The Different Theories On Child Development

different theories on child development

In addition to having great success in bringing scientific and medical attention to what seemed to be a largely unknown subject, these three books also brought much needed balance to an often hyper-intellectual field. These were the first accounts of how science and medicine could help solve problems that appeared to be universally ignored by both doctors and parents. And, perhaps more importantly, these books offered a path to developing a positive self-discipline in a time when many believed that it was nearly impossible.

The uniqueness of these theories is their distinction between two important stages in the developmental period of a human being: cognitive and linguistic. Cognitive development deals with learning the basic principles of how people live, work and communicate and grammatical development provides people with the skills they need to use language in socially acceptable ways. In fact, it is the second stage that sets off the “child’s” real education.

Begins At Around The Age Of Four Or Five

As stated by different theories on child development, cognitive development usually begins at around the age of four or five and continues through childhood and adolescence. Various researchers have proposed different theories on when cognitive development should begin, pointing out that different tests may give different results. However, nearly all agree that it is during this stage that children start to differentiate between different colors, develop a language for speaking and choose objects based on what they see rather than what they say or do. Additionally, they start learning to read and write.

During the next two years, students go through linguistic and communicative stages. This part of developmental psychology focuses on the ways in which language and communication interact with one another to form the basis for societal interactions. This stage is known as grammar, because it involves the structured use of words and how they are used to form sentences, which determine how well the individual will be understood and therefore, learn. Several theories on child development explain this phase better: According to Lewis Hoddle, these grammatical principles are the building blocks of our language.

Jean Piaget

A little girl holding a piece of paper

Jean Piaget is another of the different developmental theories on child development. In his widely-respected Theory of Cognitive Development, Piaget postulates that children are born ready to learn but that, through socialization, parents and other caregivers, we block their development by subjecting them to too much information.

Piaget’s theories on childhood were controversial, particularly because he maintained that some children have superior cognitive abilities before their parents or other caregivers start teaching them basic skills. Piaget also postulates that heredity plays an important role in determining how apt a person is to learn new things.


The most influential of the developmental theories on child development is developmental biology, also known as Pervinism. John Maynard Smith developed this theory in which he postulates that children are born with a “natural developmental apparatus,” but that their “organic apparatus” malfunctions during the course of their lives due to several factors.

The most prominent of these factors are nutritional deficiencies, low levels of hormones and other chemicals, extreme stress, and various pathogens. This theory has been criticized by developmental psychologists who claim that there are many problems with Smith’s method. However, many scientists agree with Smith’s contention that children have a very complex digestive system and that these problems can be corrected through specific instruction.

Carl Jung

Carl Jung introduced what is known today as the analytical theory of psychological development. According to this theory, psychological processes develop in stages, each of which is further divided into sub-stages. These stages include self-realization, instinct, memory, imagination, sexual identity, and adulthood.

Jung believed that our psychological state or structure is shaped by our childhood experiences. He used the example of a human baby that is taken care of by its parents until it can take care itself, going through different psychological stages like instinctual, human, and adult, each of which is further divided into many more stages.

Final Words

These different theories on child development can help you when deciding on the best way for your child to reach his or her fullest potential. No matter which theory you choose, however, always make sure that you incorporate different developmental stages as part of your child’s life. Through this, you will have a better understanding as to how your child will be able to grow mentally and emotionally. Remember, these are only theories, and there is always more to learn about the process of child development so you and your family can make the most of it.

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