Child development that occurs from birth to adulthood was largely ignored throughout much of history. Children were often viewed simply as small versions of adults and little attention was paid to the many advances in cognitive abilities, language usage, and physical growth that occurs during childhood and adolescence. Interest in the field of child development finally began to emerge early in the 20th-century, but it tended to focus on abnormal behavior. Eventually, researchers became increasingly interested in other topics including typical child development as well as the influences on development. An understanding of child development is essential, allowing us to fully appreciate the cognitive, emotional, physical, social and educational growth that children go through from birth and into early adulthood. Some of the major theories of child development are known as grand theories; they attempt to describe every aspect of development, often using a stage approach. Others are known as mini-theories; they instead focus only on a fairly limited aspect of development, such as cognitive or social growth. The following are just a few of the many child development theories that have been proposed by theorists and researchers. More recent theories outline the developmental stages of children and identify the typical ages at which these growthmilestones occur. Psychoanalytic Child Development Theories
The theories proposed by Sigmund Freud stressed the importance of childhood events and experiences, but almost exclusively focused on mental disorders rather that normal functioning. According to Freud, child development is described as a series of 'psychosexual stages.' In "Three Essays on Sexuality" (1915), Freud outlined these stages as oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital. Each stage involves the satisfaction of a libidinal desire and can later play a role in adult personality. If a child does not successfully complete a stage, Freud...
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