Development Stages from Conception to Adolescence

Date: Oct 11, 2017
Category: Psychology

There are several important steps one needs to take to ensure that a pregnant partner delivers a healthy child. One of the necessary steps is to ensure that the partner visits an antenatal clinic as soon as possible after becoming pregnant. This is in an effort to avoid disabilities in the baby and to adequately face all types of anxiety that may be felt by the pregnant woman. The other important step is to ensure that they attend all the antenatal appointments with the doctor. Taking supplements of vitamins and iron is also another important step that is necessary for all pregnant women. This will ensure that the mother and the child have sufficient iron to help in the unborn baby's development. It is also important for all pregnant partners to avoid or stop drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes as it may harm the developing fetus. The developing fetus requires different nutrients, therefore, the mother needs to take a balanced diet and a lot of fluids to supply the baby with all the minerals needed for healthy development. Avoiding stress is also an important aspect to take into account during pregnancy. This is because the mother can lose the baby if faced with stressful situations. Therefore, a partner should always ensure they are there to support their pregnant partners and ensure that they are happy with minimum stress (Killen &Coplan, 2011).

This is an aspect for anyone who is about to deliver their child. It has details on where the birth will take place, when and how the birth will be conducted. I plan to give birth in a birthing center, which will happen in May. The birthing center will be the best place to deliver because there are qualified personnel who know how to deal with the process and provide quality care to the newborn baby. I prefer the water birth because it is less painful, and one can get into a comfortable position as long as there are personnel around to ensure the baby is safe. However, it has to be a natural birth: I do not believe in any artificial painkillers because there are some that affect the baby. This is also the best time to adapt good parenting styles.

Infancy

According to Piaget, any child goes through four basic stages of development. These stages are: the Sensorimotor stage, which is the age from birth to 2 years; the Preoperational stage, which is the age from 2 years to 7 years; the Concrete Operational stage, which is the age of 7 to12 years; and the Formal Operational stage, which is the age 12 and above. ("Piaget ...and his critics," 2009)

Piaget believes that each of these stages of child development is characterized by certain cognitive skills. For example, in the sensorimotor stage, infants acquire information about the world around them through their senses and respond reflexively. In the Preoperational stage in Piaget's theory of cognitive development, children think symbolically about objects, but their reason is still simple and primitive as it is based on appearance rather than logic. The third stage in Piaget's theory of cognitive development is the concrete operational stage, in which children begin to understand operations in reversible ways ("Cognitive and Language Development," 2007).

Therefore, Piaget administered the notion that children experience cognitive development with a comprehension of a group of basic principles of reasoning and thinking, which are acquired by particular ages. What interested Piaget is to try to discover the basic principles of reasoning, and the ages at which children acquire them. Then, he summed up his findings in the above-mentioned four stages of cognitive development for children (Stark, p. 156).

The cognitive growth in the stage from birth to approximately 2 years is rapid. During this stage, an infant starts to build up knowledge of world around her, by relating the physical actions to perceived results of those actions. In addition, infants, before they reach the age of two, mostly gain various locomotor skills. However, any forms of malnutrition may make the infant gain her motion skills on later ages. So, infants, during this stage, are characterized by extreme egocentrism, as they have no understanding of the world other than their own. In other words, this is the stage in an infant's life when she is discovering everything. In the sensorimotor stage, children learn about different objects, shapes and actions and even the consequences of some of their actions ("Cognitive Development," 2007).

Various tests are initiated to examine a child's cognitive ability in the sensorimotor stage. One of the significant tests, in this context, is the Object Permanence test. The typical test for understanding object permanence is any form of 'Search Task', where an object is hidden and the child then tries to find it. Such test reveals the progressive acquisition of the object concept during the sensorimotor stage of child development.

During the first four to eight months of the child, she will not search for a hidden object at all, even when she sees it being hidden. After the eighth month, the child will attempt to recover a partially concealed object. Then, during the age from eight to twelve months, the child will attempt to retrieve the hidden object. However, if after a few of the trials, in which an object is first hidden under place 'A" and then moved to place "B" in the child's view, she will persist in looking under place "A". Piaget explains this error in terms of the egocentric understanding of the situation. In other words, Piaget believes that the child learns a response based on the actions of first uncovering and then grasping the object; however, the child cannot generalize this action sequence to the new situation, even though the two situations seem very similar to us as adults ("Piaget ...and his critics," 2009).

Then, during the second year of a child's birth, she can master the basic A-B task, and can search in correct location even after a sequence of visible displacements of hidden object. So, Piaget believes that this is "the earliest instance of thought that is fully internalized; detached from visible and tangible world" ("Piaget ...and his critics," 2009).

To sum up, it can be said that children, at the sensorimotor stage, achieve physical and mental development, as believed by Piaget, and the infant during this stage may be indulged in some primary activities, such as toilet training. The first sign of this development is when infants start to "acquire knowledge about objects through their actions with them" (Newcombe, p. 135). Their mental abilities also develop by progressing from automatic reflexes to more complicated ones. For instance, during this stage, infants start by babbling, crying and sucking, and then move on to "develop primary circular reaction" (Newcombe, p. 135). During this stage, parental control is extremely important to get the infant get some of the primary skills that will help her develop normally during the following stages.

