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Children Cognitive Development


Jean Piaget is one of the first psychologists who contributed to the study of children cognitive development (Shayer, & Adhami, 2010). In his theory, Piaget observed some characteristics exhibited by children as they developed their cognitive abilities. According to him, children and adults think differently; however, children are usually born with genetically inherited ability to learn and acquire knowledge (Kesselring, & Müller, 2011).

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As a child psychologist, Piaget did a lot of study and made observations on the intellectual abilities of infants, children, and adolescents. From his studies, he concluded that children usually undergo four stages of cognitive development, and in each stage, children usually gain a specific ability that prepares them for the next succeeding stage. These four stages of development are the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage (Ramos-Christian, Schleser, & Varn, 2008).

Concrete operations stage tends to be the most critical in children development, as it involves the transformation of the mind of a child in order to accommodate reasoning and logic capabilities. Here, children tend to learn from the environment; however, problem occurs due to their inability to comprehend abstract premises, thus failing to solve specific problems using general information. This paper will discuss the concrete operations stage of cognitive development by identifying the various crises that occur during this stage as well as how such crises can be related to our own development. Lastly, the paper will describe how these crises can change our development and affect our cognitive ability.

Concrete Operational Stage

Concrete operations stage is the third Piaget’s stage of cognitive development, which involves children between the ages of seven to eleven years (Tomlinson-Keasey, 979). Here, children’ thinking competencies and capabilities become rational and mature, thus allowing them to develop some reasoning capacity. In fact, children are able to think logically and rationally about different concrete events. However, they have some difficulties in understanding abstract and hypothetical premises. Therefore, the most prominent characteristic of children at this stage is their ability to use and understand inductive logic (Pinkney, & Shaughnessy, 2013). Evidently, children tend to have the ability to understand general experience from the use of specific experience.

On the other hand, children at this stage also lack the ability to understand specific experience from general experience mainly because they have problems in using deductive logic (Flannery, & Bers, 2013). As a result, they usually lack cognitive ability to know how to undo actions already completed. Despite this, they can only focus on multiple parts of problems that involve concrete facts and events (Pinkney, & Shaughnessy, 2013).

Therefore, children at the concrete operations stage are aware of others’ perspectives and viewpoints about world facts and concepts, and are able to understand that those viewpoints are different from their own. Besides, children have the ability to develop logical and rational thinking about objects, which they can easily manipulate. As a result, egocentric values of children disappear at this stage. This is mainly influenced by their ability to form ideas about different objects and learn that those objects are not always the way they appear (Shayer, & Adhami, 2010). This also enables them to focus on a number of aspects of an object by merely looking at it. In addition, children start having imagination about a variety of scenarios or occurrence of events using operational thinking ability (Pinkney, & Shaughnessy, 2013).

It is worth noting that at this stage, children begin to conserve ideas about concrete objects, especially those they are very comfortable with in their environments. After this, children are now able to use their conservation ability to learn about reversibility of events and situations. Here, they begin to recognize that things and ideas will be just the same even if they undergo some changes; thus, they are able to accept other people’s viewpoints and perspectives about the world (Shayer, & Adhami, 2010). For example, they are able to understand that, if a pile of books is spread, it will still contain the same number of books even though they may look different from before. Therefore, this stage involves children’s mental maturation through environmental experiences.

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Another important aspect is that, children gain capability of using their existing knowledge in order to understand concrete objects and ideas. Besides, they learn to solve problems logically, especially those problems that involve concrete facts and events (Pinkney, & Shaughnessy, 2013). Furthermore, children can make generalization at this stage due to their ability to use inductive reasoning. However, they cannot apply deductive reasoning well; thus, they have problems in using general knowledge in specific problem solving scenarios. For example, children can understand that 1 plus 2 is three, two plus two is four, but will fail to understand that three multiplied by one is three (Pinkney, & Shaughnessy, 2013).

This is more of a learning stage that allows children to gain new knowledge and add to what they had before. Firstly, they learn to differentiate between their own thoughts and those of others, thus accepting other people’s opinions (Shayer, & Adhami, 2010). Secondly, children can be able to classify objects and concepts; for example, they begin to classify objects according to their weight, mass and numbers in order to differentiate them. Thirdly, in educational set-up, children are able to solve mathematical problems involving subtraction and addition, and they can think logically about these problems (Nakagaki, 2011).

