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Growth and development is a very complex process. It involves biological, behavioral, cognitive and social changes. These changes occur slowly on the bodies and mind of human beings from conception to adulthood. Several psychologists came up with theories that explain the changes that human beings go through during the development process. Among the most famous theories are Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory, Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory and Freud’s Psychosexual Stages of Development.
These theories explain the biological, social, and behavioral development of human beings. Each of them uses a different approach in explaining the changes that occur on the body, mind and behavior of an individual during the development process. The most problematic point in the development of human beings is when they are two years old. Children at this age develop some unique habits and physical aspects that cause lots of problems to their parents.
Children at the age of two experience various behavioral changes. Piaget classifies this group of individuals under the Preoperational Stage of Development (Deloache, 2004). According to him, children at this stage lack operational abilities, are egocentric and have problems with their concentration. He insists that such children cannot differentiate between their perspectives and other people’s perspectives (Deloache, 2004). They also concentrate on one item at a time. Piaget also asserts that these individuals treat inanimate things as if they are animate. For example, they talk to stones the same way they talk to their parents and friends.
The information processing theory compares the memory of a human being to the computer hardware and software. The proponents of this theory argue that as the hardware of the children matures, they understand how to perform complex tasks with more speed and accuracy (Deloache, 2004). According to Vygotsky, children at this age acquire cultures, beliefs, attitudes and problem-solving skills through interacting with more knowledgeable and experienced individuals (Deloache, 2004). He further argues that some of the tasks individuals encounter requires other people’s guidance while others are within their abilities (Deloache, 2004). Parents should help their children acquire the necessary skills in the performance of some tasks through scaffolding.
According to Albert Bandura, learning is a process that occurs in the mind of human beings due to the influence of the people around them (Early childhood: Social development, n.d.). He argues that children learn through observation and imitation. He also insists that children at this age start developing different gender roles due to the rewards they get from their communities: schools, parents and churches. Some children exhibit pro-social habits, which facilitate the process of socialization. These habits mostly aim at pleasing their friends. For example, one may console a crying friend by giving him candies. Bandura further argues that children learn vicariously after seeing the rewards and punishments their elder brothers get after performing certain tasks (Early childhood: Social development, n.d.).
Bronfenbrenner argues that the background of a child impacts greatly on his or her socialization skills (Early childhood context, n.d.). He categorizes parents into the authoritative parent, the authoritarian parent, the permissive parent and the uninvolved parents. He argues that the authoritative parent helps the child in the process of acquiring social skills and performing well in school. He also argues that single parents mostly raise children who end up having poor social skills.
Children also acquire a sense of morality at this age. According to Freud, the components of personality play an important role in the regulation of their actions and ensuring morality (Early childhood: Social development, n.d.). They cannot keep their minds off things that tempt them. Therefore, the superego helps them in controlling their desires, though for short periods. On the other hand, Piaget looks at morality from three perspectives: pre-moral, heteronomous morality and autonomous morality (Deloache, 2004).
He argues that children at this age lack the ability to regulate themselves both emotionally and in cognitive aspects. He advises parents to help their children in the development of self-regulation. Cognitive regulation refers to focusing attention, organization, the abilities of the memory and regulating immoral habits (Deloache, 2004). On the other hand, emotion regulation refers to the ability of the children to control their feelings and interpreting other people’s emotions (Deloache, 2004).
Erik Erikson refers to this point as the stage of autonomy versus shame and doubt (Lightfoot, Cole & Cole, 2013). According to him, children go through toilet training. He further asserts that the children strive to acquire control over their physical abilities and freedom from their mothers’ control. He urges parents to guide their children through this stage since a successful passage through it helps them attain autonomy while failure to go through it properly leads to shame and doubt.
Biological changes involve an increase in breadth and height. They also entail the complication and development of body parts. The Information Processing Model draws an analogy between a computer and the brain of a human being. According to the proponents, the brain has the short-term, long-term and sensory stores. The sensory store notices all stimuli and avails them to the other components for further processing. Piaget observes that children at this age only respond to color but not volume (Deloache, 2004).
Many of them, usually, categorize items basing on their colors and not sizes. They also lack the ability to retain the real appearance of objects in their mind when they assume a deceptive appearance. The short-term store takes the stimuli from the sensory store and keeps it for some time. It is responsible for the concentration span of every person. At this stage of development children concentrate for very short periods. The long-term store keeps information permanently. Children at this development stage have a poorly developed long-term store. Hence, they forget occurrences very fast.
According to Piaget, the preoperational stage is the point where children acquire language (Deloache, 2004). This argument implies that organs that facilitate the production of speech differentiate as an adaption to this function. These organs include the tongue, the voice box, the lips, the teeth and the alveolar ridge.
In summary, development involves biological, behavioral and social changes. Scholars have developed several theories that provide bases for understanding each aspect of the development process. Children at the age of two are still developing in almost all these three areas. They have few and underdeveloped body parts and poor social skills such as egocentrism. However, sometimes they also show some pro-social skills such as doing things to please friends. This stage requires close supervision and guidance from the parents for the children to develop properly.
Deloache, R. (2004). Early childhood: Learning and cognition I [PowerPoint slides].
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Early childhood context [PowerPoint].
Early childhood: Social development [PowerPoint slides].
Lightfoot, C., Cole, M., & Cole, S. (2013). The development of children. New York: Worth Publishers.