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Jean Piaget • Lev Vygotsky

Abraham Maslow  • B.F. Skinner •                   
Erik Erickson • Howard Gardner
Why Study Child & Parenting
Development Theories?

Theories help people:

– Organize their ideas about raising children.
– Understand influences on parenting.
– Discover more than one way to interact with
– Analyze the benefits and consequences of
using more than one theory.
Why Study the Selected
The selected theories:

– Have been popular and influential.

– Represent different approaches to parent-child


– Offer help in the “real world” of daily child-rearing.

– Make good common sense.

Child Development
• Definition:
– Change in the child that occurs over time.
Changes follow an orderly pattern that moves
toward greater complexity and enhances
• Periods of development:
– Prenatal period: from conception to birth
– Infancy and toddlerhood: birth to 2 years
– Early childhood: 2-6 years old
– Middle childhood: 6-12 years old
– Adolescence: 12-19 years old
Domains of Development
Development is described in three domains, but growth
in one domain influences the other domains.
• Physical Domain:
– body size, body proportions, appearance, brain development, motor
development, perception capacities, physical health.
• Cognitive Domain:
– thought processes and intellectual abilities including attention, memory,
problem solving, imagination, creativity, academic and everyday
knowledge, metacognition, and language.
• Social/Emotional Domain:
– self-knowledge (self-esteem, metacognition, sexual identity, ethnic
identity), moral reasoning, understanding and expression of emotions,
self-regulation, temperament, understanding others, interpersonal skills,
and friendships.
6th - 15th centuries
Medieval period
• Preformationism: children seen as little adults.
• Childhood is not a unique phase.
• Children were cared for until they could begin
caring for themselves, around 7 years old.
• Children treated as adults (e.g. their clothing,
worked at adult jobs, could be
married, were made into
kings, were imprisoned or
hanged as adults.)
16th Century
Reformation period

• Puritan religion influenced how children

were viewed.
• Children were born evil, and must be
• A goal emerged to raise children
• Special books were designed for children.
17th Century
Age of Enlightenment
• John Locke believed in
tabula rasa

• Children develop in
response to nurturing.

• Forerunner of behaviorism locke-john.jpg
18th Century
Age of Reason
• Jean-Jacques Rousseau
– children were noble savages, born with
an innate sense of morality; the timing of
growth should not be interfered with.

• Rousseau used the idea of

stages of development.

• Forerunner of maturationist
19th Century
Industrial Revolution
• Charles Darwin
– theories of natural selection and
survival of the fittest

• Darwin made parallels

between human prenatal
growth and other animals.

• Forerunner of ethology
20th Century
Theories about children's development
expanded around the world.

• Childhood was seen as worthy of

special attention.

• Laws were passed to protect

Beliefs focus on the formation of personality.
According to this approach, children move
through various stages, confronting conflicts
between biological drives and social
Sigmund Freud
Psychosexual Theory
• Was based on his
therapy with troubled
• He emphasized that a
child's personality is
formed by the ways
which his parents
managed his sexual
and aggressive drives.
Psychoanalytic Theories:
• Freud’s Psychosexual Theory
– Personality has 3 parts
– There are 5 stages of psychosexual
– Oedipus complex allows child to identify
with same-sex parent
– Fixation is an unresolved
conflict during a stage of
Freudian Stages
Birth to 1½ to 3 3 to 6 6 yrs to Puberty
1½ yrs yrs years puberty onward
Oral Stage Anal Stage Phallic Latency Genital
Stage Stage Stage
Infant’s Child’s
pleasure pleasure Child’s Child A time of
centers on focuses on pleasure represses sexual
mouth anus focuses on sexual reawakening;
genitals interest source of
and develops sexual
social and pleasure
intellectual becomes
skills someone
outside of the

Figure 2.1
Erik Erikson
Psychosocial Theory
• Expanded on Freud's
• Believed that development
is life-long.
• Emphasized that at each
stage, the child acquires
attitudes and skills resulting
from the successful
negotiation of the
psychological conflict.
Life is a series of stages. Each individual must pass
through each stage. The way in which a person
handles each of these stages affects the person’s
identity and self-concept. These psychosocial stages
1. Trust vs. mistrust (birth to 1 year)
2. Autonomy vs. shame & doubt (2 to 3
3. Initiative vs. guilt (4 to 5 years)
4. Industry vs. inferiority (6 to 11 years)
5. Identity vs. role confusion (12 to 18
6. Intimacy vs. isolation (young adulthood)
7. Generativity vs. stagnation (middle
Psychosocial Theory of Human
8. Integrity vs. despair (older adulthood)

Development – Erik Erikson

Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory of Human
Ego Integrity vs. Despair
Generativity vs. Stagnation

Intimacy vs. Isolation

Identity vs. Role Confusion

Industry vs. Inferiority

Initiative vs. Guilt

Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt

Trust vs. Mistrust

Critique of Erik Erikson
• Supporters of this Eriksonian theory, suggest that
those best equipped to resolve the crisis of early
adulthood are those who have most successfully
resolved the crisis of adolescence.

