My Theory of Cognitive Development

Jean Piaget

My theory of childhood development is purely cognitive, or how the brain develops over the course of childhood. These are my children- I did most of my research of development on them, because I had constant access to them and was able to successfully analyze what and why they were behaving in a certain way.

Sensorimotor Period

The sensorimotor period is from ages 0 to 2. The child purely operates on what he senses, and his motion.It is characterized by a lack of object permanence, which is the ability to know something is there without actually seeing it there.

It is also characterized by separation anxiety. This is when children will become very scared when their parent of guardian has left because they are not sure whether or not they will be coming back. My children were extremely anxious when I left them with their uncle (my brother) when my wife went into the other room. This shows that they thought that she may never come back to "rescue" them from this unknown stranger.

Assimilation is also common among children in this stage. The definition, for my purposes, is when objects that look similar are grouped together and called the same thing, because the amount of schemas that a child this age can have is limited, and the stimuli that they are presented with is limitless. My children called everything that was round a ball, even if it was an apple, or an ornament. This shows that their mind is not yet capable of distinguishing between objects that look similar but have different functions.

Preoperational Period

The preoperational period is from ages 2-7. This period of time is characterized first by animism, or animating inanimate objects. For example, my daughter played with dolls a lot during this stage, and pretended that they were alive and her friends. The were inanimate objects, but she played with them as if they were real. Egocentrism is also a large part of this stage- they cannot see anything from anyone else's perspective. This often means that they will get angry at someone that an older child would not get angry at because they understand what the other person is thinking or feeling. Lack of conservation (being able to tell that different shapes can still hold the same volume) and accommodation (being able to distinguish different schemas) are characteristic of this stage as well.

Concrete Operational Period

10 year old child in this stage

The concrete operational stage is when the child is approximately 7-12 years of age. They begin to have a decrese in egocentrism and are able to see issues from other people's point of view. They also begin to understand that their own thoughts and feelings are unique to them and cannot be fully understood by other people. Unfortunately, as a result of their increasing ability to think logically and realistically, their creativity diminishes. This is confirmed and often accelerated in a school setting because they are required to solve problems that only have one correct answer. They begin to live in a more realistic and not fantasy world and are encouraged to do so by their understanding of society's expectations of them.

Formal Operational Theory

This stage is from 12 years old and beyond. It is characterized by the person's ability to think abstractly. They are able to come up with more than one solution to a problem, and are more able to formulate an executable plan to solve it. Individually unique morals tend to arise during this period, either to confirm or change their current behavior. People in this stage often ponder social or political issues such as self-reliance vs. generosity, justice vs. mercy,  and liberalism vs. conservatism.

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