Child Development

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John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau were the founding fathers of the psychology of children. Locke was an environmentalist, while Rousseau was a naturalist. They had opposing viewpoints. They both believed in different things when it came to developing minds of children.

John Locke was an environmentalist. He believed a child's mind develops largely on the environment accordance with his/her experience of the world, and through learning. He brings forth the concept of tabula rasa, or blank slate; this blank slate is a child's mind that eventually fills up with learning and experience. According to Locke, there are four things of environment that mold a child's mind. The first is associations. This is where one thought is usually associated with another – for example, when a child is placed in a crib he may start crying, because being in the crib would be mean that he couldn't be with his mother. The second one is repetition. These are habitual practices that we do over and over – to the point where, if we don't do it, things will seem out of place. The third is imitation. Children often like to imitate others, like repeating the same utterance their caregiver may have recently said. Or, for example, if child A starts playing with an aggressive child B, child A might end up becoming more aggressive as well. This is through influence and modeling. The fourth is rewards and punishment. For example, a child may yearn to receive good grades because this would gain approval and praise from their parents. A child may not want bad grades, because this would end in disappointment of the parents. These views held by Locke are of the behavioral/environmentalist perspective.

Jean Jacques Rousseau, on the other hand, was a naturalist. He agreed with Locke in that children are quite different from adults. However, he did not believe they were like blank sheets of paper waiting to be written on. Instead, he believed that children have a unique,...
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