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Developmental theories have been based on the assumption that development is a process which is not continuous because of the distinctive stages. These stages are characterized by different behaviors. There are a number of theories which attempt to explain the different human developmental stages. Developmental theories are a set of principles planned to explain child development. Scientists and researches have come up with a number of theories to explain developmental process. Piaget and other researches did a lot of research on the specific developmental stages. For instance in Piaget’s developmental theory he explains that development begins at the sensory motor level. Developmental theories main focus is human growth which many researchers and scientists think is greatly influenced by external and internal factors. Human growth which is focused at, in these theories includes psychosocial, cognitive and physical development. The underlying differences among individuals are mainly thought to be caused by environmental factors. On the other hand the similarities between individuals are as a result of growth which is biologically determined. These developmental theories are essential in understanding child’s developmental process (Shaffer and Kipp, 2009).

Some of the main factors influencing growth include the situational context and culture of a person. It in comprise things like culture, region and the influence of parents. The onset of puberty as well as its consequences on the psychology of an individual affects development. Other factors include social interaction at early infancy and development of language through physical movement and other factors which greatly influence development. A series of cognitive developmental stages were developed by Piaget. Initially Piaget didn’t believe that knowledge acquisition was biologically determined because he thought that capabilities resulted from specific abilities of ordered manner. Besides that Piaget believed that the change in a child’s mind was associated with essential cognitive abilities. In his cognitive theory Piaget concentrated on assimilation and accommodation concepts. For instance he specialized in associating previous and newly acquired information besides transforming previous information in order to suit the information which had been acquired. 

Jean Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory

In his theory Piaget emphasized that development occurs in distinct cognitive stages. The theory basically deals with human intelligence development. Sometimes it is referred to as developmental stage theory; this theory greatly concentrates on knowledge and how it is used by humans. In his views Piaget explains that cognitive development is central in humans and language is dependent on its development. The concepts of Piaget have been very influential in understanding children’s mind. For instance the function of maturation and how it helps a child to understand the world around them besides that it explains why children are not able to do a number of things. In his cognitive theory Piaget explains that the thinking process of a child is not entirely smooth.

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Piaget’s cognitive development theory was defined into four distinct stages. In his theory intelligence is seen as the only means of acquiring equilibrium between the environment and a person. Therefore the environment is assimilated by the peculiarities and different schemes that exist. Intelligence development occurs through a continuous process of accommodation and assimilation which leads to increased application and coordination of the objects within the environment. The first stage which was described by Piaget was sensorimotor stage. Infants develop an understanding of their surrounding through sensory experience coordination. This is achieved through the help of motoric and physical actions. Physical actions of infants help them to gain knowledge and understanding of their environment. In this theory an infant develops from instinctual, reflexive actions to symbolic thought. This stage is subdivided into other six sub-stages.  The other stages include preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational stage (Shaffer and Kipp, 2009).

Albert Bandura’s social learning theory

The main concepts in Piaget’s developmental theory include adaptation to the world or environment through accommodation and assimilation. Classification; whereby objects are grouped on the foundation of the existing similarities. Besides that he also employed the system of decentralization and operation where things would be worked out using personal intellect. Another developmental theory is that of Albert Bandura who carried out his studies by observing the learning process. His process of modeling resulted to social learning theory. The main concept which was used in the development of this theory was observational learning which he referred to as an activity of information process accomplished through observation of demonstrated duties. This process requires the attention of the learner as well as the retention of the learnt information. Some of the essential concepts of this theory include motor replication of the learnt task, incentives and reinforcement of the learning process.  

The social learning theory creates a link between cognitive and behaviorism theories. Bandura’s theory greatly stresses on the influence of environment on behavior. Bandura used four critical steps which he formulated from experiments to explain his theory. These steps included motivation whereby the consequences delivered by the environment promoted the repetition of the action. The other factors which were employed by him included retention, reproduction and attention. His work was founded on the concepts of cognitive and behavioral views because he believed that the environment, behavior and the mind were instrumental in the process of learning. Through the numerous experiments which he conducted he came to a conclusion that children between age three and six were more likely to change their behavior by simply observing. He also emphasized that punishment and reinforcement helps in molding of character. Besides that he explained that the expectations of an individual as well as their internal psychological processes for instance language and mental image plays a great role in the entire process. This theory basically relates the influence of the environment on the behavior of a child. To Bandura the environment and behavior are reciprocal determinism of development (Shaffer and Kipp, 2009).

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Sigmond Freud developmental theory

Freud’s theory is similar to Vygotsky’s works in cognitive exploration process as well as their developmental approach. A series of developmental stages were determined by Freud. In his developmental process Freud explained that personal progress or growth occurs through a successive order in relation to age. He emphasized that certain areas of the body become receptive to stimulation at every developmental stage. Therefore an individual is required to satisfy the arising stimulated needs for progression to successive stage to occur. In case a person fails to meet the needs at the particular time then stagnation occurs which later causes much problem with the personality of the person.

Freud’s theory has six developmental stages which include oral, anal, phallic, latent and genital stages. These stages follow the given order. In his theory Freud described child development using a series of psychosexual stages. Basing on this theory the personality of a child is mostly established when the child attain five years. The experiences which a child has at childhood are essential in personality and behavior development. This theory is among the common developmental theories though it is very controversial. The theory is based on the pleasure seeking moments of a child at specific erogenous areas. To him libido is the force behind the behavior of a child. Successful completions of these stages lead to a healthy personality though any errors can be fixed if they occur at appropriate stage. The stages in the above three theories are very different from each other. Therefore the developmental theories differ as far as sub-developmental stages are concerned. Despite the underlying differences cognitive and social learning theory slightly relates to each in respect of environmental influence on the behavior of the child (Shaffer and Kipp, 2009).

