Sixth Month Old Babies Can Recognize New Nouns In Novel 4 Child Development Theories That Can Help You Better Care for Children

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4 Child Development Theories That Can Help You Better Care for Children

Have you ever wondered what motivates thoughts and behaviors in children? Our understanding of human nature and child development is constantly advancing, but all children are different, and no one has all the answers. However, some recognized theories can provide useful insights into early development that will help you better care for children.

During our early years from infancy through childhood, we develop the basis of our intelligence, personality, social behavior and ability to learn. Four theories are worth reviewing and include attachment, psychosocial, cognitive development, and sociocultural theory.

1. Attachment Theory (Bowlby): This theory centers around strong emotional and physical bonds that create a sense of security in a child. Bonds are established with caregivers who are available and responsive to baby’s needs. This way, the baby knows that the caregiver is trustworthy, which creates a secure base for the child to explore its surroundings.

Example: Six-month-old Jordan enjoys baby toys and interacting with others. Convinced that crying brings relief, Jordan responds to anyone and becomes upset when someone stops interacting with him.

2. Psychosocial Development Theory (Erikson): In this theory, social development occurs in stages based on turning points in a person’s life including hope (birth to age 2), will (ages 2-4), purpose (ages 4 -5) , competence (ages 5-12), faithfulness (ages 13-19), love (ages 20-39), care (ages 40-64), and wisdom (ages 65+).

Example: Two-year-old Jennifer recently started squirming and saying “no” when her Nanny tries to secure her in her car seat. Jennifer began to develop a sense of self, separate from her caregivers. Her nanny must constantly set limits and follow Jennifer, to keep her safe and secure while driving in the car. The Nanny can increase Jennifer’s willingness to obey by providing specific praise along with allowing Jennifer to choose a special toy to hold whenever she gets into her car seat without resistance. Choosing her own clothes will also help Jennifer gain more independence.

3. Cognitive Development Theory (Piaget): This theory is based on a four-stage model describing how the mind processes new information. The stages are sensorimotor (birth to age 2), preoperational (ages 2-7), concrete operational (ages 7-11), and formal operations (ages 12+).

Example: Five-year-old Zachary is still egocentric and struggles to see the perspective of others but is beginning to think symbolically and use words to represent objects. Zachary loves to read and is building a foundation of language. During this stage, caregivers should continue to read books every day, encourage pretend play, share logical thinking. Explaining that it is winter time like grandma’s house and thus, a coat is needed will help Zachary, who lives in Texas, understand why a coat is packed in the suitcase.

4. Sociocultural Theory (Vygotsky): This developmental theory develops from the interactions of children with tools and other people in their social environment. Community, culture and interactions are key to child development and learning.

Example: Seven-year-old Alex is struggling to solve a puzzle. By interacting with an adult, Alex learns how to separate the border pieces, assemble the border, and sort the interior pieces by color or design. Working with an adult, Alex develops skills that can be applied to future puzzles.

There are other child theories that can help parents and other caregivers by teaching them how to spend more pleasant time with their child, strengthen positive skills, monitor behavior and set limits, and reduce the use of harsh disciplinary methods. These essential caregiving skills help children develop pro-social behavior, self-regulation, and other skills they need to succeed at school and at home.

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