Theories of development

There are many different theories of development that have been proposed by researchers and experts in the field of psychology and child development. These theories attempt to explain how and why children develop in the way that they do, and offer insight into the various factors that can influence a child’s development. In this hub page, we will take a closer look at some of the most influential theories of development and how they can be applied to the parenting of toddlers.

Cognitive Development Theory

Cognitive development refers to the ways in which children learn to think, reason, and understand the world around them. According to cognitive development theory, children’s cognitive abilities develop and change over time as they gain new experiences and learn from their environment. One of the most well-known cognitive development theories is Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, which proposes that children go through four distinct stages of cognitive development: the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the concrete operational stage, and the formal operational stage.

Each of these stages is characterized by different cognitive abilities and ways of thinking. For example, during the sensorimotor stage, which occurs from birth to about 2 years of age, children learn about the world through their senses and movements. They develop an understanding of objects and their properties, and begin to explore their environment through actions like reaching, grasping, and banging. During the preoperational stage, which occurs from about 2 to 7 years of age, children develop their symbolic thinking skills and begin to use language to represent objects and ideas. They also develop their ability to think about things from different perspectives.

Applying cognitive development theory to the parenting of toddlers can help parents understand how their child’s cognitive abilities are changing and evolving, and provide insight into the best ways to support and promote their child’s cognitive development. For example, parents can provide their toddler with a variety of stimulating and engaging toys and activities that will help them learn about the world and develop their cognitive skills. They can also engage in activities and conversations with their child that will encourage symbolic thinking and language development.

Attachment Theory

Attachment theory proposes that the relationship between a child and their primary caregiver, typically their mother, plays a crucial role in their development. According to attachment theory, children develop attachments to their caregivers through interactions and experiences with them, and these attachments provide a sense of security and comfort. Attachment theory suggests that children who have strong, secure attachments with their caregivers are more likely to develop healthy social and emotional skills, while those with insecure attachments may have difficulty forming healthy relationships and managing their emotions.

The attachment relationship between a parent and their toddler is particularly important, as it provides the foundation for the child’s later social and emotional development. Parents can support their toddler’s attachment to them by consistently responding to their needs and providing them with affection, comfort, and support. This can include activities such as cuddling, reading to them, and playing together. Parents should also strive to be sensitive and responsive to their child’s emotional cues and signals, and provide them with comfort and support when they are upset or distressed.

Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development is a well-known theory in psychology that proposes that children go through eight distinct stages of development, each of which is characterized by a different psychosocial conflict. These conflicts are related to the child’s interactions with the world around them and the development of their social and emotional skills. According to Erikson, children must successfully resolve each of these conflicts in order to move on to the next stage of development and achieve a healthy balance of their psychosocial skills.

The first stage of Erikson’s theory, which occurs from birth to about 18 months of age, is called the trust vs. mistrust stage. During this stage, the child is learning to trust and rely on their caregivers for support and security. If the child’s needs are consistently met and they develop a sense of trust in their caregivers, they will move on to the next stage with a sense of basic trust and security. However, if their needs are not consistently met, they may develop a sense of mistrust and insecurity.

The second stage of Erikson’s theory, which occurs from about 18 months to 3 years of age, is called the autonomy vs. shame and doubt stage. During this stage, the child is developing their independence and self-awareness. They are learning to do things for themselves, such as dressing and feeding themselves, and are exploring their environment and their own abilities. If the child is supported and encouraged in their efforts to be independent, they will develop a sense of autonomy and self-confidence. However, if they are discouraged or criticized, they may develop feelings of shame and doubt.

Erikson’s theory offers important insights into the social and emotional development of toddlers. Understanding the psychosocial conflicts that toddlers face can help parents provide the support and guidance needed to help their child successfully navigate these challenges and develop healthy social and emotional skills.