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Theories in Early Childhood Development

Describe the following theories in early childhood development. psychoanalytic theory, contextual theory, and the cognitive theory.

What are three aspects of these theories?

Are they similar or different, and if so, then explain the difference?

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1. Describe the following theories in early childhood development: Psychoanalytic theory, contextual theory, and the cognitive theory. What are three aspects of these theories are they similar or different and, if so, explain the difference.

A. Psychoanalytic theory

According to Freud, three aspects of early childhood development are the developing of the ego, id and superego in resolving the conflicts during early childhood stages: the oral stage, anal stage and phallic stages of development including the Oedipus complex (1). Generally, the personality develops through the structures of the mind -- three parts with separate motivations: Id (irrational and emotional part of the mind); the Ego (rational part); and the Superego (the moral part).A psychic energy is required for movement through the stages (2)

o Freud claimed that all human beings are born with certain instincts, i.e. with a natural tendency to satisfy their biologically determined needs for food, shelter and warmth that are both practical and a source of pleasure which Freud refers to as "sexual". For instance, when the infant, sucking at its mother's breast discovers the pleasure inherent in this activity, the first glimmers of sexuality are awakened. The child discovers an erotogenic zone which may be reactivated later in life through thumbsucking or kissing. Through this intimate interaction with the mother, upon whom the child is dependent, a sexual drive emerges. As this drive is separated out from its original function as a purely biological instinct, it achieves a relative autonomy. (1)

o According to Freud, during the early stages of childhood development, other erotogenic zones emerge. The oral stage, associated with the drive to "incorporate" objects through the mouth, is followed by the anal stage (18 months - 3.5 years, approx.) during which the anus becomes an erotogenic zone as the child takes pleasure in defecation. This pleasure is characterized by Freud as "sadistic" because the child is understood to be taking delight in expulsion and destruction. The anal stage is also associated with the desire for retention and possessive control (as in "granting or withholding" the fæces). (1)

o ANAL Stage: Physical focus: anus (elimination). Until now the baby has had it pretty easy. Now baby is upposed to control bowels. Freud believed baby's sexual pleasure centred around the anus at this time. Psychological theme: self-control/obedience. These things are not just related to toilet training but also the baby must learn to control urges and behaviours (terrible twos). What goes wrong here is either parents being too controlling or not controlling enough (Freud was a great believer in moderation). (3)

o The next stage the child enters is the PHALLIC stage (3.5 - 6 years (approx.) when the sexual drive is focused on the genitals. (Freud refers to this stage as "phallic" rather than "genital" because, he claims, only the male organ is recognized as significant.) There is a gradual organization of the libidinal drives, but one still centered on the child's own body. The drives themselves are extremely flexible, in no sense fixed like biological instinct: their objects are contingent and replaceable, and one sexual drive can substitute for another. (1)

o In the phallic stage the physical focus: penis. Freud believed that boys and girls both focussed on the penis. Boys: why hasn't she got one? Girls: why ...

Solution Summary

This solution describes the three theories in early childhood development: psychoanalytic theory, contextual theory, and the cognitive theory, including similarities and differences.

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