Child Development

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The early stages of development of any child play a very cardinal role in the future of any child. These stages should therefore be handled with expended zeal. In general living with overly depressed parent tends to increase the risk of a child’s cognitive development. Besides, this brings about behavioral problems among children. In a report, maternal depression, poverty, children’s cognitive and family status are all products of the economic state of the family (Child Development, p 810).

Research finds a consistent correlation between the child’s intellectual development, cognitive development and poverty. Poverty is particularized in the development of the child. Gulati et al (Gulati, J. K., Dutta, J., p 122) argues that persistent poverty levels are in fact as detrimental to the child as illnesses.

The effects that are experienced in the cognitive and affective domains have a direct effect on the educational outcomes and the development of any child. These effects are both indirectly and directly moderated, mediated transitional processes. Within the precincts of this argument, strategies for the alleviation of poverty are central if these far reaching effects of poverty are to be mitigated.

Research shows (Pesonen, A., Räikkönen, K., Heinonen, K., Andersson, S., Hovi, P., Järvenpää, A., Eriksson, J. G., Kajantie, E., p 613) that Children who come from poor families are found to have retarded growth. This is experienced particularly in the ages of two years to four years. The research reveals that poor children tend to be shorter than their counterparts from rich families.  Similar traits are experienced in the development of cognition. In the final analysis, the poor child’s development is hampered altogether.

In addition, underprivileged children had small body sizes than their counterparts regardless of the size of the parents. Subsequent, research shows that poor children are more prone to health issues than those who hail from well off families. Some of the diseases tend to impede the developmental prospects of the child. Most particularly, the research sees malnutrition as a common problem.

When developmental tests are undertaken on the children, those who hail from affluent families have higher developmental outcomes while those from poor families have delayed development. Within the utility of the study of human development, there is sufficient modus operandi for follow-ups on the matter and far reaching implications of the entire state. Through the stages, the child has varied physiological and psychological needs. The state of the parent plays a role in the effectiveness and efficacy of provision of the said needs.

Developmental Stages and the Probable Effects of Poverty


An overview of the developmental stages and the needs of each stage would give a basis for a better understanding of the effects of poverty on the development of the child and any adolescent. The stages developed herein are based on the Erik Erickson’s eight developmental stages.

Within the mandate of Erickson, the developmental stages overlap and a smooth interlope of the stages depends on the provision of the necessary requisite needs; physiological, biological and psychological needs (Holzer, H J., Schanzenbach, D., W., Duncan, G J.; Ludwig, J., p 51). The satisfaction of the needs are largely dependent on the economic wellbeing of the parents.

Erickson treats each stage as a psychosocial crisis. He argues that the crisis needs resolution. Subsequent, the resolution of the crisis has to be undertaken through a concerted effort by both the child and the environment. The environment revolves mainly around the role of the parent in the development of the child.

Erickson asserts that the stages have to be perceived in an architectural sense such that each stage has to be handled with utter keenness if the child has to undergo a successful transition from one level to another. According to Erickson (Fauth, R. C., Leventhal, T., Brooks-Gunn, J., p 81) the analogy of building a house serves the right approach to the care giving and the resolution of the crisis during the development of a child. If the development of a child is hampered at some level, like in the construction process, Erik argues, the entire process is treacherous.

Developmental Stages and Poverty

At birth, the infant has to learn some basic trust against basic mistrust. This stage comes in the period between one and two years (Fauth, R. C., Leventhal, T., Brooks-Gunn, J., p 69). The handling of the child by the parents at the stage determines the child’s feeling of security and mistrust. When the child is well-handle, loved or nurtured, the chid develops optimism and feelings of security. Children in environments shrouded in poverty and lack are seen to be prone to feelings of insecurity and mistrust.

During early childhood, a child will experience a second crisis that is psychosocial. This is experienced in the ages between 19 months to about 42 months. Erickson asserts that a well ‘parented child’ has better chances of developing both cognitively and affectively (Wood, D., p 711). The children bred in well off families are believed to come out of this stage very self-confident; with a lot of initiative and independence. In the event that children are not well bred during this stage, the children come out to be stubborn and with a lot of negativism.

