Child Development Theories: Role and Importance

The complexities and challenges of child development cannot, in any way, be wished away. In equal measure, the optimal growth and development of a child are deemed not only important for the parents and family members, but also for the whole society.

As such, it is critically important to understand the social, psychological, cognitive, emotional, biological, and educational development of the young children as they progress in life from a state of dependency towards independence (Waller, 2009).

Many psychological and educational theories have been developed over the years, with the emphasis being laid on the biological, cognitive, and psychological changes that happen to individuals between the stages of birth on the one hand and the end of adolescence on the other. The importance of these theories and other models, therefore, cannot be put to question.

First and foremost, it is important to understand theories related to child development since they enable parents and other caretakers to understand the best practices in nurturing the children to achieve their maximum possible potential.

According to Berk (1999),”…investigators have reached a broad consensus that variations in biological makeup, everyday tasks, and the people who support children in the mastery of those tasks lead to wide individual differences in children’s skills” (para. 3).

For example, an individual with the knowledge of Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychosexual development will expose the child to a suitable stimulus in the hope of realizing the tasks related to each stage of development. This, according to Freud, will enable the child to navigate life’s challenges (Cherry, 2007) successfully.

Child development theories greatly assist parents in learning about children, not for the benefit of the children, but for the benefits of adults who rarely understand what childhood is all about. For example, very few adults, including parents, have the slightest idea and understanding that children are actively involved in co-designing their own experiences with the environment.

On the contrary, “…children’s lives are lived through childhoods constructed for them by adults’ understanding of childhood and what children are and should be” (Waller, 2009 p. 7). This is a wrong perception, and an understanding of child development theories should help adults debunk this myth that children have no capacity to co-construct their own childhood experiences.

Having a clear understanding of the theories related to child development will also greatly assist the child when they enroll in school. Some parents and caretakers are known to restrict children in play once they join learning institutions in the mistaken belief that, by doing so, they are assisting the children in concentrating on their studies.

This is also a wrong perception since the role of play in enhancing the children’s development has been clearly spelled out by various child development models. The theories reveal that young children are active learners who derive much pleasure from learning through tangible experiences such as plays (Waller & Swann, 2009).

According to Cherry (2007), theories of child development offer a valuable structure for thinking about individual growth, socialization process, and development. Understanding these theories is of paramount importance, specifically in the process of guiding the young ones through the process of socialization.

A proper understanding of these theories of child development will definitely assist parents and other caretakers in gaining an objective understanding of what motivates the thoughts and behaviors of children. In most civilizations across the world, children are treated as creatures with no rights whatsoever, and who are dependent sorely on adults for their survival.

Understanding the theories of child development, however, will provide adults with a framework of understanding children as individuals with their own rights and independent thought, which should be nurtured by exposing them to positive experiences (Waller, 2009).

It is almost impossible to exhaust the list of the good outcomes that arise from understanding the developmental paths of children through the various theoretical perspectives that exist to date. If Kohlberg’s theory of moral development is anything to go by, children can be assisted to develop good values, morals, and personalities by parents or caretakers with ample knowledge about the theories (Cherry, 2007).

In the same vein, parents exhibiting knowledge of theories of child development will always have the expertise necessary to handle difficult children, especially in cases of indiscipline at school or at home. Such parents will have a wide range of solutions and explanations of behavior to choose from, and hence, they are more likely to solve the problems and put the children on the right track than parents with no or limited understanding of the theories (Waller, 2009). As such, the theories’ importance in ensuring the greater good for all cannot be underestimated.

List of References

Berk, L.A (1999). Child Development.

Cherry, K (2007). .

Waller, T., & Swann, R (2009). Children’s Learning. In: Tim Waller’s (Eds) An Introduction to Early Childhood: A Multidisciplinary Approach. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. ISBN: 9781847875174

Waller, T (2009). Modern Childhood: contemporary Theories and Children’s Lives. In: Tim Waller’s (Eds) An Introduction to Early Childhood: A Multidisciplinary Approach. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. ISBN: 9781847875174

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