Psychology: an introduction (Oxford Southern Africa) - Leslie Swartz 2011
Early and middle childhood
Loraine Townsend, Tokozile Mayekiso & Sibusiso Ntshangase
After studying this chapter you should be able to:
•describe the stages of prenatal development
•describe the factors that can influence prenatal development
•understand risk and resilience in the prenatal, neonatal, preschool and middle childhood periods
•describe the development of parent/caregiver—infant attachment
•discuss physical development in the preschool and middle childhood periods development of children during middle childhood.
•describe cognitive development in the preschool child and in middle childhood
•list the sequence of stages in preschool children’s language development
•explain the contribution of early childhood development programmes to preschool development
•describe the psychosocial development of the preschool child, including the impact of parenting styles
•explain the development of the preschooler’s gender identity
•describe the factors that influence the social and emotional
Nosipho obviously had no recollections about her birth and about being a newborn baby. She did, however, remember listening to the stories her mom and her aunt told her about this time. Her mom remembered that the family made sure she ate well and rested when she needed to. Nosipho’s aunt told her of the neighbour’s daughter who drank lots of alcohol during her pregnancy. The baby was very ill when it was born and then had learning problems. Nosipho had often been told that she was a fat and contented baby. She would gaze into her mom’s face and her mom believes that Nosipho recognised her voice from before she was actually born.
Nosipho had been looked after at home by her mother and her aunt before she started preschool. Although she was fond of her aunt, Nosipho had definitely preferred being with her mother and cried whenever she went out. Nosipho realised now, though, that she was very lucky to have two adults around to look after her. Her father had worked during the day, and although he must have been around in the evenings, she couldn’t remember him much from this time.
Nosipho remembered how her mother had been patient with her and made her feel useful and important. Nosipho realised now that this helped her feel confident and capable and that this self-belief had helped her get to university and to manage her own life.
One of Nosipho’s clearest memories of being a young child was her first day at primary school. She had felt quite nervous and uncomfortable, and her new shoes and dress had felt strange and stiff. She thought about how much she must have had to learn back then and she remembered the teachers she liked — and those she disliked! Some of her teachers had been helpful and encouraging, but others had shouted. In particular, one unpleasant man had put her off maths altogether. He seemed to think that only the boys needed to learn maths and told the girls that they should rather concentrate on learning to cook for their husbands.
However, most of the things she remembered from primary school happened outside of the classroom. She had had a best friend who, in Grade 4, had made friends with another girl and Nosipho had found herself wandering around the playground on her own until she made a new friend. It was funny the way that everyone talked about childhood being such a happy time. If you thought about it, it was actually pretty difficult.
The foundations of adult health are laid down in prenatal development and childhood. As described in the introduction to this part, this chapter considers development thematically — in terms of physical, cognitive and socioemotional development. However, it is important to understand that all development is interrelated and interactive. Within each of these domains, development will be described from the prenatal period to middle childhood. Topics that are covered include play and language development during the preschool years. There is also an overview of early childhood education as well as how entering school allows children’s environments to expand beyond their homes and care centres, providing them with opportunities to interact with a wider range of people in more places than when they were younger (United Nations Environment Programme, 2002).
Stages of development
The germinal stage
Each of us begins our life as a zygote, a single cell not much larger than the full stop at the end of this sentence. This is when conception has occurred, when the male’s sperm cell has fertilised the female’s ovum (egg). The first two weeks after conception are referred to as the germinal stage of prenatal development. During this stage, the zygote divides into a number of identical cells by means of a process called mitosis. About four days after conception, the cell mass, now comprising some 100 cells, emerges from the fallopian tube and moves into the uterus. It is at conception that our genetic heritage is determined, as the genes from the sperm and those from the ovum merge to form a new and unique person.
The embryonic stage
The mass of cells now implanted in the uterus is called an embryo. The embryonic stage lasts for the next six weeks, until the eighth week of pregnancy. During this time, two critical ’life support’ systems develop: the placenta and the umbilical cord. The placenta is a complex organ which allows nutrients to pass from the mother to the embryo through the umbilical cord. The arteries in this cord carry oxygen and nutrients to the embryo and the veins carry waste products (such as carbon dioxide and urea) from the embryo, to be disposed of by the mother’s body.
During this stage, the cells of the embryo multiply rapidly and begin to differentiate into the kinds of cells that will eventually become the organism’s various body parts and organs. By the end of the embryonic stage of development, the embryo is about two centimetres long. Yet the embryo’s heart is beating and it is recognisable as a human being (with facial features, hands, feet, fingers, toes, etc.), and the essential organ systems and the nerve cells of the spine have formed. The embryo is contained in a sac within the mother’s uterus and is surrounded by amniotic fluid, which cushions and protects the embryo.
Figure 3.1 Prenatal development: from conception (when an ovum is released from an ovary) to implantation (when the blastocyst implants itself into the uterine wall)
The foetal stage
During the foetal stage, which lasts from around eight weeks after conception until birth, the structure and systems that developed during the embryonic stage grow in size and efficiency. During the third and fourth months, male or female sex organs develop. From the fourth month of pregnancy, the mother starts to be able to feel movements of the foetus.
At roughly the beginning of the fifth month, the foetus is able to respond to sound and can orient him-/herself to the mother’s movements. Towards the end of this month, the part of the brain that will be responsible for complex, conscious thought — the cerebral cortex — is completed. During the sixth month, the foetus’s eyelids open and the eyes begin to move. The foetus is able to breathe and even cry. By the seventh month, the foetus’s brain is able to control breathing, swallowing and body temperature; he/she also has the nerve cell capacity to see, hear, smell, taste and to vocalise. Many reflexes such as grasping and sucking, which are important for the newborn’s survival, are now established.
By about 26 weeks, the foetus reaches the zone of viability; in other words, the foetus would have a chance of survival should he/she be born prematurely. However, premature birth carries risks of increased school and behaviour problems, as well as psychiatric disorders in adulthood (De Jong, Verhoeven & Van Baar, 2012). By the beginning of the ninth month, the foetus, which once floated with ease in the amniotic fluid, is so large that his/her movements inside the uterus become restricted. The foetus now curls up into the classic foetal position and usually settles into a head-down position in readiness for birth.
Factors influencing prenatal development
What has been described above is the progress of a normal pregnancy with no complications. However, there are many factors that may place the embryo or foetus at risk while it is in the mother’s uterus. Because the mother’s body surrounds the embryo or foetus and is inextricably linked to it via the placenta, the mother and her environment become its prenatal environment. Many infections or other harmful environmental agents may be transferred to the foetus across the placenta. These agents, called teratogens, can cause birth defects and even death.
The physical, social and psychological conditions of the mother, and her behaviour, all affect the embryo or foetus, in a variety of ways. First, it is essential that foetuses receive a variety of nutrients in order to develop normally. These are supplied directly from the mother via the placenta and umbilical cord. Maternal malnutrition and/or under-nutrition before and during pregnancy increase the risk of birth complications, low birth weight and neurological deficits in newborn babies.
Figure 3.2 Foetal growth from 8 to 40 weeks
3.1THE FOETUS’S ABILITY TO HEAR
Source: De Casper and Spence (1986)
During the final month and a half of pregnancy, 16 pregnant mothers were asked to read aloud a passage from a children’s rhyming story. By the time their babies were born, these babies had ’heard’ the passage many times. Two or three days after birth, the babies listened through headphones to either their mother or a stranger reading the same passage.
As these neonates listened to the recorded voices, they quickly learned to use different sucking patterns on a specially designed dummy to hear their mother’s voice rather than the stranger’s.
Foetuses can hear sound, which they appear to remember and recognise soon after birth.
Figure 3.3 The foetus seems able to hear sound
Figure 3.4 Medical treatment can help premature babies survive
There is a clear link between maternal under-nutrition and poverty. The 2013 General Household Survey (Statistics South Africa, 2014a) reported that 23.1 per cent of South African households had inadequate or severely inadequate access to food, while the percentage of individuals who experienced hunger was 13.4 per cent. Poor maternal nutrition is strongly associated with infant mortality in low-income countries (Black et al., 2013). Apart from poverty, malnutrition may be the result of choosing the wrong kinds of foods, for example fast foods.
Some other maternal factors that may affect the developing foetus are maternal stress, the age of the mother (very young or over 40 years) and whether or not the pregnancy was planned and wanted. The mother’s physical health is also critical (see Box 3.2). Should a mother be infected with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), her unborn baby may also become infected. Between 25 and 30 per cent of babies born to HIV- positive mothers who have not received mother-to-child preventative services will be infected with the virus (Dorrington, Johnson, Bradshaw & Daniel, 2006). Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhoea, genital herpes and syphilis may also harm the foetus.
3.2HOW THE MOTHER’S PHYSICAL HEALTH AFFECTS HER UNBORN BABY
Maternal diseases (other than HIV/STIs)
•Malaria. Babies born to mothers with malaria may suffer from low birth weight (owing to premature birth or stunted foetal growth), parasite exposure and infant mortality (Steketee & Nahlen, 2001).
•Rubella (German measles). May cause heart defects, deafness, blindness and/or mental retardation in babies born to mothers who contract the infection during the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy (De Paschale et al., 2012).
•Diabetes. Babies of diabetic mothers may be abnormally large at birth. There is also an increased risk of stillbirth, or of the newborn dying shortly after birth.
•Hypertension. High blood pressure in the mother can lead to the death of the baby, resulting in doctors having to weigh carefully these risks against premature birth (Backes et al., 2011).
•Alcohol. Alcohol affects the foetus directly as it crosses the placenta. Pregnant women who consume alcohol may risk their baby being born with foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Infants with FAS are short relative to their weight. They have abnormally small heads and under-developed brains, and are often mentally retarded, with delayed motor development. The seriousness of maternal alcohol consumption and FAS in South Africa is suggested by evidence from a study conducted in a Western Cape community where between 65 and 74 children per 1 000 were found to have FAS (Viljoen et al., 2005).
•Tobacco (nicotine). Nicotine in tobacco smoke compromises the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the foetus. Babies born to tobacco smokers therefore tend to be smaller and weigh less than those born to non-smokers. Tobacco smoking is also related to increased rates of premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth (Hacksaw, Rodeck & Boniface, 2011).
•Prescription drugs (medicines). Many medicines are not safe for use by pregnant mothers.
•Recreational drugs. Marijuana has been associated with low birth weight and premature birth. Babies born to mothers who had used Ecstasy and other drugs during pregnancy had poorer motor development and delayed milestones (Singer et al., 2012).