Children from families that are in incessant lack of basic needs end up missing the love and attention of the parents, hence developing resentment which impedes their overall development. On the contrary, children from poor families seem to be ashamed of their selves. These attribute inhibits the development process of the children (Walker-Dalhouse, D., Risko, V. J., p 84). Within the strength of this argument it is clear that the endowment of the family will always have an effect on the development of the child through the domains. Children from poor family are believed to have less affection than children who come from families where the parents provide everything that the child asks.

During Erickson’s third developmental stage, the play stage, play is a common feature yet with very pivotal roles in the development of the child. However, the environment of the child determines the nature of play the child is bound to get engaged (Pesonen, A., et al p 617). While children from rich families will have to engage in plays items that are technological in their orient, the counterparts from poor families have no choice on play items except those provided by nature.

Where the children are provided with sufficient play items, the development of their psychomotor skills is relatively fast. The child develops skills on how to imagine and develop solutions to problems if the play items provided ignite the mind towards the same. However, it needs to be appreciated that children from poor families have no access to such play items. Their family struggles to provide the basic physiological needs as postulated by Abraham Maslow (Holzer, H J., Schanzenbach, D., W., Duncan, G J.; Ludwig, J., p 42).

Socially, play ignites the sense of cooperation with others. Where the families are in abject poverty and lack, children may have the least opportunity for interacting with others. Where such an opportunity is accessed, the children have no chance for interaction with others as they tend to feel ashamed of the status of their family as has been mentioned. Within the strength of this argument, the social development of the child tends to be impeded.

During school age, according to Erickson, the fourth level psychosocial crisis is solved. This happens during the junior and earlier years of the high school. During the stage, children are expected to master formal skills that would be utilised in life. While this stage would be effectively resolved, the diversity in the endowment of the background of the children presents a challenge (Wood, D., p 711). Children from poor families may not attend school after all or at their very best; their attendance would be very inconsistent. These inconsistencies may bring about lapses in the development of the child.

The well endowed families on their part have the children fully in the system. These children are fully trained through the school system how to interact with the others through teamwork, free play and adjustment. While those from poor families may have these traits very inherent in them, without the exposure, the traits can not be adequately developed.

Erickson (Holzer, H J., Schanzenbach, D., W., Duncan, G J.; Ludwig, J., p 49) argues that children filled with guilt and shame experience inferiority and defeat even in circumstances where the defeat is not forthcoming. Children who are not exposed to school environment, Erik argues, are not self-disciplined. He believed that through the homework given to the children, the children are able to handle tasks on their own (Fauth, R. C., Leventhal, T., Brooks-Gunn, J., p 57). Poor families may perhaps not even provide the basic requisite for the child to attend school. In the final analysis, such children end up lagging behind in their cognitive development prospects.

When children effectively master their arithmetic, reading and social studies, they gain confidence in their lives. Continued tackling of the homework given to the children on daily basis makes the children develop self-discipline of an annual basis. The successive resolution of the challenges inherent during the learning stages further gives the children a feeling of autonomy and initiative.  Children with initiative will have a better chance of developing industry compared to those who are withdrawn. However, children who have feelings of mistrust have tendencies of doubting their future.

At the age of between 13 years and 20 years , the child, who will have turned into an adolescent starts attempting to find the answer to the question, ‘who am I’. The adolescent experiences identity diffusion and learning identity. During the stage, the adolescents try to experiment with their delinquency, rebellion and self-doubt. The adolescents tend to be diffused in what right way they are supposed to move.

According to Erickson (Santa, A., p 70), a successful adolescent will always precede a successful adulthood. At the stage, the young adult develops self-certainty. Though this is the ideal case for an adolescent from an average family, children from poor family exhibit opposite traits of self doubts and self-consciousness. During the stage, children experiment with constructive roles and avoid negative traits (Rodgers Jr., Harrell R., Payne, L., p 14). However, Erickson argues that this stage is largely influenced by the earlier stages of development.

Where the child has been bred well from the initial stages of development, Erickson asserts that the psychosocial traits are well developed through life. During the later stages of adolescence, the child develops sexual identity. The child identifies himself or herself with either manhood or womanhood. The adolescent at these stages tries to seek for leadership and particularly through inspirations from individuals.

