Infancy and Early Child Developement

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Infancy and Early Childhood Development

Jeff Haas

PSY 375

June 3, 2012

Infancy and Early Childhood Development

All aspects of development begin in infancy and continue throughout one’s entire lifetime. Some believe that infants and young children are greatly influenced by their surrounding environment. Early in life, cognitive and social aspects of development are shaped and molded quite easily. Language and speech, perception, and motor skills are also influenced early in a child’s life. Parents and family members play a large role in a young child’s life, which is why they also have a significant impact on the child’s development. As a young child reaches school age, he or she will also begin to adapt to an educational atmosphere, which will in turn affect his or her cognitive development and social skills.

Family Influences

After a baby is born the brain begins to go through developmental changes as a result of both heredity and experience. Early childhood experiences can be split into two categories, experience-expectant and experience-dependent. Expectant experiences include common and somewhat universal experiences shared by most babies. This can include experiences such as love from parents or families, perception of surrounding objects, and recognizing facial expressions (Berger, 2008). Dependent experiences are less universal and more individualized depending on the infant’s environment and surroundings. Different cultures and family belief systems come into play in dependent experiences. It is the experience-dependent aspects of development that create diversity among infants and young children.

An infant’s parents or caregivers are significant in his or her early stages of development. If an infant is raised in a neglectful atmosphere, he or she may experience lasting damage as a result of the parent’s lack of affection and care. The infant needs to have a sufficient amount of care, affection, attention and intellectual stimulation to develop at an optimal level. The caregiver’s role in a child’s life not only influences the child’s psychological development but can also affect the child’s biological development (Belsky, 2008). If an infant remains under stimulated for an extended period, he or she may experience difficulty developing proper sensations, motor skills, and perceptions. Even an adult cannot learn something new without being taught, and this important principle also applies to infancy and early childhood development.

Parenting Styles

Authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, and authoritative are four primary parenting styles that exist. Each parenting style is unique and has distinct characteristics that apply to the way in which a parent raises a child. Parents who take on the authoritarian approach to parenting are typically overbearing and do not feel the need to explain themselves to the child. A child raised in an authoritarian atmosphere does not have much freedom and rarely makes decisions on his or her own. The authoritarian approach may potentially backfire and cause the child to ultimately rebel against authority figures (Livestrong, 2010).

Children reared in a permissive atmosphere have an abundant amount of freedom in all aspects of life. Permissive parents do not typically make rules or boundaries for the child. As a result of this freedom the child may grow up to be irresponsible with little sense of responsibility. The permissive style of parenting is quite the opposite of the authoritarian approach to parenting. The uninvolved parenting style is fairly self-explanatory and is similar to the permissive parenting style. Uninvolved parents take no interest in their child’s development and growth. The consequences of uninvolved parenting are similar to that of permissive parenting (Livestrong, 2010).

Parents that are authoritative take on characteristics of both a permissive and authoritarian...
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