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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - Child Development - Themes, Theories and Methods.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Mark Schmuckler

CHAPTER 1 CHILD DEVELOPMENT: THEMES, THEORIES AND METHODS. Child development: a sub-area of the discipline of developmental psychology that seeks to answer how the child is able to understand and create complex relation, learn new information and to interact and feel responsibility toward other people o It identifies and describes changes in the childs cognitive, emotional, motor and social capacities and behaviors from the moment of conception through the period of adolescence. o The field attempts to uncover the process that underlie these changes to help explain how and why they occur. (they are interested in what things change as they get older and how they change) To understand the changes and process, they devise theories, design and carry out empirical studies to test these theories and suggest practical applications based on their research. Darwin conducted research on infants sensory early sensory and perceptual capacities and childrens emotions demonstrating that scientists could study infants and children. Formal analysis of childrens learning capacities was continued by John B. Watson. In Canada, James Mark Baldwin used his daughter as a subject and published papers on mental illness although his first recognition is for establishing the first psychology laboratory in British Institute of Child Study (formerly known as St. Georges School for Child study 1926) was headed by dev. Psychologist William Emet Blatz who was known for his three year study of Dionne quintuplets; a group of five sisters born in 1934, who were raised from 2 months to 8 years in a public display that was general to the public. o Some argue that the study failed to provide insight into child development but some say that it helped promote the study of child development. Themes of Development Three key issues pertaining the psychological growth: o The origins of human behaviour o The pattern of developmental change overtime o The individual and contextual factors that define and direct child development Origins of behaviour: biological vs. environmental influences Arnold Gessel believed that the course of development is largely predetermined by biological factors and in his research concentrated on maturation or the natural folding of development over the course of the growth. (genetically determined process of growth that unfolds overtime) John B. Watson placed his emphasis strictly on the environment; he assumed that biological factors placed no restrictions on the ways that the environment can shape the course of a childs development. He claimed that by properly organizing the environment, he could produce a criminal or a genius. Modern developmentalists explore how biological and environmental factors or nature and nurture, interact to produce developmental variations in different children. Ex. Children with great genetic characteristics are more likely to exhibit behavioural problems than are children who do not have these characteristics. When these children live in abusive environments, they are likely to become maltreated; combo of biological, env. and beh. Factors The active nature of human organism supports interaction between biological properties and the env. over the course of development. Children actively influence and modify the action of their parents and other people they interact with The interaction between biology and env. is and active dynamic process that the child contributes to Pattern of development change: continuity vs. discontinuity Continuous development process whereby each new event adds to or builds on earlier experiences and abilities in a cumulative or quantitative way gradually without abrupt shifts in changes. Discontinuous development a series of discrete steps or stages in which behaviours get reorganized into qualitatively new set of behaviours A third view on development holds that development is fundamentally continuous but interspread with transitions that may appear sudden, most accurately represents that progress of child developments overtime. Robert Sieglers overlapping waves model suggests that children use a variety of strategies( that take qualitative steps) in thinking and learning and that cognition involves constant competition among different strategies rather than the use of a single strategy at a given age. Each strategy ebbs and flows with increasing age and expertise gradually. From a macroscopic view, development is continuous but at a microscopic level, we can observe specific qualitative changes. Forces that affect developmental change: individual characteristics vs. contextual and cultural influences Do children behave similarly across a broad range of situations or do the contexts in which children live affect how children behave and even how development occurs. o Some adopt an interactionist viewpoint stressing the dual role of the individual and contextual factors. Ex. Children with aggressive personality traits seek contexts where they can express their personality therefore joining gangs and karate class. However, the same children when put in settings that do not promote or allow aggressive behavior such as choir or book club, may be less likely Risk to healthy development and individual resilience Individual characteristics are determined by how different children respond when they are confronted with situational changes or risks to healthy development. Risks could be biological or physiological cause children to suffer permanent developmental disruptions while others show sleeper effect where they seem to cope well but exhibit problems later in development. Others exhibit resilience and are able to deal with the challenge and others when confronted with new risks later in life, they are able to adapt to the challenges better. Researching across cultures Examining child development across cultures provides information about variation in the range of human potential and expression that may emerge in different circumstances of growth. Cultures differ within countries leading children to have different kinds of experiences that influence their development. THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES ON DEVELOPMENT Theories describe psychological change or development over time. They serve two main functions: o They help organize and integrate existing information into coherent and interesting accounts of how children develop o They generate testable hypotheses or predictions about childrens behavior A good scientific theory allows one to make sense of a great number of observations, usually based on the fewest number of premises and can then be used to formulate setting for the collection of new observations.Structural-Organismic Perspectives How complex systems such as societies and kin systems, work. Freud and Piaget who were interested in psychological development adopted this approach called structuralism - Freud was interested in emotions and personality whereas Piaget was interested in thinking. They shared the view that the organism goes through an organized or structured series of stages or discontinuous changes, over the course of development. The stages were proposed as universal all members of the human species were thought to experience these stages regardless of when and where a child develops Freuds and Piagets theories are markedly different from each other SIGMUND FREUD - The psychodynamic theory which emphasizes how the experiences of early childhood shape the development of adult personality The developing personality consists of three interrelated parts: o Id the persons instinctual drive; the first component of the personality to evolve, the id operates on the basis of the pleasure principle. o Ego the rational controlling component of the personality (the id) which tries to satisfy needs through appropriate, socially acceptable behaviors o Superego emerges when the child internalizes; accepts and absorbs, parental or societal morals, values and roles and develops a conscience, or the ability to apply moral values to her own acts. Personality developments, changes in the organization and interaction of the id, ego and superego involves five stages. o Oral (0-1) focus on eating and taking things into the mouth; pleasurable activities. o Anal (1-3) emphasis on toilet training; first experience with discipline and authority. The child learns to postpone personal gratification such as ex
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