Term Paper: Child Psychology

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Child Psychology


The nature vs. nurture theory has been around since time immemorial. Academicians and great thinkers alike had been baffled by the mysteries of the human mind and the human being himself. So great is the mystery of God's most precious creature that various disciplines were established just to solve the mystery. There is Anatomy that studies the matter of man, in its gross and histologic level. Then Biochemistry that studies man down to its molecular form. Physiology goes about how the human body survives. Then Psychiatry that deals with the human mind and its interaction with drugs, and its sister Psychology that study the human behavior.

Developmental psychology is a branch of psychology that is considered one of the most interesting. From the moment a man is called a man, be it from the moment of fertilization or when he becomes a fetus up to the point that he dies, theories and controversies wrap around him. Developmental psychology is a branch of psychology that studies how a man became what he is now, and offers to explain why he is himself.

Three notable names in the history of mankind lent themselves in this branch of psychology. There is Sigmund Freud and his Psychosexual theory. There is Erik Erikson and his Psychosocial Theory and then Jean Piaget and his Cognitive Theory.

These great psychologists offered to solve the mystery of man by studying how he came about having a certain trait or behavior, and gave explanation for his type of person. Why do most boys love their mother more than their father and vice-versa? Why do some old people, upon retiring when they have more time for themselves, die miserably? Why do babies lose attention when an object is out of their visual field? These questions and more can be answered by the theories aforementioned.

Of course, these theories do not absolutely explain everything. They have differences and similarities in studying how a man came about. A man's childhood is a very crucial chapter of his life that each of these theorists has an explanation of how he develops - his personality and traits and why he acts in a certain way in a certain situation.


This theory offers to explain why a certain individual acts in a certain way in his adulthood. Freud went back to the time when a person was born. This theory is called Psychosexual because this centers on how a personality develops upon achieving pleasure which satiates his needs and meets his demand. This theory has five stages: Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency and Genital stages.

Freud believes that a man is a sexual being and his existence is derived from experiencing pleasure. In each of the stages he mentioned, a man has a certain demand that needs to be met. When these demands are not met, this causes frustrations and he becomes fixated to that stage. Each of these stages therefore must be met in order to grow normally.

In the Oral stage from birth to one-year-old, an infant derives pleasure when he is being fed since the pleasure center of his person at this time is the mouth, and this makes him learn how to suck which is essential for his survival. In the Anal Stage, this is the time when an infant becomes aware that he needs to relieve himself, and that he can control when and how. The sexual gratification in this stage stems in his need to gain control of his defecation. In the phallic stage when the pleasure area is the genitals. This stage is linked to the famous ' edipal complex' and 'Elektra complex' which explains why boys are closer to mother and girls are closer to their father. The Latency stage is the stage when a child identifies himself with the others and get involve in same sex play such as basketball for boys and paper dolls for girls. The Genital stage is when a man then seeks a sexual partner.

Freud is known for his sexually-themed theory and this can be attributed to his time. Europe society was repressed and Freud was controversial and sensational since he openly discussed sex which was taboo in the society. However, this was highly criticized for his theories involving penis envy, describing women as being jealous of men for their lack of penises, making him an infamous psychologist back then. His psychosexual theory however, particularly the earlier stages, the Oral and the Anal Stage had been subjects of various researches, linking it to anal retentive and anal expulsive character. Anal Phase is the phase where pleasure or sexual gratification is achieved by removal of bodily waste through the anus. This stage coincides with the time a child is being toilet-trained, thus teaching him about control - the proper time to expulse his feces. When a child is fixated at this stage, either he develops an anal expulsive character who is messy and disorganized, or an anal retentive character who is exaggeratedly clean and organized. Anal retentiveness had been likened to a Personality Disorder, particularly, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder which is ego-syntonic.

The Phallic stage is one of the most famous part of this theory, stressing Oedipal complex, bringing about the issue of incest in his theory. This theory gives explanation why boys are closer to their mother and girls to their father. His explanation of this theory had been widely criticized for its sexual theme. The center of libido or energy at this stage, according to Freud is at the penis, and through this process, the boy then identifies with his father in a negative manner. Likewise, it is the same with the daughter. (Stevenson, 1992)


Erikson is a Freudian, and his Psychosocial Theory is somewhat similar to the Psychosexual theory. He improved Freud Psychosexual theory by enumerating the tasks in each stage and by being more specific. This theory has eight stages and concentrates on identity with influences from socio-cultural rather than sexuality. His theory extends up to the time when a person reaches retirement age. Each stage has issues or crisis and that must be resolved to be able to proceed to the next stage smoothly.

The first stage is Trust vs. Mistrust which happens from birth to one year when a child learns to trust his environment. The second stage is autonomy vs. shame and doubt and this stage is at one to three years old. This stage is crucial in a child's development of self certainty. Initiative vs. guilt at three to six years old follows and this is to develop a child's sense of enterprise or the child's ability to try new things and is not afraid to exercise. The next stage is industry vs. inferiority at seven to eleven years old and this happens when he starts to socialize with his peers. He must be able to perform the tasks in this area which involve academic and social interaction. Identity vs. role confusion happens at twelve to eighteen years old. At this point, the child is now an adolescent and he must bank in his previous experiences and must be able to have his own self-identity, his sexuality and know his life goals. Intimacy vs. isolation comes next, and this is when a person is looking for a special someone to whom he connects with in a romantic manner. After that, is generativity vs. stagnation wherein an individual now faces the task of performing and being productive at adulthood. The next stage is integrity vs. despair. The hurdle that must be tackled here is being productive still and having goals in order not to feel useless because of old age. This is the dilemma faced by our elderly upon retirement when they have passed all the stages.

Erik Erikson's Psychosocial Theory may just be a derivation of the Psychosexual Theory but this is one of the most powerful theory present in Psychology. This has been used and quoted for its humanistic approach.

The Trust vs. Mistrust stage is the most basic and talked about and considered as one of the most crucial stages in this theory. It stressed the importance of establishing trust in a child, thus the need to provide a nurturing environment for him to gain trust in people. And this can be done, by promptly attending to his basic needs such as providing him food or milk, and his being attached to the provider of his needs. When the crisis on this stage is not resolved, the child can move on to the next stage, however, he manifests mistrust to people and are therefore less willing to risk or enter new environment.

Identity vs. Role Confusion coincides with the Genital Stage, and both Freud and Erikson agree that this is full of turmoil. However, Erikson's explanation is less dark than that of Freud. In this theory, there is an inner struggle for an adolescent to belong, and yet he is still… [END OF PREVIEW]

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