The neonatal period of development spans approximately the first two to four weeks after birth. With birth, the infant moves from the relatively safe environment of its mother’s uterus to an environment where it must now breathe and feed on its own. It must begin to interact with its environment and make sense of this often bright, noisy and airy world. For many years it was thought that the newborn baby (known as a neonate) was a helpless, reflexive organism with limited motor and perceptual skills. However, developmental psychology research has been able to demonstrate that the neonate is much more competent than was previously thought.
A newborn infant displays more than 20 reflexes over which he/she initially has no control; they are involuntary responses to specific stimuli from the external environment. Many of these reflexes are important for the newborn’s survival (e.g. rooting, sucking and swallowing reflexes allow the newborn to feed). The absence of reflexes may be an early indication of neurological problems.
Normal, full-term babies enter the world with all their sensory capacities functioning to a certain extent. But anyone observing a baby during their first month will agree that it is difficult to assess exactly how well they are seeing, hearing, tasting or smelling. However, ingenious research and experiments have allowed developmental psychologists to explore the sensory capacities of these neonates (see Box 3.1). These psychologists have discovered that neonates are quite able to take in information from their environment via their senses.
Although anatomically the visual system is present at birth, certain parts of the eye and visual cortex are not fully developed, nor is the ability to coordinate the movement of the eyes. This means that newborn babies cannot focus properly and much of what they see is blurred. However, despite these shortcomings, they actively scan their surroundings (Bronson, 1997), and their visual system does function well enough for them to see objects about 21 cm away. They also show a distinct preference for looking at faces, patterned rather than plain stimuli, and patterns with sharp contrasts (Bronson, 1997; Bushnell, 1998).
Even in the first hours after birth, newborns can distinguish human speech from other sounds and can even distinguish between human speech sounds — demonstrating a preference for their mother’s voice (see Box 3.1). They appear to be particularly fascinated by baby talk that is directed towards them (Werker & Tees, 1999).
Taste and smell
Neonates have a well-developed sense of smell. Experiments by Engen, Lipsitt and Kaye (1963) demonstrated that newly born infants were not only sensitive to smells, but could also distinguish between different smells. Their sense of taste is also well developed with a strong preference for sweet as opposed to sour tastes.
•At conception, a zygote is formed from the fusing of the ovum and the sperm. The germinal stage is the first two weeks after conception. The zygote increases through mitosis and implants in the uterus.
•The embryonic stage is from two to eight weeks of pregnancy. The placenta and umbilical cord develop to provide oxygen and nutrients to the embryo. The embryo is surrounded by amniotic fluid in a sac in the mother’s uterus.
•The foetal stage lasts from eight weeks to birth; the structure and systems that developed during the embryonic stage grow in size and efficiency. Reflexes develop and once the foetus is viable (about 26 weeks), it has a reasonable chance of survival if born.
•Infections or harmful environmental agents (teratogens) may be transferred to the foetus across the placenta.
•The physical, social and psychological conditions of the mother, and her behaviour, all affect the embryo or foetus in a variety of ways.
•In the neonatal period the infant moves out into the world and begins to interact with its environment.
•A newborn infant has over 20 reflexes which are important for survival.
•The infant’s perceptual capacities are difficult to measure; some clever research has shown that newborn babies:
”cannot focus properly as certain parts of the eye and visual cortex are not fully developed; they prefer faces and patterns
”can distinguish human speech from other sounds and prefer their mother’s voice
”have a well-developed sense of smell and taste, and prefer sweet to sour tastes.
The preschool period is characterised by rapid growth during the first two years of life, and by a slower pattern of growth between the ages of two and six years. As with the prenatal period, the infant’s pattern of growth follows the cephalocaudal developmental trend (from the head downward) and the proximodistal developmental trend (from the centre outward). The trunk grows fastest during the first year. Babies gain control over muscles of the head and neck, then the arms and abdomen, and finally the legs. By four to six months of age, the baby’s birth weight has often doubled, and by the end of the first year the birth weight has often tripled.
Body proportions also change during the preschool period. For example, at the age of two years, the head is about one-fourth of the total body size; by the age of five and a half years, it is one-sixth of the total body size. But this does not mean the head and the brain stop growing. The brain increases from being 25 per cent of its eventual adult weight at birth to being about 50 per cent of its adult weight at the age of one year. In addition to growth in size, the brain and nervous system also develop increasingly dense neural networks.
As a result of the rapid growth of the brain and neural networks, children’s ability to acquire new information increases. This aspect of development is underpinned by the child’s genetic inheritance, but it can be profoundly influenced by experience and early environmental influences. These can either enable or constrain the different aspects of brain development (Nelson, 2000). For example, malnutrition may stunt brain growth and cognitive development (Ampaabeng & Tan, 2012).
Preschoolers tend to be very physically active, engaging in a number of activities such as running, walking, hopping, jumping, skipping and climbing. Environments that facilitate the involvement of preschool children in these kinds of activities are crucial for development. During the preschool period, children improve both their gross motor skills and their fine motor skills (Bukatko & Daehler, 2011). Gross motor skills are capabilities involving large body movements such as walking, running, hopping, etc. Fine motor skills are capabilities involving small body movements such as handling a spoon and writing. Children develop and refine both these motor skills through play activities, but gross motor skills develop faster than fine motor skills during this period.
Preschoolers start to show a preference for using either their right or their left hand at about two years of age. However, handedness, which refers to which hand the child prefers to use, develops slowly and is only established at about five to six years of age (Michel et al., 2013).
Although this period is usually marked by rapid physical development, environmental factors, such as malnutrition, can stunt or delay normal development. Sustained periods of malnutrition during the preschool years are associated with stunted physical growth, reduced activity levels, and delays in maturation and learning.
Figure 3.5 Play is essential for the physical development of the preschool child
Middle childhood spans the period between about six years of age and puberty. An important characteristic of this stage is the slower average growth rate of children compared to the earlier preschool period and the later period of adolescence. As a result of an increase in strength, coordination and muscular control, a child’s gross motor and fine motor skills improve during this period. For example, in middle childhood, children develop the ability to walk in a straight line, run fast and stop and turn, skip, balance on one foot and throw at targets.
The child’s improved fine motor skills are aided by an improvement in motor-perceptual functioning (hand—eye coordination). Fine motor skills include buttoning a shirt, tying shoelaces, holding a pen correctly, being able to write and copying simple designs. These are clearly essential for school work.
According to Shaffer and Kipp (2007), three kinds of environmental influences can have a major effect on physical growth and development during middle childhood, namely the quality of care that children receive (see Chapter 4), nutrition and illnesses.
Both under-nutrition and over-nutrition can play a significant role in physical development during middle childhood (Richter, Griesel & Rose, 1999; Walker et al., 2011). The National Research Foundation Unit for Research in Child Development in South Africa (2003) noted in its annual report that malnutrition remained the most prevalent problem affecting young children in South Africa, with more than a third of children showing stunted growth. There has also been research into specific nutritional deficiencies (e.g. Pettifor, 2004).
In this stage, the brain also continues to grow in both structure and function, although again at a far slower pace than in the previous stages. Between the ages of five and seven years, the brain experiences a growth spurt, particularly in the frontal lobes and their connections to other parts of the brain. This frontal lobe development is important for planning and for the sequential organisation of thoughts and actions.
•There is rapid growth during the first two years of life; this slows down between two and six years.
•As with the prenatal period, the infant’s pattern of growth follows the cephalocaudal and proximodistal developmental trends.
•Body proportions also change during the preschool period.
•The brain increases to about 50 per cent of its adult weight at the age of one year and neural networks become denser.
•Preschoolers are very physically active and improve both their gross and their fine motor skills in this stage. Handedness is only established at about five to six years of age.
•Malnutrition may stunt brain growth and cause developmental delays.
•Physical growth slows during the middle childhood period.
•In middle childhood, there are developments in strength, coordination and muscular control, and improved hand—eye coordination.
•Three environmental factors may affect physical development in middle childhood: quality of care that children receive, level of nutrition and illnesses.
•At around six years, the brain experiences a growth spurt, particularly in the frontal lobes; this is important for planning and for the sequential organisation of thoughts and actions.
Cognitive development refers to the age-related changes that occur in mental activities such as paying attention, perceiving, learning, thinking and remembering.
Neonatal and preschool periods
Infants develop a basic understanding of the world around them during the first two years of life. They learn to recognise objects and people, to search for objects that are not in their field of vision, to understand cause-and-effect, and to appreciate the concept of space (Shaffer & Kipp, 2007). As amazing as these abilities are, in the preschool period, children go on to experience dramatic cognitive development. As the horizons of the preschool child widen, they are increasingly exposed to new social situations and activities that impact on their cognitive development.
Although cognitive and language development occur in a predictable sequence in almost all children, significant early nutritional and socio-emotional deprivation can affect development. When deprivation is severe and prolonged, intervention may be necessary (Walker et al., 2011).
Piaget’s stages of cognitive development
The noted cognitive theorist, Jean Piaget, argued that children’s cognitive development occurs in stages. He said that children are active in constructing their own knowledge. They do this by building schemas through the processes of assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation involves incorporating new experiences into existing schemas and accommodation involves altering existing schemas to adapt them to new information or experiences.
However, the adaptation of schemas to incorporate new experiences does not occur instantly. Typically the action that facilitated the new experience will be repeated a number of times. By continually incorporating new experiences into their existing worlds, children create more complex understandings of their world and move to new levels of development.
The sensorimotor stage (birth to two years)
Piaget’s first two stages (sensorimotor and preoperational) take place in the neonatal and preschool periods. During the sensorimotor stage, infants gain knowledge about their environment through an increasing ability to coordinate sensory input with their motor activity. Before about six weeks of age, infants merely exercise reflex schemas. From six weeks to four months of age, infants become increasingly aware of their actions and realise that their actions produce interesting changes in the environment; they also begin to repeat actions they find pleasurable. Towards the end of the first year, the infant produces goal-directed behaviour. From the age of about one year, infants deliberately vary their actions through trial-and-error experimentation to see what the consequences of their actions will be.
At around one year, children begin to develop language. This involves the ability to mentally represent or think about objects that are not in their immediate environment. This ability is called symbolic representation. Infants can now plan actions on the basis of imagined realities; for example, they can go and find a hidden toy. During this time, speech sounds and gestures are used to represent symbolically something that is not present.
One of the most important achievements during the sensorimotor stage is the development of object permanence. Infants are considered to have attained an understanding of permanence when they realise that objects and people continue to exist even when they are no longer visible. The development of this ability is gradual; it appears between four and eight months and is completely achieved between 18 to 24 months.
The preoperational stage (two to seven years)
In this stage, children increasingly use symbolic thought (expressed through language, scribbles and gestures) and pretend play, but they have not yet acquired the cognitive operations that are required for logical thinking.
