Theorists of Child Development Part One

When I talk about child development and all the things you can do to encourage it, the foundations of all my theories and practices are attributed to several theorists.  I know that in the day to day, most parents could really care less about who invented this or what the thread of thought was on that and often feel that if it’s working, why bother taking it apart, dissecting it and then forgetting how to put it back together.

Chances are it will never run the same and you’ll have a few extra parts left over.  Generally, I agree…oh wait a minute, scratch that since I enjoy taking things apart.  It is great to have some understanding on what drives early childhood education and most, if not all, of the discussions that I have on this blog.

There are several theorists that I will be discussing over the weeks but for today I would just like to focus on one theorist, Freud.

I’m sure we all know who Freud is but do you know much about his theories.  Freud is the developer of psychoanalysis, something that many people know.  He believed that the personality was formed of three parts and these are:

  • The Id:  this is the subconscious part of the mind that is the pleasure seeker.  Freud believed that it is where all desires and motives come from and that it was present at birth.
  • The Ego:  This is the hard working part of the mind (or personality) that is there to find ways to satisfy the Id.  Freud considered this to be the rational part of the mind.
  • The Superego:  This is a person’s morality, the moral compass, which reflects the individual’s and societal ideas of acceptable behavior.

And that is pretty much it with Freud in a nut shell.  Now I know that we can go through and elaborate on all of the stages but I’m not an expert in Freudian and I only know the parts that are connected with Early Childhood Education.

Freud went on from the “personality structures” and identified three stages that occurs during early childhood.  He felt that any difficulties during these stages could and would affect the person’s personality.

The stages that Freud identified are:

  • Oral:  This occurs during infancy from the time when the baby will instinctively suck at birth and throughout the entire process when the baby is exploring items with his mouth (mouthing), up to 18 months.
  • Anal:  This is an important stage where the child is toilet training, usually between 18 months and 3 years, and Freud believed that any problems during this can lead to an “anal” type of personality, i.e., extremely tidy.
  • Phallic:  This seems to be the one that most people focus on or remember when it comes to Freud.  This stage occurs when the child begins to explore his body and becomes aware of his body.  Freud believed that this is the stage (usually between 3 and a half to 6 years) when boys develops a rivalry with their father.  This is considered the Oedipus complex.

There are other stages to Freud’s theory including the Latency stage, between ages 6 to puberty, and the Genital Stage, from puberty on, but in regards to early childhood education, the first three are the ones that I focused on.

And that is it on our first part of theorists of child development.  I will go over them again another day and I will focus on Erik Erikson who extended Freud’s stages.  Now you can all go and study and I will test you on Monday. (Just kidding.)

Sirena Van Schaik

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