Cognitive, Moral and Social Development

All children go through developmental stages, characteristic and conventional changes in the subsequent four areas: cognitive; how children learn, and reason, physical development; the fine motor and gross motor skills, social and emotional development; how children interact with others and themselves, speech and language development; how children understand and use language, children develop through these stages at their own rate (Blasi, 1983). Two fact ors influence the way our children grow; genes and the environment. Gees are the genetic substance we pass to our children; they determine the characteristics of a child. Furthermore, the environment influences a child’s development; what happens at home, school and the people that surround the child, as parents. The case study below, expounds on a toddler’s cognitive, social, physical, and moral development cognitive and social development as well as an up-and-coming adult’s physical, cognitive, and social development. Being in two different stages of life make their growth and development definitely different and exceptional to their age.



Subject Name: Jerry

Age: 24 months


Physical Development

Jerry is 35 inches tall, weighs 28 pounds, Jerry is in his first stage of development. Both his weight and height are on average, and also he is his50th percentile range for her weight and height (Goolsby, & Hunt, 1992). His weight and height are starting to be steady, and his growth curve is starting to form.  Now that Jerry is 24 months, a stable increase of about two –three inches, and six pounds will   be added per year until he becomes an adult. Age two has always been a hilarious age, actually, most children in this age are known as terrible twos. Jerry is no exceptional; he is half as tall as he will be as an adult. His mother has been constant in taking him for check-ups and immunizations. Also his mother said that he has been growing very fast, which us normal for children at this age. Normally, children between 0-2 years always grow quickly, but there is slow growth from 2-4 years. His bones are mounting and growing, and still undergoing bone hardening process; ossification. In addition, his hands feet, ankles and wrists are still developing   and hardening. His muscles will also thicken and become longer, as he, matures and gets older.

Jerry is an a standard eater, he eats six times a day, snacking in between meals, but just like any other toddler, at times he is unpredictable with his eating habits, and only eats very little. This corresponds with standard toddler’s appetite since they go through different periods of eating. The decrease in appetite and poor eating habits about age 2, always bring quarrels between the parents and the toddlers. The nutritionists have always said that quality and nutritious foods should be given to children at this age; hence parents should not concern with the quantity of food. Another development that has stood out in Jerry’s life is the ability to sustain motor activity. He is very energetic, walks up the stairs, runs easily, pedals his tricycle with ease, picks up objects easily, and he also holds his pencils properly. These features illustrates that his gross motor skills, and his fine motor skills concur with the standard skills of child his age should acquire (Haidt, 2001).   Jerry’s parents have created conducive environment for Jerry; this has made him to grow mentally, and socially. He is able to preserve a more intricate network of synapses in his mind; his brain function has really improved. At 26 months his parent’s start to recognize that he is able to hold a longer attention span than when he was 18 months. One unique feature of Jerry is that, he is left hander; he is among the 10% of the left handed population.

Cognitive Development

Piaget argues that children are inquisitive, energetic explorers. Jerry’s parents agree a 100% with that.  Children, between the ages of 2-6 continually learn and experience new things, and they engross the information they have learnt, together with the new experiences, this adds up to whatever the children know, and this process is known as assimilation. In addition, a child at this age modifies and adjusts the knowledge and information he has learnt from a new experience; a process known as accommodation. All these form the mental process that Piaget defines as, adaptation. For example, Jerry has already learnt that the four legged animals are not only called, a cat, or a dog, he has gained an understanding that the four legged animals are called other names (Haidt, 2001).  All young children experience these changes of assimilation, accommodation and adjusting. Piaget also states that toddlers will exhibit something known as, deferred imitation; a process of imitating someone else after a certain period of time. For instance, just the other day Jerry’s parents found him outside star gazing, this is one of the favorite things that his father do during summer time.

Another notable change in toddlers is egocentrism, how they think and talk is typically about them. Egocentrism is defined, as the inability of a child to see a situation from someone’s point of view. Piaget argues that, the egocentric child will presume that other people do not feel, see, and hear as they do, for example Jerry plays in class as the other children but he plays next with them, rather than with them. In line with Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, a toddler will always fall into sensor motor stage; where a toddler displays symbolic problem solving attitude. Jerry is fond of moving his blue chair around the house, and use it as s step chair and become taller to enable him reach for the items, he wants. This example clearly explains Piaget theory of symbolic problem solving.

Vygotsky also argues that, cognitive skills develop through social interactions. Jerry exemplifies this very well, He spends most of his time with his parents, especially his mother, since she is a stay at home mom. It has been noted that Jerry quickly grasps what he is taught, and repeats it step y step, as he has been taught.  For instance, his mother taught him how to get dressed on his own; this is an example of guided participation, defined by Vygotsky. When Jerry is occupied in a chore on his own, his mother says that he sometimes talks to himself. Vygotsky recognizes this as personal speech, which is also significant in a child’s cognitive development. Private speech helps a child to regulate their own behavior, instructing themselves, and working out strategies. Vygotsky elucidates that as a child increases their memory span, working memory and consolidation span, continues to improve and develop as well. While Jerry is 24 months old, his IQ would be tested with the Bayle Scale of Infant Development. Sadly, early IQ scores are not good at predicting later IQ scores or a child’s school performance. Prior to the age of 3, IQ test scores are not very stable over time. Spending quality time with our children at an early age, is paramount when it comes to a child’s IQ. Jerry has really developed in his physical, his mental scale, and also his language development. He easily matches pictures, and he is able to construct a three worded sentence.