Children at this stage lack the capacity for conservation in their thinking. Conservation involves the ability to understand that quantities may remain the same regardless of changes in their appearance (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969). For example, when children are presented with two balls of dough of the same size, they will understand that the quantities of the dough are the same. However, if one of the balls is changed into a sausage in front of the child, the child no longer understands that the amounts of dough in the ball and the sausage are the same.
Figure 3.6 During the preoperational stage, children pretend to do things such as driving a car
Preoperational thought is characterised by egocentrism, which is the tendency to view the world from one’s own perspective and to have difficulty recognising another person’s point of view. Although it appears that preoperational children are selfish, they are simply unable to realise that perspectives other than their own exist. In addition to this, children’s thinking often displays animism. They attribute human-like qualities to inanimate objects.
Piaget’s tests of preoperational thinking have been criticised by Donaldson (1978) and Siegal (1997). The critique has been led by adherents of sociocultural theory; however, more recently some of these critiques have been found to be in correct (Mays & Smith, 2001, in Valsiner, 2012). These critiques are beyond the scope of this introductory text and the interested reader should access these important authors’ works themselves.
At birth, babies use undifferentiated crying to communicate their needs to their caregivers. After the first month, caregivers can distinguish cries of pain, hunger, discomfort, tiredness and boredom by listening to the pitch of the cry. At the age of six to eight weeks, babies start making cooing sounds.
3.3IS DEVELOPMENT THE RESULT OF THE ENVIRONMENT OR HEREDITY?
Source: Shaffer and Kipp (2007)
Is a child’s development primarily the result of environmental or genetic forces? There are opposing viewpoints on this issue:
Give me a dozen healthy children, well formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in, and I will guarantee to take any of them at random and train them to become any type of specialist I might select — doctors, lawyers, artists, merchants, chiefs, and yes, beggars or thieves, regardless of talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and the race of their ancestors. There is no such thing as inheritance of capability, talent, temperament, mental constitution, and behavioural characteristics (Watson, 1925, p. 82). Heredity and not environment is the chief maker of people. Nearly all of the misery and nearly all of the happiness in the world are not due to environment. The differences among people are due to differences in germ cells with which they were born (Wiggam, 1923, p. 45).
What is your position? How often do you hear parents saying they prefer certain schools because they believe that their children will be better socialised in them? Do you think children exposed to violence are more likely to be violent and to bully others at school?
3.4DIFFICULT SOUNDS IN ISIXHOSA FOR PRESCHOOL CHILDREN
Children aged between one and four years have difficulty articulating palatal sounds. Therefore, preschoolers speaking isiXhosa opt for a related sound instead of using the palate. Thus, if a child is faced with pronouncing a /ngq/ sound in a word such as /umngqusho/ (stamped mielies), he/she usually articulates the word as either /umgusho/ or /incusho/.
There are also palatal sounds that are articulated through the side of the mouth. One of these sounds is /hl/ as in /hleka/ (laugh). Articulating this sound is very complicated. Instead of going through this entire process, the child uses an alternative alveolar sound, /s/. This /s/ sound is a very soft hissing one, between /s/ and /sh/. So if the child wants to say /uyahleka/ (he/she is laughing), the child will say /yaseka/ instead.
It is also difficult for a child to articulate sounds borrowed from other languages, such as /r/. The word /irula/ (a ruler) is instead articulated as /ilula/.
Around the age of four months, babies utter consonant— vowel combinations in long strings, such as ’babababa’ or ’mamamama’. These babbling sounds are universal and even deaf babies produce them. However, human interaction is necessary for babbling to develop further. Around the age of six to seven months, babbling starts to resemble the child’s home language.
Most children utter their first word at about 12 months of age. They start by using one-word sentences ( holophrases) to convey the meaning of a whole sentence. The child may say ’baby’, meaning ’Mommy, look at the baby’. The child’s vocabulary increases to about 50 words by the age of 18 months.
At about 24 months of age, babies use telegraphic speech, which contains only those words that are necessary to communicate meaning. The language of toddlers progresses from two-word utterances to threeword utterances. From the age of three years to six years, the child’s vocabulary and sentence length increase such that by the age of six the child uses all the parts of speech (De Witt, 2009). At this age, children are capable of producing sentences that are efficient, complex and adult-like, even if, at times, children’s difficulty with pronouncing certain sounds may make their utterances hard to understand (see Box 3.4).
•Early cognitive development allows infants to develop a basic understanding of the world around them; this development expands rapidly in the preschool period.
•Cognitive and language development occur in a predictable sequence; this can be disrupted by early nutritional and socio-emotional deprivation.
•Jean Piaget argued that children’s cognitive development occurs in stages. Despite its usefulness, his theory has been critiqued on several grounds.
•Children construct their own knowledge through building schemas using assimilation and accommodation. This occurs over time and across repeated actions.
•In the sensorimotor stage (birth to two years):
”Infants begin to coordinate sensory input with motor activity; this progresses from reflex schemas to more deliberate goal-directed and trial-and-error behaviour.
”Infants develop language and symbolic representation.
”Infants achieve object permanence.
•In the preoperational stage (two to seven years):
”Children increasingly use symbolic thought, but they cannot yet think logically.
”Children lack the capacity for conservation in thinking.
”Thought is characterised by egocentrism and animism.
•In terms of language development:
”Babies initially use undifferentiated crying to communicate their needs.
”At six to eight weeks, babies start making cooing sounds.
”At four months, babies utter consonant—vowel combinations in long strings.
”The first word comes at about 12 months; the child uses holophrases to convey fuller meanings.
”By 18 months, the child has about 50 words.
”At about 24 months, children use telegraphic speech (three-word ’sentences’).
”Between three and six years, vocabulary and sentence length increase.
During middle childhood, children begin to be able to think about objects from more than one perspective. By the end of this stage, they can hold an object in their minds while comparing it to another, and they can coordinate their mental actions logically (Cole, Cole & Lightfoot, 2005).
Piaget’s stage of cognitive development in middle childhood
The period of middle childhood coincides with what Piaget termed the concrete operational stage of cognitive development. During this stage, the earlier limitations in thinking are overcome, and thinking becomes less egocentric and more logical.
According to Piaget’s theory, there are a number of specific features of thinking in the concrete operational stage. These are as follows:
•Conservation. Children understand the principle of conservation when they recognise that properties of objects or substances do not change because their form changes (e.g. children will know that when water from a tall thin container is poured into a short wide one, the amount of water stays the same). This knowledge requires the child to understand the principles of reversibility and compensation.
•Reversibility. Children understand the principle of reversibility when they realise that one operation (pouring the water from the tall thin container into the short wide one) can be reversed by the effects of another (pouring the water back into the tall thin container).
•Compensation. Children understand the principle of compensation when they can mentally compare changes in two aspects of something, and can say that the changes in one aspect compensate for the changes in the other aspect (e.g. the water is higher in one container compared to the other, because one container is tall and thin, while the other is short and wide).
•Decentration. Children understand the principle of decentration when, instead of focusing on just one aspect of an object or event, they can simultaneously focus attention on several attributes of an object or event and understand that those attributes can be separated (e.g. the child realises that, although a balloon may be large, it can also be light).
•Seriation. Children understand the principle of seriation when they can arrange objects in order along quantitative dimensions such as weight, length or size. During the concrete operational stage, a child can arrange a series of dolls in order of height whereas a four-year-old child, for instance, might alternate tall and short dolls, or arrange them more randomly.
•Transitivity.Transitivity is the ability to recognise relations among a number of ordered objects (e.g. recognising that if Nokuphila is taller than Thobeka, and Thobeka is taller than Anele, then Nokuphila must also be taller than Anele).
The major limitation of concrete operational thinking is that it requires real concrete objects. According to Piaget, children in this stage cannot mentally manipulate abstract ideas or hypothetical events.
Piaget’s theory has had a strong impact on the education sector, where it informs the discovery-based curriculum in primary schools. However, it is important to note that some theorists with different views have challenged it.
Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development
One of the most important challenges to Piaget’s theory came from Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist. Vygotsky was born in the same year as Piaget (1896), but his writings were not translated from Russian until the 1960s, and were thus not widely available until then.
Piaget does not adequately address the ways in which children’s cognitive development is influenced by their cultural context and social interactions. Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory focuses on how culture (the beliefs, values, traditions and skills of a social group) is transmitted between generations. Rather than depicting children as independent explorers or scientists who make critical discoveries on their own (as Piaget suggests), Vygotsky viewed cognitive growth as a socially mediated activity, one in which children gradually acquire new ways of thinking and behaving through cooperative dialogues with more knowledgeable members of society.
Vygotsky noted that children are born into an existing world and that they learn by internalising the ways they see members of society interacting (Watts, Cockcroft & Duncan, 2009). Vygotsky believed that children gradually acquire higher mental functions (like symbolic thought and deliberate remembering) through guided instruction from other, more competent people in their environment. These functions exist in the world external to the child and over the course of development and interaction, the child internalises them.
Zone of proximal development
The zone of proximal development (ZPD) (see Figure 3.7) is the hypothetical space within which the social (caregivers, teachers) and the individual (the child) interact. It marks the boundaries between the child’s actual level of development and their potential development (Watts et al., 2009).
Figure 3.7 A schematic representation of Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development
The lower boundary of the ZPD marks the level of problem solving that a child can perform on his/her own, while the upper boundary marks the level of problem solving of which a child is capable, given the assistance of a more competent instructor. Beyond the upper boundary are those tasks that a child cannot yet perform, even with the help of a competent instructor, because they are beyond the child’s cognitive ability. Within the ZPD, the support given to the child is gradually decreased as the child masters the task(s) at hand. When children reach the upper boundary of their ZPD, this then becomes their lower boundary for other, more cognitively demanding tasks.
An important technique for use in the ZPD is scaffolding. A scaffold provides temporary support while a task is being completed (Bukatko & Daehler, 2011) and an expert teacher or caregiver will provide specific guidance to a child learning a new skill. This might include defining the task in terms familiar to the child or breaking the task down into logical parts. The teacher may also demonstrate parts of the task and actively motivate learners.
Vygotsky proposed that children learn through the use of cultural tools. These are mainly language based and include signs and symbols of written language and number systems. Children acquire these tools through interaction with others in their environment (i.e. through interpersonal processes). They then internalise these tools (i.e. adopt them as their own), so that what was originally an interpersonal behaviour pattern becomes an intrapersonal cognitive process. For example, initially young children do not use language to think but, gradually, language and thought merge, and thinking is expressed in language.
As they develop, infants learn language in interpersonal processes with their caregivers. During this social stage, between birth and the age of three years, children use language to express simple thoughts and feelings. During the egocentric stage, between the ages of three and seven, children begin to use language to direct their own behaviour. They do this by talking aloud; we call these utterances external speech. Vygotsky noticed that this external speech increases when children face more difficult tasks.
From the age of about seven years, external speech gradually decreases as the child becomes able to direct his/her behaviour silently, through the use of inner (private) speech. Thus, this cultural tool of language becomes internalised and the small child develops the capacity to use language to think symbolically. In the course of this process, children are integrated into their cultures and their way of thinking is shaped by their use of cultural tools.
Vygotsky’s influence on outcomes-based education
Vygotsky’s theory is relevant in understanding cognitive development during middle childhood because it highlights the potential role of the schooling system as a social structure that transmits cultural values and beliefs to children (De Witt, 2009). It is this theory that has mostly informed the outcomes-based education (OBE) curriculum that has until recently been used in South African schools. In essence, OBE is based on the principles of cooperation, critical thinking and social responsibility, and defines children as active participants in the acquisition of knowledge.
However, OBE has widely been considered to be a failure in South Africa (Jansen, 2010). Jansen (2010) notes a number of factors associated with this expensive failure. These include: first, a great deal of money was invested in training and materials; second, the focus on OBE prevented attention being paid to other approaches; third, the excitement at the advent of democracy has faded and energy has been lost for further change. Perhaps most importantly, ’children already disadvantaged were exposed to a curriculum that made a fragile learning environment worse. Instead of learning those vital competencies of reading, writing and calculating, they were exposed to high-brow constructivist theories that kept many of them illiterate’ (Jansen, 2010).
Another important aspect of development is how children learn to distinguish right from wrong. Freud suggested that this happens through the resolution of the Oedipus conflict (see Chapter 5). Today, the theories of Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan are the most influential Western theories. Kohlberg studied moral development by presenting a moral dilemma (see Box 3.5) and then analysing the reasoning underlying people’s responses to the dilemma. On the basis of this, Kohlberg suggested that there are three main levels of moral reasoning (preconventional, conventional and postconventional) with two stages within each level (see Table 3.1). The levels are aligned with Piaget’s developmental stages.
3.5A MORAL DILEMMA
Nosipho’s younger brother Siyanda is very ill and needs to get to hospital. Her older brother is desperately worried about Siyanda but he has no money to pay for transport. He decides to steal some money for transport out of his neighbour’s house. Should Nosipho’s brother have stolen the money? Why or why not?
Table 3.1 Kohlberg’s stages of moral development (Kohlberg, 1984)
Level 1:Preconventional morality (motivated by self-interest)
Stage 1:Obedience/punishment orientation
Stage 2:Instrumental orientation
Reward; serve own needs; reciprocal benefit
Level 2:Conventional morality (motivated by conformity to social norms)
Stage 3:Good boy/nice girl orientation
Gain approval/avoid disapproval
Stage 4:Authority-maintaining orientation
Uphold laws; avoid harm
Level 3:Postconventional morality (motivated by abstract moral principles)
Stage 5:Social contract orientation
Welfare of all; commitment to rational rules agreed to by all
Stage 6:Universal ethical principle orientation
Uphold personal principles (even if this means breaking the rules)
In level 1 (up to about nine years of age), children are first concerned with avoiding punishment (stage 1) and showing obedience to authority. In stage 2, children develop a more relativistic view, where they are concerned more with the potential returns for their behaviour. These might be in the form of rewards or reciprocal benefit. In level 2 (conventional), there is conformity to the expectations of the person’s social group. Thus the motivation at stage 3 is to gain approval or avoid disapproval and be an obedient child. In stage 4, the motivation shifts to fulfilling a broader social duty (maintaining law and order) and avoiding a sense of guilt. According to Kohlberg, level 2 occurs in late childhood and early adolescence.
People who have reached Piaget’s formal operation stage of thinking may be able to use level 3 moral reasoning. This involves using abstract moral principles. In the first stage at this level (stage 5), people accept that society’s laws exist for the good of all while in stage 6, people may make decisions that go against their own self-interest because they believe this is the right thing to do. One example of this is young white men during the apartheid era, who refused to serve in the National Defence Force and were consequently jailed. They were known as conscientious objectors and this term highlights the role of a person’s well-developed conscience in taking such a stance. Another example might be turning off lights in your house to save electricity in the country, even though you are afraid of the dark. Kohlberg felt that few people reach this level of moral reasoning.
Kohlberg’s theory has been widely criticised for a number of reasons. Although children do develop through identifiable stages as the theory suggests, it remains a theory of reasoning rather than action. Thus, one may know an action is wrong yet still carry it out. The theory has also been criticised as having a Western cultural bias as it focuses on the individual reasoning underlying moral decisions. However, in many African and Eastern cultures, moral decisions are based on community values and needs, and on respect for the elders.
Carol Gilligan also criticised Kohlberg’s theory, saying that it reflects a male gender bias towards a justice orientation. Gilligan argued that women make moral decisions on the basis of their care for others and their concern for maintaining relationships (Green, 2012). This is known as an ethics-of-care orientation. The research support for Gilligan’s approach has been mixed. In a study in Botswana, both male and female adolescents used both justice and caring orientations in their moral judgements (Maqsud, 1998). It seems likely that a combined approach is most effective; Woods (2011, p. 56) argues that this approach is the most appropriate for nurses in their ’moral deliberations and actions’.
Moral development is closely linked with the passing on of cultural values. Thus, there may be very diverse ideas about what is morally acceptable behaviour. For example, Hindus would fiercely oppose the slaughter of a cow as a sacrifice, whereas some African cultures view this as an essential act for their family’s and society’s well-being.
•According to Piaget, middle childhood sees the concrete operational stage of cognitive development; thinking becomes less egocentric and more logical.
•The features of thinking in the concrete operational stage include
”conservation (properties of objects or substances do not change because their form changes)
”reversibility (one operation can be reversed by another)
”compensation (ability to mentally compare changes in two aspects of something)
”decentration (ability to focus simultaneously on several attributes of an object or event and understand that those attributes can be separated)
”seriation (ability to arrange objects in order along quantitative dimensions such as weight, length or size)
”transitivity (ability to recognise relations among a number of ordered objects).
•In this stage, children need to manipulate physical objects; they cannot mentally manipulate abstract ideas or hypothetical events.
•Lev Vygotsky challenged Piaget’s theory, saying it does not adequately address the influence of the child’s cultural context and social interactions.
•Vygotsky felt that cognitive growth is a socially mediated activity in which children acquire higher mental functions through internalising cooperative dialogues with more knowledgeable members of society.
•The zone of proximal development (ZPD) marks the boundaries between the child’s actual level of development and their potential development. Teachers/caregivers scaffold tasks to assist learning new skills.
•Vygotsky proposed that children learn through the use of cultural tools (signs and symbols of written language and number systems).
•For Vygotsky, infants learn language in interacting with their caregivers; this happens in stages:
”Birth to three years: social stage
”Three to seven years: egocentric stage, characterised by external speech
”After about seven years: thought processes become internalised as inner (private) speech.
•Vygotsky’s ideas were influential in the system of outcomes-based education.
•Another important aspect of development is how children learn to distinguish right from wrong, i.e. moral development.
•Kohlberg takes a justice perspective, saying that children develop through three main levels of moral reasoning (preconventional, conventional and postconventional).
•Kohlberg’s theory has been widely criticised for a number of reasons.
•Gilligan takes an ethics-of-care orientation; this was based on a feminist critique of Kohlberg’s work.
•It seems likely that most people use both approaches in their moral reasoning and actions.
•Moral development is closely linked with the passing on of cultural values.
Social and emotional development
Clearly, neonates are not able to express their emotions in words. That does not mean, however, that they do not feel emotions. They can be visibly distressed when hungry or needing a nappy change, and can show contentment when they are fed and dry. In the first year of life, infants develop the capacity to express a wider range of emotions and this development continues into early childhood. At the same time, the young child develops an increasing ability to regulate his/her emotions and to recognise emotions in others.
Figure 3.8 Infant emotions
Mothers often say that their children are different from each other and that this difference was apparent even from birth. These statements are reflecting the infant’s temperament. Temperament refers to an individual’s characteristic manner of responding to the environment (Shaffer & Kipp, 2007; Thomas, Chess & Birch, 1970).
Research conducted by Thomas et al. (1970) identified three types of temperaments, namely easy temperaments, difficult temperaments and slow-to-warm-up temperaments. These categories were based on the differences in children’s activity levels, their approach—withdrawal behaviour, the intensity of their reactions, their threshold of responsiveness, the quality of their moods, their adaptability, their rhythmicity, their distractibility and their attention spans.
Children with easy temperaments are generally happy, adaptable, regular and easy to soothe. Children with difficult temperaments adapt slowly. They are also easily distracted, inflexible, exhibit intense reactions and frequently cry. Children with slow-to-warm-up temperaments take some time to adjust to changes in their environment, but their reactions are not as intense as children with difficult temperaments.
Bonding between infants and caregivers
The bonding between a mother and her infant is often described as a natural process of the mother falling in love with her child after its birth. Because human infants are entirely dependent on their caregivers for their survival, the development of a close and loving bond between mother or caregiver and infant is thought to be vital for the well-being of a child. Bonding is therefore an essential part of the foundation on which all future development builds (Cole et al., 2005).
Yet some mothers abuse, neglect, abandon or even murder their newborns. This must surely lead us to question the popular notion that bonding is a universal, natural and expected occurrence. A number of factors that may form obstacles to early bonding are discussed below.
Figure 3.9 Positive mother-infant interaction
The importance of the infant’s appearance
Early explanations for bonding come from ethology — the study of animal behaviour and its evolutionary basis. In 1943, Konrad Lorenz, a German ethologist, noted the distinctive facial features that almost all newborns have: heads seemingly too large for their bodies; prominent, rounded foreheads; large eyes and round, full cheeks (Cole et al., 2005). He proposed that this ’babyness’ instinctively evoked strong caregiving responses in adults. From this perspective, bonding is an unconscious, instinctive behaviour, designed to ensure caregiving and therefore the survival of the species. It is this perspective that may explain why mothers of some species of animals kill their malformed offspring. Presumably, these appearance-impaired offspring do not evoke positive caregiving behaviours, but quite the opposite (Fanaroff & Fanaroff, 2013).
