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The Psychology of Children
On the need to focus on childhood events with developmental theories for comprehensive child psychology
Child psychology is related to the social and personal development of children and the child goes through several stages before stepping into the world of adults. The psychology of children has been studied from different perspectives, including issues of nature and upbringing and whether a child is a product of genes and heredity or a product of society and environment, as well as different developmental stages of sensory discrimination and perception, emotional expression and learning through language and cognitive development, intelligence development and the socialization process. The study of children’s sexuality and sexual and moral development is also very important, especially from a psychoanalytic point of view.
Children are vulnerable and easily subject to all events in their immediate environment. Events that are only trivial or unimportant to adults can leave deep scars or memories in a child’s mind. A child’s mind is extremely impressionable and changeable, and before the child enters adolescence, certain very insignificant events can have great personal significance in the child’s life. Thus, “childhood memories” and “childhood events” are primary factors in determining an adult’s personality pattern. Some of the main factors that can affect a child’s later development and have potential long-term effects are:
1. Loss or gain of friends or friends
2. Unforgettable physical/body sensations
3. Divorce in the family or divorce of parents
4. Domestic abuse or violence
5. Sexual harassment or abuse
6. Learning experiences in the game or during learning
7. Personal experiences/events that caused strong emotions of fear, joy, sadness, etc.
8. Experienced or observed accidents or illnesses
9. Death of family members, neighbors or loved ones
10. Change of residence or relocation
11. Emotional relationships with friends, teachers or family members
12. Personal success or failure in school
13. Influence of films, stories, books or news
14. War, terrorism, conflicts, bombings, etc.
15. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, famine, etc.
The factors here are very general and each child goes through certain very specific events that affect him or her individually, although there are certain very general theories in psychology that have been established through research studies and these theories emphasize the links between success and failure in later life. and childhood events. Some of the main theorists of child development are John Bowlby, Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg and Lev Vygotsky. While Bowlby emphasized relationships in childhood, Piaget focused on the cognitive development of the child through different stages, and Freud wrote extensively about the sexual development of children. Kohlberg studied the moral development of children, while Vygotsky analyzed the process of socialization of children through social contextualism. All these theories about different aspects of child development only prove the enormous complexity and diverse number of factors that tend to play a role in children’s psychological development. Child psychology has many dimensions, from social, emotional to cognitive, sexual and moral. Here I will give a brief account of all these different theories and finally provide a comprehensive analysis of how these theories can be used together with the general factors mentioned above in the study of child psychology.
John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist, developed an ‘attachment theory’ in which he emphasized the importance of the mother or primary caregiver in a child’s life. He showed in his study that every newborn should develop and maintain a warm and intimate relationship with the mother or surrogate mother, and any deprivation of the mother can lead to serious mental problems in the child later in life. Bowlby’s theory is very true and the mother should develop a strong physical and emotional intimacy with the child by being physically close to the child at least until he is 2 years old. Doctors around the world recommend breastfeeding, and an important part of that is the physical closeness between the child and the mother, which is extremely necessary when the child comes out of the mother’s womb. When the child is released from the mother’s womb, the first emotion is fear, and the constant physical proximity of the mother instills trust and a sense of security in the child. Orphans or children separated from their mothers at birth require replacement or may grow up to be mentally ill or maladjusted individuals.
Freud, on the other hand, gave a complete psychosexual theory and emphasized what many of us do not like to believe – the sexual pleasure of children. Freud overturned the concept of childhood innocence and suggested that we are born with our unrepressed basic instincts that are slowly tempered by social adaptation. Freud believed that the inherent pleasure-seeking wants us to be born with a focus on certain erogenous zones of the body and accordingly there are different stages of psychosexual development from the oral and anal to the phallic, latent and genital stages. In psychosexual development, the child’s pleasure-seeking behavior changes from the mouth, as in sucking and biting, to the anus, through toilet training, and finally to the genitals. Thus, according to psychoanalysis, the child achieves complete sexual pleasure by sucking, biting, playing with the genitals and releasing waste through defecation. I do not necessarily support Freud’s views on the sexual pleasure of children, and the pleasure derived from bodily sensations can be explained in other ways, which I will discuss in another article.
Jean Piaget, a French-Swiss philosopher established the theory of cognitive development in children and outlined four developmental stages – the sensorimotor period, the preoperational stage, the concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage. The first stage is when the child during the first two years of life develops spatial abilities and gets to know the world through the senses. The second stage is the development and use of concepts when children understand the meaning of things and this continues until the age of 7. From 7-11 years, the child reaches higher cognitive development through the concrete operational stage and can sort and classify objects and can use logic to solve problems. The formal operational stage, which begins around age 12, helps children understand abstract thoughts, hidden meanings, etc. Kohlberg gave a theory of children’s moral development through six stages of pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional levels. They relate to the concern for punishment and self-interest, as well as the inner need for conformity and the pursuit of social order, as well as the maintenance of universal ethical principles. Therefore, moral development seems to move from the belief of ‘what is right and what is wrong’ and whether there is a punishment for evil to what is universally ethical and acceptable social behavior. Another prominent psychologist, Vygotsky, emphasized the importance of socialization and interpersonal communication, and child development according to this theory is seen as the internalization of social and cultural knowledge.
Of course, all these theories will have to be added together and a complete or comprehensive theory that would provide insight into the child’s mind and behavior will have components from all these theories. In addition, childhood experiences and events that are highlighted in psychoanalytic theories are also extremely important and not only from a sexual point of view. All the general factors that I mentioned at the beginning of the essay should be considered as factors underlying the social, sexual, moral, emotional, physical and cognitive development of children. As learning experiences lead to cognitive development, personal emotional experiences lead to later emotional development and maturity. Sexual abuse, molestation or other types of bodily sensations in childhood affect later sexual development, and divorce or separation in the family can affect moral development. Therefore, a person who was abused as a child may develop a fear of sexual activity or may show a complete lack of sexual restraint as an adult.
A child who has lived without a father may become extremely irresponsible or may develop into an adult with a very strong sense of parental responsibility. Experiencing childhood trauma through the death or accidents of family members or living in times of war, natural disasters have a profound effect on children and can leave children with a perpetual sense of insecurity or need for attachment that continues through adulthood and even old age or on the other hand these the events may make the child isolated, schizophrenic or simply detached in later life. For the healthy life of children, it is important not to depend only on psychological theories to understand how the child grows up and perceives the world, but it is also important to focus on the events or experiences of the child and use them together with theories for a complete psychological understanding of children.
In modern child psychology, the focus on events is mainly psychoanalytical, and the impact of unwanted events is considered particularly significant. However, it is important to consider all events, positive and negative, and use this to supplement psychological theories. To understand the child, it is important to understand the child’s world and memories, so an “event-based” child psychology needs to be balanced with a “theory-based” child psychology.
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