A Paper Presented in Partial Fulfillment
Of the Requirements of
Psy202 Understanding Human Development
Biosocial, Cognitive, and psychosocial change does not end with infancy. Between the ages of 2 through 6, the brain and body grow and develop more intensely, the child’s thought process advances to new heights, language skills improve, emotional growth occurs, and interpersonal relationships develop to new levels. This is a time of both experience-expectancy as well as experience-dependency. These new found energies, abilities, and experiences help pave the way to more self-sufficient roles; so long as the child is given proper guidance and supervision.
As children leave their infant years and move ahead into the early childhood, better known as “the play years”, they again change on every possible level. Biological, Cognitive, and Psychosocial Development are noted as physical, educational, emotional, and personality enhancements that help create new milestones. On the following pages, we shall discuss these different areas, provide examples and show how the development of a child aged two through six progresses. By the end of this document, one should be able to provide a simple description of this process with little to no difficulty.
Biological development covers the changes within a child that are physical in nature. These involve areas such as brain development, and physical traits. Obviously these miniatures, pre-adult, human beings have only just begun to take on a more adult form, and yet their brain will reach 90% of its full futuristic size by the time the child reaches age two (Annenberg, 2007). This, in it’s self, seems almost impossible to believe, as one considers the fact that an average child only gains about three inches and four pounds per year during this time frame. It’s also interesting to note that during this extreme growth sprit, the brain goes through a process called myelination; this process is signified by axons and dendrites becoming insulated with an outside layer called myelin. For the record, myelin is an oily material that speeds the transmission of nerve impulses from neurons to neurons in the brain (Annenberg, 2007). This process does not carry a specific time frame, and may vary depending on the area of the brain in which it happens. These variations determine when the child will be ready to advance in their individual activities. Some of these activities include, but are not limited to, the development of athletic skills, which include actions such as running, jumping, & hopping; along with, the development of fine motor skills such as penmanship and drawing (Annenberg, 2007). These milestones will continue to strengthen as the child continues to grow so long as the child does not face limiting circumstances that would halt the growth of his or her development.
Cognitive development describes the intellectual or educational side of human growth. It includes but is not limited to the thinking process, perceptual ability, and communication. It’s actually during early childhood Metacognition, which is the ability to rationalize ones thoughts, forms and allows a child to begin to shape their own opinions of the world around them (Annenberg, 2007). However, it should be noted that it’s not unusual for these thoughts to be completely illogical in nature. To substantiate this statement let’s look at Jean Piaget (1896-1980), the Swiss psychologist, who divided childhood schemas into groups. He said that a child between the age of two and seven resides in the “preoperational” stage (Wikipedia, 2007), which is the second of four stages of cognitive development, the trademark of which is sparse and irrational mental operations. According to him, symbolic functioning, centration, intuitive thought, and egocentrism all represent this stage of cognitive development. Basically, this means symbols and words mean things that aren’t physically available to initiate the thought process, that children see only one side of the situation they are involved in, that they believe in the unseen without any reason at all, that they are incapable of understanding another’s point of view, and that children are unable to distinguish when an object has changed form but has not changed mass (weight). To me, this theory seems to only focus primarily on the negatives of this age when further research shows that on a scholastic level, a child will begin to use mental representations of symbols, such as numbers and words but by age six should have an approximate vocabulary of 14,000 words (Annenberg, 2007). As a mother I know that children this age begin to draw simple images, and cut along dotted lines as well (Jaeckel, 2001). Not to mention, they form new abilities, which allow the child to alter communication styles to meet the expectations of his or her surroundings (Annenberg, 2007). Obviously, the young child has along road ahead but then again, they have already mastered a great deal as well.
Psychosocial Development describes more intimate areas of human development. These intimate areas include a child’s emotional character, their personality, and ability to form and maintain interpersonal relationships. These important traits are influenced by parental styles (Annenberg, 2007); this also includes the influences of other promenade individuals such as grandparents, teachers, and etc. This stage begins a deeper need for extended adult supervision as children do not always have the ability to rationalize the consequences of their actions.
