The Four Theories of Child Development are as follows: 1. Jean Piaget’s Theory of Development, 2. Havinghurst’s Theory of Development, 3. Erikson’s Theory of Psycho-Social Stages, 4. Robert S. Sear’s Development Theory:
There are two basic factors heredity and environment which have the main influence in child development and to understand the nature of development. Growth and development concern with structure and functions of a child in this process. The classical schools of psychology have also emphasized on structure and function of an individual.
These schools are known as structuralists and functionalists. These schools are original source of theories of psychology related to different concepts, personality, learning, motivation, intelligence and also child development. The theories of child development have been listed here.
The concept of child development is the main concept of child psychology. The psycho-analysis theories and behaviouristic theories of development provide stages of development according to their own theory. It is useful for child psychologists and the parents.
The concept of development has been studied cognitive psychologists which is most useful for teacher for planning his teaching-learning situation. In the area of Educational psychology, Jean Piaget’s, theory of development is significant contribution.
In the educational process, main job of a teacher is to develop the understanding of different concepts. Concept formation has been studied for a long period for arriving some significant and useful formulations. Piaget has produced huge literature on development psychology. His emphasis in an operation at different stages. Havinghurst has developed a specific task model of development. He has explained the higher level of development related to feelings, attitudes, skills and understanding.
He is a Gestalt psychologist and his theory is related to cognitive development. He has studied development process of understanding functioning of the child’s mind. He could not produce a definite structure for educational practices but it has great value to measure teaching.
Piaget believed that the schemas or cognitive structures exist in primitive form at conception and progressively develop during the life time in certain systematic way with the help of certain operations. According to Piaget, Schemas or cognitions involve all the necessary energy and potentialities for their emergence and development without requiring some motivating force. He has enumerated our stages of operations in his process of development.
The first stage is known the sensorimotor period when the infant learns and develops sensorimotor skills by manipulating objects in his environment. In the second stage which runs from two or seven years, the child begins to acquire vocabulary with which he represents objects and experiences he perceives. The child can extract concepts from experience and can manipulate objects in his mind. This stage is called pre-operational thought. The third stage is called concrete operation period which begins from seven and continues up to twelve years of age.
The child begins to think logically and rationally about problems which he faces. The fourth stage is known as formal operations period and begins from twelve years of age and continues till the end of adolescence. The adolescent can think, reason and analyse beyond the realm of concrete experiences. He can generalized or form opinion about abstract concepts like love, honour, truth and justice, etc.
According to Piaget, The child moves from one stage to the next in an established pattern. The rate of development may vary in different individuals and cultures but the sequence of development is universal.
The schemas change from one stage to another by the process of equilibration. The process of assimilation and accommodation maintain balance between him and his changing environment.
The following are the stages of cognitive development:
1. The period of sensorimotor adaptation since birth to 2 years.
2. The development of symbolic and preconceptual thought (2 to 4) years.
3. The period of intuitive thoughts (4 to 8) years.
4. The period of concrete operations (8 to 12) years.
5. The period of formal operations (12 to adolescence).
The period of concrete operations is the stage cognitive development when the child is able to direct his attention. These are the real operations rather than potential.
The reality guides his contemplation of possibility. The formal operation is called the controlling aspects of comprehension. The formal thoughts are of prepositional nature of adolescent. These formal operations help in solving problem.
It is cognitive psychology a child development theory. Piaget has given emphasis on operations at different stages of development while Havinghurst emphasized the tasks at various stages of development.
Havinghurst developed a specific task model of development. According to him, at each new stage of development there are certain tasks, skills, attitudes and understanding that must be met before a person can move on to a higher level of development. He says- “… at or about a certain period in the life of the individual, successful achievement of which leads to his happiness and to success with later tasks, while failure leads to unhappiness in the individual, disapproval by society and difficulty with later tasks.”
He has considered two stages of development-
I. Since birth to 6 years, and
II. 6 to 12 years.
Havinghurst has given a list of tasks at these stages of development which have been enumerated here:
I-Stage Development Tasks (Since birth to 6 years):
1. Learning to walk.
2. Learning to take solid food and drink water and milk.
3. Learning to talk and respond.
4. Learning to control the elimination of body wastes.
5. Learning sex-differences.
6. Achieving Physiological ability.
7. Forming simple concepts of social and physical reality.
8. Learning to relate oneself emotionally to parents, siblings and other people.
9. Learning to distinguish right and wrong and developing a conscience.
10. Differentiate between good task and bad task.
Il-Stage Development Tasks (6 to 12 years):
1. Learning physical skills, ordinary games and sport.
2. Building wholesome attitudes towards oneself as a growing organism.
3. Learning to get along with age-mates.
4. Learning an appropriate masculine or feminine role.
5. Developing fundamental skills in reading, writing and calculating.
6. Developing concepts necessary for everyday living.
7. Developing conscience morality and values.
8. Achieving personal independence.
9. Developing attitudes towards social groups and institutions.
10. Developing values and beliefs towards life.
There is difference between the developmental tasks at two stages. The tasks at first stage are simple and concerns with psychomotor activities and some cognitive functioning.
The tasks at second stage are of higher nature relate to the cognitive and effective aspects. At this stage some higher order of skills are also developed for these tasks.
The theory of developmental task is an important theory because an individual works as a whole person. It also helps parents and teachers to remind them that the major responsibility is the creation of experiences and opportunities to prepare the youngsters to accomplish the task appropriate for their age-level, so that they may successful adjust in the society.
The psycho-analytic and behaviouristic theories of development are useful for child psychologists and parents.
According to Freud a child passes through five major stages of psycho-sexual development:
1. The oral stage,
2. The anal stage,
3. Phallic stage,
4. Latency stage, and
5. Genital stage.
Under these stages of development he has emphasized the libido or pleasure from his mother to the opposite sex.
Erikson has proposed his theory of child development in which he has emphasized social development rather than structural or functional other changes.
He has enumerated four major stages of psycho-social development:
1. A sense of trust versus mistrust,
2. A sense of autonomy versus shame,
3. A sense of initiative versus guilt, and
4. A sense of industry versus inferiority.
The description of the four psycho-social stages is given as follows:
Stage I- A Sense of Trust versus Mistrust:
This stage ranges from birth to eighteen months of age. The first task of an infant is to develop the basic sense of trust in himself and in his environment. During this stage, the infant is completely dependent on others for the fulfillment of his basic needs. If his needs are not satisfied then he gradually lose his sense of faith in the world around him. The sense of faith is laid down during this period.
Stage II- A Sense of Autonomy versus a Sense of Shame:
This stage covers the period between eighteen months to three years. The stage develops the sense of autonomy. He does not went help from others. He like to do things in his own way. Parents can help their children in developing a healthy sense of autonomy through a balance of firmness and permissiveness. Parents should decide the limit of freedom for children keeping into consideration the conditions of the environment. Children who are not given legitimate freedom to explore their environment, develop doubt about their abilities to perform a specific task and become self-conscious. Shame is the other part of this feeling. We know that there are children who are terribly self-conscious and fearful of their weaknesses being exposed.
Stage III- A Sense of Initiative versus a Sense of Guilt:
This stage starts from three years of age and continues up to six years. Children grow at very rapid rate in almost all dimensions such as social, physical, intellectual and emotional, etc. Social boundaries expand beyond the home environment. Children may express their autonomy in behaviour which is called initiative. They begin to develop a sense of right or wrong. If the feeling of guilt is overtaxed by moralistic parents and teachers, children may develop feeling of badness which may inhibit their usage to test themselves in an expanding social world.
