Influence Of Various Factors On Child Development

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Child development includes the change or development in biological, psychological and emotional characters of a child between birth to conclusion of adolescence. During this process, the child stops depending less on parents/ guardians and becomes autonomous. The child learns to figure out ways to function by its own rather than asking others for help. The child becomes independent. Child development occurs in predictable routine/ method but it is unique for each child. No child resembles the same pathway of development as the other. But the development milestones can be roughly predicted.

Child development can be influenced by genetic factors or events during prenatal development. So, child development study always includes these topics. Analysing child development is crucial for various reasons. It helps in making sure the child attains the milestones at the average ages. Though these milestone achievements differ for each child any defect or hiccup in the process could be identified within a few months. For example, a child usually starts talking at the age of 18 months. This age is roughly calculated and can differ. But the difference would not be too great. A slow learner would start speaking by 24 months and not more than that. Any delay after that medical treatment and diagnosis becomes necessary. So, child development helps in identifying any delay/ hiccup in the child’s growth. Earlier it is found the lesser the consequences.

The most prominent periods of development a child’s life can be divided into are:

  • Prenatal Development (conception – birth)
  • Infancy and Toddlerhood (0-2 years)
  • Early Childhood (2-6 years)
  • Middle Childhood (6-11 years)
  • Adolescence (11-18 years)

Prenatal period sees a rapid development in the child’s physical body. The infancy and toddlerhood period identifies high motor, perceptual and intellectual improvement. The child becomes more independent and aware of the world during early childhood period. During the middle childhood the child takes on higher responsibilities and gets ready to be an adult. The adolescence period shows physical and mental maturation. The child starts future planning and works toward the goal.

Child development can be hugely promoted by social interruptions. Parents play a huge part in the development of the child. Having multiple [parents/ guardians/ elders can hugely stabilize the child’s life and encourage healthy development.

Basic Issues:

There are many theories related to the child development. But all these theories could be grouped based on few issues or aspects of the development.

These issues include:

  • Continuous vs Discontinuous
  • Stage Theorists vs Contemporary Theorists
  • Nature vs Nurture

Continuous vs Discontinuous

Continuous development proposes that child has few basic skills and that in a gradual process the child keeps improving on these basic skills.
Discontinuous development proposes that development is a process in which new ways of understanding and responding to the world emerges at specific times.

Stage Theorist vs Contemporary Theorist

Stage theory believes that due to requirements in human life, humans grow or gain new stages. They believed that everyone has the same needs and that every child goes through same stages.

Contemporary theory contradicted stage theory by stating that development is multi layered and that due to varying needs in every human, the stages they gain differ. They claimed each child goes through its own unique development stages.

Nature vs Nurture

Nature refers to biological or genetical makeup of the child. Nature states that child has inborn basic characters through heredity. Nurture refers to influence of learning and other social influences. Nurture states that forces of physical and social world influences child’s development.


In the twentieth century the field of child development witnessed a rapid growth. As this field grew, the interest towards it increased exponentially. Many researches based on these topics were conducted and numerous theories emerged. None of the theories have been proved to be entirely correct, each of these theories have followers and supporters. Today a balanced view is maintained towards the theories and few basic points from each theory is universally accepted. Out of all the theories few were very influential and had lots of interest. The few main theories in child development include:

  • Psychosexual Development Theory – Sigmund Freud
  • Psychosocial Development Theory – Erik Erikson
  • Cognitive Development Theory – Jean Piaget
  • Social Learning Theory – Albert Bandura
  • Sociocultural Theory – Lev Vygotsky
  • Moral Understanding Theory – Lawrence Kohlberg
  • Attachment Theory – John Bowlby
  • Ecological Systems Theory – Urie Brofenbrenner
  • Behavioural Theory – John Watson
  • Cognitive Tools Theory – Kieran Egan

The theories have varying stances on the basic issues mentioned above. The psychosexual theory suggests that development is discontinuous. This stance is contradicted by social learning theory, which states development is continuous.

Similarly, behaviourism, sociocultural and social learning theories propose that development happens through many courses (contemporary) whereas cognitive development and psychosexual theory state development is through only one course (stage).

Behaviourism and social learning theory give more emphasis on nurture development. Most other theories give equal importance or maintains a neutral stance in this issue. They state that both nurture and nature play a vital role in child development.

Social Learning Theory – Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory is commonly relied upon today across many industries and professions. This theory states that while much child learning and development does come from direct experience, much also comes from modelling and simple observations.
Social Learning Theory is often described as the ‘bridge’ between traditional learning theory (i.e., behaviourism) and the cognitive approach. This is because it focuses on how mental (cognitive) factors are involved in learning.

Social Learning Theory states the following:

  • Learning is not purely behavioural; rather, it is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context.
  • Learning can occur by observing a behaviour and by observing the consequences of the behaviour (vicarious reinforcement).
  • Learning involves observation, extraction of information from those observations, and making decisions about the performance of the behaviour (observational learning or modelling). Thus, learning can occur without an observable change in behaviour.
  • Reinforcement plays a role in learning but is not entirely responsible for learning.
  • The learner is not a passive recipient of information. Cognition, environment, and behaviour all mutually influence each other (reciprocal determinism).

Albert Bandura emphasized heavily on modelling, otherwise known as imitation or observational learning. Individuals that are observed are called models. In society, children are surrounded by many influential models, such as parents within the family, characters on children’s TV, friends within their peer group and teachers at school. These models provide examples of behaviour to observe and imitate.

First, the child is more likely to attend to and imitate those people it perceives as similar to itself. Consequently, it is more likely to imitate behaviour modelled by people of the same gender.

Second, the people around the child will respond to the behaviour it imitates with either reinforcement or punishment. If a child imitates a model’s behaviour and the consequences are rewarding, the child is likely to continue performing the behaviour.

Reinforcement can be external or internal and can be positive or negative. If a child wants approval from parents or peers, this approval is an external reinforcement, but feeling happy about being approved of is an internal reinforcement. A child will behave in a way which it believes will earn approval because it desires approval. This is where cognition comes into play.

Third, the child will also take into account of what happens to other people when deciding whether or not to copy someone’s actions. A person learns by observing the consequences of another person’s (i.e., models) behaviour, e.g., a younger sister observing an older sister being rewarded for a particular behaviour is more likely to repeat that behaviour herself. This is known as vicarious reinforcement.

Bandura proposed that a reaction to a stimulus happens only through the child’s cognition. These mediating processes as proposed by Bandura includes:


The extent to which we are exposed/notice the behaviour. For a behaviour to be imitated, it has to grab our attention.


How well we remember the behaviour is very important for us to reproduce the act. The behaviour may be noticed but is it not always remembered which obviously prevents imitation. It is important therefore that a memory of the behaviour is formed to be performed later by the observer. Much of social learning is not immediate, so this process is especially vital in those cases.


This is the ability to perform the behaviour that the model has just demonstrated. We see a wide variety of behaviours daily but we fail to reproduce them because of many factors like physical ability. This influences our decisions whether to try and imitate it or not.


The will to perform the behaviour. The rewards and punishment that follow a behaviour will be considered by the observer. If the perceived rewards outweigh the perceived cost, then the behaviour will be more likely to be imitated by the observer.

Cite this paper

Influence Of Various Factors On Child Development. (2020, Sep 13). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/child-development/

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