Development In Early Childhood
The study explores maturation, physical, psychological, social and behavioural development of a 2 year old female. She just started her preschool years and lives in a family of four elders.
Children around this age are still seeking power and control and are also enjoying a sense of new found independence. Allowing the child explore this independence in a good way can help build a strong sense of will and on the other hand, an overly criticised child lacks esteem. In my case study, I observed that the child progressed well in learning how to effectively perform tasks that that were difficult before I started observing her. For example, upon getting a puzzle for her, I noticed that she wanted to build it on her own without my help because somehow, she felt like I was going about it faster than she was which was true. She faced difficulties in placing one piece where it belongs and upon realizing that she was close to accepting defeat, I stepped in and explained to her how to make it easier by starting with the outer pieces of the puzzle. By observing how I did it she can now do the ten pieced puzzle on her own.
In addition, I also observed that during her homework time, she would specifically sit where she normally sees me sitting during my study session even though her mother insists she sits elsewhere close to her so she can help. I concluded that, Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory was right in saying children learn by observation and imitation.
Erik Erikson believes that the stage that helps children progress through early childhood is called autonomy vs shame and doubt. He believes that a child needs to have some level of control over themselves and their surroundings with kind support from parents so that the child does not lose esteem. In my case study, the child managed to unleash a sense of independence or will by showing her eagerness in wanting to build the puzzle on her own the first time she tried it. I also guided her when she could not handle it alone the first time. By not criticizing her when she failed, she has now learned and gained the positive virtue of will and has an increased knowledge that a little help sometimes is worth it. This builds her social development and social interactions with people.
Physical changes in this age group are changes in the brain and fine motor skills. During my study, I figured that she showed interest in playing catch and during my final observation I noticed that she had improved way better that the first time we started playing. During the game, she would jump and try to reach for higher balls and also run to catch the ball before it landed the ground. She also improved in pencil holding throughout my observation which is an early childhood milestone faced by pre-schoolers. All of the above mentioned, proved to show how skills of children this age change adversely. By also observing an element of school readiness when she reminds her mother every now and then after school that she has to do her homework, there is change in how her mind operates. She now has the eagerness to meet targets and do her work on time.
Furthermore, I observed that she imagined things and symbols while playing. According to Jean Piaget’s cognitive theory, Preoperational Stage of Development is the second stage of development that deals with the aforementioned observations. During this stage, children learn by using language and mental images. She usually fantasizes on being the mother to her teddy bear and even pretends to breast feed it (symbolic play). Piaget also mentioned egocentrism of children during this stage. This is a child’s inability to see a situation from another person’s point of view and I observed that when it was time to go to bed, she would give her mother a headache in getting her to bed because she would still want to continue watching cartoons. Even though the mother stressed the point that she had to sleep because she had school in the morning, she failed to understand it from her mother’s point of view and ended up crying instead.
Socio-emotional development in early childhood is also an important tool. This is when the attachment between the caregiver and child becomes critical. A study shows that the quality of emotional attachment or lack of attachment formed early in life may serve as a model for later relationships. I observed that the child is presently having a secure attachment because she usually refuses to sleep with nobody but her mother. This justifies the security she is getting from her mother.
In my study, I observed that every time I sang a praise song to the child after she finishes her food, she would always want to finish her food so that she gets to be praised once more. This behaviour can be linked with B.F Skinner’s operant conditioning. He suggested that the behaviour of a child is influenced by the outcome of that behaviour. Therefore, if the behaviour yielded a positive outcome such as getting a reward, it was more likely for the behaviour to occur again in future.
As I was observing the child I noticed that she faced communication milestones which were atypical patterns of development and are challenges in the preschool years. She sometimes used language inappropriately resulting in failure to be understood. This is accompanied by unusual social interaction patterns and limited play with other children.
My case study critically assessed the development of a child. I was interested in whether the theories of development are relevant to my case study which proved right.
- Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Bandura, A. (2018). Egocentric Childhood Theories. Allanarobbinson.com/early-childhoodtheories-albert-bandura
- Bowman, Barbara T, Donovan, M. Suzanne; and BURNS, M. (2001). Eager to Learn: Educating our pre-schoolers. Washington DC: National Academy Press.
- McLeod, S (2018). The Preoperational Stage of Cognitive Development. Simplypsychology.org/preoperationalhtml
- McLeod, S (2018). Skinner- Operant Conditioning. Simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioninghtml
- Piaget, J. (1951). Egocentric thought and sociocentric thought. J Piaget Sociological studies, 270-286.
- Skinner, B.F. (1953). Science and human behaviour. SimonandSchuster.com