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Child Development Stages

A Summary of the Different Stages of Child Development

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Psychologists and development researchers have proposed a number of different theories to describe and explain the process and stages that children go through as they develop. Some tend to focus on the developmental milestones, or specific achievements that children reach by a certain age. Others focus on specific aspects of child development such as personality, cognition, and moral growth.

The following are just some of the major ways of thinking about the stages of child development.

The Theory Overview The Stages
Developmental Milestones

Developmental milestones describe abilities that children typically achieve by a certain age. For example, walking is a milestone that many children reach sometime between the ages of 9 and 12 months.

Cognitive Stages

Psychologist Jean Piaget proposed a theory centered on the intellectual development of children. Concepts such as schemas, egocentrism, and assimilation are central to Piaget's theory.

Psychosocial Stages

Unlike many other developmental theories, Erik Erikson's theory focuses on development across the entire lifespan. At each stage, children face a developmental crisis that serves as a major turning point. On the right are the stages that occur during childhood and adolescence.

Psychosexual Stages

Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud proposed a controversial theory of development, suggesting that the energy of the libido was focused on specific erogenous zones at specific stages. Failure to progress through a stage can result in a fixation at that point in development, which Freud believed could have an influence on adult behavior.

Moral Stages

Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg proposed a stage theory focused specifically on the moral development of children. The theory describes three overall levels of moral development that can then be broken down further into six stages.

  • Preconventional Morality
  • Conventional Morality
  • Postconventional Morality

Want to learn more about how children grow and develop? Be sure to check out the following resources:

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