The relevance of the mother’s social and economic conditions
We also know that it is not only appearance-impaired infants who are rejected by their parents. In conditions of high infant mortality and female fertility, as is the case in parts of Brazil where Nancy Scheper-Hughes did research, failure to bond with newborn infants is not uncommon (Scheper-Hughes, 1992). Where a mother has a number of children to care for, often in conditions of extreme poverty, she will only invest her limited emotional and physical resources in a child who will definitely survive. Often survival is only assured once the child is long past infancy. In these instances, what appears to be abandonment and neglect of newly born and young infants should not be seen as evidence of a failure to bond, but as a survival strategy adopted by mothers in adverse social and economic conditions (Scheper-Hughes, 1992). For Scheper-Hughes, the common perception of bonding may well be relevant to middle and upper classes, but is an unaffordable luxury for many of the world’s poor mothers.
The debate over whether bonding must occur in a sensitive period
The notion of human parent—infant bonding grew from early research with animals. For example, Klopfer, Adams and Klopfer (1964) showed that contact with their newly-born goats immediately after birth was essential for ensuring positive caregiving responses from the mother goats. This led Klopfer and colleagues to propose that the period immediately after birth was a sensitive period when mother and infant would become imprinted on each other. This research was followed by research with human mothers. Marshall Klaus and John Kendall found that mothers who had not had the opportunity to bond with their newborns were more likely to neglect or abuse their infants (Klaus & Kendall, 1970). However, more recent research (Maestripieri, 2001, p. 94) suggests that ’the available evidence did not support the notion of a critical or sensitive period for mother—infant bonding’. However, there is evidence that close physical contact between mother and infant in the neonatal period does promote bonding (Roller, 2005).
Separation anxiety and attachment
One of the major social and emotional milestones of preschool development is the development of attachment or ties of affection between children and their closest companions (see Box 3.6). The development of strong, positive, mutually enjoyable relationships with close caregivers is critical for social and emotional development during the preschool period.
At the age of about seven to nine months, infants begin actively to seek proximity to the primary caregiver and protest when separated from him/her. This wary or fretful reaction that infants and toddlers display is called separation anxiety. Separation anxiety peaks at 14 to 20 months and gradually becomes less frequent and less intense throughout the preschool period. Separation anxiety is linked to cognitive development (discussed earlier in this chapter).
Infants also exhibit a wary reaction to strangers, called stranger anxiety. Wary reactions to strangers peak at eight to ten months of age and gradually decline in intensity over the second year (Sroufe, 1977).
3.6HISTORY OF PARENT/CAREGIVER—INFANT ATTACHMENT RESEARCH
Source: Mark Tomlinson
The central figure in the emergence of attachment theory was John Bowlby, a British theorist writing in the second half of the 20th century. As a result of the large numbers of homeless children in post-war Europe, Bowlby was commissioned by the World Health Organization to write a report on the mental health of these children (Bretherton, 1995). The report’s major conclusion was that for a child to develop optimally, a warm, intimate and continuous relationship with a mother (or permanent mother substitute) was needed (Bowlby, 1969).
Biological foundations of attachment
Bowlby argued that as humans evolved, being close to a caregiver was vital for protection from predation, and thus, for survival. In his observations, Bowlby noted that upon separation from a caregiver, infants displayed fairly specific sequences of protest behaviour, such as crying and throwing temper tantrums (Bowlby, 1969). If these attachment behaviours were unsuccessful in ensuring the return of the caregiver, the infant would move into the second stage and become despondent. This despair (which resulted in the infant becoming silent, and with slowed motor movements) served the dual purpose of conserving energy and minimising injury, but, perhaps most importantly, ensured that movement and sound did not attract predators (Bowlby, 1969). If separation from the caregiver persisted, the infant would then move into a final stage of detachment, and display behaviour suggesting heightened coping and independence. However, in reality, the infant was clearing the way for the development of other affectional bonds with another caregiver, a partial relinquishing of the old bond to enable a new one to develop (Bowlby, 1969).
Reciprocal attachment behaviours
Human beings are not born with the physical ability (as many animals are) to seek proximity to their caregiver by means of their own locomotion (movement). But the infant has a number of attachment behaviours that have the predictable outcome of increasing the proximity of the infant to the caregiver (Goldberg, 2000).
In order for attachment behaviours to be effective, caregivers must also be equipped with effective responses that ensure caretaking of the infant (Van IJzendoorn et al., 2007). Parent/ caregiver—infant interaction, caregiver sensitivity and mutual responsiveness are crucial aspects of the behaviour of human beings, as they provide the foundation that ensures a prompt response to signals, particularly of distress, from the infant (Van IJzendoorn et al., 2007). It is only in rare circumstances (e.g. in an overcrowded and understaffed orphanage where infants’ attachment behaviours are not responded to or under-responded to) that a child will fail to develop an attachment relationship. If there is somebody to attach to, the infant will form an attachment.
Phases in the development of attachment
John Bowlby outlined four main phases in the development of the attachment system (Ainsworth, 1969). The first occurs from birth to about eight to 12 weeks of age and is characterised by orientation and signalling by the infant, for example by crying, smiling or clinging. The second phase is a period of discriminating sociability (Bowlby, 1969) and occurs between three and six months. In this phase, the infant is able to distinguish his/her primary caregiver from others and is likely to respond differently to him/her. The next phase (from six months to about three years) involves the proximity-seeking characteristic of classic understandings of attachment (Bowlby, 1969). In this phase the infant actively seeks to be close to the caregiver and uses the caregiver as a secure base from which to explore the world.
In addition, the infant’s behaviour begins to become organised on a goal-corrected basis (Ainsworth, 1969). This means that behaviour is modified according to whether or not it helps the infant reach his/her goals. The final stage entails the formation of a reciprocal relationship between the infant and caregiver, and occurs between the third and fourth year of life. During this phase the child begins to understand other people’s motives and feelings (Ainsworth, 1969; Bowlby, 1969).
Security of attachment
Mary Ainsworth developed the Strange Situation experimental procedure in an attempt to assess children’s attachment, and provide a measure for Bowlby’s attachment ideas. The Strange Situation procedure assesses infants’ responses to a stranger when with their caregivers, when left alone and when reunited with their caregivers. The behaviour of the infants in this unfamiliar environment is then analysed. Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters and Wall (1978) classified this behaviour into three attachment patterns: secure, insecure-avoidant and insecure-resistant. These patterns are all seen as organised strategies to deal with the environment and caregiving that the infant has received.
Infants exhibiting secure attachment are upset by the departure of their caregivers, but upon reunion are soothed and fairly quickly resume exploratory play. Infants exhibiting insecure-avoidant attachment appear unperturbed by the departure of their caregivers, and seem independent and self-sufficient. Infants exhibiting insecure-resistant attachment appear upset by the departure of their caregivers, but upon reunion display ambivalent behaviour alternating between seeking comfort and then rejecting that comfort (e.g. by pushing toys away, hitting and angry kicking).
Main and Solomon (1986) subsequently developed a fourth category, namely disorganised attachment, which is an attempt to account for those infants whose behaviour did not easily fit into the three classic Ainsworth categories. Disorganised infants showed marked and pervasive fear in the presence of their caregivers.
In a South African study, Tomlinson, Cooper and Murray (2005) assessed attachment in a sample of 147 infants at two months and 18 months in a study conducted in Khayelitsha (a peri-urban settlement outside Cape Town). At 18 months, they found that 61.9 per cent of their sample was rated as secure, and 38.1 per cent as insecure. The level of secure attachments was relatively high for a population such as Khayelitsha, which is characterised by high levels of poverty and socio-economic adversity.
Of the insecure infants, the largest group (25.8 per cent) were classified as disorganised. Insecure attachment patterns could be related both to past and current situations, including maternal postpartum depression and lack of partner support for the mother when the infants were two months old. In addition, insecure attachment was associated with mothers being intrusive or remote in face-to-face interactions when infants were two months old and being insensitive in a structured play task when infants were 18 months old.
Figure 3.10 Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development (adapted from Erikson, 1963, in Hjelle & Ziegler, 1985)
Erikson’s psychosocial stages of development in the neonatal and preschool periods
Erik Erikson (1902—1994) proposed eight stages of psychosocial theory development that occur throughout an individual’s lifespan; the first three of these occur in early childhood. Each age-graded stage includes a particular crisis that the individual must successfully resolve in order to move on to the next stage of development (see Figure 3.10).
During the first year of life, infants have to resolve the crisis of trust versus mistrust. The primary caregiver plays an important role in the resolution of this crisis. Infants need to be provided with consistent, reliable and predictable caregiving in order to learn to trust others to care for their basic needs. If caregivers reject the infant or are inconsistent in their care, the infant may view the world as untrustworthy and may become mistrustful.
The crisis that toddlers face during the second and third years of life is that of autonomy versus shame and doubt. Toddlers start to show signs of independence by increasingly demanding to determine their own behaviour. This crisis is resolved favourably when caregivers provide their children with appropriate guidance that is based on the children’s level of maturity and development. The quest for independence requires that young children try new skills. Children whose attempts at independence are met with approval, tolerance and understanding by caregivers develop a sense of autonomy. Toddlers who are constantly criticised and made to feel incompetent may experience a sense of shame and doubt.
The crisis that faces young children from the age of three to six years is initiative versus guilt, which relates to issues of mastery and competence. Young children have an eagerness to tackle new tasks, and to interact with peers, caregivers and other members of the family. Children who are punished or criticised for expressing their desires and plans may develop a sense of guilt, which leads to fear and a lack of assertiveness (Papalia, Olds & Feldman, 2010).
Development of the gender concept
By age two-and-a-half to three years, preschoolers acquire a basic gender identity. They can label themselves as either boys or girls. At this age, they also begin to acquire sex-role stereotypes which are usually reinforced by the caregivers’ differential treatment of boys and girls.
Caregivers in many cultures encourage nurturing behaviour from girls while expecting boys to play a more instrumental role. For example, in many African contexts, girls are expected to assist with the upbringing of younger siblings and to perform domestic chores. African boys, on the other hand, are often expected to assist with looking after livestock (Mwamwenda, 2004).
Although many three-year-olds have acquired a basic gender identity, they do not understand that gender is constant. A three- to four-year-old boy may make statements that suggest that he could be a mother when he gets older. Children normally begin to understand that gender is constant at the age of five to seven years, and that boys will grow into men and girls will grow into women.
3.7ASPECTS OF POSITIVE CHILD REARING
A secure and loving environment is necessary for children’s optimal growth and development. Children need guidance, love and care in order to develop as stable, well-adjusted and sociable human beings.
Another important aspect of child rearing is the transmission of cultural beliefs. Caregivers impart to children aspects of their culture and traditions that give children a sense of identity and a better understanding of the world around them. For example, children often first acquire an understanding and appreciation of the value of ubuntu (compassion) within the context of parent— child interactions.
