Jan 25, 2018 in Nursing

Early Development Observation

Early Development Observation


This paper analyses various child development theories. Regardless of what child development supported by individual, there are various issues that need to be considered.  The purpose of this paper is to attempt to relate the existing theories in child development with a real life situation. It involves describing the theory and making direct observations to infants. At the end of this research, the author will be able to understand the theory in a better way and apply it in a real life situation.

Developmental Theories Using Naturalistic Observation

Development theory is a collection of theories related to the desirable changes in the society during the life cycle of human development. Child development takes place from birth to adulthood.  According to Freud, child development takes place in a series of steps focusing on different pleasure areas of the human body. At each stage, the child encounters different levels of conflict that plays a major role in the course of their development. Different theorists described the stages in different dimensions but the concept appears to be the same (Piaget, Gruber & Vonèche, 1977).

It is important to study how children grow and change throughout their lives. An understanding of child development is important because it allows the person responsible for their care to appreciate the cognitive, emotional, physical, social and educational growth that children undergo from birth to their early adulthood. Some of the most appreciated theories of child development are referred to as grand theories. They attempt to describe each aspect of development using stage approach and the others are known as mini theories that focus fairly on limited aspects of development such as cognitive and social growth.

According to Erik Erikson theory, there are a lot of shared similarities with Freud analogy. Erik believed that each stage of human development was focused on overcoming conflicts. For instance, the major conflict between the adolescence stages involves the establishment of a sense of self-identity. The rate of success or failure of dealing with such conflicts at any stage can have effect on the overall functioning. Failure to develop an identity at adolescence results in role confusion. The main element of Erikson Psychosocial development is the ego identity. This is a conscious sense of self that is developed through social interaction. According to him, the human ego identity is in constant dynamics due to new experiences and information acquired on daily interaction with others.

The theorist Jean Piaget’s suggestion was that children think quite different from adults and he proposed a stage theory in cognitive development. He was among the first theorist t note that children play an active role in acquisition of knowledge to the world.  According to his theory, children can be thought to be ‘little scientists’ who actively construct their familiarity and understanding to the world. Piaget’s theory described the cognitive development of children involving the cognitive abilities and processes (Piaget, Gruber &Vonèche, 1977). In his view, early cognitive development involved a process based upon actions and later the processes changes in mental operations. The theory was summarised as; the sensorimotor stage where infants and toddlers acquire knowledge through sensory experience and object manipulation. The next is the preoperational stage where kids learn through pretended play but still struggle with logic and taking the viewpoint of others. The other is the concrete operational stage where the kid development begins to think in a more logical way as they tend to struggle with abstract and hypothetical concepts. The last stage is the formal operational stage Piaget found an increase in logic and ability to use deductive reasoning and understanding of abstract ideas.

According to psychologist albert Bandura in his social learning theory, a child learns new behaviours from what is observed in others. Unlike the behavioural theories, he believed that external reinforcement is not the only way that people learn to do new things. Instead, the intrinsic reinforcement such as the sense of pride, accomplishment and satisfaction can also lead to teach (Freud et al, 2000). Through observation of the action of other influential people in life such as the parents and peers, children develop new skills and also gain new information.

As it can be seen, some of the psychology’s best thinkers developed theories that helped to explore and explain the different aspects of child development. In contemporary society, psychologists have often drawn a variety of theories and perspectives in order to gain an understanding of how children grow, think and behave.

Naturalistic Observation

This research method is commonly used in psychology and a selection of other social sciences. This research is often utilised in situations where to conduct lab research is unrealistic, cost prohibitive and can result to undue effect of the subjects behaviour. This research method is the best among other methods in situations where behavioural study is conducted in an unusual setting without asking the subjects involvement. The investigator just observes and record what happens in a natural environment and it forms the first step in research program.In this case, the researcher is meant to observe the behaviours of children as they play in order to determine the psychological, physical and social development. The researcher then relates the observation results with the known development theories.

Early Development Normal Behaviour-Observation of Multiple Children in Play

This study involved a cross sectional correlation study of 30 children of ages between 3 and 5 years. The investigated theory related to the mind development and social interaction that controls the age and the ability for general language. According to Butler (1963) children’s overall performance on a standard false believe that tasks are associated with production of joint proposals and the explicit probe in assignment during the 30 minute session of intended play. The false belief was not associated with the child’s amount of pretended play or a measure of empathic concern. Therefore, this significance discussion is associated with the standardised measure of the theory of mind development and child behaviour in a naturalistic setting. The description and explanation of children’s development theory of mind and social understanding can be best pursued through a combined effort of experiments and ethnologists  (Rathus & Longmuir, 2011).   

