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How Do Children Grow?

His eight-stage theory of human development described this process from infancy through death. During each stage, people are faced with a developmental conflict that impacts later functioning and further growth. At each stage, children and adults face a developmental crisis that serves as a major turning point. Successfully managing the challenges of each stage leads to the emergence of a lifelong psychological virtue.

Letting Kids Grow Up…At Their Own Pace

During the first half of the twentieth century, a new school of thought known as behaviorism rose to become a dominant force within psychology. Behaviorists believed that psychology needed to focus only on observable and quantifiable behaviors in order to become a more scientific discipline. According to the behavioral perspective, all human behavior can be described in terms of environmental influences.

Skinner , insisted that learning occurs purely through processes of association and reinforcement. Behavioral theories of child development focus on how environmental interaction influences behavior and are based on the theories of theorists such as John B. Watson, Ivan Pavlov, and B. These theories deal only with observable behaviors. Development is considered a reaction to rewards, punishments, stimuli, and reinforcement. This theory differs considerably from other child development theories because it gives no consideration to internal thoughts or feelings.

Instead, it focuses purely on how experience shapes who we are. Classical conditioning involves learning by pairing a naturally occurring stimulus with a previously neutral stimulus. Operant conditioning utilizes reinforcement and punishment to modify behaviors.


Cognitive theory is concerned with the development of a person's thought processes. It also looks at how these thought processes influence how we understand and interact with the world.

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His cognitive theory seeks to describe and explain the development of thought processes and mental states. It also looks at how these thought processes influence the way we understand and interact with the world. Piaget then proposed a theory of cognitive development to account for the steps and sequence of children's intellectual development. There is a great deal of research on the social development of children. Bowlby believed that early relationships with caregivers play a major role in child development and continue to influence social relationships throughout life. Bowlby's attachment theory suggested that children are born with an innate need to form attachments.

Such attachments aid in survival by ensuring that the child receives care and protection. Not only that, but these attachments are characterized by clear behavioral and motivational patterns. In other words, both children and caregivers engage in behaviors designed to ensure proximity. Children strive to stay close and connected to their caregivers who in turn provide a safe haven and a secure base for exploration. Researchers have also expanded upon Bowlby's original work and have suggested that a number of different attachment styles exist.

Children who receive consistent support and care are more likely to develop a secure attachment style, while those who receive less reliable care may develop an ambivalent, avoidant, or disorganized style. Bandura believed that the conditioning and reinforcement process could not sufficiently explain all of human learning. For example, how can the conditioning process account for learned behaviors that have not been reinforced through classical conditioning or operant conditioning?

A Good Start - How Young Children Grow and Develop | World Vision International

According to social learning theory, behaviors can also be learned through observation and modeling. By observing the actions of others, including parents and peers, children develop new skills and acquire new information. Bandura's child development theory suggests that observation plays a critical role in learning, but this observation does not necessarily need to take the form of watching a live model. In Vygotsky's view, learning is an inherently social process. Through interacting with others, learning becomes integrated into an individual's understanding of the world. This child development theory also introduced the concept of the zone of proximal development, which is the gap between what a person can do with help and what they can do on their own.

It is with the help of more knowledgeable others that people are able to progressively learn and increase their skills and scope of understanding.

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As you can see, some of psychology's best-known thinkers have developed theories to help explore and explain different aspects of child development. While not all of these theories are fully accepted today, they all had an important influence on our understanding of child development. Today, contemporary psychologists often draw on a variety of theories and perspectives in order to understand how kids grow, behave, and think. These theories represent just a few of the different ways of thinking about child development.

In reality, fully understanding how children change and grow over the course of childhood requires looking at many different factors that influence physical and psychological growth. Genes, the environment, and the interactions between these two forces determine how kids grow physically as well as mentally.

Have you ever wondered what your personality type means? Sign up to get these answers, and more, delivered straight to your inbox. There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. Developmental assessment of children. J Clin Diagn Res. John Bowlby and contemporary issues of clinical diagnosis. Attachment Lond. Understanding observational learning: an interbehavioral approach.

Anal Verbal Behav. Esteban-guitart M. The biosocial foundation of the early Vygotsky: Educational psychology before the zone of proximal development. Hist Psychol. New York: Routledge; More in Theories. Psychosexual Development. Psychosocial Development. Behavioral Child Development.

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    EPSDT is key to ensuring that children and adolescents receive appropriate preventive, dental, mental health, and developmental, and specialty services. Parent Information Center: The Parent Information Center PIC , a New Hampshire statewide family organization, strives to achieve positive outcomes for children and youth, with a focus on those with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

    This is achieved through its partnerships with families, educators, youth, professionals and organizations. The program is designed for children birth through age three who have a diagnosed, established condition that has a high probability of resulting in delay, are experiencing developmental delays, or are at risk for substantial developmental delays if supports and services are not provided. We empower and inform families and professionals to feel confident when making choices for children and youth in their care.



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