Many children are exposed to violence at home, in schools, in their communities and on television. One of the important tasks of caregivers is to bring up children who are going to contribute towards decreasing the levels of violence in their communities.
A positive caregiver—child relationship facilitates the development of an emotional tie that is the building block of human cognitive capacity, the acquisition of language and empathic identification with other human beings (Richter, 2000). Relationships in which love is shown and in which children are provided with opportunities to learn are crucial for children’s development. A positive relationship between a caregiver and a young child affirms the child’s sense of self, and therefore facilitates the development of a positive sense of self.
Not all caregivers are able to establish positive relationships with their infants. Caregiver—child relationships can become disturbed for a number of reasons, some of which are related to the child (e.g. prematurity, difficult temperament and mental or physical disability), and others related to the caregiver (e.g. depression, stress, teen motherhood and a history of child abuse). The environment that children are being brought up in also impacts on the caregiver—child relationship. Poverty is the most important risk factor for very young children and, where poverty exists, it affects children’s development throughout their critical years.
Figure 3.11 A father’s involvement can contribute greatly to his child’s development
Baumrind (1967, 1971) identified three main styles of parenting used by parents of preschool (and older) children:
1.Authoritarian. These parents set absolute standards and rules for their children. There is very little communication between the parent and the child regarding rules and regulations. These parents rely on force and punishment to enforce their standards. They show very little warmth towards their children. Children do not get involved in family decision making, even in matters that involve them. Baumrind found that preschoolers of authoritarian parents were generally anxious, withdrawn and unhappy.
2.Authoritative. These parents are warm and responsive to the needs of their children. They set limits for their children and explain the reasoning behind these limits. These parents have open communication with their children and involve them in family decision making in an age-appropriate manner. These parents listen to the concerns of their children and are flexible when it is deemed appropriate. Authoritative parents encourage autonomy based on the child’s level of maturity. Baumrind found children of authoritative parents to be self-reliant, self-controlled and soundly competent.
3.Permissive. Parents who use this style of child rearing are warm and nurturing. Very few demands are made on the children and rules are not enforced. Children are permitted to express their impulses and parents do not monitor their children’s activities. Permissive parents allow children to make many of their own decisions at an age when they are not yet capable of doing so responsibly. Children of permissive parents are often found to be generally immature and impulsive.
3.8THE RIGHTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN AND PRESCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN
Source: UNICEF (2001)
Young children (0—3 years) have a right to:
•protection from physical danger
•adequate nutrition and health care
•an adult with whom to form an attachment relationship
•an adult who understands and responds to their signals
•things to look at, touch, hear, smell and taste
•opportunities to explore their world
•appropriate language stimulation
•support in acquiring new motor, language and thinking skills
•a chance to develop some independence
•help in learning how to control their own behaviour
•opportunities to begin to learn to care for themselves
•daily opportunities to play with a variety of objects.
Preschool aged children have the right to:
•all of the previously mentioned opportunities, and
•opportunities to develop fine motor skills
•encouragement of language through talking, being read to, and singing
•activities that will develop a sense of mastery
•experimentation with pre-writing and pre-reading skills
•hands-on exploration for learning through action
•opportunities for taking responsibility and making their own choices
•encouragement to develop self-control, cooperation and persistence in completing projects
•support for their sense of self-worth
•opportunities for self-expression
•encouragement of creativity.
3.9ARE THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN AFFECTED BY HIV/AIDS BEING ADEQUATELY ADDRESSED?
When parents die from HIV/AIDS-related conditions, children are often deprived of love, support and care. UNAIDS estimated that in 2013, about 2.4 million children in South Africa had been orphaned owing to AIDS and 360 000 children between 0 and 14 years were living with HIV (UNAIDS, n.d.). The plight of children affected by, and infected with, HIV/AIDS is a major crisis, despite the reduction in new infections and improved treatment roll-out. There are major concerns about addressing the rights of the large numbers of orphans and vulnerable children (Department of Social Development, n.d.).
The South African constitution states that a child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child. It is an assurance that has far-reaching implications. The matters that concern children are extensive. They include education, housing, food, health, sanitation, water and peace.
Although there have been a number of responses to the crises facing children, the rights of many children are not adequately addressed, despite the fact that they are guaranteed in the constitution. A number of preschool children, especially in rural areas, still have no access to early childhood development programmes. Approximately 40 per cent of young children in South Africa grow up in conditions of abject poverty and neglect.
All sectors of society, including government departments at national and provincial levels, local government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations (CBOs), faith-based organisations (FBOs) and international organisations, need to coordinate their efforts so that the rights of children can be protected.
Play in the preschool years
In earlier times, it was thought that play was a meaningless activity. However, we now know that the play of preschool children is essential for their physical, social and emotional development. During the first year of life, infants gradually develop more specific social interactions with their caregivers and peers (Bukatko & Daehler, 2011). These change from general signals (looks, smiles, squeals) to crawling over to investigate another baby. In the second year, toddlers begin to play more interactively and begin to take turns with toys. They also play simple games like hide-and-seek or catch.
Mildred Parten (1932, in Bukatko & Daehler, 2011) described three forms of play in young children:
1.In solitary play, children play by themselves, ignoring other children who may be present.
2.In parallel play, children play alongside each other in the same area. For example, two boys may be playing with blocks, one building a tower while the other pretends his blocks are a train.
3.In cooperative play, the children interact actively with each other. Research suggests that these types of play all occur in the preschool period.
Play can also be categorised according to its purpose. For example, symbolic (pretend) play peaks during the preschool period and is very important for cognitive and other development. There may also be practice play in which new skills are repeated. This facilitates the physical development needed for later motor tasks. Constructive play involves creative activities like making up a story, doing artwork or building structures. Through these processes, children learn about materials and the relationships between objects and develop positive self-esteem.
How beneficial is play?
In contrast to earlier views that childhood play activities are a frivolous waste of time, studies done in the 1950s (e.g. Piaget, 1959) indicated that play in fact allows children to practise and strengthen a range of competencies. These include physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills.
Play provides a context for using language to communicate. It allows a child to fantasise, plan strategies and solve problems. Indeed, children often show more advanced skills during pretend play than when performing other activities, suggesting that play fosters cognitive development (Papalia et al., 2010).
Pretend play activities may also promote social development. To be successful at social pretend play, children must adopt different roles, coordinate their activities and resolve any disputes that may arise. Children also learn about and prepare for adult roles by playing house or playing school (Papalia et al., 2010). School children who participate in a lot of social pretend play tend to be more socially mature and popular with their peers compared to children who generally play alone.
Play also fosters healthy emotional development by allowing children to express feelings that bother them or to resolve emotional conflicts. Children who are from socio-economically disadvantaged and deprived environments, such as informal settlements, can often be found playing happily — and noisily! One reason for their apparent happiness could be that they often spend a lot of time playing together and thus have a chance to act out their emotions.
An example of how emotional conflicts can be resolved through play is when a little girl, who has been scolded at lunch for failing to eat her fruit, may gain control of her feelings as she scolds her doll for picky eating or persuades her doll to eat healthy food and consume the fruit.
Early childhood development (ECD) programmes
Learning during the preschool period occurs in the home, the community and within formal and informal settings and structures. It occurs mostly through the medium of play. There is growing evidence that learning experiences during the preschool period are critical for brain development and therefore for scholastic performance during the years of formal schooling.
Early childhood development (ECD) programmes capitalise on the child’s rapid growth during the preschool stage to help facilitate school readiness. Children who enter school with appropriate skills are less at risk for repeating a grade or dropping out of school altogether. They are also more motivated and have better social skills (Van de Linde, 2006). The long-term effects of early intervention are also positive, with reduced criminal activity and better employment records (Van de Linde, 2006).
In Africa, where the majority of children grow up under conditions of poverty and stress, it is particularly important that ECD programmes focus on health, nutrition and psychological development. ECD programmes play a critical role in supplementing learning experiences at home and in the community, and are intended to promote the development of children to reach their full cognitive, emotional, social and physical potential (Mwamwenda, 2004).
ECD programmes allow teachers to assess children and intervene, if necessary, to support their health, growth and psychological development. A number of preschools in South Africa have introduced life skills programmes for parents on HIV/AIDS, child abuse and neglect.
The preschool years are also an ideal phase for the transmission of core values, such as the appreciation of diversity, and tolerance of and respect for others, that are essential for a peaceful and democratic society.
ECD programmes can be provided in a variety of settings, including community halls, schools and the home. ECD facilitators may be formally trained, but programmes may also include training for parents or other caregivers.
Promoting resilience in children
Many children in South Africa are growing up in conditions that predispose them to future problems. However, studies on resilience in the face of risk have shown that there are two very important factors that seem to offer protection from the damaging effects of stressful life events (Papalia et al., 2010):
1.Resilience can be fostered by a close relationship with at least one caregiver who provides affection and assistance and introduces stability and organisation into the child’s life. The caregiver could also be a person outside the immediate family (such as a grandparent, a member of the extended family or a neighbour) who has a special relationship with the child.
2.The child’s own characteristics can mediate the impact of stressful events. Children with calm, easy-going, adaptable, proactive and sociable dispositions seem to adapt to change and elicit positive responses from others.
In addition, ’resilient children tend have high IQs or to be good problem solvers’ (Papalia et al., 2010, p. 424). Children at risk can also benefit from interventions, such as early childhood development programmes, nutrition programmes and psychosocial interventions to improve health, physical growth and psychological development.
•Neonates are not able to express their emotions in words; however, they can feel and do express emotions.
•The capacity to express, recognise and regulate emotions continues to develop in the preschool period.
•Temperament is an individual’s characteristic manner of responding to the environment.
•There are three types of temperaments: easy, difficult and slow-to-warm-up.
•Shortly after birth, the mother (or primary caregiver) and infant should bond. This facilitates emotional closeness and care of the infant.
•Aspects that may interfere with bonding are
”mother’s socio-economic circumstances
”disruptions to the so-called sensitive period for bonding.
•In the preschool period, stranger and separation anxiety may be problematic. Anxiety about separation is based on the child’s attachment to their caregiver.
•Attachment involves the development of strong, positive, mutually enjoyable relationships with close caregivers and it is critical for social and emotional development.
•Attachment was studied by John Bowlby after World War II. He noted that being close to a caregiver was vital for survival.
•If attachment is disrupted, the infant goes through stages of response: protest, despair and detachment.
•For attachment behaviours to be effective, caregivers must also be able to respond effectively.
•Bowlby outlined four main phases in the development of the attachment system: signalling, discriminating sociability, proximity seeking and formation of a reciprocal relationship.
