Child Development Theories

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Child Development: An Examination of Three Theories
There are a lot of theories regarding child development. Three of these theories are Bioecological Theory, Social-Cognitive Theory and Information-Processing Theory. This paper will discuss these theories by comparing and contrasting them. The first theory is the Bioecological Theory developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner. This theory is based on the nature vs. nurture idea. Bronfenbrenner believed development of a child was determined by the relationships among the environment or environmental systems around them. Within this environment there are five distinct systems which are related to a child’s relationship with the school environment, family environment and their recreational environment which includes church and sports leagues. These systems include the microsystem, the mesosytem, the exosystem, the macrosystem and the chronosystem. It is within these systems that a child develops as all five of these systems work simultaneously with the other. All of these systems change over time and a change in one system can and will often affect the other systems. How a child develops is based on the environment within these systems and what they are subjected to within them. “For Bronfenbrenner, development is a complex interaction of the changing child within a changing ecological context.”(Mossler, 2011). The Social Cognitive Theory was introduced by Albert Bandura. Bandura showed us that the social environment and cognition have interactive roles in behavior and learning among children. He further proposed with this theory that children learn simply by observing both the environment and the people around them. “…suggestions by gesture and action first serve to guide us in learning…” (Boodin, 1914). Like Bronfenbrenner he developed stages or steps within his theory to demonstrate the interaction of his principles and cognition (thinking). The four steps are attention, retention, reproduction and motivation. The child must first learn to pay attention and then remember or retain what they have learned. When they can master these first two steps they will move on to reproduction where they will copy the behavior. Then the final step in which they will be motivated to engage in the behavior. This is can be achieved Bandura believed, through reinforcement or punishment. Finally the Information Processing Theory also known as Cognitive Information Processing was introduced by Claude Shannon. In this theory he viewed cognitive development much like that of a computer. This concept was compared to a computer because of the way both humans and computers will take in, store and process information. This theory focuses on the three stages of memory (sensory, short-term memory and long-term memory). It takes a look at how these stages of memory retrieve and then transfer the information as it attempts to store and then later recall it. As children learn or develop they become better at this process because they can better interpret and store the information into their memories. “As children learn more steps, their thinking ability becomes more complex.”(Mossler, 2011). Because these three theories focus on cognitive development they are instrumental in and are often used in the mental health treatment of children and/or adolescents. The Bioecological theory is used as a premise when working with children who have developed a mental illness due to a damaging or emotionally hurtful environment. Bronfenbrenner believed the family should act as a filter for these children and buffer them against the harmful things of the world. Bronfenbrenner believed if you can fix the environment for the child relying on his five systems then they can live a normal life without the mental issues. It is believed by many that this theory is much more consistent with the facts and helps to explain better the many factors dealing with mental disorders among...
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