On the contrary, children from poor families are more preoccupied with their survival needs than any inspiration. Overall, the children from the poor families lag behind in their psychosocial development. Consequently, whereas those from the well-to-do families are preoccupied with inspirations that are congruent and desirable, the poor are trapped in the fulfilment of physiological needs.

Ardently, Erickson (Walker-Dalhouse, D., Risko, V. J., p 86) finds a pronounced correlation between the endowment and the psychosocial development particularly during adolescents. He claims that children from endowed families have a big advantage in the psychosocial development compared to their cronies from poor families particularly during adolescent.

‘……in our culture, adolescence affords a “psychosocial moratorium,” particularly for middle – and upper-class American children. They do not yet have to “play for keeps,” but can experiment, trying various roles, and thus hopefully find the one most suitable for them.’

From,  Fram, M. S., Miller-Cribbs, J. E.; Van Horn, L., p 314


It is evident from the quote that indeed the children, then adolescent, have the least consideration towards their psychosocial development. Erickson emphasises the two classes; the middleclass and the upper class.

In the sixth stage of development according to Erickson, two phases are experienced. Adolescents develop isolation traits versus intimate traits. Vividly, those whose background is a poor one will tend to have feeling of resentment and would prefer being left with only those in their class. Those from the rich background feel confident and stretch out their hands for love.

Those from the poor background would have extraverted reactions to the intimacy. They may opt to go it alone resultant from the experience they had with their parents.  The adolescents from the rich families however feel confident making relationships particularly having experienced tranquillity through their family. Besides, what can enhance the relationship in terms of education and resources appears to be readily at their disposal.

Working trends are developed during the early adolescent stages and are expected to be utilised in the seeking and the provision of basic needs for the family. In the seventh stage, the psychosocial crisis seeks for much generativity which is exercised in the relationships through to marriage and parenting (Reyes, H., Pérez-Cuevas, R., Sandoval, A., Castillo, R., Santos, J. I., Doubova, S. V., Gutiérrez, G., p 76). This motivates the adult to develop senses of productivity and creativity.

In the event that the psychosocial crises are effectively resolved, the adult develops integrity and peak adjustment. In addition, the adult becomes independent and tries to adapt to the new roles developed. The young adult becomes intimate without the least strain, regret and guilt. On the other hand, where the young adult did not resolve the psychosocial crisis adequately, one approaches life with much disgust and despair (Fram, M. S., Miller-Cribbs, J. E.; Van Horn, L., p 317).

The foregoing discussion gives a clear correlation through the stages between poverty and the psychosocial development. However, it equally needs to be appreciated that the there are other factors coupled with poverty. Given the multifaceted nature of psychosocial development, the resiliency theory is worth review for thorough gain of insight into the developmental stages.

Application of the Resilience Theory to Developmental Stages

While the theory is a broad based affair, it does largely apply to psychological traits in its analytical process. The theory is a broad field of study, cutting across policies, families and workplaces particularly looking at the traits that are inherent within the socialization process of persons (Gulati, J. K., Dutta, J., p 120). The theory cuts across all the aspects. However, the theory finds much application in the study of the development of children.

The theory has been taken to have pronounced reference to the successful adaptation and the competence of individuals to their environment. The proponents of the theory argue that the adaptation tools are mainly intellectual ability and temperament. Clearly from the foregoing discussion, it is clear that the endowment of the family has a surmountable influence on the development of the child.

Subsequent to the influence, any child has to adapt to the environment adequately to be able to go through the developmental stages. In adapting to the environment, four basic factors are central in the psychosocial development of any individual (Rodgers Jr., Harrell R., Payne, L., p 17). The factors are inclusive of the positive mindset of the individual, security of attachment, social support and the development of competence among individuals. The social support emanates from the school, religious groups, the family and the neighbors.

According to the resilience theory, the security of attachment of the child is the main determinant of the child’s wellbeing. When the child is securely attached, they tend to develop tools for self soothe, trust, love and develop problem solving approaches for themselves. Children who receive inconsistent and care that is less responsive have the tendency to become indiscriminant in seeking for assistance and love from their peers (Child Development, p 799). This is because these children tend to feel very insecure besides feeling very disorganized in their undertakings.