• On the other hand, Erikson's theory may be

questioned as to whether his stages must be
regarded as sequential, and only occurring within
the age ranges he suggests. There is debate as to
whether people only search for identity during the
adolescent years or if one stage needs to happen
before other stages can be completed.
Cognitive Theories

Beliefs that describe how children learn

Jean Piaget - 1896-1980
The behavior of children and the development of their thinking can only be
explained by the interaction of nature (intrinsic development) and nurture (extrinsic
environmental factors).
Goal of cognitive development
– Biological survival
Cognitive development as biological adaptation
– Adaptation of mental constructs from experiences
– Learner as ‘the little scientist’
Knowledge originates from the environment
– Assimilation + accommodation lead to equilibrium
– Cognitive development involves active selection, interpretation, and
construction of knowledge
Cognitive Development Theory
Two processes are essential for development:
– Assimilation
» Learning to understand events or objects,
based on existing structure.
– Accommodation
» Expanding understanding,
based on new information.

Jean Piaget (1896-1980)

Children pass through specific stages as they develop their Cognitive Development
•Sensorimotor – birth - 2 years – infants develop their intellect
•Preoperational – 2-7 years – children begin to think symbolically and imaginatively
•Concrete operational – 7-12 years – children learn to think logically
•Formal operational – 12 years – adulthood – adults develop critical thinking skills
Lev Vygotsky - 1896-1934
The cultures in which children are raised and the ways in
which they interact with people influence their intellectual
development. From their cultural environments, children
learn values, beliefs, skills, and traditions that they will
eventually pass on to their own children. Through
cooperative play, children learn to behave according to the
rules of their cultures. Learning is an active process.
Learning is constructed.

Main points
• Development is primarily driven by
language, social context and adult
What is Zone of Proximal Development?

It is a range of tasks that a child cannot yet do alone but can

accomplish when assisted by a more skilled partner.

There is a zone of proximal development for each task. When

learners are in the zone, they can benefit from the teacher’s

Learners develop at different rates so they may differ in their ability

to benefit from instructions.
What is: Scaffolding
Assistance that allows students to complete tasks
that they are not able to complete independently.

Effective scaffolding is responsive to students’

needs. In classroom, teachers’ provide
scaffolding by:

•Breaking content into manageable pieces

•Modeling skills
•Provide practice and examples with prompts
•Letting go when students are ready
Biological Theories

Belief that heredity and innate

biological processes govern growth
Maturationists: G. Stanley Hall
and Arnold Gesell

• Believed there is a predetermined

biological timetable.

• Hall and Gesell were proponents of the

normative approach to child study:
using age-related averages of children's
growth and behaviors to define what is
• Examines how behavior is
determined by a species' need for
• Has its roots in Charles Darwin's
• Describes a "critical period" or
"sensitive period,” for learning
Konrad Lorenz

• Ethologist,
known for his
research on
Attachment Theory

• John Bowlby applied ethological

principles to his theory of
• Attachment between an infant and
her caregiver can insure the infant’s
Behavioral and Social
Learning Theories

Beliefs that describe the importance of

the environment and nurturing in the
growth of a child
John Watson
• Early 20th century, "Father of
American Behaviorist theory.”
• Based his work on Pavlov's
experiments on the digestive
system of dogs.
• Researched classical
• Children are passive beings
who can be molded by
controlling the stimulus-
response associations.
B. F. Skinner

• Proposed that children "operate" on their

environment, operational conditioning.

• Believed that learning could be broken

down into smaller tasks, and that offering
immediate rewards for accomplishments
would stimulate further learning.
Theory of Behaviorism-
B.F Skinner & others
Based on Locke’s tabula rasa (“clean slate”) idea, Skinner
theorized that a child is an “empty organism” --- that is, an
empty vessel --- waiting to be filled through learning

Any behavior can be changed through the use of positive

and negative reinforcement. Behaviorism is based on cause-
and-effect relationships.
Major elements of behaviorism
– Positive and negative reinforcement
– Use of stimulus and response
– Modeling
– Conditioning.
Social Learning Theory
Albert Bandura
• Stressed how
children learn
by observation
and imitation.
• Believed that
children gradually become more
selective in what they imitate.
Bandura’s Modeling/Imitation