Crisis in Concrete Operational Stage

The main crisis in concrete operations stage is that, children are only able to understand concrete situations and events but fail to use abstract manipulations. Again, most operations in this stage are associated with children’s personal experiences. Besides, they cannot use deductive reasoning process, making them unable to use generalized principles in order to solve specific problems. In addition, most children lack the ability to figure out logic in their minds. As a result, they cannot fully apply common sense in order to solve problems (Nakagaki, 2011). Another crisis in this stage is the inability of children to use mental reversibility competence to arrive at solutions of problems they encounter. Therefore, children are unable to solve problems that do not apply to actual and concrete objects and events (Bibace, 2013).

On the other hand, this stage has a lot of importance to children. For example, it allows them to gain classification skills and the ability to understand that redistribution of an object does not change it in terms of mass, volume and number (Shayer, & Adhami, 2010). Again, the stage gives children the ability to take into account a variety of problem solving skills (Nakagaki, 2011). In addition, it also helps children to understand several reverse concepts. Finally, children develop the ability to sort objects according to their serial order, size, shape, and color. Besides, children at this stage can clearly use logic and avoid the use of egocentrism (Pinkney, & Shaughnessy, 2013).

Nevertheless, the concrete operations stage is related to human development and it shapes our development in a number of ways. For example, the delays people portray in giving answers are due to the use of logic reasoning and thinking (Nakagaki, 2011). Again, reversibility skills that develop in this stage allow us to use different problem-solving aspects and reflections in order to generate conclusions. In addition, the classification skills developed in this stage allow us to sort objects, ideas, and events in adult life. Moreover, what we learn becomes important in later part of life in making judgment about other people’s decisions and viewpoints. Finally, people gain capability to overcome various preoperational stage egocentrism (Shayer, & Adhami, 2010).

There are also other general characteristics and behaviors that children exhibit as they develop their cognitive abilities. For instance, most children tend be gender sensitive, and in most cases, girls like playing with gender stereotyped objects such as female dolls. Social interactions skills also develop, which are very important given that children are in early school-going age where interaction with other children is inevitable.

Besides, children begin to have more organized and logical thinking, which allows them to have the ability to imagine various consequences of an event; however, they get lost when the situation becomes complex. For example, children are very good in arithmetic involving addition and subtraction; however, this arithmetic must be real and concrete, since children at this stage cannot apply abstract hypothesis of facts. In most cases, children’s knowledge usually depends on their environmental experiences because their mental abilities depend largely on objects that can be touched or seen. Therefore, Piaget argued that children begin to master abilities such as, conservation, reversibility, classification, and logical reasoning.

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From this paper, it is clear that Jean Piaget is one of the first prominent founders of children cognitive theory, which states that children usually undergo a series of stages in their mental development. His third cognitive development stage known as the concrete operations stage is very influential in mental development of children. Various developmental characteristics are observed in this stage, among them being the growth of logical and rational thinking capability in order to solve problems. In addition, children tend to develop inductive reasoning capability, which helps them to generalize facts.

However, a crisis sets in when children tend to fail to use general information to solve specific problems. Nevertheless, children at this stage are not egocentric and are able to consider perspectives of others. Moreover, they learn to use their reversibility skills to view objects in different perspectives without confusion. Finally, children gain classification skills that allow them to sort objects according to their different characteristics.


Bibace, R. (2013). Challenges in Piaget’s Legacy. Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science, 47(1), 167-175. Web.

Flannery, L. P., & Bers, M. (2013). Let’s Dance the “Robot Hokey-Pokey!”: Children’s Programming Approaches and Achievement throughout Early Cognitive Development. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 46(1), 81-101. Web.

Kesselring, T., & Müller, U. (2011). The concept of egocentrism in the context of Piaget’s theory. New Ideas in Psychology, 29(3), 327-345. Web.

Nakagaki, A. (2011). The Significance and Potential of Piaget’s Developmental Stage Theory. Japanese Journal of Developmental Psychology, 22(4), 369-380. Web.

Pinkney, J., & Shaughnessy, M. F. (2013). Teaching Critical Thinking Skills: A Modern Mandate. International Journal of Academic Research, 5(3), 346-352. Web.

Ramos-Christian, V., Schleser, R., & Varn, M. (2008). Math Fluency: Accuracy Versus Speed in Preoperational and Concrete Operational First and Second Grade Children. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35(6), 543-549. Web.

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Shayer, M., & Adhami, M. (2010). Realizing the cognitive potential of children 5-7 with a mathematics focus: Post-test and long-term effects of a 2-year intervention. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(3), 363-379. Web.

Tomlinson-Keasey, C. (1979). The Structure of Concrete Operational Thought. Child Development, 50(4), 1153. Web.

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