In my professional practice I have to be keen with children’s development. I have to learn Child development theories which focus on explaining how children change and grow over the course of childhood. Of course, every theory centers on various aspects of development including social, emotional and cognitive growth. Amongst my first favorite (even when I was in college) were those of Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson. Somehow, the stages in their theories have served as quick-look manual for me over the years.

Theorist Jean Piaget on the other hand suggested that children think differently than adults and proposed a stage theory of COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT. He was the first to note that children play an active role in gaining knowledge of the world. According to his theory, children can be thought of as “little scientists” who actively construct their knowledge and understanding of the world. His theory shows the stages of how children develop their thinking and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.

Now, theorist Erik Erikson’s stage theory of development encompassed human growth throughout the entire lifespan. Erikson believed that each stage of development was focused on overcoming a conflict. It is presented in an “A” vs “B” pattern. It is known as PSYCHO-SOCIAL which relates to the interrelation of social factors and individual thought and behavior.

Let’s look at the second stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development takes place during early childhood and is focused on children developing a greater sense of personal control. He called this AUTONOMY vs. SHAME and DOUBT. At this stage of development, children are just starting to gain a little independence. They start to perform basic actions on their own and making simple decisions about what they prefer. Other manifestations of this stage may include gaining more control over food choices, toy preferences, and clothing selection. Children who successfully complete this stage feel secure and confident, while those who do not are left with a sense of inadequacy and doubt their capacity. When we allow kids to make choices and gain control, we as parents and caregivers can help children develop a sense of autonomy.