Two different theorists were explored for this assignment to observe a child’s physical, cognitive and socioemotional development. Petrina Justin was used to explore the theories of development by Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson.
Petrina is an eight years old girl and is currently attending Primary Two and performs at an average level academically. The family consists of father, mother and younger sister, who was born when she was 18 months old. Till she was 18 months, she was looked after primarily by her mother and maternal grandmother. Her father’s work required extensive travelling overseas; he was often not around till she was 2 years old when he had a job change. After the birth of her younger sister when she was eighteen months old, both of them were looked after by a helper from India till she was 3 years old. When she was 3 years old, she was enrolled in pre- nursery.
Physical Development Physical development depends as much as on nature as it does on the environment in which the child is brought up. This concept is known at the “nature versus nurture”. Nature is our biological inheritance, for example the genes determine the color of our skin, our hair color, and whereas nurture is everything external that attributes to our development, for example, parenting style, culture. Petrina was born at 38 weeks gestation, weighing at 5 pounds. It wasn’t difficult for her mother to nurse her as she latched on quite well when guided to her mother’s breast. When she was wrapped up in a wrapping blanket, she would struggle to be free. She was a very fidgety baby and never slept easily. Her mother had to buy a baby swing to put her to sleep. At a month old, she would straighten her legs when held in standing. Her hands were always in a fist. At 2 – 3 months, whenever she cried, she would straighten her legs. She would often shake her hands vigorously. She never liked to be alone. She was always attended to when she starts to cry and she would try to turn her head to follow movements around her.
Occasionally, she will coo when excited with voices around her. At 4 months, she has started to try to turn over to her stomach and she started to play with her mouth, babbling and making bubbles. Her mother started to cereals to her. At 5 months old, she was able grasp the spoon well. Her first tooth came out. When given a rattle, she would immediately bring it to her mouth and will shake it vigorously, often hitting herself with the rattle. She also started to try to crawl. By 8 months, she was sitting, crawling and was holding onto coffee-tables and started to walk with guidance. At 10 months, she took her 1st step. At one year old, she could drink from a cup. She was able to climb up and down stairs, with an adult’s help. She could imitate and dance along to her favorite children shows. She loved playing with balls.
At 2 years old, she was running and loved jumping. She was toilet-trained and could tell if she wanted to go to the toilet and could pull down her pants by herself. She also loved having fun scribbling, using large crayons. At Two years old, she was off the baby swing and was able to sleep by herself on a mattress. At Three years old, she could pedal a tricycle and loved to play with Lego blocks.
At 4 – 6 years, she had started going to school and interact with children of the same age and older children. She learned how to hold a pencil properly and write letters and numbers. She was able to display good penmanship. Petrina was a hyperactive child, with a short attention span. To “discipline” her, her mother enrolled her for yoga at the child-care centre. Was able to use the scissors and do craftwork. She was able to bath on her own, clothe herself and comb her hair. She was able to eat by herself.
Cognitive Development Piaget’s theory of cognitive development involves four discrete stages. He believed that children showed interest in cognitive structures, mental representations of rules for understanding the world, which are schemata and concepts. He emphasized the importance of maturation and the provision of a stimulating environment for children to explore as he strongly believes that children are active learners. The first stage, the Sensorimotor stage (Birth to two years old) At this stage, the child’s knowledge of the world is through her senses and motor skills. As a baby, Petrina didn’t like being left alone. When she cried, she had to be carried immediately. Her mother tried leaving her alone in the room, just to see what she will do. She was quiet for awhile and then she started to play with her fingers, bringing them to her mouth and sucking. She started making babbling sounds, playing with her saliva.
After awhile, she knew that she was all alone, and started crying out, vigorously shaking her arms and legs and trying to turn to her side. When she started crawling, each time she finds herself alone in a room, she will start crying and crawling out. Her mother took this opportunity to introduce to her the game of “hide and seek”, an example of object permanence, which is a child’s ability to understand that objects still exist even though it is out of sight. She also enjoyed playing shape-sorters and was very curious about everything around her. She loved going into the kitchen and taking out the kitchen utensils and play cooking, imitating her mother and grandmother. The second stage, the Preoperational stage (2 years to 7 years old) At this stage, a child learns to use words and numbers to represent aspects of the world and views the world as in her own perspective. Petrina started to speak in sentences and was singing along to children songs. She was also getting more self-centered and self-focused. She became very interested books and loved watching discovery channel.
