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Qualitative changes


The quantitative approach to child development poses that infants react to stimuli in the world in the same ways as adults do, with the only difference being the complexity of responses. In this view, both children and adults have the same approach to problems with the only disparity lying in their maturity or immaturity of their thinking. This thinking thus proposes that child development is continuous, since while the child might not be as precise and efficient as the adult, these skills will improve as they become older. For example, an infant might love playing with Legos and in the cause of play, they will be able to complete color and shape patterns in one hour. However, for an adult, completing the same color and shape combinations would be easy and faster with more precise results. Thus, these conclusions lead to the belief that development is continuous as we add the same type of skills we learned at an early age. The big difference between adult tasks and our play as children is the level of complexity that matches our maturity.


This view matches Locke’s tabula rasa argument which focuses on human behavior and understanding. Locke’s philosophy posed that at birth, the human mind is a “blank slate,” which cannot process data. Thus, as the individual grows up, the rules for processing new data are formed based on experiences. This argument shows that development is continuous and as the individual gets old, they become more capable of creating new skills for tacking challenges. Locke’s arguments mirror Freud’s psychoanalysis, which found that personality traits are formed by pressure or family influence. Freud felt that human beings naturally lack free will and how one turns out depends on their upbringing.


Qualitative change


The qualitative change as a view to child development proposes that a child’s emotions, behavior, and thoughts are significantly different from those of an adult. This view to development is that it is discontinuous and that the process for understanding and responding to changes in the world depends on stages. Stage theories support this approach to child development with the view that a child’s behavior and skills inherently depend on what is taking place at different stages of their lives. Just like a staircase needs different steps, development is dependent on the child’s age and as they jump from one step to the next, they are transformed.


One stage theorist who has expounded more on development is Erik Erikson, who believed that the development of an individual’s personality takes place in the course of their life. His theory suggested that there are 8 distinct stages through which the individual faces different challenges as they develop. The stages include:


One stage theorist who has expounded more on development is Erik Erikson, who believed that the development of an individual’s personality takes place in the course of their life. His theory suggested that there are 8 distinct stages through which the individual faces different challenges as they develop. The stages include:


Table 1: Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development


Stage 1: Trust vs. Mistrust 0-12 months Child expects their basic needs to be met. Also this is when they become attached to people. Stage 2: Autonomy vs. shame and doubt 1-3 years A child learns new skills and depending on the outcomes, they develop shame/doubt. Stage 3: Initiative vs. Guilt 3-6 years The child learns to control impulses and become responsible. If they don’t, guilt creeps in. Stage 4: Industry vs. Inferiority 6-12 years Kid competes with others as they take on adult-like roles. Those that do not do too well feel inferior. Stage 5: Identity vs. Role confusion Adolescence Young people determine their roles, identity, direction. Stage 6: Intimacy vs. Isolation Early adulthood One starts to pursue and develop intimate relationships. Those that are unsuccessful feel isolated. Stage 7: Generativity vs. Self-absorption Middle adulthood One works to become productive, by parenting or jobs. Those that fail become self-absorbed. Stage 8: Integrity vs. Despair Old age One evaluates their lives to conclude if contended or disappointed.


These stages support the qualitative view to development as they show that as the child becomes older, they perceive the world differently. Through these stages, they get to experience more things and thus improve on what they already know.


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