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Example research essay topic: Childhood Development Essay - 1433 words

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.. be taking steps. Pressing an object against a young babys palm will cause a flexing of the hand. This attempt to grasp the object is known as the palmar grasping reflex. When placed on the back, a young baby will assume a fencing position, head to one side, with arms and legs on that side extended and opposite limbs flexed. This reflex is called the tonic neck reflex (Eisenberg, Murkoff, and Hathaway, What to Expect the First Year 48). Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow.. for babies grow up, weve learned to our sorrow.

So quiet down cobwebs; dust go to sleep. Im rocking my baby and babies dont keep. This quotation, by an unknown author, accurately depicts the rate of which children seem to grow. This physical growth of body and mind is known as maturation. Children may develop at different rates, however, maturation always follows a methodical sequence. Motor development is a good example of this.

(Coon 85). As the old saying goes you must crawl before you walk. The emotional development of very young children closely parallels maturation. After about three months of age babies can express feeling of surprise, happiness, fear, anger, and excitement. These developments allow children to interact in a new social way. Self-awareness and a heightened awareness of others are the two main ingredients in social development.

Self-awareness is the understand of oneself as a person. Infants also become more aware of others at this time. They begin to make social references (Coon 98-99). This is displayed by the use of the words such as I, me, you, and us. Language is another important social development.

Yet, there are two very different theories that explain the human ability to learn language. One, originally proposed by B.F. Skinner is verbal behavior, suggests that children learn to talk through classical and operant conditioning. The second theory, proposed by Noam Chomsky and by David McNeill argues that language learning is largely innate. Just as a child walks only when mature enough, a child only talks when the brain is ready.

It is as if there were a language acquisition device in the mind already programmed with the basic linguistic rules. While both theories have their merits, a third perspective on language development is more commonly excepted. This theory holds that the interaction between an infant and caregiver is the heart of language. Evidence of this has been shown by studies from deaf as well as hearing infants (Corsini 641). Four separate aspects of language development have been studied: phonology, semantics, syntax, and pragmatics.

Phonology has to do with the use of sound. From birth infants can communicate with various cries. Such cries may indicate hunger, pain, or needs for attention. At about twelve months children speak their first words. From this point on, the sounds that they produce come closer to standard speech.

Semantics involve the meaning of words and phrases. Before they begin to speak infants understand the meanings of words. Around the age of two, many children experience a language explosion," as new words enter their vocabulary rapidly (Baldwin 37) Semantics is one aspect of language that shows a documented improvement throughout adulthood. Syntax deals with the construction of sentences and the arrangement of the words in them. Preschoolers gain a good grasp of syntax from their parents. Yet, it is during middle childhood, adolescence, and adulthood that people achieve a better understanding of syntax. Pragmatics are practical communication skills.

A persons ability to communicate with language involves far more than acceptable phonology, semantics, and syntax. It involves tailoring the message to fit a specific audience (Corsini 642-643). For example, a person would speak differently to their boss than they would to a baby or on the street. Social development or socialization is how children interact with others and the world around them. In the beginning, are very self-centered. Quickly, children learn to imitate the actions of adults and older children.

As youngsters grow social development can have a profound effect on academic progress. When children work on a project, says University of Illinois education professor Lillian Katz, they learn to work together, to disagree, to speculate, to take turns and to de-escalate tensions. (Duffy 82-83) These skills are also of great importance in later life (like in the work force). Moral development usually follows social development (Duffy 85). It has been placed into three levels by Lawrence Kohlberg.

Preconventional is the first level. This kind of moral thinking is based on consequences such as punishment or reward for ones behavior. The second, the conventional level, is based on the desire to please others and conform to set laws and values (Coon 111). This is why children often bend to the pressures of their peers (Coles 48). The postconventional level is third.

This is the most advanced level of moral development in which thinking is carefully examined and decisions are based on self-accepted moral principles (Coon 111). Kohlberg considered these stages to be cognitive process that proceeds from one stage to the next with a pace determined by the individuals opportunities and experiences (Corsini 186). How children develop has been a long debated issue. Jean Piaget and Sigmund Freud are two of the most recognized theorists on this subject. Jean Piaget believed that children go through stages of mental development.

This is his theory of cognitive development. The first stage in this development is the sensorimotor (0-2 years). In the sensorimotor stage infants learn to coordinate sensory input and motor skills (Coon 106-107). The second stage, the preoperational stage (2-7 years), is where children begin to use words and solve complex problems. Children can also move from one to two-word at age two, to eight or ten-word sentences around age five.

The concrete operations stage (7-11 years) is third. This stage brings a solid way of thinking and a tendency to give up the magical way of thinking of the previous stage. Reasoning during this period is based on actual examples. Last, the formal operations stage (11 years and up) is when rational patterns of thinking are developed. Abstract thought is also possible at this time (Corsini 185). Piaget sees these changes, as a part of an individuals moving toward a well-balanced set of ideas organized into a workable mental system, which can be used to solve new problems. Sigmund Freud created the theory of psychosexual development.

This theory stresses the fact that early experiences during sensitive periods have lasting effects on an individual. He developed five basic stages of development. First is the oral stage, were sucking needs are met (0-1 year). Stage two is the anal stage (1-3 years). During this stage the elimination need is fulfilled. Third is the phallic stage (3-7 years) In this stage children become aware of genital differences and the pleasures of masturbation. Next is the latency stage, (7-12 years) a period when primary love interests are diverted to individuals outside the home.

Basic personality traits have been formed by this time. This fairly stable period could be called the calm before the storm of puberty. The genital stage (12-Adulthood) is last. This is the stage where sex drive increases, parental attachments are dissolved, and adolescent conflicts develop. Freud felt that if the first three stages were completed without a great deal of trauma, the individual will tend to be psychologically healthy.

However, if some of the basic needs are not met, personality development will become fixated and personality will be effected in all later stages. Like Piaget and Freud, Erik Erikson believed in a stage-dependent approach. He disagreed with Freuds psychosexual concepts because he felt that they were too narrowly constructed and that personality is not completely defined in childhood. Instead, he believed that development continues throughout life. He constructed an eight-stage psychosocial development sequence.

His early childhood stages were almost a duplicate of Freud. Not all psychologist except the stage approach to development. For example, some see personality and cognitive development as a continuous process. Those who do accept the stage approach, like the theorists discussed above, see development as being continuously reorganized on more and more complex levels, in an orderly sequence, as the individual matures. Each stage represents ways of thinking and making behavioral choices that are basically different from both the thinking that has gone before and the thinking that comes after in more advanced stages. Childhood is an important period in human life.

However significant, this superperiod passes at an alarming rate. Studying child development before and after birth is of great importance. It can open a window into the adult world, helping us learn more about ourselves and the people around us.

Related: childhood development, cognitive development, early childhood, emotional development, language development, moral development, motor development

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