Early childhood development

Note by , created about 6 years ago

Psychology Note on Early childhood development, created by Nubian on 09/13/2013.

Created by Nubian about 6 years ago
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Development relates to growth & maturation.  It follows a rapid growth during the early years and again around puberty

Aspects of DevelopmentDevelopment principles which applies to children's social and emotional relationships, capacities for communication and thinking and moral reasonings, social understanding and a sense of self

Some Theorist - propose that there are stages for children's intellectual language, emotional and social development

Kant proposed that we are born with certain mental structures that help us to interpret input from our senses in particular ways. He called these mental structures categories of understanding. By themselves, they cannot give us knowledge and it is only through interaction with the environment that these structures order and organize experience. Furthermore, there is an active role for individuals as organizers of experience: no longer are they seen either as passively receiving sensory stimuli (as in empiricism), or passively following some biological programme (as in rationalism or nativism). The major mechanism for development is the continuous, two-way interaction between the child and the environment. In this view, both nature and nurture play an important role in development.


Punishment has been found to cause aggressive behaviour in some and suppress it in others and its long term effects on behaviour is often not what was initially expected.Research studies has shown that punishment can be used to successfully to manage negative behaviour, but it also has short and long term consequences.  For example increased aggression, decreased quality of relationship with carers.  Punishment only teaches a child what response not to make. For behaviour to change, children also need to learn what alternative behaviour is appropriate and then be reinforced for producing it. For these reasons contemporary techniques of behavioural change based on behaviourism do not use punishment, but teach appropriate behaviours and increase their frequency through reinforcement. One example of such an application is known as applied behavioural analysis (ABA).         

A missing factor in ‘classic’ behaviourist explanations of child behaviour is the importance of children’s thoughts, beliefs and interpretations of a situation. The development of appropriate social behaviour is more likely if the child understands why they are being treated in a particular way

ABA shows how operant conditioning principles relating to the reinforcement of desirable behaviour can be successfully applied      

it is generalised that children can only learn through direct experience and contingent rewards. This does not seem to explain the vast array of things that children master in the areas of language, cognition and social behaviour     

Research has shown that children learn more from experiencing punishment than just its relationship to their own behaviour. Adults who are aggressive towards children, either verbally or physically, are modelling a behaviour and potentially signalling its acceptability as a means of affecting the behaviour of those around them. Such concerns are reflected in the ideas developed by Bandura, in his social learning theory.          

Behaviourism: proposes that all behaviour is learned and maintained by its consequences. It does not theorize about ‘mental events’              .

Classical conditioning: describes how reflex behaviours can become associated with neutral stimuli in the environment.

Operant conditioning:  describes how the incidence of freely occurring behaviours can be increased or reduced as a result of the incidence of pleasant and unpleasant consequences for those behaviours, and how behaviour can be ‘shaped’ by the use of rewards.      

Punishment:  is only effective as a means of behavioural control if it is severe, contingent and consistently applied. However, even when these conditions are in place, it is only successful in temporarily suppressing a behaviour in a specific context.      

Reinforcement:  is used to help children with learning difficulties make progress at home and at school by using a technique known as applied behavioural analysis (ABA).      

Bandura 1965- Bandura's Social Learning Theory suggests that people learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling

Albert Bandura experiment: Bandura (1965) showed children a film of an adult behaving aggressively towards an inflatable toy called a bobo doll. Some children saw the aggressive adult being reinforced by another adult, others saw them being punished and a control group saw the model behaving aggressively with no positive or negative consequences. Afterwards the children were given the opportunity to play with a range of toys including a bobo doll.It was found that those who had seen the model getting punished were much less likely to imitate the aggressive actions, showing the influence of vicarious punishment on imitation.

Social learning theory proposes that it is possible for children to learn by observing other people.Bandura found that pre-school children would copy aggressive behaviour modelled by another person, and that this was most likely if the model was similar to them in some way and not seem to be punished. Social learning research has informed the ongoing debate about television being either a positive or negative influence on young childrenSocial learning theory does not attempt to explain children’s cognitive development.          .          

Stages of Dev


Evaluating Behaviourism

Summary on Behaviourism

Summary on Social learning