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Cognitive and Social Development Across the Lifespan

Question:

Discuss about the Human Relationship and Life Transition.

The essay deals with the developmental stages across lifespan and its importance in child development. The stages identified in human development are infant stage, early childhood, middle childhood stage, early adolescent, late adolescent and lastly old age. Each of the stages is important as they accompany age related changes. With every change, a human becomes competent in daily life, matured, learns to thrive and survive. These changes are important for social and cognitive development (Feldman, 2016).  The essay addresses his topic in relation to case study of Jack.

For the purpose of the essay, the cognitive and social development is studied as relates to the problem faced by Jack. To start with cognitive development, it begins since infancy and is related to perceptual skills, language acquisition, and, information processing. Cognitive development is necessary for maximising well being, attain full mental capacities and growth of child (Bjorklund & Causey, 2017). Two relevant theories in relation to Jack are Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development and Ericson’s social development theory.

Piaget therapy explains four stages four stages of cognitive development. The sensorimotor stage starts at birth and lasts until age of 2 years. At this age the children responds to stimuli by collecting the sensory data such as touch, smell, and hearing and they the body movements. The pre-operational stage lasts from 2-5 years. This stage is marked by egocentric thought and child is found to think about objects symbolically. Logical thinking marks the concrete operational stage. This stage lasts from 7-11 years age of children. Thinking becomes more matured at this stage and children demonstrate reversible mental actions. From 11 years onwards, the child represents the formal operational stage. At this stage a child can grab the abstract concepts (Modgil et al., 2013).  In the given case study, Jack is 3 years old and belongs to the age group 2-5 years that is pre-operational stage.

Ericson’s social development theory deals with the development of social and emotional skills across lifespan. This development is important for a child to be able to establish positive relationships in society. The theory explains eight stages and each stage is accompanied by psychological crisis that is unique to that age group of children (Serafica, 2015). A child of age group infancy-18 months may experience trust or mistrust issues. In the age group 18 months-3 years, a child may experience autonomy vs. Shame. The feelings associated with initiative and guilt is observed at the age 3-5 years. Children of age group 5-13 years may experience industry or Inferiority. The crisis related to identity vs. role confusion occurs between 13-21 years. People of age range 21-39 years, experience either intimacy or isolation. The crisis of generativity vs stagnation occurs between 40-65 years. Even older people experience either despair or Ego integrity (McAdams & Zapata-Gietl, 2015). Jack belongs to age range 18 months to 3 years of Ericson. It means he is in second stage of social development as per Ericson’s theory. In this child learns to perform certain actions independently. They willingly tend to eat or dress themselves and feel a sense of autonomy. If they have to rely on others for these activities, it may lead to feeling of shame. These skills need to be applied in real life.

Jean Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development


The normative cognitive developments for three year old children includes ability to express their interest in playing with toys or learning.  Children learn language at this age. They learn to pick up words such as “papa” and form simple sentences indicating the development of thinking (Bjorklund & Causey, 2017). Unlike other children of this age group, Jack is having non-normative development as he can only babble instead of speaking. It is the sign of delayed cognitive development. At this stage parents play crucial role. They establish strong bonding with children and establish trust. It is due to the trust and maternal support that a child is capable of developing greater sense of control and begins to asset their independence. The normative social development demonstrated  by children of this age group is toilet training, eating, dressing independently. They understand sharing of toys and playing together in groups. Unable to perform these activities is a sign of non-normative development (Overton, 2013). Parents play a great role in social development. They allow the child to experiment and understand social roles such as making friends by sharing activities. With the help of secured attachments with the family members, the child learns to navigate the relationships which fosters development. Parents provide play opportunities to children that help them to express different emotions. Parents are responsible to allow the child to explore the world around them and accept new challenges. It has normative influence on development. This ultimately leads to social and cognitive development. Jack in the case study demonstrates non-normative development as he is not toilet trained (Bjorklund & Causey, 2017).  

