Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Emotional Development
Therapists tend to be most interested in the gross and fine motor
development issues in the infant and child. However, development
also occurs along the cognitive, psychosocial and emotional realm
as well. This chapter gives a brief summary of these areas in
order for therapist to maintain a holistic view of the child client.
PSYCHOSOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Movement capability may be a therapeutic priority, but other
interdependent attributes also influence the childís performance.
Temperament - biologically based and consistent over time. Includes
the childís motor activity level, daily rhythm, moods, adaptability,
social interaction, and environmental responsivity.
Attachment - parent-child attachment is the basis for overall societal
cohesion. The childís attachment status influences how the child deals
with the environment.
- Severely attached - use the motherís position as a home base
- Anxious-avoidant - have minimal contact with the mother in
- Anxious-resistant - are passive and show great reluctance
to separate from the mother (Often seen in premature infants/children,
low Apgar scored infants, motorally immature children, and chronically
- Contemporary view - child is an active seeker of stimulation,
motivated to explore and gain environmental mastery
- Basis for goal-oriented behavior
- Nurtured by responses to infantís earliest attempt to interact with
- Childís self-perception of limited influence on environmental outcomes
may be basis for lack of motivation
Cognition - Not equivalent to performance on IQ tests; it is the basis for
the childís problem-solving abilities in multiple domains. Highly dependent on
other aspects of development such as temperament and motivation.
- Affective development - T. Berry Brazelton
- Boston pediatrician who transformed infant assessment from
stimulus-response maneuvers to a consideration of infant abilities.
- Documented that neonates are socially interactive individuals who
demonstrate their competencies when each stage is considered.
Cognitive development - Jean Piaget
- Systematically recorded observations of childrenís cognitive
behavior; his finding have been replicated world-wide.
- Organized cognitive development into a sequence of ordinal stages
from the infantís need to directly interact with the environment
(sensori-motor stage) to individuals ability to manipulate abstract
concepts in the absence of direct experience (formal operational stage).
- Viewed child as acting on the environment and inferred cognition
from motor behaviors observed in younger nonverbal children
- Basic premise is that childrenís mental representations of the world
become more sophisticated in proportion to their widening radius of
- Child development in the context of family - Anna Freud
- Influenced by father, Sigmund, who explored relationship of early
childhood to subsequent development of psychopathology
- Main contribution is influence of family dynamic on child development
and critical need to view child in the contest of family
Child develop in the context of society - Erik Erikson
- Expanded on Anna Freudís emphasis on family interaction to human
development in the context of cultural influences on the individual
- Developed an ordinal sequence of psychosocial growth based on
progression through specific critical junctions, outcomes of which
influenced subsequent behavioral responses
- Applied concept of epigenetic development - individualís personality
forms as ego progresses through developmental stages
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