•Mary Ainsworth developed the Strange Situation to assess children’s attachment patterns.
•Ainsworth found three attachment patterns: secure, insecure-avoidant and insecure-resistant; later, the disorganised attachment category was added.
•Erik Erikson proposed eight stages of psychosocial development that occur throughout an individual’s life span, the first three of which occur in early childhood.
•Each age-graded stage includes a particular crisis that the individual must successfully resolve in order to move on to the next stage of development:
”During the first year of life, infants have to resolve the crisis of trust versus mistrust; infants need consistent, reliable and predictable caregiving (stage 1).
”During the second and third years of life, the crisis is that of autonomy versus shame and doubt; caregivers need to give appropriate guidance, accept moves towards independence and avoid criticism (stage 2).
”From three to six years, the crisis is initiative versus guilt; children should be supported in their efforts to achieve mastery and competence and should not be punished for these (stage 3).
•By age two and a half to three years, preschoolers acquire a basic gender identity; they can label themselves as boys or girls and begin to acquire sex-role stereotypes.
•Between five and seven years, children begin to understand that gender is constant.
•Diana Baumrind identified three main parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative and permissive.
•The necessity of children’s play was not initially appreciated by theorists; however, the play of preschool children is essential for their physical, social and emotional development.
•In the preschool period, the nature of play changes from solitary play to parallel play to cooperative play.
•Play can also be categorised according to its purpose, which may include symbolic (pretend) play, practice play and constructive play.
•Play allows children to practise and strengthen a range of competencies, including language skills, fantasy, problem solving, social interaction, and emotional expression and regulation.
•Learning during the preschool period occurs in the home, the community and within formal and informal settings and structures. The latter can be facilitated by early childhood development (ECD) programmes.
•ECD programmes use the child’s rapid growth during the preschool stage to help facilitate school readiness; they also allow for teachers to assess children and intervene.
•ECD programmes can help with transmission of values and can be offered in a variety of settings.
•Not all children grow up in ideal conditions; resilience may be developed through having a close relationship with at least one caregiver who provides affection and assistance and introduces stability and organisation into the child’s life. In addition, the child’s own characteristics (e.g. temperament, intelligence) can mediate the impact of stressful events.
Middle childhood is a period of increased emotional maturity. Children are expected to be more independent and self-sufficient. They have a growing knowledge of themselves and hopefully develop a positive self-concept (De Witt, 2009).
Compared to the limited emotional expression of babies, emotional expression during middle childhood is more specific and more diverse. However, the emotional development of this phase means that there is an increase in the likelihood of childhood depression (De Witt, 2009). Peer relationships are extremely important in this phase, and a lack of friends may be both a cause and symptom of depression. Friendships allow children to develop sharing and mutual respect and to learn how to cope with rejection. Other potential emotional problems in this period are separation issues and school phobia (De Witt, 2009).
Figure 3.12 Middle childhood is frequently referred to as the school years
Within various social environments there may be particular expectations of children and they may be assigned particular roles based on their age. For instance, children of school-going age might be expected to do certain chores, which might not have been seen as suitable for them when they were younger. This could include going to the shop, performing certain basic cooking and house-cleaning tasks and looking after their younger siblings. Whether some of the tasks allocated to children are constructive or appropriate for their development is, of course, debatable.
Erikson’s psychosocial stage of development in middle childhood
Earlier in this chapter, we encountered the first three periods in Erikson’s psychosocial theory of development. During middle childhood, the fourth period of development occurs. The crisis that children now face is that of industry versus inferiority. Erikson describes this stage as the time when children must master important social and educational skills. It is a period when the child compares him-/ herself with peers. As children encounter the challenges of school, positive outcomes lead to a valuing of personal accomplishments and a sense of competency or industry. In this way, they acquire the social and academic skills to feel self-assured. On the other hand, negative outcomes lead to a sense of failure and feelings of inferiority. During this stage, teachers and peers are significant environmental or social influences in the child’s life (Shaffer & Kipp, 2007).
3.10THE IMPORTANCE OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Source: Birth to Twenty (2003)
The Birth to Twenty study is a longitudinal research project studying child health and development in Africa, following children from birth to the age of 20. Among other aspects, this study examines whether South African children are physically active enough.
More than 40 per cent of children (in Grades 4 and 5) do not regularly engage in vigorous physical activity. Also, physical activity is less common among girls than boys, and among those in lower-income families or among those who have less access to education.
South African children are not sufficiently physically active and would benefit from more physical activities and participation in sports.
Play in middle childhood
Physical development during middle childhood plays an important role because it enables children to participate in a range of activities. Research has also indicated that play or physical activity substantially reduces the risk of developing some illnesses. For instance, the Birth to Twenty (2003) study indicated that regular physical activity could help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and was associated with fewer hospitalisations, fewer visits to the doctor and less medication (see Box 3.10).
Various perspectives hold that when there is little physical play during middle childhood, this could be indicative of certain developmental difficulties. For example, according to Erikson’s (1963) perspective, it could be an indication of unresolved early crises involving feelings of mistrust, doubt and guilt. Second, it could be an indication of a motor skills disorder or learning disabilities.
Last, play is an important way in which children learn what is appropriate in their cultural context. Children often play traditional games that have been passed down across generations. They may also learn skills that are expected of them in their particular cultural setting.
Figure 3.13 Learning to ride a bicycle is one of the significant accomplishments of middle childhood
The development of self-concept and self-esteem
Self-concept refers to how we see or describe ourselves. The self-concept is made up of self-perceptions, abilities, personality characteristics and behaviours that are organised and generally consistent with one another (Bukatko & Daehler, 2011). The social messages that children receive as they interact with the environment play an important role in developing their self-concept. According to De Witt (2009), middle childhood can be regarded as a sensitive period for the development of the self-concept because of the child’s level of cognitive development, as well as his/her typical experiences during this period.
Children of school-going age begin to define themselves in psychological terms. Their self-concept develops from their experiences and represents how they see themselves. Apart from developing their self-concept, children also develop a sense of how they would like to be (the ideal self). Freud suggests that the ideal self develops with the superego (see Chapter 5 for an in-depth discussion of the superego). The ideal self is based on children’s hopes and wishes and reflects how they would like to see themselves. The content of children’s self-concepts may vary along dimensions such as family circumstances (e.g. whether they are from poor or wealthy families) and social positions (e.g. their gender, ethnicity and social class) (Bukatko & Daehler, 2011).
As they start school, children also start developing clearer judgements of their worth, which is referred to as self-esteem. According to Bukatko and Daehler (2011), self-esteem can be defined as the evaluation of one’s worth as a person, based on an assessment of the qualities that make up the self-concept. Among children of school-going age, the development of self-esteem is facilitated by the challenges they are confronted with in the school system, such as the challenges generated by learning tasks and their interaction with teachers and peers (De Witt, 2009).
Obviously, children’s self-esteem is also affected by their family circumstances and experiences. For instance, research indicates that stressful family circumstances, such as divorce, have a significant influence on a child’s self-esteem (Bastaits, Ponnet & Mortelmans, 2012).
Environmental influences on the social development of girls
Currently, school-going boys and girls in Africa are confronted with a variety of social factors that could put them at risk. But girls, in particular, are at risk, because of the limiting social expectations placed on them in middle childhood. According to Van der Riet, Hough, Killian, O’Neill and Ram (2006), girls experience significant gender-related barriers to education. UNICEF (2003) notes that the traditional division of labour disadvantages girls. In addition, if poverty means that a family can send only some of the children to school, boys will usually be given precedence.
In the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, girls of schoolgoing age are more likely to have to care for sick family members, and to head up households where both parents have died of HIV/AIDS.
The importance of schools in social development
Schools are a powerful agent of socialisation during middle childhood as it is here that cultural norms and values are conveyed. One of the purposes of schooling is to extend the socialisation process begun by the family. At school, children are expected to relate to a new form of authority, namely teachers, follow a new of set of rules, make new friends and learn to get along with other children who are not their friends. Children are also expected to become interested in acquiring knowledge in a formal and structured manner. Ultimately, school provides the child with the knowledge and skills necessary for adjustment in adulthood (De Witt, 2009).
Although developmental psychologists agree that social factors such as the home and school environment contribute substantially to the child’s development, there has also been a long-standing debate regarding the role of biology versus the role of the environment in determining children’s capabilities (see Box 3.3).
Figure 3.14 School is where many friendships are formed
•Middle childhood is a period of increased emotional maturity and independence.
•Compared to earlier stages, emotional expression during middle childhood is more specific and more diverse.
•Peer relationships are extremely important and a lack of friends may be both a cause and symptom of depression.
•Other potential emotional problems are separation issues and school phobia.
•There are increased expectations placed on children (e.g. to do chores).
•For Erikson, the crisis for children between six and puberty is industry versus inferiority; children must master important social and educational skills and teachers can support (or damage) this process.
•In middle childhood, play has an important role in physical development; lack of physical activity may have serious negative physical or mental health outcomes.
•Play also allows children to learn what behaviour is appropriate in their cultural context.
•Middle childhood also sees developments in self-concept and self-esteem; this happens through messages that children receive as they interact with the environment.
•Children of school-going age begin to define themselves in psychological terms; they begin to develop an ideal self.
•Self-concept and self-esteem are influenced by family circumstances (e.g. socio-economic status), as well as social positions (e.g. gender, ethnicity and social class).
•Self-concept and self-esteem are also affected by school experiences.
•Girls are particularly at risk for developmental disruptions because of the limiting social expectations placed on them in middle childhood.
•Schools are powerful agents of socialisation during middle childhood as the educational setting provides the child with the knowledge and skills necessary for adjustment in adulthood.
This chapter has outlined the broad contours of prenatal and neonatal development, as well as the development of preschool children and of middle childhood. Although the prenatal and the neonatal period are fraught with dangers, human embryos, foetuses and babies can be aided by their parents/caregivers to cope with these dangers.
Physical development in the prenatal and neonatal periods is extremely rapid, slowing down somewhat in the preschool period before a further growth spurt in middle childhood. Gross motor and fine motor skills improve during this period, as does hand-eye coordination. Both over- and under-nutrition may have a major impact on development.
Piaget describes early cognitive development as occurring in stages. Language development is key in the preschool period if the child is to cope at school. Vygotsky’s theory takes a different approach to cognitive development, arguing that thought and language develop within a social and cultural context. Cognitive development is strongly influenced by formal schooling where mastery of a variety of tasks influences cognitive development, and where cognitive ability influences the mastery of tasks. Moral development is also important in the preschool and middle childhood periods. Kohlberg’s justice view has been challenged by Carol Gilligan who takes a relational approach.