The influence of cognitive, physical and emotional development to a child

Child development involves the psychological and biological changes which occur from birth to the final adolescent stage. During this period a child develops from dependency to autonomy. The developmental changes occurring at this stage are greatly influenced by a number of factors which include occurrences during the prenatal life and genetic factors. Child developmental changes are greatly influenced by maturation or processes which are genetically controlled beside learning and environmental factors. It is important to note that the interaction between genetic factors and environmental factors are essential in proper development of a child. Healthy development of a child is very instrumental to the entire society and that is the reason researches have gone an extra mile in understanding the factors which influence optimal development.

The development of a child usually starts in the mother’s womb because at that particular time the genetic components that are instrumental for growth are usually in place. Piaget’s cognitive theory greatly focused on actions as the only way to learning. For instance processes like attention, personal interpretation or perception thinking, memory and problem solving makes learning manageable. Cognitive stresses that development is achieved through ways which enable a child to gain knowledge of the surrounding. Therefore mental activity which occurs in the brain greatly helps in development of concepts about the surrounding world. Basing on cognitive a child develops through a series of mental stages. Children pass through all the mental stages though environment influences the outcome. On addition to the above mentioned factors increased opportunities of learning leads to faster growth. Therefore children activities as well as adult facilitated playing results to increased growth (Damon and Lerner, 2006).  

In his cognitive theory Piaget observed that adaptation and maturation are biological processes which are not interfered with by environmental factors and they play an instrumental role in the understanding of the surrounding by the child. For this reason adoption to the surrounding only results because of equilibrium, accommodation and assimilation. For instance assimilation is instrumental in development of the ability to confront the underlying issues while accommodation is important in changing the things we know in order suit the task at hand. Gaining of equilibrium makes an infant to feel in control and steady. Cognitive structures are usually modified in times of instability in order to create stability or equilibrium. Knowledge and all things that are known by a person are stored in folders called schemas. Therefore as a child begins to understand that information is stored in these folders and only retrieved when it’s needed they start updating the stored information every time a new thing is learnt.

Cognitive development is greatly influenced through the interaction between the child and the environment. In the four cognitive developmental stages Piaget emphasized that children consider things from their own perspective. Adults play a great function in the learning process of children. For instance children tend to learn more by utilizing the information acquired from the surrounding. On addition to that they prefer social settings for learning. This is the reason the effects of biological and environmental factor may be very different because of the people around the child. Language development in a child is greatly influenced by the people around the child as well as their relationship with other children. The child can only develop to the next stage by interacting with an adult. Vygotsky’s theory emphasized that the zone of proximal development (ZPD) can only occur through social interaction. Therefore engagement of children in social behavior is instrumental for healthy growth (Damon and Lerner 2006).  

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A child can learn many things through peer collaboration as well as adult guidance than on his own. Therefore Piaget puts a lot of emphasis on environmental influence whereas Vygotsky considers social setting as important factors to development. Playing is very instrumental to proper development of a child because it contributes to social, physical, cognitive and emotional well being of a child. Instilling positive skills in children is essential for proper development. Proper communication, good moral character and the ability to solve problems are characteristics of positive social development. Therefore the family is very instrumental in the development of skills and capabilities in children. Proper emotional development and physical growth comes about because of the family influence. A family with a good moral life is very essential in the physical and emotional development of a child.

The benefits of understanding child and adolescent development

Adolescents and children are generally referred to as socially immature people and this is the reason why there is no parent who wants his child to grow into a socially immature person. When parents understand the developmental stages of these special group they are enabled to make right choices and decisions for them. Nurturing nature, experience and instincts guides one in child nurturing though it is not enough. Child care of high quality can only be achieved when the parent or guardian has additional knowledge on how children develop and grow (Martin, Volkmar and Lewis 2007).

Development and learning is a continuous process though it is very rapid during childhood and infancy. Therefore infancy through to adolescence always determine the kind of adult that one will become. The initial years of a child are very instrumental to personal health besides exploitation of full potential. Recent research has confirmed that high quality child care directly influences their growth and learning capabilities.

For this reason the more knowledgeable a parent becomes about the growth and development of children the increased understanding and awareness of their role in helping their children achieve full potential. Most of the times parents and guardians expects a lot from their children and as a result if things don’t work the way they wanted they become so frustrated. These frustrating and challenging behavior can be solved easily when a parent have an understanding of the developmental stages because he might just realize that the behavior of the child which seems weird is normal at that particular stage. Therefore proper understanding of the developmental stages helps a lot in developing patience with children and helping them to go through whatever challenges they might be facing.

The knowledge of children developmental stages help people like physicians to assure parents that the behavior of their children is normal at the given stage. Children basically develop in a number of essential ways for instance physical development which deals with body growth and the ability to use their bodies to do a number of things which are expected of them. Cognitive and intellectual development enables a child to reason, think and even solve issues. social, emotional and language development basically entails the ability to manage their emotions and express themselves. These capabilities help children to learn how to express themselves and also communicate with the people around them. When parents understand that children grow at different rates they will stop worrying a lot. Most of the time parents fail to notice disorders in their children because of being ignorant of children development and as a result they fail to help such children exploit their potential to their fullest. Therefore these theories are very essential in understanding the developmental process of children (Martin, Volkmar and Lewis 2007).

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