It is a global fact that early childhood development- provided for in the UN Sustainable Development goals- lays down human development’s foundations (Britto et al., 2017). As a consequence, different aspects of childhood development are influenced differently by factors privy to the phenomenon, leading to certain developmental disparities. Particularly, in 2-5-year-olds, a certain form of deprivation may impact a developmental domain or function. Consider the case of 3-year-old Jack. His mother’s fear emanates from suspecting a denial of some sort. Development in children encompasses multiple areas. However, two are discussed here. On the one hand, there’s cognitive development while on the other hand, social development. The above will be accompanied by an understanding of a couple of development theories, factors that influence the development and the relevance of understanding development to midwifery and nursing.
According to the California Department of Education, cognitive development entails growth and change processes in the mental abilities- how they think, understand, and reason, in the process, acquire and consolidate knowledge- of a child ("Cognitive Development Domain - Child Development (CA Dept of Education)", n.d.). An example of cognitive development in two to five-year-olds include memory abilities in that the children portray information or experience acquisition, storage, and recall over a period. More so, through the capacity to remember 2-5-year-olds can establish differences in people or objects, learn a language, articulate the rules of social interaction and take part in personal care routines such as relieving themselves. Also, symbol use in 3-5-year-old is associated with cognitive development (Bjorklund and Causey, 2017).
Social development refers to the process of learning values, knowledge, and skills that enhance children’s effective relations to others and contributions towards the same. It involves passage of learning both directly and indirectly (Mooney, 2013). For example, the passage could be through care providers or by social relationships. Examples of social development include language development. It enhances the child’s peers as interaction with them provides a child with the opportunity to practice and learn the skills related to the use of speech and language. Even more, 2-5-year-olds show more interest in others. The likely indicators of this level development are initiation or joining play with others and toy sharing(Mooney, 2013). Erickson’s theory of psychosocial theory of development classifies this as the third stage a person undergoes in an entire life cycle.
There are various theories that time and time again have been used to provide insight into the important aspects of cognitive and social development occurring in children at certain ages. Further, these theories inform on the factors that might be at play during development. For instance, Lev Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development posited that the transformation and internalization of information from the outside world occurred through language (Leech, 2015). Language, according to the theory is discovered through play. Language development and how a child understands the outside world is in largely influenced by play. Thus, 3-year-old Jack could be lagging behind in skill mastery and speech development due to a lack of enough players. Additionally,Vygotsky put forth that the interactive nature of play developed cognition arguing that social development must take place first. Another theory, UrieBronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory provides anexplanation as to how growth and development are influenced by the child’s environment and the child. Labeled in theory are the aspects of the environment that influence developments. These are the microsystem, microsystem, mesosystem, and ecosystem. These could be at play hence explaining the concerns put forth by Jack’s mom. The referral made by Child and Family health nurse to an informal environment is all geared to addressing the factors outlined by Bronfenbrenner’s theory. Besides, the zone of proximal development is illustrated by the distance that exist between the real level of development in independent problem-solving and the potential development level determined under guidance of adults or collaboration of peers. Such a mechanism represents Vygotsky ideas as an effective way of interacting with peers in the promotion of strategies and development of skills, like teachers can utilize the approach in the enhancing learning process among students.
Cognitive and social development is influenced by a number of factors Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory- briefly outlined above- classifies the factors into four major categories: microsystem, microsystem, mesosystem, and ecosystem. The ecosystem, comprising of factors such as interactions with other people influences development in a number of ways, also explaining why Jack’s case is as his mother explains. Parents, whether known to them or not, play an important role in teaching cognitive skills, Britto et al. (2017) reiterates this fact. The feat is achieved through taking part in parent-child discussions and taking up the role model role. In effect, the child’s major cognitive skills are enhanced. These are self-control, problem-solving and critical thinking (Britto et al., 2017). Ideally, in relation to parenting practices push children towards using their brains. Similarly, parenting practices influence social development by affecting their social functioning. Particularly, Joseph & John (2008) explain that a child’s “individuality, self-assertion and self-regulation” are enhanced by a parent’s support of the child’s demands and needs. Jack’s lag in skill mastery and speech development can be accounted for by this factor. According to the study, languages, traditions, beliefs values and behaviors, that constitute culture, influence perception of self among children and what they view as important (Weisner, 2014).
The relevance of understanding this life stage to nurse and midwifery practice is as follows. For instance, the approach provides expert advice to parents who express concern with their child’s level of development as compared to their peers (Barnes et al., 2015). Jack case is an example. Upon consulting the Child and Family Health Nurse, she is not only reassured that Jack would meet all mile stones, but she is referred to a women’s group that will help in discussing the strategies that will enable Jack to gain continence and further speech development. Two, as outlined by Barnes et al. (2015), understanding the life stage allows nurses and midwives give anticipatory guidance with appropriate timing. Giving information too early is not recommended as it might be forgotten when needed, and too late is not appropriate either it is possible the primary care giver might have overlooked an issue or addressed it in a way that does not suffice the need of the parent. Three, Huang et al., (2011) states that a nurse’s primary focus in pediatric care is adetermination of the level of developmental period of a child as a result, able to judge whether a child is normal for a particular stage of development. Without knowledge of cognitive and social development, a nurse will not be able to answer questions dealt by the parents regarding normalcy of certain behaviors noted by the parent.
In conclusion, understanding the important aspects of thedevelopment of children in certain age brackets is important since certain signals, affiliated to the developmental period of a child, will inform of the growth and development of the child. Close observation and fulfillment of a child’s needs by providing an appropriate environment. Importantly, nursing and midwifery areexists to provide parents with appropriate information at a particular stage. Thus, understanding life stages is imperative as the theories of developments and the examples that institute a certain developmental aspect is not known to many.
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