Child Child imitates

observes behavior
someone that seems
admired rewarded
Systems Theory

The belief that development can't be

explained by a single concept, but
rather by a complex system.
Urie Bronfenbrenner
Ecological Systems
• The varied systems of the
environment and the
interrelationships among the
systems shape a child's
• Both the environment and
biology influence the child's
• The environment affects the
child and the child influences
the environment.
Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Model
• The microsystem - activities and
interactions in the child's
immediate surroundings: parents,
school, friends, etc.
• The mesosystem - relationships
among the entities involved in the
child's microsystem: parents'
interactions with teachers, a
school's interactions with the
daycare provider
• The exosystem - social institutions
which affect children indirectly: the
parents' work settings and policies,
extended family networks, mass
media, community resources
• The macrosystem - broader
cultural values, laws and
governmental resources
• The chronosystem - changes which
occur during a child's life, both
personally, like the birth of a
sibling and culturally, like the Iraqi
Theory of Multiple
Howard Gardner
Howard Gardner’s theory
Howard Gardner defines intelligence as
"the capacity to solve problems or to
fashion products that are valued in one or
more cultural setting" (Gardner & Hatch,
1989). Using biological as well as cultural
research, he formulated a list of seven
intelligences. This new outlook on
intelligence differs greatly from the
traditional view that usually recognizes only
two intelligences, verbal and mathematical.
Who is Howard Gardner?
• Howard Gardner is a psychologist and
Professor at Harvard University's
Graduate School of Education.
• Based on his study of many people,
Gardner developed the theory of
multiple intelligences.
• Gardner defines intelligence as “ability
to solve problems or to create products
which are valued in one or more
cultural settings.”
• According to Gardner, 8 different
types of intelligence are displayed
by humans.
Gardner’s Intelligences:
consists of the ability to:
• detect patterns
• reason deductively
• think logically

This intelligence is most often associated

with scientific and mathematical
Famous examples: Albert Einstein, John Dewey.
• involves having a mastery of
• This intelligence includes the
ability to effectively manipulate
language to express oneself
rhetorically or poetically.
• It also allows one to use language
as a means to remember information.
Famous examples: Charles Dickens, Abraham Lincoln, T.S. Eliot,
Sir Winston Churchill.
Spatial Intelligence
• gives one the ability to
manipulate and create mental
images in order to solve
• This intelligence is not limited
to visual domains--Gardner
notes that spatial intelligence
is also formed in blind children.
Famous examples: Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright
Musical Intelligence
• encompasses the capability to recognize
and compose musical pitches, tones, and

(Auditory functions are required for a person

to develop this intelligence in relation to
pitch and tone, but these functions would
not be needed for the knowledge of
Famous examples: Mozart, Leonard Bernstein, Ray Charles.
Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
• is the ability to use one's mental abilities to coordinate one's
own bodily movements.
• This intelligence challenges the popular belief that mental and
physical activity are unrelated.
• The ability to use your body skillfully to solve problems, create
products or present ideas and emotions.
• An ability obviously displayed for athletic pursuits, dancing,
acting, artistically, or in building and construction.
• You can include surgeons in this category but many people who
are physically talented–"good with their hands"–don't recognize
that this form of intelligence is of equal value to the other

Famous examples: Charlie Chaplin, Michael Jordan.

Interpersonal Intelligence
• The ability to work effectively with others
• to relate to other people
• display empathy and understanding
• notice their motivations and goals.

This is a vital human intelligence displayed by

good teachers, facilitators, therapists,
politicians, religious leaders and sales
Famous examples: Gandhi, Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa, Oprah Winfrey.
The ability for self-analysis and reflection–to be
able to:
• quietly contemplate and assess one's
• review one's behavior and innermost feelings
• make plans and set goals
• know oneself

Philosophers, counselors, and many peak performers in

all fields of endeavor have this form of intelligence.

Famous examples: Freud, Eleanor Roosevelt, Plato.

Naturalist intelligence
designates the human ability to discriminate
among living things (plants, animals) as
well as sensitivity to other features of the
natural world (clouds, rock configurations).
to make distinctions in the natural world and to use this ability
productively–for example in hunting, farming, or biological science.

Farmers, botanists, conservationists,

biologists, environmentalists would all
display aspects of the intelligence.
Famous examples: Charles Darwin, Rachel Carson.
Can we be more than one?

• Although the intelligences are anatomically separated from each other,
Gardner claims that the eight intelligences very rarely operate
• Rather, the intelligences are used concurrently and
typically complement each other as individuals develop
skills or solve problems.

For example, a dancer can excel in his art only if he/she has 
• strong musical intelligence to understand the rhythm and
variations of the music 
• bodily-kinesthetic intelligence to provide him with the agility
and coordination to complete the movements successfully
• interpersonal intelligence to understand how he can inspire or
emotionally move his audience through his movements
Maslow’s Theory

Maslow’s theory maintains that a person

does not feel a higher need until the
needs of the current level have been
satisfied. Maslow's basic needs are as
Basic Human Needs
• Food
• Air
• Water
• Clothing
• Sex
Physiological Needs
Safety and Security
• Protection
• Stability
• Pain Avoidance
Safety Needs • Routine/Order
Love and Belonging
• Affection
• Acceptance
Social Needs
• Inclusion
Esteem Needs • Self-Respect
• Self-Esteem
• Respected by

• Achieve full
• Fulfillment