Lifespan Development. Influences of Nature and Nurture on a 4 Year Old Child

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HS1005
Environmental Influences

Throughout this assignment I will be discussing the development of a four year old child. With the support of relevant theories including the work of Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson, I will discuss the environmental influences that promote the physical, cognitive and psychosocial development of a four year old child. I will also review the importance of play in the child’s development and propose an activity of play that would enhance the child’s development.

In the world of a four year old child there is a lot of changing. For in the fourth year in most western societies this is the time they will most commonly begin attending kindergarten/preschool. Energetic and imaginative best describe the 4-year-old. Imagination suddenly becomes greater than life for the 4-year-old, who often confuses reality and "make-believe." Four-year-olds feel good about the things they can do, show self-confidence, and are willing to try new adventures (Lesia Oesterreich, 2010).

Growth of the body and brain, sensory capacities, motor skills and health are all parts of physical development (Papalia, Olds, Feldman, 2010). By the fourth year the child has attained greater control over the smaller muscles, improving drawing skills and abilities to tie shoelaces and fasten buttons. Their balance also improves, so they also are now better at running, hopping, skipping and throwing balls.

According to child psychologist and theorist Erik Erikson, the four year old child is according to his theory, in the initiative versus guilt stage. This means the child is becoming more independent and confident in their abilities. This initiative is moderated by guilt as the child realises that their initiative may place them in conflict with others (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2004).

All young children need help to establish patterns of good eating and exercise for their present well being and for the years ahead. Routines can be very affective in promoting physical development. Routines involve repetition.  Repetition involves predictability. Predictability involves stability. Stability involves security.  Kids crave routines because routines make kids feel safe and secure.  On a very basic level routines reassure children that their needs will be met. Routines also provide opportunities for children to experience success in what they are doing, which then promotes self-control and self-esteem (Elkins, 2010).

Family households can influence how easily a child could take to routine. Parents could set routines for a variety of things; one example is brushing teeth after meals. “Most four year olds can brush their own teeth and this self-help skill is important to a child’s independence” (LaHaye, 2008). This task can also meet Erikson’s theory of initiative versus guilt, as the child can physically perform this task with minimal assistance, meeting their need of taking on more responsibility independently. With the child routinely brushing their teeth after every meal, eventually this becomes a habit; ensuring that dental hygiene is met now and in future years.

Another positive influence for physical development is kindergym. Kindergym is a movement based program accredited by gymnastics Australia, designed specifically for children around four years old. Australia's Kindergym program ensures children can experience a wide range of movement activities and be encouraged to think, create, construct and solve problems with their own bodies. Kindergym kids learn to be stronger in body, motor skills, strength and coordination (YMCA Sydney, 2010). Kindergym promotes physical development, through fun activities such as balancing, jumping, throwing and climbing. This influence also supports Erikson’s theory of initiative versus guilt as they are required to perform individually with minimal assistance from others.

Psychosocial development has...
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