Child Observation and Analysis.

According to the theories of Piaget, Erikinson, Vygotsky and Brofenbrenner, I started observing a 1 year old child until she turned 2 years old. By living with this child I could observe and realize all the changes related to her development, it was very clear that with 2 years old she could accomplish more things, different movements’ and behaviors than when she was 1 year.
The cognitive-developmental theory of Piaget’s divide the sensorimotor stage into substages, which I could observe on this child, since I started observing her when she was 1, she was at the substage 5 – Tertiary Circular Reactions, what means that she should be able to explore objects, imitate unfamiliar behaviors and search in several locations for a hidden object. As I played with her I noticed that she could explore toys by holding and turning them around, and putting in her mouth, she could also repeat behaviors, she would keep dropping objects and I would keep picking it up for her, and finally she could look for a hidden toy in several locations, I would hid a toy and she would look under the pillow and other places until she found it, just like Piaget described on his theory.
With almost 2 years old, the child could copy behaviors that I did or her brother did, she would get a book and pretend she was reading it just like I read it to her, what shows that she could also engage into make-believe play, as Piaget described on the 6th substage. The child would not cry anymore if I put her into her crib and got out of the room, what means that she had mental representations of my self, and understood that I would still exist even if I wasn’t inside the room with her.
So between this year, the child development was according to Piaget’s theory, maybe something’s appeared a little sooner then what he described, but the two substages where all developed when she turned 2 years old.
Approaching another theory, Vygotsky’s socialcultural theory, I could observe that the child would not let me help her, or teach her how to do certain tasks, or play with toys that she could not do by herself. Only when the child started talking and socializing, around 20 months, is that I could notice that I interfered on her development, because if I kept talking to her, she would learn more worlds, she would ask me to play and help her doing things like putting her shoes on, and with that age she could play and learn things from her older brother. This concludes that Vygotsky’s theory is true, but not until the child is more skilled in language and social communication.
So Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories describes that children are active, constructive beings, but Piaget says that children have independent efforts to make sense of the world, while Vygostky says that the child cognitive development must be socially mediated, in other worlds, the child need the assistance of adults or more-expert peers provide to help them with new challenges. With my observation, I may say that Piaget’s theory is right, but when the child starts learning how to speak and have social communication, I turn into Vygotsky theory, because that is when the child begins to
need adults help to learn and do more complex tasks, around 20 months is when the child becomes more socially active and need others help to develop cognitive and social skills.
If we think about Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological system theory, we may approach it to Vygostk’s theory, because they bought agree that the social relationships are important for the child’s development, but Bronfenbrenner says that not only the personal culture affects the development, but a complex system of relationships like the family, the school, the neighborhood, religious institutions, the country, all of those system affects the child in a ever-changing way. And I may say that I agree with this theory, because I’m from another country, where there are different costumes, different rules and behaviors, so if I compare my country to this one that I have been living and observing the child, I can tell that these system really affect the child development not in a motor or physical way, but in cognitive way, because children from my country have different ways of thinking, behaving and social interacting.
But even if the child development is controlled by her inner disposition together with the environment, we can divide the development into stages like Piaget did, to facilitate our control and understanding of the child’s development, believing that not all children develop at the same time and in the same exactly way, they all have individual aspects that may affect their development.
Finally we have the Erikson’s psychosocial theory, where he describes that a child from birth to 1 year is living the Basic Trust versus Mistrust conflict, what means that the child must have her needs settled to get the confidence that the world is good and gratifying, so she can explore it. I could notice this substage with my child when I would get out of the room and she would cry, only when she was around 15 months is that she stopped crying and seemed to be confident to explore the world and trusting that I would be there if she needed me. This substage is very similar to Piagets 6th substage where the child is able to make mental representations and can understand that the caregiver still exists even out of sight and he is there to comfort and gratify her needs.
On Erikson’s second substage, he describes that the child is on the Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt conflict, which means that children using new mental and motor skills wants to choose and decide for themselves, and this conflict is resolved when parents provide suitable guidance and reasonable choices. When the little girl that I observed was around 20 months, she would not let me help her, she wanted to try doing things by herself, but around 23 months she started to ask me to help her doing the most difficult things, like closing her jacket and putting her shoes on, but she wanted to eat by herself and put the jacket by herself, and as I gave her the liberty to try doing those things by herself it seems that she got more confident and independent, and accepted that she could not do everything alone.
Knowing Erikson’s theory is a great guidance to help you understand and now how to behave in each substage of the child’s development, so in each conflict you now what is the best thing to do, so the child can develop and resolve her conflicts. Personally I believe and accept his theory more then the other ones, because it attaches the social and the psycho sides of development in one single theory, which makes more sense and is more complete.
In conclusion, all these theories add some knowledge about a child development, but the most complete would be Erikson’s psychosocial theory that is the amplest and is the one that helps us the most to know how to behave and help our children to resolve their conflicts. While Bronfenbrenner and Vygostky focus too much on the social, and Piaget focus only on cognitive and psycho development.
Autor: Nadia Prando

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