The study was carried out as the children played in a distance. The researcher was a kindergarten teacher from a different school. The aim of using a stranger was to maintain the constancy of behaviour in children as compared to their teacher whose presence might dictate a change in behaviour to the kids. The researcher collected data and made notes on the characters of children including such details like difference in styles, speech, ability to communicate and mastery of language and interaction on a peer to peer level. 

Particular attention was paid to children who acted outside the norms. Such characters that formed the outliers in character include the blurry in speech, excessive crying and use of abusive language. As stated in the theory, the children learn a lot from what they observe in their immediate environment. There is a psychological approach that focuses on abnormal behaviour of a person. This claims that abnormal behaviours are learned through experience. Sometimes, these behaviours have a physical or biological proposition as maintained by the environment.

Childhood reinforcement is a behaviour that is likely to be repeated by an individual and forms an explanation as to why a child learns of the appropriateness of aggressive behaviours.  The negative reinforcement maintains that avoidance of phobia and removal of negative emotions and feelings is a special way of reinforcing behaviours. Therefore, parents allow their children to learn by avoiding certain situations as a way of reducing negative emotions.

People have tried to control abnormal behaviour in the past.  Abnormal psychology revolves around two main paradigms in their explanation of mental disorders. The psychological paradigm focuses on cognitive, humanistic and behavioural causes and effects of psychopathology while the biological paradigm includes theories that focus on neurochemistry and genetics (Rathus & Longmuir, 2011). 

This project entailed the investigation of patterns of behaviour in preschool children by which the parents contributed to development of their social responsibility and sense of individuality.  In this study, some children were found to have a strong adaptation to some negative characteristics. For instance, a significant proportion of children were found to have excessive ability to cry, others had made blurred speech while there was a significant portion who were observed to be generally rude.

A detailed analysis was performed in order to unearth the reason behind these unique behaviours in children, but found out that there was a strong correlation between their characters and their home environment. The behavioural relation between these children and their parents dictated the kind of behaviours they adopted.


Previous research indicated that parental depressive symptoms can be linked to a number of unfavourable outcomes in children behaviours. However, the relationships between the parent’s depressive symptoms and the actual behaviours in a child are unknown.  The aim of the study was to study the relationship between symptoms in parental depression and the behaviours in a child’s daily life (Lundin, 1969). The most reliable indicators in this case were the use of emotional language and other observable characters.  The intentions were to establish a way to control parent-child conflict.

The researcher tracked the behaviour and emotion in language for the children for 30 minutes by using the most appropriate tools. Accordingly, parental depressive symptoms were found to be positively associated with many behavioural problems among children with abnormal behaviour such as excessive crying, acting mad and use of abusive language. When measured both concurrently and prospectively, the use of negative emotional words were found to be prospectively related to parental depressive symptoms (Butler, 1963). In addition, the link between depressive symptoms in parents and excessive crying of a child were moderately related to the perception of parents on parent–child conflicts.  Therefore, this study provides an empirical evidence of the direct link between what a child observes in her immediate environment and the manner in which she behaves. The daily behaviour of a child in the daily life presents a very important tool of study of what they gather from the environment.


The assignment was very beneficial in enabling us understand the theory in a practical perspective. The research utilised different techniques in data collection that gave an insight on what the other theories entails. The benefits of naturalistic observation in research is that it allows the researcher to study things that may not be manipulated in a laboratory set up due to ethical concerns. For instance, it would be unethical to study the effects of imprisonment by confining a subject. In such a situation, the researcher can collect information using through the use of naturalistic observation in a prison setting. The other advantage is that it supports external validity of the research. It is one thing to state the findings of a lab reas4earch in a generalised population and a different thing to observe the same findings actually occurring in a natural setting.

However, naturalistic observation has its own demerits in that it can be quite hard to determine the exact cause of the change in behaviours as the researcher cannot control the other variables. The other thing is that people may not behave the same when they are made aware that they are undergoing a study.


  1. Butler, J. M. (1963). Quantitative naturalistic research: An introduction to naturalistic observation and investigation. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall.
  2. Freud, S., Strachey, J., In Freud, A., In Rothgeb, C. L., Richards, A., & Scientific Literature Corporation. (2000). The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud. London: Hogarth Press.
  3. Lundin, R. W. (1969). Personality: A behavioral analysis. New York: Macmillan.
  4. Piaget, J., Gruber, H. E., &Vonèche, J. J. (1977).The essential Piaget. New York: Basic Books.
  5. Rathus, Spencer A.  & Longmuir, S. (2011). HDEV. Cengage Learning

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