Adult supervision should include increased praise and unconditional love. It’s important that adults try to keep an 8:1 positive comment ratio (Funk, 2007). In other words, for every negative thing an adult must say to a child, there should be eight positive ones that follow. Indeed, this isn’t always an easy task and as humans we don’t always remember to count but if adults attempt to provide this support, a child’s self esteem and image will be enhanced and their confidence will strengthen allowing them to confidently embark on newer activities w/ less difficulty (Funk, 2007).
Discipline plays a key role in psychosocial development. A sharp, consistently maintained set of rules and consequences will help to eliminate years of painful backlash, and arguments for a child’s caregiver. All caregivers should maintain these limitations because the more a child’s support system works together the better the system would work as a whole for the child (Funk, 2007)
According to Diana Baumrind’s, 1966, (Grobman, 2003) description of three parenting styles, Parenting influences a child’s behaviors and ability to function. She states that a parent, who possesses a “Permissive” parenting style, acts with acceptance and affirmation, routinely explains rules, and makes fewer demands; while allowing the child to chose for itself what road to follow. This parenting style is more apt to use manipulation and reason than adverse consequences to discourage unwanted behaviors. Diana states that the second type of parenting is noted as the “Authoritarian” parenting style, in which the parent attempts to, not only control all aspects of a child’s decisions but also seeks to hold absolute power in all areas. The child is seen more as an extension of thy self rather than an individual being and therefore the parent attempts to keep the child in its place. This restricts the child’s ability to make decisions based on will without punitive consequences should they defy the parent’s expectations. Last but not least, Diana asserts that there is an “Authoritative” parenting style. With this style the parent not only shares the reasons for their decisions, but takes the child’s feelings into consideration as they make those decisions as well. This provides the possibility of an open give and take relationship, where a child has the ability to grow and experience w/out fear of rejection. Obviously each of the above parenting styles has distinctive results. We will not embark on those results except to say that “Authoritative” parenting seems to be the favored approach because it supposedly creates happy, self-confident, well-developed children. However, It’s my opinion that parents must decide which is the best road for their individual child and each parent will be influenced by their own childhood and the relationships they shared with their parents along with their own experience as the years go by. Children defy the odds of psychological opinions on a daily bases, and history shows that even the most controlling or lenient parent can produce a well-adjusted child. Over all, adult mentoring makes an extreme difference in a child’s emotional and psychological development. The investments of today will contribute to the child’s personal, and professional relationships of tomorrow (Funk, 2007).
As you can see, between the ages of two and six, a child has a lot going on. Their bodies are growing, their physical appearance is changing, and their brain is working behind the scene to create changes in ways that are unique. They learn new skills by watching others, and engaging in several forms of spontaneous play. The actions of adult role models will assist in the learning experience on an psychological, Sociological, and Emotional level because children of this age not only enjoy the attention of others around them; they also enjoy knowing that others are proud of them and their accomplishments. In conclusion, children will learn to understand the world around them while learning to become independent so long as they receive the support they need.
Annenberg Media (2007). Discovering Psychology. Retrieved Jan. 20, 2007
From WGBH Educational Foundation website:
Funk, John. M.A. (2007) Help Fix that Child. Retrieved Jan 20, 2007
From the Early Childhood News Website:
Grobman, K.H. (2003). Diana Baumrind’s (1966) Rototypical Descriptions of 3 Parenting Styles. Retrieved Jan 21, 2007.
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Jaeckel, Jennifer. (2001) Chapter 6 Outline. Retrieved Jan 20., 2007.
From the University Of Michigan Psychology Course Website:
Wikimedia. (2007). Theory of Cognitive Development Retrieved Jan. 21, 2007
From Wikimedia Free Encyclopedia website: