Case Study: Child Psychological Development Child Developmental

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[. . .] As she is almost one year she speaks clear words. Mother told me how she observed her baby during the developmental phase.

Erikson Theory of Psychological Development

Erikson recognized different stages of child development that are; Infancy, Early Childhood, Play age, School Age, Adolescence, Young Adulthood and Old Age. According to him, the child must go through and solve a conflict rising from biological and social experiences in every stage of his development. He described the conflicts ranging from infancy to adolescence. These are; "Basic Trust verses Mistrust, Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt, Initiative vs. Guilt, Industry vs. Inferiority, and Identity vs. Role Confusion. If child brings and gains a positive result from each conflict that means a virtue is established.

Erikson's model describes that the above mentioned five psychological stages make our personality and identity. So as guided by him, a person must successfully go through each stage from within by using available resources so as to be a healthy person.


In Erikson's first psychological stage of infancy is described in terms of a conflict between trust/mistrust. In this stage the child experiences a time of trusting their mother, caregiver, and the environment. As stated above, being a stranger, child was hesitant and seems to not like me. While she was very much happy with her family specially in the presence of mother. According to Newman (2009), the infant obtain trust from the mother or caregiver by way of providing food and attending infant's needs. Failure to receive such care can cause the child to move towards mistrust with regard to the environment. The child goes through this crisis in the first phase of hope and drive. As described by Erikson, it is must for infants to go through this conflict because, they should experience hunger, pain and discomfort as well as the alleviation of these unpleasant feelings so as to learn to expect that future distresses will meet with satisfactory outcomes (Feist & Feist, 2009). If an infant experiences mistrust during this stage and has no hope i.e. his/her requirement remained unmet will cause withdrawal and may also create problems in the future. Parents are amongst the most important contributors to this experience of trust/mistrust.

Attachment is perhaps the most important item on a child's developmental agenda in the first year of life when the trust/mistrust conflict takes place. Erikson identifies the development of this basic trust as the most important challenge of infancy. With basic trust, the child can develop successfully into an adult trusting person; also, the child can trust the environment and the world.

The type of association that emerges amongst mother and child takes different forms depending on their interaction during the first year of life. The infant is most interested in the consistency of feeding in this stage of psychological development so if there are circumstance that mother cannot fulfill this need, this may cause the infant to later develop psychological trauma such as sensory distortion and withdrawal due to lack of consistency and support from the parent. Malnutrition has been shown to stunt cognitive development in children and the absence of basic trust has been linked to infantile schizophrenia (Erikson, 1950). WHO (2009) from the international statistical classification of disorders (ICD), states that a child with severe attachment disorder and mistrust is a child suffering from reactive attachment disorder. Erikson's theory accordingly states that if infants do not develop sufficient hope during infancy, they will demonstrate the antithesis of hope: withdrawal, which he describes as the core pathology of infancy. Recent work by (Feist & Feist, 2009) explains that with little to hope infants retreat from the outside world and begin a journey toward serious psychological disturbances.

Factors Affecting Child Development

Many micro level risk and protective factors affecting early child development have been investigated and proposed (McCain & Mustard, 1999). Factors such as nutrition, shelter, simulation, encouragement, parental mental health and parenting style have been investigated and are correlated with later outcomes. The relative quality and/or quantity of these factors can have either positive or negative effects on child's development.

A goodness of poorness of fit between the child and her environment is often of major importance (Chess & Thomas, 1992). A goodness of fit exists when the demands and expectations of the parents and other people important to the child's life are compatible with the child's temperament, abilities, and other characteristics. With such a fit, healthy development can be expected (Chess & Thomas, 1992).

Parents Training and Education

Parents are the most important socializing agents during infancy and early childhood. The development literature is replete with findings that suggest that parenting behavior is a primary determinant of many developmental outcomes (Chess & Thomas, 1992; Schaffer, 1992). Consequently, there has been considerable effort to empirically investigate what particular aspects of parent-child relationship are important, and then to develop and test strategies that will facilitate positive parent characteristics, skills, and/or behaviors.

Adult interactions characterized by responsiveness and low directiveness, appear to be effective in fostering children's development because they encourage children's active engagement in the constructive learning processes of practice, experimentation, choice-making and problem solving (Mahoney, 1998). Furthermore, parents with positive although realistic expectations of child behavior and abilities are better able to scaffold their children's learning. Consequently, parent training typically involves teaching parents about child development and expected milestones as well as teaching parents how to facilitate child learning and development through caring and supportive natural interactions. These Conclusion

In this coursework assignment, the author reported observation of a one-year-old child and interview with her mother describing child's psychological development while relating to the developmental psychology. The early years of a child are important in the development. Erikson stated that during the first year of life, the child faces the conflict of trust and mistrust and if the infant is not provided required support and attention by parents / caregiver this may lead to negative consequences for his health and future. Unfortunately, limited research is available about how infants are incorporated into the family, how different family systems accommodate the child.


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Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: the exercise of control. New York: W.H. Freeman.

Chess, S., & Thomas, A. (1992). Interactions between offspring and parents in development. In B. Tizard & V. Varma (Eds), Vulnerability and resiliency in human

Cynader, M.S., & Frost, B.J. (1999). Mechanisms of brain development: Neuronal Sculpting by the physical and social environment. In P.D. Keating & C.Hertzman (Eds) DEveloopmetnal health and the wealth of nations: Social, biological, and educational dynamics (pp. 153-184). New York: The Guilford Press

Erikson, E.H. (1950). Childhood and Society. New York: W.W. Norton & Company

Feist, J. & Feist, G.J (2009). Theories of Personality. (7th Ed). McGraw-Hill: Boston

McCain, M.N., & Mustard, J.F. (1999). Early Years Study: Reversing the real brain drain (Final Report). Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Newman, Barbara & Newman, Phillip (2009). Development through Life: A Psychosocial Approach. New York: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. 10th Edition)

WHO. (2009). The… [END OF PREVIEW]

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