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Growth and development in human beings is a gradual process. Piaget’s theory gives an account of intellectual growth of human beings from birth. Through it, the perception of children can easily be studied. Piaget came up with four main stages: sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational and formal operational. These stages essentially defined how children develop intellectually. The sensorimotor stage takes place from the time a child is born through to 18-24 months of age. The stage is defined by the absence of representational thought (Kuhn 2008, pp. 48-55). This absence of representation extended through the lack of symbolic memories. Moreover, infants were also thought to be absolutely impulsive, lacking any planned or intentional behaviour. Piaget saw the development of infants as taking place through spontaneous responses to sensory stimuli. Cognition was later on gained basically through motor interactions. All of these interactions, opportunities and experiences allowed the infant to cope with different situations with which it is given exposure, thus offering them the symbolism foundation, object permanence, recall and memory through the conclusion of this stage. The child is at a point of making some independent decisions and can weigh a number of options before going one way.
At the pre-operational stage, the child is a toddler and can handle different objects and substitute them for some other different thing. For instance, the child at this stage can pick up a remote control and pretend it is a phone. On another occasion, the toddler can easily take up a pencil and a notepad and pretend to be a waiter or punch keys on a calculator with the assumption that it is a computer. These characteristics are instances of symbolic function at the pre-operational stage. After this stage comes the concrete operations stage. There is no assumption at this stage. The child tries to understand the environment and things surrounding him or her very hard. Children at this level can comprehend some things to a certain level but may at times not be in a position to think logically concerning what they see, read or hear. Lastly, there is the last stage known as the formal operations stage. The child can now feel free to operate at the little understanding that they got and take that as what is expected of them to do.
Piaget’s theory has received a lot of support from contemporary research findings on the success achieved in explaining the intellectual development in human beings. However, there is some weakness in the stage model for development as purported through Piaget’s theory. This is basically realized as the discussion on timeframes pertaining milestones and exact infantile abilities of cognition which have constantly been reviewed and occasionally modified greatly. The concept needed the antiquation of comprehensive stage based learning with the new concept of domain particular learning that defines the development of infants not being all-inclusive but rather certain domains emerge at their individual base (Kuhn 2008, pp. 48-55). Thus, an infant can in reality be at two completely different stages when describing two independent domains like language acquisition and motor skills.
1)Describe and evaluate Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation including a subsequent critique of his work.
Bowlby’s theory highlights the importance of the relationships of the mother and the infant as well as their dynamics. Born out of experience, Bowlby’s theory states that infants have a social nature in them which starts to manifest at a tender age of 6 months to a period of less than 24 months. The focus of an infant at this stage is directed towards a specific person or a number of them. The patterns of relationship acquired in the initial relationship of the child and the parent are internalized and become the foundation of the way a person gets into a relationship and ultimately maintains other close ones. The effort that led to the development of this theory was to make a discovery of the consequences of hardships in the formation of attachments in childhood and the effect that would be caused on the future development of the infant (Grossmann and Waters 2005, pp. 23-47).
Bowlby came up with a formulation of the idea that infants build up a very intimate emotional bond with an attachment figure at the initial stage in life and that the failure or the success of these initial relationships make the infant form a representation of the mind that would have a lot of effect on their future relationships and their individual success as parents. This is defined as an internal working model. For internal working models, mothers with mental representations of any insecure attachments with their parents seem to be less securely attached to their children as well. Based on the internal working model, long term and secure relationships with a caregiver are very important to the future development of the infant. Thus, any form of disruption to the bond of attachment before the child attains 24 months of age will definitely have negative repercussions in the future. This was what later came to be referred to as maternal deprivation hypothesis and is the significant concept of the theory of attachment. The failure to establish a stable bond of attachment during this time would amount to developmental retardation and affectionless psychopathy.
Bowlby’s theory asserts that the separation of the child from the mother greatly intensifies the ambivalence conflict. This theory has been used to explain why children kept in a residential nursery are more likely to be hostile and violent when compared to the children who are ever attached to their mother. According to Bowlby’s theory, both adults and infants have a set of instinctive characteristics known as parenting responses and social releasers (Grossmann and Waters 2005, pp. 23-47). These two sets of behaviour interact to increase the chances of providing quality care and definitely promote survival. Thus, the theory of attachment lays a great foundation for the development of children in the future. Social releasers on the part of the infant like smiling, gesturing and crying present natural parenting responses which become the basis of the process of forming attachments between the caregiver and the infant. This is a very important aspect towards the development of the child in the future.
2)Explore the role of nature and nurture in child development and explain why most psychologists believe that development is a mixture of both nature and nurture.
Child development is a multifaceted concept that relies on the factors of nature and nurture. It is true as purported by many psychologists that the development of children relies greatly on a mixture of both nature and nurture. Nature defines the fundamental skills that are ‘hardwired’ into the brain of humans like what the baby does after birth (Westen 2002, pp. 11-36). A deeper comprehension of nature would certainly lead to a debate on the evolution theory as if a creation may be born already with the knowledge of some things like speech without any teaching, that would have been a kind of evolution and then nurture would end up being nature. Nurture, on the other hand, defines how an adult or a child was brought up and the effect this had on the personality of that individual such as the language of the person. Nurture closely resembles nourishment. This is very crucial as to be nourished is to have had eaten and absorbed food nutrients. The same case applies to nurture as a child learns and absorbs what is contained in the information given to it.
The development of a child mainly depends on the way a child lives. Thus, it is not true that a child born of a criminal will end up being an offender. If a child has not direct contact with the parent, then it is most certain that there will be no influence from the parents and will not have the same attitude as that of the parent. On another view, some traits are similar and can be passed on from the parent to the child through genetic information. These are such things like look and others that can be seen on the surface like the skin tone. Intelligence is somehow of both nature and nurture as an individual can naturally be in a position to absorb facts but would still require a place to have those facts implying that it was a combination of both nature and nurture. By taking this into account, a child that has not been privy to the language of another person will not learn to speak. The child could be in a position to make sounds like crying although this is something that is natural to every child that has been born. When a child is nurtured from a tender age, he or she would be in a position to learn the skills of the parent (Westen 2002, pp. 11-36). In the absence of the parent, the child will learn differently from what the case should have been with the parent. The kind of nurturing that the child determines the kind of person that the child will develop into. Nurturing picks up from the basic skills of nature and moulds a child into the ultimate personality it will finally have. Thus, nature can be determined by genes and the innate being of the child. On the other hand, the environment and nurturing process which the child goes through amounts to development into the personality that will define the person in the future.