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Explore The Life Span Development

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The purpose of the assignment is to explore the life span development that refers to age related changes that continues until old age. The main stages of lifespan are infancy, childhood, adolescent, adult (early, middle, and late) and old age. These stages are important in life as at each stage the life form is enabled to accomplish the task of surviving, thriving and maturing. Human beings have self conscious and social capabilities and hence it is important to have these stages where change occurs beyond physical realm. In response to the case study, the assignment aims to examine the important aspects of the cognitive and social development that occur in children.

According to Piaget theory of cognitive development, mental processes results from the environmental experience and biological maturation. This theory explains that cognitive development is central part of human being. The two aspects knowledge and understanding are obtained via cognitive development and language is contingent on this two aspects. The theory states that children understand the world by experiencing on their own (Modgil et al., 2013).

 Piaget put forward the stages of cognitive development that reflects the increasing sophistication of thoughts in children. From birth to 2 years of age, the cognitive development is known to be in sensorimotor stage where the child learns that the objects exist. For example, child may show interest in toys. They coordinate experiences such as hearing or vision with the physical interaction with objects such as sucking, and grasping. The age of 2-5 years is characterised by the Pre-operational stage of the cognitive development. In this stage, the child is able to think about the objects symbolically.  This stage is followed by the concrete operation stage (7-11 years) which marks the beginning of the operational or logical thought. From 11 years onwards, the formal operation stage begins. This stage lasts till adulthood and in this stage the children develop the ability to think about the abstract concepts (love, fear, joy). They can even logically test hypothesis (Feldman, 2016).

In the given case study, Jack is 3 years old and thus his cognitive development is in the Pre-operational stage. At this age, the child begins to learn how to speak and make rapid progress. They can quickly accommodate new words (eg. Mama or papa) and phrases and construct simple sentences. It indicates that the child is moving from  immature to mature state and from illogical to logical state. This stage may last until seven years. At this stage, a child wants to learn everything. External speech is the first step in the “development of thinking”. At this age, a child mainly deals with gestures, movement, and not words (Berk, 2017). In the case study, Jack is able to speak one or two sentences by babbling. Several factors can delay speech development.


One of the factors may be that Jack has late onset of the Pre-operational stage. It may happen that in case of Jack the significant part of the language includes movements, gestures, and sounds.  Since these are not words, the child may not be able to express the same. Jack may be lacking the ability to view things from different perspective other than his own.  Therefore, his language has not become socialised (Bjorklund & Causey, 2017). Jack may not be able to gain different perspectives because he spends very less time with adults. Vanessa is working mother and Jack spends two days in a week and four hours each in day centre. Infants adopt the speaker’s communicative intent, which acts as guide for their language learning.  When children are in environment that involves more verbal communication, they are to quickly learn the language when compared to spending time alone. Spending with families speaking verbally to child increases the rate of speech development. This is not the case with Jack as he spends mostly with toddlers and children of his age. Although Jack may be meeting all the milestones, his speech is delayed. Considering the case of other children in day care centre they may be spending quality time with the family. Piaget explained that direct or intelligent thought aids in language and the child may be learning this intelligence. Jack may be lacking the right environment to develop speech and thus Vanessa may modify his learning environment. Nurse can state these factors to Vanessa and refer her to speech therapist in case the problem persists (Feldman, 2016).   

Erikson’s theory of social development includes eight stages upto the age of 18 years. It means that there is plenty of room for development and continued growth. From infancy to adulthood, a crisis occurs at each stage and is of psychological nature. The crisis emerges from the psychological needs of the individual (Psycho), which seems to conflict with the societal needs (McAdams et al., 2015). Considering the case study of Jack only the on stage out of the eight stages will be considered in this essay. This stage is 18 months-3 years and refers to the psychological crisis- Autonomy Vs Shame & doubt. Pertaining to this stage Erikson emphasised that children should be taught to take care of themselves. The need for the child to take self-care such eating, changing clothes, or toilet is important. Relying on others may create a feeling of shame and guilt. If a child observes that other members of same age can perform basic activities independently, it may create doubt on not able to behave in same manner (Overton, 2013).

In the given case study, Jack is not yet toilet trained during the day. As per Vanessa, other children of his age have mastered these skills. It means Jack is lacking virtue called will. With the growth, the child tends to become independent and gain control over eliminative functions. In order to reach this stage parents need to provide strong security. In case of Jack, parental support is poor. Thus, he fails to venture out to assert his will. The caregivers encourage the self-sufficient behaviour in children due to which they develop autonomy (McAdams et al., 2015). In this case the caregivers may not be encouraging Jack. Alternately, the caregivers may be demanding too soon from Jack due to which Jack may doubt his abilities to handle the crisis.  Parents must teach the children to learn from their failures and attempt new challenges. Being too must restrictive can create emotional issues in children that is associated with poor toilet training (Berk, 2017). Vanessa foes not seem to offer such supportive environment to Jack. Lack of adequate parental support may have delayed the psychosocial development in Jack. Vanessa may not be aware of being responsive to this situation at home. She needs education by the child and family welfare nurse to overcome her parental limitations (Serafica, 2015).

It is essential for the nurses and midwifes to the understand the life stages because paediatric nurses are responsible for designing appropriate interventions for children. When planning the intervention the nurses and midwifes must consider the  child’s social setting and rate of cognitive development. It will help identify any abnormalities at early stage (Bierman et al., 2014). In this case child and family health nurse may educate Vanessa about behaviours that are not in alignment with the Piaget’s cognitive development milestones or Erikson’s social development stages. It will help Vanessa to improve her parental care. The nurse must educate Vanessa about speech disabilities and the causes and factors hampering toilet habits.

In concussion, the essay has helped to understand the aspects related to cognitive and social issues throughout the lifespan and factors that may hamper the normal development of children.



Berk, L. E. (2017). Exploring lifespan development. Pearson.

Bierman, K. L., Domitrovich, C. E., Nix, R. L., Welsh, J. A., & Gest, S. D. (2014). Integrating evidence-based preschool programs to support social-emotional and cognitive development. Promoting school readiness and early learning: Implications of developmental research for practice, 231-252.

Bjorklund, D. F., & Causey, K. B. (2017). Children's thinking: Cognitive development and individual differences. SAGE Publications.

Feldman, R. S. (2016). Development across the life span. Pearson.

McAdams, D. P., & Zapata-Gietl, C. (2015). Three strands of identity development across the human life course: Reading Erik Erikson in full. The Oxford handbook of identity development, 81-94.

Modgil, S., Modgil, C., & Brown, G. (Eds.). (2013). Jean Piaget. Routledge.

Overton, W. F. (Ed.). (2013). The relationship between social and cognitive development. Psychology Press.

Serafica, F. C. (Ed.). (2015). Social-cognitive development in context (Vol. 27). Psychology Press.


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