Posted in Child Development

Theories of Human Development

The ways we teach and understand children today are still heavily influenced by six theories including work by Freud, Erikson and Piaget.  When someone says your child is “going through a phase” what does it mean?  More importantly, can how we parent have a long-term impact on the child’s development?  What if we potty train early or late?  When might a child experience separation anxiety?  The stages children go through include everything from  forming attachments through cognitive-development. 

The Teaching Company - Portable Educational Courses on DVD, Audio CD, Cassette and MP3

There is an amazing company called The Teaching Company (  They find and record brilliant Professors from around the globe on hundreds of topics.  The course range from Understanding Opera to History of the World. 

There is a course available on DVD, Audio CD or by download call “Theories of Human Development.” .  It is a series of 24 lectures by Professor Malcolm W. Watson at Brandeis University.  It is a great way to listen and understand some of the basic principles behind your child’s development and behavior.

Parents should evaluate the appropriateness of any product in their own child’s situation.  Please feel free to check the consumer product safety commision ( or with other groups that test the safey of children’s products.

© 2010  All rights reserved. 

 Here is a write-up from the Teaching Company website on the course itself:

Course Image

“Six Theories of How We Become Who We Are

The six major theories have had a pervasive impact on the way we, both scientists and the general public, see ourselves. They are:

Sigmund Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory. The lectures discuss this theory, the earliest of the six, including such concepts as the Oedipus Complex and Freud’s five stages of psycho-sexual development. Although now widely disputed, Freudian thinking is deeply imbedded in our culture and constantly influences our view of human nature.

Erik Erikson’s Psycho-Social Theory. This is the theory that gave rise to the term “identity crisis.” Erikson was the first to propose that the “stages” of human development spanned our entire lives, not just childhood. His ideas heavily influenced the study of personality development, especially in adolescence and adulthood.

John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth’s Integrated Attachment Theory. This was the first theory to focus primarily on the formation of parent-child relationships. It explains the connection between relationships that occur early in our lives and those that happen later, including romantic ones. Attachment theory has generated thousands of scientific studies, and has led to changes in many childcare policies, such as those allowing parents to stay with their children in hospitals.

Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory. This theory modified traditional learning theory developed by such behaviorists as B. F. Skinner, which was based on stimulus-response relationships. It considered learning to be no different among infants, children, adults, or even animals. Bandura’s approach is influential in such areas as the effect of media violence on children, and the treatment of problem behaviors and disorders.

Jean Piaget’s Cognitive-Developmental Theory. Piaget’s influence created a revolution in human development theory. He proposed the existence of four major stages, or “periods,” during which children and adolescents master the ability to use symbols and to reason in abstract ways. This has been the most influential of the six major theories. In the 1970s and 1980s, it completely dominated the study of child development.

Lev Vygotsky’s Cognitive-Mediation Theory. Alone among the major theorists, Vygotsky believed that learning came first, and caused development. He theorized that learning is a social process in which teachers, adults, and other children form supportive “scaffolding” on which each child can gradually master new skills. Vygotsky’s views have had a large impact on educators.

Early Theorists: Locke, Rousseau, and even Darwin

To give you the best understanding of these theories, this course also explores the general history of the study of child development. It touches on the work of other important researchers, such as John Watson of Johns Hopkins University, who developed behaviorism, and Arnold Gesell of Yale, from whose work sprang such well-worn phrases as “just going through a stage” and “the terrible twos.”

Professor Watson also discusses the era of observational research on children, which marked the beginnings of child study as a true science. This period was pioneered by scientists who began publishing detailed accounts of the development of their own children. These early “baby biographers” included Alfred Binet, who first developed intelligence testing in France, and even Charles Darwin.

You may be struck not only by how much we have learned about child development, but also by how much our attitudes toward children have changed. Until the beginning of the 19th century, there was no interest in child study and, in fact, no concern for children. Such factors as poverty and high infant mortality created an atmosphere in which children were barely tolerated, or used for labor.

In Paris in 1750, 33 percent of all newborns were left in foundling homes or on doorsteps; most died. In England, boys and girls as young as four were often sent to work in mines.

You will see how attitudes toward children gradually improved, due mostly to the efforts of physicians and religious leaders. And you will appreciate the tremendous contribution that two renowned philosophers, John Locke (1632–1704) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), have made to the field of child development. Their ideas about children—whether they are inherently good or bad, or whether they actively shape their environments or passively react to stimuli—still form much of the basis of our modern theories.

The lessons of this course are not simply about learning, behavior, and relationships in youth, but at any age. Taken as a whole, they provide our best answers to the questions of human nature—how we learn, adapt, and become who we are at every stage in life. “

Posted in Child Development

Building a Baby Conversationista (Action Steps Included)

There are those in the world that can walk into a room and everyone notices. My friend’s daughter is one of those people. She has a way of making everyone feel loved, important, interesting and heard. These individuals can capture your attention and entertain you with their stories. They are present and fun.  After working in Corporate America for 13 years, I have recognized these are common traits of the leaders of organizations, the top sales people and the ones that are frequently promoted. Granted, there are other necessary factors such as education and experience but the art of human interaction is invaluable in work, in life and in relationships. 

