Physical, Cognitive, Social Development
Brain development at birth infants have most of the brain cells that they will ever have in their life time.
However the nervous system is immature and the branching neural networks enable us to walk, talk,
Maturation the biological growing process that enables order changes in behavior relatively
uninfluenced by experience [standing before walking, nouns before adjectives, etc.]
Motor development as more muscles and nervous system mature, more complicated skills emerge
and motor development is universal. Genes play a major role in motor development.
Cognitive development cognitive refers to all mental activities associated with thinking, knowing,
remembering, and communication
“If we examine the intellectual development of the individual or of the whole of humanity, we shall find that
the human spirit goes through a certain number of stages, each different from the others” – Jean Piaget
Theory of mind… peoples ideas about their own and others mental states- about their feelings,
perceptions, and thoughts, and the behaviors these might predict
Social Development… how do parent infant attachment bonds form? One of the ways they form is
through stranger anxiety [the fear of strangers that infants commonly display, beginning by about eight
months of age]. The attachment [An emotional tie with another person; show in young children by
seeking closeness to the caregiver and showing distress on separation] infants have to their parents is a
powerful survival impulse.
Critical period is an optimal period shortly after birth when an organism’s exposure to certain stimuli
or experiences produces proper development.
Developmental theorist Erik Erikson (1902-1994)… working in collaboration with his wife, Joan, said that
securely attached children approach life with a sense of basic trust [this trust is said to be formed during
infancy by appropriate experiences with responsive caregivers]- a sense that the world is predictable and
reliable. He theorized that infants blessed with sensitive, loving, caregivers form a lifelong attitude of trust
rather than fear.
Self concept… Childhood’s major social achievement is a positive sense of self. By the end of childhood,
at about age 12, most children have developed a self-concept [an understanding and evaluation of who
we are] Children’s views of themselves affect their actions. Children who form a positive self-concept are
more confident, independent, optimistic, assertive, and sociable.
1) Authoritarian parents impose rules and expect obedience: “don’t interrupt, keep your room
clean, don’t stay out late, why? Because I said so”
2) Permissive parents submit to their children’s desires. They make few demands and use little
3) Authoritative parents are both demanding and responsive. They exert control by setting
rules and enforcing them, but they also explain the reasons for rules. And
especially with older children, they encourage open discussion when making
rules to allow exceptions
Two crucial tasks of childhood and adolescence are discerning right from wrong and developing
character- the psychological muscles for controlling impulses. Much of our morality is rooted in gut-level
reactions for which the mind seeks rationalization. However to be a moral person, is to think morally and
act accordingly. Three basic levels of moral thinking:
Pre-conventional morality before age nine, most children’s morality focuses on self-
interest: they obey rules either to avoid punishment or to gain concrete rewards
Conventional morality by early adolescence, morality focuses on caring for others and on
upholding laws and social rules, simply because they are the laws and rules
Post-conventional morality with the abstract reasoning of formal operational thought,
people may reach a third moral level. Actions are judged “right” because they flow from people’s rights or
from self-defined, basic ethical principles.
Moral feeling vs. moral action
Morality involves doing the right thing, and what do also depends on social influences. Nevertheless, as
our thinking matures, our behavior also becomes less selfish and more caring.
Forming an identity…
Identity our sense of self; according to Erikson, the adolescent’s task is to solidify a sense of self by
testing and integrating various roles
Social identity the “we” aspect of our self-concept… the part of our answer to “Who am I” that comes
from our group memberships.
People can adopt identity from adopting ideas (from parents), or through conformity (people). Erikson
contended that the adolescent identity stage is followed in young adult-hood by developing a capacity for
intimacy [the ability to form close, loving relationships; a primary developmental task in the late
adolescence and early adult