Toddlers at the age of 16-24 months, usually learn new words rapidly. They create new words and expressions, develop their own private speech, are accustomed to their own language, and create names for people and things (Webley, 2001). Jerry is a veal boy; he emulates what he hears other people says, participates in conversations, and pays attention to high tones, especially his mother’s voice. Jerry is no longer in the paralinguistic phase, since he is able to construct more than two words; his amenable language has fully developed, since he is able to understand spoken language. Fen son argues that, a 16 month toddler has a speaking vocabulary of around 50 words, and by 24 months, the words increase to 320. Jerry’s vocabulary word has already multiplied, and actually he has no problem with constructing sentences. His parents associate this with genes, his father said that everyone in his family learnt to speak as early as 18 months, and never had a problem in forming sentences. On the flip side, delayed development can be caused by other factors, and parents are encouraged to pay attention, and monitor their children development.

Social Development

There are many factors that interrelate to influence, and manipulate personality development; behavioral, environmental and personal factors (Bandura, 1991). Jerry illustrates this model very well. He is a very outgoing boy, positive, loving, and very sociable. He loves to sing, and he even attends music classes. Although Jerry’s love fir music is evident, his parents are persuaded that he attend this classes just to meet new people. He loves to smile at people, hug his friends, and even people he is meeting first time. Since he is very vocal, his parents have always found him, making speeches and even singing like the pop stars, in his bedroom. Jerry is aware of himself as he often refers to himself as, me.

In regard to temperament; this is personal divergences in motor, emotional, attention reactivity and self-control. Jerry is defined as having an easy temperament; he gets along with people very well, his example explains the dimensions of temperament. He has a very high tendency to move often and vigorously rather than to remain passive or immobile, he also has a positive emotionality; a tendency to move toward rather than away from new people, situations, or objects, usually accompanied by positive emotion. As he gradually grows, he is exhibiting task persistence, an ability to manage attention, and stay focused. Temperaments are the basics of personality development, and there should be consistency in every age. Stages of personality development are centered on autonomy, industry, identity, trust, intimacy, ego integrity, and generatively.  Every stage on particular crisis a child or a grown up person must go through and overcome. This theory is defined as Erikson Psychological stages, and in regard to this definition, Jerry falls under autonomy versus shams and doubt stage. Toddlers in this stage learn to control their own actions, learn how to walk, holding objects and other physical skills that lead to free will. Toddlers at this age my develop shame, if they are not well punished, and if their parents fail to recognize this, it will carry on till adulthood.  Jerry has fully developed in holding objects, and walking, he is using these skills to his advantage, since he is able to adapt and manipulate his environment (Kutcher, Garcia-Ortega, Carrey, Steele, Smith, Basi, & Wiens, 2001). For instance, he is able to walk to the fridge, open it, and get his own milk, instead of waiting for his parents to get for him. He has also learnt toilet training skills, and he is able to go to the toilet, without being assisted. He is fully becoming responsible and independent.

Both parents and children play a colossal role in a child’s development, particularly their social development. All children form affections and connections to their parents, although the amount of those affections and connections differs comprehensively. A theory known as, Strange Situation, created by, Mary Ainsworth in child attachment.  She gave an example, of a child, mother, and stranger, where a child is experimented being with her mother, and a stranger. The assessment of this child revealed, two types of attachment; secure and insecure attachments. Comparing this theory with Jerry, his parents say that he is a secure toddler. When he is dropped at the day care, he has no problem separating with his mother, play with the other kids, and have time for adventure (Smetana, 2006). His mother picks him up in the evening; he greets her with a smile and a positive attitude. Rarely will Jerry e scared of strangers, but if this happens, his parents always assure him that even strangers are good people.  Jerry is very empathetic to others, something that his parents and siblings appreciate a lot. He loves to make people laugh and smile but he also responds to their stress and sadness. An example of this is when he brought his most preferred toy and blanket to his older sister after she was punished by the mother. His sister was in her room crying, and Jerry acted in response to it. This makes obvious egocentric empathy traits which are common among toddlers. When Jerry knew his sister was crying, he brought her stuffs that make him feel better and happy, when he also experiences the same emotion, as his sister was going through. Jerry has shown exceptional outcomes, in cognitive, moral, physical, and social developments as a toddler, his parents are anticipating that he will grow in all stages the same he has grown, as a toddler.

With this kind of development it is easy to predict that Jerry will not have a lot of dilemma and crises to solve even in his adolescent age. As I concluded my interview with his mother, she told me that her greatest desire is to see Jerry grow, attains the best education, and finally having his own family. She continued to tell me, that together with her husband they are ready to give their children the best environment for them to grow, and be their role models. Every parent should aspire to give their children the best environments to grow in, since a lot of social problems like; rape, abortion, drug abuse, alcoholism, peer pressures, low performance in school, and also crimes (Blasi, 1983).  Researchers always say that a higher number of rebellious children in America have always been caused, by poor parenting, busyness of parents, abusive parents and unfavorable environments for children to grow in. We should not give up on our children, even the most rebellious and defiant, has an opportunity to change, and became a useful person in the society.

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