PSY 375 Infancy and Early Childhood Development Paper
PSY 375 Infancy and Early Childhood Development Paper
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Date Created: 11/13/15
R u n n i n g H e a d : I N F A N C Y A N D E A R L Y C H I L D H O O D D E V E L O P M E N T | 1 Infancy and Early Childhood Development Name PSY 375 Instructor Infancy and Early Childhood Development All aspects of development begin in infancy and continue throughout one’s entire lifetime. Some believe that infants and young children are greatly influenced by their surrounding environment. Early in life, cognitive and social aspects of development are shaped P a g e | 2 and molded quite easily. Language and speech, perception, and motor skills are also influenced early in a child’s life. Parents and family members play a large role in a young child’s life, which is why they also have a significant impact on the child’s development. As a young child reaches school age, he or she will also begin to adapt to an educational atmosphere, which will in turn affect his or her cognitive development and social skills. Family Influences After a baby is born the brain begins to go through developmental changes as a result of both heredity and experience. Early childhood experiences can be split into two categories, experienceexpectant and experiencedependent. Expectant experiences include common and somewhat universal experiences shared by most babies. This can include experiences such as love from parents or families, perception of surrounding objects, and recognizing facial expressions (Berger, 2008). Dependent experiences are less universal and more individualized depending on the infant’s environment and surroundings. Different cultures and family belief systems come into play in dependent experiences. It is the experiencedependent aspects of development that create diversity among infants and young children. An infant’s parents or caregivers are significant in his or her early stages of development. If an infant is raised in a neglectful atmosphere, he or she may experience lasting damage as a result of the parent’s lack of affection and care. The infant needs to have a sufficient amount of care, affection, attention and intellectual stimulation to develop at an optimal level. The caregiver’s role in a child’s life not only influences the child’s psychological development but can also affect the child’s biological development (Belsky, 2008). If an infant remains under P a g e | 3 stimulated for an extended period, he or she may experience difficulty developing proper sensations, motor skills, and perceptions. Even an adult cannot learn something new without being taught, and this important principle also applies to infancy and early childhood development. Parenting Styles Authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, and authoritative are four primary parenting styles that exist. Each parenting style is unique and has distinct characteristics that apply to the way in which a parent raises a child. Parents who take on the authoritarian approach to parenting are typically overbearing and do not feel the need to explain themselves to the child. A child raised in an authoritarian atmosphere does not have much freedom and rarely makes decisions on his or her own. The authoritarian approach may potentially backfire and cause the child to ultimately rebel against authority figures (Livestrong, 2010). Children reared in a permissive atmosphere have an abundant amount of freedom in all aspects of life. Permissive parents do not typically make rules or boundaries for the child. As a result of this freedom the child may grow up to be irresponsible with little sense of responsibility. The permissive style of parenting is quite the opposite of the authoritarian approach to parenting. The uninvolved parenting style is fairly selfexplanatory and is similar to the permissive parenting style. Uninvolved parents take no interest in their child’s development and growth. The consequences of uninvolved parenting are similar to that of permissive parenting (Livestrong, 2010). P a g e | 4 Parents that are authoritative take on characteristics of both a permissive and authoritarian style. Authoritative parents set rules for the child, but they also try to guide the child in the right direction while giving him or her enough freedom to make individual choices. A child reared in an authoritative atmosphere often develops a good sense of responsibility and selfreliance. They are also said to be at a developmental advantage compared to children raised in a permissive, uninvolved, or authoritarian atmosphere (Livestrong, 2010). The parenting style that seems to have the most positive advantages is the authoritative parenting style. In comparison to the other three parenting styles, the authoritative parenting style has less negative influences on the child’s growth and development. A child raised in an authoritative home can adapt easily to changing environments. He or she is also selfsufficient with a good sense of who they are and what they stand for. Authoritative parents can find the right balance between being too lenient and too overbearing. They are involved in their child’s life, but they also give the child room to grow and develop as an individual. Early Childhood Education and Cognitive Development A child’s cognitive development is highly dependent on intellectual and social stimulation. Early childhood education is typically the first instance in which a child is exposed to a learning atmosphere that is socially stimulating as well as intellectually stimulating. Whether a child is playing with other classmates during recess or practicing the alphabet, he or she is developing on a cognitive level. Young children often play ‘pretend’ activities such as playing house or cooking without any real food (mud, grass, etc.) These young children are using symbolism to apply their ‘pretend’ activities to situations that they have witnessed in real P a g e | 5 life. This process of using inference to create symbolic activities is just one example of how early childhood education can influence a young child’s cognitive development. Children also become more aware of the reactions of others while in an educational atmosphere. In an educational atmosphere children work closely together when learning new subjects in the classroom. Most early childhood education programs are heavily interactive and involve the communication and collaboration of all students within the classroom. This aspect of early childhood education helps the child develop social skills and also influences the ability to recognize the emotions and reactions of fellow classmates. As a result, the child should begin to acknowledge socially acceptable behaviors versus socially unacceptable behaviors (Seifert, 2004). Another important aspect of early childhood education is the distinct differences that exist between the child’s home environments versus his or her school environment. A child’s parents may be uninvolved, but when they begin early childhood education, the child is exposed to a completely different environment that he or she may not be accustomed to. The child may not have had the opportunity to develop properly within his or her home environment, but the educational environment gives the child a chance to grow and develop cognitively and socially. Conclusion The development of an infant and young child can be quite complex. Every child is born into a distinct atmosphere and the child must then learn to adjust and adapt to this atmosphere. Some children may be at a disadvantage because of a lack of involvement and attention from parents or caregivers. Every parent has their own parenting style, which can have a substantial P a g e | 6 and lasting impression on the child’s development. As the child begins preschool or kindergarten, he or she must once again learn to adapt to a new environment apart from their home lives. Within this educational atmosphere children continue to develop socially and cognitively as they begin to interact with classmates and peers on a regular basis. No two children develop in the same way. Varying parenting styles, family values, home environments, and educational environments can have an influence on how a child grows and develops between infancy and early childhood. P a g e | 7 References Belsky, J. (2008). A Family Affiar: Early Parenting. Retrieved January 17, 2011 from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/familyaffair/200809/earlyparentingmatters Berger, K. S. (2008). The developing person through the life span (7th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers Livestrong. (2010). The three types of parenting styles. Retrieved January 17, 2011 from http://www.livestrong.com/article/76463typesparentingstyles/ Seifert, K. (2004). Cognitive Development and the Education of Young Children. University of Manitoba. Retrieved January 17, 2011 from http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~seifert/cogchapweb.html P a g e | 8
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