Development is a lifelong process encompassing socio-emotional, cognitive, and biological. Socio-emotional development entails the actions and behaviors that an individual exhibits in the process of doing an activity. These actions and behaviors are aimed at expressing inner feelings. They include avoiding aggression, showing appreciation towards others, relaxing in a bid to control overwhelming situations, and showing persistent in tough tasks. Biological development entails the observable physical changes in the life of an individual. They include motor skills such as the ability to coordinate the body movement, bending, adjusting body posture, maintaining balance while walking, and reaching for an object placed far away.

Different context and environment influences development in diverse ways. The different context include gender, customs, beliefs, socioeconomic status, stages in life, communication environments, home, school, and office.  There are numerous theories that have been formulated to explain the development of child in various contextual environments. This paper shall focus on the Erickson’s theory of psychosocial development.

This paper seeks to explore how different theorists have used their perspectives in explaining the lifespan development. More emphasis shall be placed on the biological and social-emotional developments. We shall observe the behavior of a child in the context of a physical environment. The paper shall also explore the effects of the environment on the different aspects of child development.

Case study: We shall observe a child in the playground with her caregiver

Assessor: What are the major challenges with children at this stage?

Caregiver: they easily f


Biological Observation

A child at the stage of between three to six years of age exhibits playfulness as they walk backward and jumps forward. This stage is characterized by immense motor development. The children are often explorative and very energetic. In the play ground, children at this stage are very jumpy and run round obstacles severally.

Piaget explains that children at the age of three to five years think abstractly and this affects their motor development. Abilities such as hopping skipping and jumping are refined as a result of cognitive influence. They are also able to be involved in large bodily movements which express their physical abilities. At this stage, children learn by observation and imitation. This involves the use of cognitive thinking. They can group things with regard to their colors irrespective of the size or shape. Teaching at this stage should take into account the fantasies involved in children thinking and their inability to represent time. They also learn by touching objects and feel the texture. They often get impressed with rough objects than smooth objects.

Freud theory of development explains playfulness in terms of gender explorations. He further asserts that at this stage, children tend to focus on their physical abilities and downplay those of others. They focus on sequence of objects to act as part of a whole. They show gross motor development since they desire to be successful and not failures.

Erickson explains that the playfulness is driven by the need for autonomy and innovativeness. At this stage, they will often the house and go to the neighbors to look for playmates. They desire autonomy and independence from the caregivers and even parents.

Social-emotional development

A child at the stage of three to five years often expresses the desire to form friendships especially with the opposite sex. At this stage, children express lots of independence and outward interactions. They start to be aware of the gender difference. We can also observe that while in school environment, boys tend to play with boys and girls play with girls. They express emotional aspects such as anger and love.

According to Freud, this stage is known as the phallic stage. Freud explains that children at this stage become more conscious with their genitals as well as for the other children. This brings lots of conflicts and thus they react with anger and resentment. This is also known as Oedipus complex. For the female, the desire for the male is known as penis envy or Electra complex. For the male children, this stage is characterized by great desire to be close to their mothers and the female they tend to be close to their fathers. On the contrary, a boy will always have a feeling of aggression and envy towards the father whom he may consider a rival. To some boys, this stage may cause them to be involved in sexual practices such as masturbation. The girls at this stage learn the roles of women by associating with the mother. The boy also learns the role of men by closely associating with the father. When they manage to solve this developmental conflict, they pass to the next stage known as the latency stage.

Erickson’s theory of psychosocial development explains that between three to five years of age, children begin to experience ego development outcome and this he terms as initiative vs guilt stage. At this stage, they develop the desire to create playing activities. Through influenced by Freud psychosexual theory, Erickson focus shifts his analysis towards the psychosocial features. He also asserts that at this stage children are almost unconsciously caught up in oedipal struggle. But at the moment when they manage to identify their social roles, this struggle ends. He further explains that when the natural goals and desires are frustrated, they experience some sense of guilt. The family relationship is therefore very vital in assisting children overcome the oedipal struggle. Erickson outlines that the children at this stage are often bothered by a question of whether they are good or bad. They also feel quilt when their initiative goals are not met. During this stage, children start to take up initiative for leadership and goal achievement roles. For instance, they will exercise leadership in the play ground by initiating new games.  They may engage in risk taking activities such as crossing the road without help.

Piaget’s theory of development explains this desire for independence in terms of cognitive development. Between the ages of three to five years, the children are in the stage known as pre-operational stage. He explains that at this stage, children’s thinking pattern is still egocentric and therefore may find it hard to take the ideas of others. Their thinking is basically influenced by fantasy. Because of their egocentric thought, they often fall into conflicts with others. Piaget further outlines the desire for autonomy as expressed by children in this stage. At this stage, children are engrossed in thinking that everything surrounding them feels the same way they feel. They start punishing the chair and believe that the chair will feel pain.

It is worth noting that even though the three theories above have divergent explanation to the aspect of social-emotional development, they tend to overlap in ideas. While Freud takes the psychosexual perspective, Erickson explains the development in terms of psychosocial, whereas Piaget is more inclined in the cognitive aspects.










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