I fear for many children this is a lost art. At a young age children begin to grab cell phones from their parents: this interesting, blinking noisy toy that Mom and Dad love. TV, hand held games, iPods and so on have replaced the need for conversation. Car trips are made easier with DVDs and Playstation.

Where is the time to practice? When can they daydream and why would they want to when someone has already made something to watch.  So many of my dreams were formulated when I had the moments to let my mind drift. Daydreaming as a child has become a useful in grown up terms as mental rehearsal. Coming up with car games and stories has made me a person that can make any situation fun (without gear!) Most importantly, many in my generation were taught early on a proper handshake, to look people in the eyes, how to be an active listener and how to acknowledge and be nice to people who cross your path regardless of their look, language or station.

I recently sat in on a friend’s nursery school class at a Montessori on the west side of Manhattan. To welcome each child to the class, she sat at their level, shook their hand and made sure there was eye contact. Little rituals such as these keep children engaged and teach them the importance of something as simple as a greeting. After years of work and visits to all sorts of offices, I can tell even as adults some of us can work on our morning greeting!  The addition of simple rituals in your day is easy, free, fun and an amazing way to get to encourage your child’s inner coversationista.

Action Steps – here are a few ideas to get you started.

1.) On long car trips, make a deal. Try talking, games and family fun first, perhaps even a required time period without t.v. Ex (Geography Game, the license plate game, going on a picnic)

2.) Teach your child to acknowledge when someone joins the room or a conversation with a greeting or handshake.

3.) Instate some family rules – no electronics at the dinner table, time limits on TV, time limits on internet (this can even be automated)

4.) Have family game night!

5.) Read to your kid before bed.

6.) Model these behaviors yourself. If you don’t care neither will your child.

7.) Finally try everything! Go to museums, go outside, try foods and sports. This way once your child says hello…they will have plenty to talk about and share!!!!

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in Child Development

Your Child’s Development – On a Handout!!



I came across a great website ( They have created 9 spreadsheets detailing your baby’s development.  They review the following –

  • A chart that helps you know what to expect developmentally from your child, and how you can help your child learn at each stage
  • Frequently asked questions and answers
  • A spotlight section that goes into greater depth on a common issue or challenge for each age
  • A research summary specific to each stage of development, and what it means for parents

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in Child Development

New Years Resolutions for You and Your Kids

As we cross over into the New Year many of us make resolutions to make the new year even better.  Here are some helpful tips for parents and your kids.

Parents:  Studies show it takes 21 days to form a new habit.  Just writing a list won’t cut it.  I found a website that will help keep you on track.  You name your goal and the website will email you daily to check if you completed your goal that day.  They will keep your stats.  It’s a great fun way to hold yourself accountable.

For your kids:

Below I have posted a list of healthy New Year’s Resolutions to guide your kids in the goal setting process.  The following are tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP.)



  • I will clean up my toys.
  • I will brush my teeth twice a day, and wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
  • I won’t tease dogs – even friendly ones. I will avoid being bitten by keeping my fingers and face away from their mouths.

Kids, 5- to 12-years-old

  • I will drink milk and water, and limit soda and fruit drinks.
  • I will apply sunscreen before I go outdoors.  I will try to stay in the shade whenever possible and wear a hat and sunglasses, especially when I’m playing sports.
  • I will try to find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing or riding my bike) that I like and do it at least three times a week!
  • I will always wear a helmet when bicycling.
  • I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car.  I’ll sit in the back seat and use a booster seat until I am tall enough to use a lap/shoulder seat belt.
  • I’ll be nice to other kids. I’ll be friendly to kids who need friends – like someone who is shy, or is new to my school
  • I’ll never give out personal information such as my name, home address, school name or telephone number on the Internet.  Also, I’ll never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer without my parent’s permission.

Kids, 13-years-old and up

  • I will eat at least one fruit and one vegetable every day, and I will limit the amount of soda I drink.
  • I will take care of my body through physical activity and nutrition.
  • I will choose non-violent television shows and video games, and I will spend only one to two hours each day – at the most – on these activities.
  • I will help out in my community – through volunteering, working with community groups or by joining a group that helps people in need.
  • I will wipe negative “self talk” (i.e. “I can’t do it” or “I’m so dumb”) out of my vocabulary,
  • When I feel angry or stressed out, I will take a break and find constructive ways to deal with the stress, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal or discussing my problem with a parent or friend.
  • When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk with an adult about my choices.
  • When I notice my friends are struggling or engaging in risky behaviors, I will talk with a trusted adult and attempt to find a way that I can help them.
  • I will be careful about whom I choose to date, and always treat the other person with respect and without coercion or violence. 
  • I will resist peer pressure to try drugs and alcohol.
  • I agree not to use a cell phone or text message while driving and to always use a seat belt.

American Academy of Pediatrics, 12/09

Used with permission from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in Child Development

Age Appropriate Guide to Play

Playing is an important part of your child’s life.  Play can help with the development of relationships, language, creativity, physical development, thinking and social skills.  The following guide from TRUCE discusses age appropriate practices for playing as well as toys to avoid for infants and toddlers.

© 2010  All rights reserved.