Promoting Cognitive Development
Children are a mixture of many parts which intertwine in different ways and change over time. A very crucial aspect of their development is their cognitive development. Cognitive development “is change or stability in mental abilities such as learning, attention, memory, language, thinking, reasoning and creativity and psycho-social development which is change and stability in emotions, personality and social relationships” (Adesola, A. F., PhD., & Olufunmilayo, O. E., PhD., 2013). The influence of what happens in the mind of children has several different theories and explanations. Each of these theories has its strong points and then its questionable explanations. It is vital to optimum Cognitive Development that caregivers take time to understand all theories and apply within the context of the individual child.
Theories on Cognitive Development
Since the 1800's, scientists and doctors have been intrigued by what influences a persons mental and emotional development. Since then, several fundamental theories on the subject have emerged. Jean Piaget explains childhood cognitive development as happening during a stage of cognitive development called the preoperational stage. “According to Piaget, the stage that lasts from ages 2 to 7 during which children’s use of symbolic thinking grows, mental reasoning emerges, and the use of concepts increases” (Argosy University., 2013). While influenced by adults, a child is responsible for building their own thinking process. The interactions the child experiences within its environment are what influences the way they learn to think feel and process information. Piaget focused on the child as an individual in his explanations, while another renowned psychologist Lev Vygotsky assorted a childs cognitive development dependent on interactions with others in a social whole. Focusing on the childs cultural world as the source for cognitive development, “children gradually grow intellectually and begin to function on their own because of the assistance that adult and peer partners provide” (Argosy University., 2013). Development here is driven by language as it is the most important symbolic tool provided by society to the child. Successful cognitive development then relies on nurture from the world around a child. This is quite the contrast to Piaget's theory of maturation and natural succession. “Instead of concentrating on individual performance, as Piaget and many alternative approaches do, Vygotsky’s increasingly influential view focuses on the social aspects of development and learning” (Argosy University., 2013). Theories developed by psychoanalyst Erik Erickson states that “society and culture present the developing person with .. eight distinct stages, each characterized by a crisis or conflict which the person must resolve” (Argosy University., 2013). Upon resolution to these conflicts, ideas of oneself develop which last for a lifetime. Erickson attributes the development of personality to social interaction and environmental influence. This falls somewhere in between the lines of nature and nurture, and combines Piaget’s ideas that concrete stages are milestones for childhood development with Vygotskys theory that social context is where development flourishes. A related yet slightly unique Researcher B.F. Skinner believed that every human was born an 'empty organism' designed to be filled with experiences. In this perspective, cognitive development is entirely based on how a child is nurtured. By definition of operant conditioning, a child given a stimulus will respond to it. Their choice response will derive a consequence which receives either positive or negative reinforcement. Skinner believed that a child’s mental and emotional development was taught by reinforcement and punishment by its...
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