Social and emotional aspects are present even before birth. However the bonds between infants and their parents/caregivers are formed, these bonds are important in the baby’s development. Social development in the preschool period is extremely important for the later functioning of the child, as it lays the foundation for key skills needed in adult relationships and the world of work. In middle childhood, a child’s social development and emotional development are both strongly in fluenced by the child’s increasing interactions with unfamiliar adults and children, particularly in the school setting. Children are expected to become more and more self-sufficient and independent. They develop a self-concept, and their own and others’ evaluations of their achievements during this period lay the foundations for self-esteem. The cultural context and social situation are integral factors in shaping the course of middle childhood.
accommodation: the process in cognitive development whereby infants change and expand their previous schemas to include new experiences
amniotic fluid: the fluid that fills the amniotic sac that contains the developing embryo and foetus
animism: the thought process whereby human-like qualities are attributed to inanimate objects
assimilation: the process in developmental change whereby new experiences are incorporated into existing schemas, thus expanding them
attachment: the third phase in the development of the attachment system, where the infant actively seeks proximity to the primary caregiver and uses this person as a secure base from which to explore the world
attachment behaviours: particular behaviours exhibited by an infant with the purpose of gaining proximity to the caregiver, thus ensuring the infant’s survival
attachment system: the inborn, genetically preprogrammed propensity of infants to display attachment behaviours
authoritarian: the style of parenting where parents set absolute standards and show little warmth
authoritative: the style of parenting where parents are firm but warm and open
autonomy versus shame and doubt: according to Erikson, the psychosocial challenge for toddlers in the second and third years of life
cephalocaudal developmental trend: the sequence of physical growth that proceeds from the head and progresses downwards
cognitive development: the age-related changes that occur in mental activities such as attending, perceiving, learning, thinking and remembering
compensation: a feature of children’s thinking, when changes in one aspect of a problem are mentally compared with, and compensated for, by changes in another
conception: the moment at which the ovum and sperm merge
concrete operational stage: the third stage identified in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, when children are capable of logical thought in relation to concrete events and phenomena
conservation: the principle that quantities remain the same despite changes in their appearance
constructive play: creative activities like making up a story, doing artwork and so on
cooperative dialogue: ways in which children interact with more knowledgeable members of society
cooperative play: when children interact with each other at play
cultural tools: ways of functioning in response to the demands of the culture in which a child is raised
decentration: a feature of children’s thinking, when they can consider multiple aspects of a stimulus or situation
discriminating sociability: the second phase in the development of the attachment system, where the infant becomes more discriminating towards his/her primary caregiver
disorganised attachment: a fourth category of attachment behaviour that describes infants who show a marked and pervasive fear in the presence of the primary
egocentric stage: the stage of development in which, according to Vygotsky, children between the ages of three and seven use external speech to control their actions
egocentrism: the tendency of children to view everything from their own perspective
embryo: the term given to the developing organism once it has successfully implanted in the uterus
embryonic stage: the six weeks of prenatal development after the germinal stage
ethics-of-care orientation: a feminist ethical approach that bases moral decision making on relational and contextual aspects
external speech: the speech produced by a child talking aloud to him-/herself which Vygotsky said is used by the child to direct his/her behaviour
fallopian tubes: the narrow tubes where the ovum is fertilised and along which the zygote travels to the uterus
fine motor skills: skills or capabilities involving small body movements
foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS): a group of symptoms found in babies whose mothers were heavy drinkers of alcohol during pregnancy
foetal stage: the stage of prenatal development from the third to the ninth month of pregnancy
gender identity: a person’s subjective sense of their own gender
germinal stage: the first two weeks of prenatal development after conception
gross motor skills: skills or capabilities involving large body movements
higher mental functions: sophisticated cognitive abilities that include internal, language-based mental tools
holophrases: single words used to convey the meaning of a whole sentence
ideal self: an element of a child’s self-concept based on that child’s hopes and wishes, and reflecting how he/she would like to see him-/herself
industry: the sense of competency that children acquire by encountering the challenges of school and dealing with them in a way that produces positive outcomes
industry versus inferiority: according to Erikson, the psychosocial crisis that must be resolved during middle childhood
inferiority: according to Erikson, the feeling that children develop if they encounter the challenges of school and experience negative outcomes that lead them to devalue their personal accomplishments
initiative versus guilt: according to Erikson, the psychosocial challenge for children between the ages of three and six years
inner (private) speech: the language that is used by a child to talk silently to him-/herself, which, according to Vygotsky, shows that the child can shape and direct thinking
insecure-avoidant attachment: the attachment behaviour where infants appear unperturbed by the departure of their primary caregiver, and seem independent and self-sufficient
insecure-resistant attachment: the attachment behaviour where infants seem upset by the departure of their primary caregiver, but upon reunion display ambivalent behaviour, alternating between seeking comfort and rejecting that comfort
mitosis: the process by which the zygote divides into identical cells
neonatal period: a period of development from birth to approximately one month after birth
neonate: a newly born infant up to the age of around four weeks
object permanence: the realisation that an object or person continues to exist even when no longer visible
outcomes-based education (OBE): a system of education that is based on the principles that all learners can be successful, that success at one level promotes success at the next level, and that schools and teachers control the conditions for learners’ success
ovum: the female reproductive cell
parallel play: children play alongside each other in the same area
permissive: the style of parenting where parents are warm and allow children an inappropriate amount of freedom
placenta: a complex organ made of tissue from the embryo and the mother
practice play: new skills are repeated in play
preoperational stage: according to Piaget, the stage of development that occurs between the ages of two and seven years, when children use symbolic thought but not the cognitive operations necessary for logical thought
proximodistal developmental trend: the sequence of physical growth that proceeds from the centre of the body outward
psychosocial theory of development: Erikson’s theory of development that postulates that people must deal with a series of crises as they pass through various stages of development from birth to death
reciprocal relationship: the final stage in the development of the attachment system, where infants begin to understand other people’s motives and feelings
reflexes: inborn actions over which the neonate and/ or young infant has no control
resilience: the ability to adapt effectively in the face of adverse circumstances
reversibility: a feature of children’s thinking that involves the ability to mentally reverse actions or situations
scaffolding: temporary support while a task is being completed
schema: a pattern of thought or behaviour used to organise categories of information and the relationships between them
secure attachment: the attachment behaviour where infants are upset by the departure of their primary caregivers, but upon reunion are soothed and fairly quickly resume exploratory play
self-concept: a belief about oneself that is made up of self-perceptions, abilities, personality characteristics and behaviours that are organised and generally consistent with one another
self-esteem: a person’s evaluation of his/her own worth as a person, based on an assessment of the qualities that make up his/her self-concept
sensorimotor stage: according to Piaget, the stage of development that occurs from birth to two years of age, when infants gain knowledge about their environments through an increasing ability to coordinate their sensory input with motor activity
separation anxiety: an infant’s fear of being separated from his/her primary caregiver
seriation: a feature of children’s thinking when children master the ability to arrange objects in order along quantitative dimensions, such as weight, length or size
signalling: behaviours, such as vocalising and/or crying, designed to bring a caregiver to the infant
socially mediated activity: cognitive growth in which children acquire new ways of thinking by interacting with knowledgeable members of society
social stage: the stage of development between birth and the age of three years when, according to Vygotsky, children use language to express simple thoughts and feelings
solitary play: children playing by themselves
sperm: the male reproductive cell(s)
stranger anxiety: an infant’s fear of strangers
Strange Situation: an experimental procedure used by Ainsworth and her colleagues in order to test and measure Bowlby’s attachment ideas
symbolic play: pretend play which peaks during the preschool period
symbolic representation: the fifth sub-stage in the sensorimotor stage of development, where infants aged between one-and-a-half to two years plan actions on the basis of imagined realities
telegraphic speech: only those words that are necessary to convey meaning
temperament: an individual’s characteristic manner of responding to the environment
teratogens: harmful, environmental agents that interfere with normal prenatal development
transitivity: a feature of children’s thinking that refers to the ability to recognise relations among elements in a serial order
trust versus mistrust: according to Erikson, the psychosocial challenge for infants in the first year of life
umbilical cord: the tube connecting the embryo to the placenta
zone of proximal development (ZPD): Vygotsky’s term for an area that is bounded by the level of problem solving that a child can perform on his/her own and the level of problem solving that a child is capable of given the assistance of a competent instructor
zone of viability: the period during which a prematurely born foetus may have a chance of survival
zygote: the single cell formed as a result of the merging of an ovum with a sperm cell
Multiple choice questions
1.The first two weeks after conception are referred to as the ____________ of prenatal development.
a)elements of the internal environment that affect foetal growth and development
b)the name given to the cell mass that provides the embryo with its life-support systems
c)the collection of symptoms displayed by babies and associated with excessive exposure to alcohol
d)harmful external environmental agents that can affect foetal growth and development.
3.Which one of the following is not an attachment behaviour?
4.Walking, throwing, writing and tying shoe laces are capacities collectively known as:
a)gross motor skills
b)fine motor skills
c)integrated motor skills
d)none of the above.
5.At about what age does handedness develop in a preschool child?
b)at about two years of age
c)between three and four years of age
d)at about five to six years of age.
6.According to Erikson, which three psychosocial stages of development fall within the preschool period of development?
a)basic trust versus mistrust; initiative versus shame and doubt; industry versus inferiority
b)autonomy versus shame and doubt; initiative versus guilt; integrity versus despair
c)basic trust versus mistrust; autonomy versus shame and doubt; initiative versus guilt
d)basic trust versus guilt; autonomy versus role confusion; initiative versus inferiority.
7.Which of the following is not one of Baumrind’s parenting styles used by parents of preschool children?
8.When a child realises that although a balloon may be large, it can also be light, he/she is demonstrating the ability called:
9.Transitivity is the ability to:
a)arrange objects in order along quantitative dimensions, such as weight, length or size
b)recognise that properties of objects or substances do not change because their form changes
c)recognise relations among a number of ordered objects
d)none of the above.
10.To which influential theorist can we attribute the theory focusing on how culture is transmitted from one generation to the next?
1.How does maternal nutrition affect the development of the foetus?
2.Why is it important that pregnant mothers should not consume alcohol?
3.Briefly describe the neonate’s early sensory capacities.
4.Briefly describe the course of language development during the preschool period.
5.Discuss the different parenting styles, according to Baumrind.
6.Briefly outline the physical development of children during middle childhood.
7.What did Erikson (1963) mean when he described the middle childhood stage in terms of industry versus inferiority?
8.Childhood play activities are a frivolous waste of time. Provide a convincing argument against this assertion.