Book Creator

Child Development Theories

by Julia Robinson <School of Nursing>

Pages 2 and 3 of 29

Child Development Theories
This book will explore child developmental theories using a variety of materials. Please work your way through this book and access it when needed as a useful resource

The theories explored in this book are:

Bowlby Attachment Theory

Psychoanalytical Theory (Freud)

Psychosocial Theory (Erikson)

Behaviourism and Social Cognitive Theories (Watson, Skinner and Bandura)

Cognitive development Theories (Piaget, Vygotsky)

Ecological Theory (Bronfenbenner)

New Approaches ( Neuropsychology, Behavioural Genomics)
Bowlby's Attachment Theory

Bowlby believed that children come into the world biologically pre-programmed to form attachments with others, because this will help them to survive

The child has an innate (i.e. inborn) need to attach to one main caregiver

Bowlby defined attachment as a 'lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.'

Children will seek proximity to the caregiver when feeling threatened or stressed

The child will form an attachment or bond to the caregiver that responds (whether that be negatively or positively)

Bowlby defined different stages of attachment - see next page

Bowlby's Stages of Attachment
PsychoAnalytical Theory
Freud believed that an individual's personality was made up of 3 parts: The Id, The Ego and The Superego.

Id: Freud thought everyone was born with an Id. It is made from our basic drives, it operates on the pleasure principle as it seeks immediate gratification for it's urges. For example, infants have no control of their drives ,if they get hungry they will scream for food until it is provided and therefore their urge is satisfied.

Ego: This is the ability to be able to balance between the basic drives and urges and the real world. As children grow older they become aware of the world around them and control their emotions but still get their needs met. They may still have the urges of feeling hungry, but know if they ask politely for food they will get it.

Superego: Moral principles are maintained by the Superego. Freud believed that children develop moral principles between the ages of 5-7 years , before then they do not feel guilt. So a younger child when hungry may help himself to a biscuit, but in an older child the superego helps them resist this urge and controls their actions as they know it is wrong to just take one.
Freud believed that the most fundamental drive was the sex drive.

In his psychosexual theory of development he outlined 5 stages and in each stage, sexual energy is invested in different parts of the body and the urges associated with these parts of the body are particularly pleasurable

The way on which the gratification of these urges were handled in these stages may lead to successful "completion" of the stages.
Freud argued that successful completion of these stages led to the development of a healthy personality, but fixation at any stage prevents completion andtherefore development of an unhealthy, fixated personality as an adult.

The different stages are oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital.

Although Freud's theories have been crticised over the decades (you will critique these theories in a later session) his theory still forms the basis of many mentat health therapies today.

(Levine, L.E. & Munsch, J. (2014) Child development: An Active Learning Approach 2nd Ed. London; Sage)