This is the stage in a child’s life when they can solve problems. They can also understand moral concepts. As you can see a child does not just “grow up”, they have a few processes of development that they have to go through before they can become an adult.
The next time you see an adult you should think about all the different psychological developmental changes they went through to get at that stage in their life. Psychology.