She asked a lot of questions and was always full of ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’. She often wondered why the moon is always following her and why the earth must be round and not square. In her point of view, she thought that she could stop the moon from following her and the earth could be shaped into a square. The third stage, the Concrete Operational stage (7 years to 12 years old) Petrina becomes more matured. She is able to understand why she can’t have to do something when her mother explains to her. When she and her sister does something, and gets into trouble, she tries to think of a solution to solve the problem. She is good in languages, but faces difficulties, solving complicated problem sums. According to Piaget, at this stage, children are able to reason logically and organize thoughts coherently but they cannot handle abstract reasoning.
Socioemotional Development In Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, he believes that personality develops in stages. Comparing Erikson’s psychosocial theory with Freud’s, according to this book, ‘Social and personality development by D.Shaffer, Page 41’, it says that, “Erikson’s revision of Freud’s theory, which emphasizes sociocultural (rather than sexual) determinants of development and posits a series of eight psychosocial conflicts that people must resolve successfully to display healthy psychological adjustment.” The first stage, trust versus mistrust (Hope)
This stage occurs from Birth to Two years old. The infant is dependent on the parents, especially the mother for feeding. The child’s relative understanding of the world comes from the parents and the society which the parents come from. The first two years of Petrina’s infanthood, she was looked after by her primarily by her mother and maternal grandmother when her mother was at work. Being the first grandchild, she was given a lot of attention and love by family and relatives. Her grandmother was fiercely over protective of her. I believe because of the love and attention Petrina got from her family, her sense of trust in people and hope in the world around her is heightened. The second stage, autonomy versus shame (Will)
This stage occurs from Two years old to Three years old. As the toddler develops her fine and gross motor skills, they begin to explore their surroundings. Parents still provide a strong base of security from which the child ventures out to assert her will. Petrina was toilet-trained and she was able to go to the toilet on her own during the day. She was able to hold a cup and drink from it on her own. If she wanted to do something or want something, she would get it herself. Her vocabulary grew and she was able to communicate and relate to her actions and needs. At times, because of her stubbornness, it was difficult to try to control her. She would throw tantrums when the word “NO” was said to her. The third stage, initiative versus guilt, (Purpose)
This stage occurs from Four Years old to Five years old. The child is learning to master the world around her, learning basic skills and early moral development takes place. Children want to begin and complete their own actions for a purpose. They may feel guilt if their action does not produce desired results. Petrina was doing a lot writing and craftwork at school and home. She was very task-oriented and always made sure that she did neat job and almost perfect work. She became unhappy when she thought it was not good enough and would always be unhappy with herself and she would not try to do it again. It could be because of her fear of failure, in this instance, guilt took over. Her mother always encouraged her and told her that it was OK to make mistakes. Everyone learns from mistakes. Slowly, she started working independently, and never needed to be prompted to do her work. She loved doing physical activities, playing at the playground and swimming, although she didn’t know the right techniques for swimming. The fourth stage, industry versus inferiority (Competency)
This stage occurs from Five years old to Twelve years old. At this stage, children begin to take pride in their tasks and their accomplishments. They work hard at being responsible, and doing it right.” Petrina had attended childcare at Child at St 11 till she was in Primary One. Child at St 11 is a childcare centre where children are through play rather than sitting and doing worksheets. She was taught primary colors by making a necklace with beads in red, green and blue. Petrina learnt to social skills and had excellent interaction skills with her peers. The Centre frequently had volunteers from overseas, allowing her to have knowledge of a diversified culture. She took interest in the different cultures in different countries. She started to ask questions at home and at school about it. She took pride in her artworks.
When she brought it home, her mother will pin it up on the wall for everyone at home to see. Teachers and educators from other schools often visited their Centre to learn more about what how they teach the children at the Centre and at times, Petrina was asked to share about what and how she had learnt about the nature, the environment around her and about the work and how it had helped her to learn to be a better person. She found great pride when her works were showcased. I believe at this stage, teachers and friends play an important role in her life to carve out her personality and socioemotional development.
Conclusion There are many theories to explain child development. The two theories, Piaget’s theory of cognitive development and Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, used to explain Petrina’s development over the period of 8 years is to understand the different criteria that attribute to her development. Disciple, motivation and sense of self-achievement are and will help her to grow up to be a positive, independent individual.