Imagine a child of one and half years of age playing
with his toys, this child would not interact with other children except may be scream if one of the child takes his toy. At
this age the child does not have the capacity to take into consideration others point of view, but as he grows up to be six
or seven, he will engage in group play and understand different people’s perspective and progressively as he enters
into his teens he would feel the need to develop positive human relation-ships (Hetherington et al, 2006). The intriguing
question is what accounts for this progressive and steady evolution of the child’s ability to perceive and describe
complex relationships and learn new things efficiently? The quest for its answer and research into the area has lead to the
inception of the field of developmental psychology (Papers4you.com, 2006).
Developmental psychology is the scientific study
of progressive psychological changes that transpire in human beings as they age (Margaret & Butterworth, 2002). Child
development is its rapidly emerging sub-field of study, which seeks to account for the gradual evolution of the Childs’s
cognitive, social and other capacities, first by describing changes in the child’s observed behaviours and then by uncovering
the process and strategies that underlie these changes (Hetherington et al, 2006, p4). Although field has seen rapid developments
recently, it’s relatively young with the first theories coming up just a century ago.
Proposing one of the first theories on the children’s
emotional development was none other than the legendary Charles Darwin, who based most of his work on his son’s earliest
emotional expressions. Alfred Binet was another individual who pioneered in the filed by studying children’s learning
and methods of assessing intelligence (Hetherington et al, 2006). Moreover, the field of cognition i.e. the way the human
mind acquires, remembers and learns to use knowledge forms an integral part of the field and has a wide range of implications.
From devising teaching methods in schools to big organisations employing it to create a learning environment for its employees
the field has had a far reaching effect.
The nature of the subject is such that it has seen
a flurry of theories, one contradicting the other, especially in the area of Cognitive development (Papers4you.com, 2006).
There have been several different approaches to cognitive development like Jean Piaget’s theory, which emphasizes developmental
changes in the organisation or structure of children’s thinking process or the Lev Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory
of cognitive development, which attributes the advancement in the child’s thinking and learning to his/her interaction
with the social world (Hetherington et al, 2006).
The field has limitless implications especially
in improving children’s functioning and opportunities for development in important areas of their lives, especially
in relationships with their family, friends, peers and personal development. There is no doubt that child psychology is a
field on the move.
Hetherington, E. et al. (2006). ‘Child Psychology:
A contemporary viewpoint’. 6th ed. McGraw-Hill, London.
Margaret, H & Butterworth, G. (2002). ‘Developmental
Psychology: Student’s handbook’. Psychology Press, Hove.
Papers For You (2006) "P/PS/67. Disclosure of sexual
abuse in children", Available from http://www.coursework4you.co.uk/sprtpsy5.htm [20/06/2006]
Papers For You (2006) "S/PS/50. This essay critically
discusses the assertion that the principles of transactional models of development help us to understand the causes of disturbing
behaviour in young children", Available from http://www.coursework4you.co.uk/sprtpsy5.htm [19/06/2006]