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Development is a process of growth that occurs over the course of life span to maturity. During the period of growth, people display typical characteristics and establish particular abilities and strengths. The following are three theories that try to describe child development:

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  • Behaviorism theory was developed by B.F Skinner. He suggested that learning takes place through conditioning.
  • The cognitive theory was described by Jean Piaget and focuses more on the development of ways of thinking and understanding.
  • Psychoanalytic theory was pioneered by Austrian physician Sigmund Freud, who believed that development took place in psychosexual stages.

All three theories share an assumption on development as a discontinuous process with distinct and separate stages that are characterized by the different qualitative capacities occurring in each stage. This indicates that the development of certain traits in every stage, for example thinking capacity and emotions, have a determined starting and ending point. However, there is no fixed time period, during which a trait suddenly shows up or disappears.

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Characterizing the Children

There are many possible courses that characterize the children since not all children of certain age behave in exactly the same ways. In addition, children perceive the world differently according to their temperament and other character feature, hence individual peculiarities. Another possible influence is the environment or differences between environments that a child grows in. A child is also characterized by development stages, which involve learning of new skills in theory and practice. Lastly, a child is always ready and willing to learn and this may require some time to understand and accept new rules.

Environmental factors are more important in influencing a child during development. According to these theories, a child is influenced by environmental elements, such as community stress, family conflicts and the way they are handled, relationship and understanding between the child and the parents (if the child fulfills the expectations of parents), social supports, exposure to violence in the society among others.

Despite the fact that all described theories are relevant, the cognitive theory is preferable among them all. This is due to the fact that a child changes as he or she develops physically and interacts with the society around them. A child learns through assimilation and adaptation, which will enhance continuity of good behavior and introduction of new ideas in the society.

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