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Special Stages of Childhood Development

In the second half of the twentieth century, there appeared a great number of theories on child development investigating this issue from different angles. In particular, in the late seventies of the past century, Urie Bronfenbrenner suggested an ecological theory on child development in terms of cultural and social psychology (Blakemore and et al. 2008). According to this theory, the environment can be divided into several social systems with the child in the center. The layer that is located next to a child Bronfenbrenner is called microsystem consisting of several direct interactions in a family, in school or in a neighborhood. A set of characteristics possessed by a child influence other people in this environment and one of the affecting factors is the child’s biology and gender. Other layers are mesosystem, ecosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem (Bronfenbrenner 2005). Taking into consideration this classification, let us discuss how such a developmental issue as aggressive behavior is revealed at a very early age (for example 2-6 years) and in adolescence.

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Very often, child aggression can be revealed if child observes this phenomenon at home in the form of punishment imposed by parents. Aggression can be also cultivated by the television programs and films displaying violent behavior, which is either approved or rewarded. Owing to the fact that a child of an early age is likely to emulate adult behavior, he/ she will surely repeat this pattern in future. The aggressive behavior may result in the observed parental violence thus acquiring a wrong association with it. The situation with adolescent aggression is a bit different, as reason for that lies not in heeding but in the lack of understanding on the parents’ part. In other words, parents may provide distorted roles models for children thus making children create their own models of behavior. The absence of close family ties may lead to the emergence of violence and aggression as a socially accepted model of behavior (Siegel 2008, p. 95).

The mesosystem proposed by Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory implies the interaction of various parts of the environment influencing a child (Bronfenbrenner 2005). Hence, parents may communicate with other children’s parents in neighborhood. According to the author, a successful communication of a child in mesosystem requires him/her to have strong and consistent supportive ground. For instance, if parents, teachers, and different organizations share similar views on family values, child development will be more beneficial.

Considering the above, the aggressive behavior revealed in this particular environment is the result of misbalance of moral and social norms among the parents and the parents of peers. A child of a very early age can provoke serious social and emotional problems to his/her peers for whom this behavior is alien. Such a situation may also generate violence in the kindergartens when a child does not know other methods of communication.

Due to the fact that adolescent generation is more subjected to the influence of an overt community, the aggressive behavior displayed at this age can even lead to juvenile delinquency and imprisonment. These consequences are first of all predetermined by the psychological atmosphere in the family. However, there is a possibility that aggression is generated by the community itself thus using violence as a usual language of communication. In particular, some of the peers can use aggression to compensate for their feelings of fear, despair, humiliation, and depression that further lead to a social isolation of a child.

Analyzing the influences that occurred in the ecosystem environment, children’s development can be also affected by indirect factors. Hence, ecosystem may consist of the parents’ outside experiences and views imposed by other parents (Bronfenbrenner 2005). Parents and teachers that directly communicate with children are influenced by other micro-and mesosystems. For example when one of the parents is dismissed from the work, he or she can send a negative message to a child. As a result, children can take those displays of aggression for granted. This situation will be even more vulnerable for adolescent children who perceive these acts of aggression at a more conscious age.

Different reactions of children on the displays of external aggression are also explained by the Piaget’s theory of child development. According to his cognitive theory, Jean Piaget emphasizes that children’s development is predominantly based on the knowledge acquisition. The process itself depends upon the principle of ideas developed as the main factor of maturing. Therefore, children under the age of 6 are at the stage of knowledge perception, which cannot be applied in practice due to the lack of experience (Slee, 2002, p. 64). Children over the age of 11 are more concerned with ideological problems, as they are capable to think logically. In this respect, aggressive behavior cannot be easily eliminated at this age.

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The last but not the least layer is macrosystem that includes different subcultures a child lives in. This issue may refer to a certain cultural group or a country as a whole (Bronfenbrenner 2005). The analysis of cross-cultural relations between the ethnic groups shows that some communities are more violent and aggressive than others. In this case, a child’s cultural environment can serve as the trigger point for acts of aggression (Sadock et al 2007 p. 46). The cultural beliefs usually include different habits and traditions cultivated in one group that can be alien to another. The violence may appear as the result of cross-communication. For example, little children can emulate the behavior when watching some TV programs, or they may display the behavior models that are culturally unaccepted in the kindergartens. In adolescence, a child may harbor misconception in case he/she fails to understand the actions thus negatively influencing his/her cultural development.

The chronosystem is the most detached part of the environment influencing child development (Bronfenbrenner 2005). Despite that, it is still closely interwoven into a child’s behavior shaping. These chronological changes may involve the family moving to another place, or the birth of another child, or one of the parents gets an outside job (Blackmore et al. 2008). These alternations differently influence a child at two stages of development but the common thing is that the problem centers on a child’s age. Hence, the child under the age of six can feel more disturbed if he/she has shared the parents’ attention with another child. The same concern refers to adolescent children who are already less controlled by their parents. In both cases, the lack of attention generates aggression.

As it can be seen, be Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory make much sense, as it fosters a better understanding of the psychological process influencing child development. The main merit of this research lies in the analysis of psychological behavior of children in different natural, cultural, and ecological contexts. Considering the study of aggressive behavior among children of different ages, this theory has managed to clarify the major reasons for this problem.

Reference

Blackmore, O. J., Benerenbaum, S.A., Liben, L.S. (2008). Gender development. US: CRC Press.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (2005). Making human beings human: bioecological perspectives on human development. US:SAGE.

Sadock, B. J., Sadock, V. A., Levin, Z. (2007). Kaplan and Sadock study guide and self-examination in psychiatry. US: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Siegel, L. J., and Welsh, B. C. (2008). Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law. US: Cengage Learning.

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Slee, P. T. (2002). Child, adolescent, and family development. Australia: Cambridge University Press.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Special Stages of Childhood Development'. 30 December.

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