Social and cognitive development is influenced by several factors. The main factors are of biological and environmental nature. Examples of biological factors include intelligence, physical development, sense organs or heredity. Children with high intelligence learn new concepts quickly. Delayed speech in Jack could be due to defect in sense organs or hereditary problem. Physical development also influences the cognitive development (Brown & Lan, 2013). Environmental factors such as parental support, family attachment, play opportunities significantly influence the social development in children. Strong maternal support increases the learning opportunities for child. Spending great time with parents and family a child can have better cognition (Barac et al., 2014).  This is due to secured attachment, bonding, love and empathy that the child develops emotional skills and social skills. Poor mother-infant bonding leads to weak and insecure bonding. Such children may worry elaboration (Grist & Field, 2012). Lack of parental support has been found to be associated with emotional issues in children that demonstrate as poor toilet training. Such children show alteration in temperament, show less self-reliance and independence (Hong & Park, 2012). 

Erik Erikson's Theory of Social Development

The theories of Erikson and Piaget have been useful in understanding the case study of Jack. Lack of parental support has led to non-normative influences. He is unable to develop cognitive and social skills that are meant to be acquired at this age. Environmental factors seem to be the cause of poor toilet training and delayed speech in Jack. Since Vanessa is the working mother, she may not be able to spend adequate time with Jack. Thus, there could be a poor mother-infant attachment resulting in emotional issues or worry elaboration. This may be manifested as poor toilet training. Vanessa due to her busy schedule may not provide sufficient learning opportunities for Jack. Learning opportunities predict the adaptive and social development (Green et al., 2014).  On the other hand, the caregiver at the day care centre too could not have established strong relationship, which is the predictor of the child social development (Serpell & Mashburn, 2012). Jack needs more play and learning opportunities to enhance self-reliance. He needs strong emotional security to develop autonomy and self-reliance (Beebe & Steele, 2013).

Understanding the cognitive and social development is essential for the nursing professionals. It helps them to identify the developmental abnormalities of children at early stage and take appropriate intervention. They can effectively care for the children knowing their thinking and comprehending abilities. Piaget and Erikson’s theory act as framework for nurses and midwifes to modify the child’s learning environment as per their cognitive capabilities. They can better educate the parents about childcare and importance of maternal support in early life. In case of Jack, the child and the family health nurse will be better able to educate Vanessa about specific behaviour pattern that may occur in Jack (Bierman et al., 2014).

In conclusion, cognitive and social skills hold great importance in human development. It helps in maximising wellbeing of a child when transitioning to subsequent stages of human development.

References

Barac, R., Bialystok, E., Castro, D. C., & Sanchez, M. (2014). The cognitive development of young dual language learners: A critical review. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(4), 699-714.

Beebe, B., & Steele, M. (2013). How does microanalysis of mother–infant communication inform maternal sensitivity and infant attachment?. Attachment & human development, 15(5-6), 583-602.

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.

Brown, C. P., & Lan, Y. C. (2013). The influence of developmentally appropriate practice on children’s cognitive development: A qualitative metasynthesis. Teachers College Record, 115(12), 1-36.

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

Green, S., Caplan, B., & Baker, B. (2014). Maternal supportive and interfering control as predictors of adaptive and social development in children with and without developmental delays. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 58(8), 691-703.

Grist, R. M., & Field, A. P. (2012). The mediating effect of cognitive development on children's worry elaboration. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, 43(2), 801-807.

Hong, Y. R., & Park, J. S. (2012). Impact of attachment, temperament and parenting on human development. Korean journal of pediatrics, 55(12), 449-454.

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.

Schoenmaker, C., Juffer, F., van IJzendoorn, M. H., Linting, M., van der Voort, A., & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J. (2015). From maternal sensitivity in infancy to adult attachment representations: A longitudinal adoption study with secure base scripts. Attachment & human development, 17(3), 241-256.

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

Serpell, Z. N., & Mashburn, A. J. (2012). Family–school connectedness and children's early social development. Social Development, 21(1), 21-46.

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