Stage IV- A Sense of Industry versus a Sense of Inferiority:
This stage starts from six years and continues up to twelve years of age. The child devotes his energies to self-improvement and to the conquest of people and things. According to Erikson, “a child becomes ready to apply himself to given skills and tasks which go far beyond the mere playful expression of his organ modes on the pleasure in the function of his limbs. He develops industry, i.e., he adjusts himself to the inorganic laws of the tool world. The child wants to master whatever he does. He is full of energy and does efforts to produce new things. On the other hand, the child finds that he is still a child. This leads to inferiority complex.”
The theory explains a significant aspect of human development. Human behaviour governs by these senses and senses are the source of knowledge.
A teacher and parents can make use in identifying the problems of children and able to solve them. The teacher and parents should provide the situations at different age-levels, so that sense of trust, autonomy, initiative and industry may be well developed. The conductive situations are to generate by teachers as well as by the parents at home.
He is child psychologist but belongs to behaviourists school of psychology. Watson believes that environment is all in the development of child and heredity has nothing to do in the development of child. He is extremist in this sense. Sear’s theory of child development considers social interaction process, Behavioural approach lays emphasis on learning experiences of the child which involve stimulus-response associations that may result from either classical or operant conditioning procedures. Sear’s theory of child development suggests that development is a process of observable social interaction. He derived main concepts from Hull’s learning theory. He emphasize the importance of reinforcement and secondary-drive behaviour.
He divided human development into three broad phases:
1. Phase I: Rudimentary behaviour,
2. Phase II: Secondary behavioural system, and
3. Phase III: Secondary motivational system.
1. Phase I- Rudimentary Behaviour:
Phase first starts from birth and continues upto sixteen months. During this period the behaviour of the infant is activated by innate needs which create tension and in order to reduce tension, the infant is motivated for action which gratifies his needs. The infant’s behaviour operates purely on altruistic level unrelated to any social world but gradually social events become the prime motivator of behaviour, for example, hunger motivates the infant for action (crying) and he requires the bottle or breast for the gratification of his need and his actions become more learned and goal directed. He strives to imitate previously successful actions and thus the socialization begins.
The child depends on some one for the fulfillment of his basic needs. “Dependency is a type of operant behaviour that has as its required environmental events affectionate and nurturant behaviour performed by another person.”
In early infancy, the behaviour of the child is controlled by the principle of operant conditioning. Social environment in which an infant is born has a great influence on his later development. The sexes of the child, ordinal position in the family and socio-economic condition of the parents have bearing on the development of personality. In our country, a male child is preferred to a female and discriminative treatment is given right from the birth of the child.
According to Sears, “a child is allocated to one sex or the other, and society begins to implant in him motives, interests, skills and attitudes appropriate to such membership.”
2. Phase II- Secondary Behavioural Systems:
The training for socialization of the child begins in this phase in the family. The child is motivated by basic requirements of life and secondary dependency needs. Parents and other members of the family continue to be the major reinforcing agents of child’s behaviour. Parents should reinforce desirable behaviour of children.
Child begins to imitate the behaviour of his parents. Therefore, it is very important that parents should present model before the child. Social learning depends upon replacing previous learning with newer experiences based upon more appropriate satisfaction rather than upon fearing and avoiding unpleasant consequences. Punishment should be avoided because it creates behaviour problems. During the phase, Children begin to satisfy their dependency needs themselves.
Summarizing we can say that secondary motivational drives become the behavioural system of feeding, toilet training, aggression identification; and dyadic relationship.
3. Phase III- Secondary Motivational System:
During this phase, the social boundary of the child expands beyond the four walls of home. The child comes into contact with other families and process of socialization is accelerated. Dependency becomes reduced to specific sphere of family living. The teacher becomes a new support for dependence in school. The quality of dependency is influenced by the previous experiences. Development proceeds in terms of seeking and gaining admiration and approval from parents and others. The teacher and parents should strike a balance between independency and control of child’s behaviour.
As the number of environmental reinforces increases, the child identifies himself with models who satisfy his needs. If adults fail to present desirable models then child identifies himself with his peers. The child acquires social, religious, political and economic values from his environment. The child continues to strive for his parent’s acceptance of him in order to maintain the gratification of such acceptance.