The resilience theory asserts that good care for the children normally increases their cognitive skills. If for example, a family has frequent discussions and readings together, the child brought up within such families normally have their children enter school more prepared than families that leave their children on their very own. On the other hand those that are brought up without this attention are analyzed as taking longer to catch up in class.

The attachment of the children to their families and their environment are therefore very important for the support of the learning process of children because it increases the resilience of the children. Parents who live in abject poverty will have the least time for their children and could not have the resources for the furthering the any discussions and talks with their children. The attachment acts as protective factor for the child.

According to the resilience theory (Walker-Dalhouse, D., Risko, V. J., p 85), the attitude, the level of confidence and the beliefs of the child determine the child’s approach to the resolution of any life stresses that would affect the child. Children who are made to feel as victims as a result of their struggle towards resolving a conflict end up being less assertive, energetic and positive. Such children end up believing that they are not able to bring about the necessary changes that they have yearned.

Optimism is a very important aspect during the development of any child (Wood, D., p 710). The optimism will only be brought up in an environment that has security of attachment for the child. This will be attained through supporting the children when they have any challenges. For example, when a child falls out of their mistakes, he should not be victimized but should be encouraged to stand up.  Such children end up developing feelings of resentment.

However, it needs to be appreciated, according to the resilience theory, that the temperament of a child equally plays a very essential role in the development of optimism within the child (Santa, A., p 68). Though temperament is an inborn trend, the reaction of the parents towards the actions of the children has a large effect on the development of the children and should be treated with utmost care (Joav H., Morad, M., Carmeli, E., p 5). The parent’s reaction and attention to the concerns of the child therefore determines the overall reaction and development of the child. In case where the parent is equally stressed from life stresses, the child may be devastated and therefore affect his development. The parent has to be very patient to foster the attachment.

The belief system of the child is also developed to a reasonable extent by the school, the entire family and the religious group. These institutions provide a powerful means of inoculation for the children against any stresses. In addition, adults that live in the neighborhood and at school have an equally important role in molding the belief pattern of the child (Child Development, p 804). The peers that the child meets at the church, the synagogue or at the mosque also impart very cardinal values in the child. These peers are seen as instilling moral compass utilizable in situations that would otherwise be dicey.

According to the resilience theory, children should develop some competencies to their core. Once the children have the knowledge that they are able to adequately handle certain tasks believed to be challenging. This feeling is seen as a means of sustenance for the child through challenging circumstances. Consequently, when children are brought up to handle challenging tasks, they end up making efforts through life with believe that they are capable. This becomes reinforcement and a driving force behind the development of the child.

Goal setting is very tidal in the resilience theory (Santa, A., p 66). However, the setting of goals will always differ from the one family and child to the other. Children who come from middle class and upper class families are said to set their goals very high irrespective of their capabilities. On the other extreme, children from the lower cadre of society are said to set their goals and aspiration very low regardless of their capabilities. This is attributed to the children’s diverse exposure. Children from rich families are relatively exposed. The counterparts from the lower class are not informed enough to make informed choices that are in line with their capabilities.

The community (Reyes, H., et al, p 79) and the school have a big role in the development of the child. Nevertheless, it needs to be observed that the children from poor backgrounds and those from rich backgrounds would not be schooled in the same school. The facilities that are provided in the schools are different and hence preparing the child for varied life challenges as though their psychosocial needs are not similar. This brings about the differences in the psychosocial development as has been discussed through this paper.


The environment under which the child is brought up determines the psychosocial development of the child. While the development will take place according to the stages of development by Erickson, (Gulati, J. K., Dutta, J., p 116) the family’s overall endowment can not be wished away as a factor that influences the development of the child. This environment determines the nature of the socialization agent that the child interacts with and hence the overall development. It is evidenced through the discussion that children from well-off families will have the best facilities for their development while those from poor families tend to develop by shear fluke.

The resilience theory seems to support the whole hypothesis that in deed, a richly endowed environment is capable of offering the best that would support the cognitive, affective and social development of any child. The secure attachment of the child to the community, the family and the school setting is imperative for the development of the child (Rodgers Jr., Harrell R., Payne, L., p 13). When the children grow up with the belief that their action can make a difference, their development all round is bolstered. Overall, whatever the capability of the child, the environment and the endowment of the family play a key role in the psychosocial development of the child.