Child development theories are used to explain and understand how children change and grow throughout childhood. These theories focus on several aspects of development, including social, emotional, and cognitive growth. The study of human development is a rich and varied subject, and child development theories focus on understanding and explaining how children change throughout childhood. Psychologists and developmental researchers have proposed several different theories to describe and explain the process and stages that children go through as they develop.
Broadly speaking, these theories can be classified as emotional, cognitive, and moral. Erik Erikson developed the most common theories of emotional development, Jean Piaget developed the most common theories of cognitive development, and Lawrence Kohlberg developed the dominant theories of moral development. Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development suggests that intelligence changes as children grow older. A child's cognitive development is not just about acquiring knowledge, but it has to develop or build a mental model of the world.
Gil Noam, an internationally known Harvard developmental psychologist, has also pointed out that Erickson seemed to be skipping an important stage between the values of competition and fidelity. He believed that children have a two-and-a-half-year window (which he called the “critical period”) to form strong attachments to others and a five-year window during which children are “sensitive to forming attachments.” It moves from the mouth to the anus, then to the phallic stage when children begin to explore their autoerotic desires. Cognitive theories of child development focus on how a child's thought processes change throughout childhood. In other cases, child development theories attempt to explain a rather limited aspect of the developmental experience, which is why they are referred to as “minitheories.” The cognitive development that occurs during this period takes place in a relatively short time and involves great growth. Theorist Jean Piaget suggested that children think differently than adults and proposed a theory of stages of cognitive development. The development of fine motor skills takes longer to develop, which is why babies are generally unable to write or create refined drawings.
These observations reinforced his nascent hypothesis that children's minds were not simply smaller versions of adult minds. This theory suggests that a child's relationship with parents or caregivers influences social and emotional development during childhood and that these early attachments continue to influence throughout life. Some focus on how early attachment influences development, while others focus on how children learn by watching people around them. Child development theories provide insight into how children learn and grow over time. They help us understand why children behave in certain ways at different stages in their lives.
By understanding these theories, parents can better support their child's growth and development.