However, there are some critiques to his analysis of the child development in this stage. For example, some scientists criticize Piaget's sensorimotor tasks, claiming that they required an active response from the infant. That is, in one of the tasks, the infant is required to make some action to search for the hidden object. So, the point against this task is that the child may be limited by other factors, such as immature motor skills or communication disorders, rather than lack of understanding of situation. Consequently, come critics conclude that the results we get from Piaget's tasks may be affected by other physical factors ("Cognitive Development," 2007).

In regard to the way parents treat their infants at this stage, it may be noted that in the past, many parents and teachers used to give physical punishment to children as a way of promoting a certain habit or preventing a child from doing something wrong or unacceptable. However, there is currently a strong debate regarding the effectiveness of this maltreatment of children as well as its possible destructive effects on children and societies. As realized by many social and psychological analysts, "during the past two decades, physical punishment of children has become an issue of public concern rather than a private family affair." (Bachar, et. al). Some analysts and psychologists argue that beating a child could destroy his personality, affect his psyche negatively, and cause some emotional problems for him. However, there are still some other opinions which believe that physically beating a child may be the only effective approach to get that child do what is required from him or avoid what is socially unacceptable. The advocates of this opinion believe that the harder the child is beaten the quicker response he will give ("Paediatric Policy"). In fact, modern science proves that physical punishment for children could be destructive for their psyche, emotions, and mentality.

Severely beating children would have some serious psychological impacts on children. Studies show that children who are recurrently beaten by their parents and teachers are more likely to develop some abnormal psychological problems, such as excessive fear from adults and strangers as well as a lack of self-esteem (Parkinson). In an article entitled "Excessive Punishment Bill adds clarity," Patrick Parkinson admits that "the physical wounds may heal, but the terror from being assaulted by a parent who is meant to protect you may cause long-term psychological damage." That is, children who are physically punished may lose any trust in their capacity of performing their duties. As grownups, those beaten children would not be able to perform professionally at work. They will need to be supervised closely by their managers, as they will not have any trust in their abilities and will lose their creativity and decision making responsibility at work. This led many analysts and psychiatrists to argue that physical punishment should be abandoned if the adults really care about the psychological life of their children. That is, parents should become aware that when they physically punish their children, they are actually destroying their future lives. As a result, parents and teachers in the classroom climate should explore new approaches of teaching their children the material and behavior they want instead of punishing them physically.

In addition, the emotions of children who are physically beaten will be disturbed on the long run. At a young age, children can understand the reasons why adults around them beat them while they are supposed to love them. A child whose mother beat him will be emotionally confused because this mother is supposed to be the source of security and warmth for him. As believed by Patrick Parkinson, "one of children's most fundamental needs is to feel safe. They will not have that security if they are constantly ill-treated and exposed to excessive, arbitrary or dangerous physical punishment" (Parkinson). This same logic also applies to fathers, teachers, and any other adult who is in contact with young children. Thus, the emotions of fear, depression, and lack of security will grow inside the child who is physically beaten by his teachers and parents. A study that was done to a sample of 649 students from 3 New England colleges, showed that "level of corporal punishment is positively related to depressive symptoms, independent of any history of abuse and the frequency of other forms of punishment" (Muller ). Consequently, parents who care about their children and do not want them to grow up with any abnormal emotional disturbances should abandon the habit of physical punishment for their children.

Early and Middle Childhood

During this stage, children make some progress towards detaching their thought from the physical world, although they do not yet develop logical or operational thought, which they will develop in later stages. The key characteristic for this stage, according to Piaget, is intuitive and egocentric thinking. Actually, there are a set of tasks, which reveal and examine the intuitive and logical aspect of the preoperational child's thought. Such tasks usually examine child's ability of conservation. Conservation tasks present children with simple physics experiments to see if they understand the basic logical principle that as one aspect of a situation changes, another stays the same. This notion is usually referred to as the conservation of matter, in physics ("Piaget ...and his critics," 2009).

Besides, in this stage, a child learns how to use language. They begin by using words as symbols that can represent objects. This stage is called the preoperational stage because the child has not learned the rules of operations yet. According to Piaget, the key feature of the preoperational stage is that children are unable to center their attention on more than one aspect of a situation at a time ("Cognitive Development," 2007).

Through a series of tasks for children in this stage, Piaget drew a number of conclusions. First, he believes that a child is drawn by changes in the appearance of the materials to conclude that a change has occurred. In addition, Piaget discovers that thinking, for children in this age, is 'centered' on one aspect of the situation. Besides, Piaget draws some other conclusions about the kind of thinking for children in the preoperational stage. For example, he concludes that thinking is focused on states rather than on transformations; and it is 'irreversible' in that the child cannot appreciate that a reverse transformation would return the material to its original state. Piaget then discovers that reversibility is an aspect of the logical thought of children in later stages ("Piaget ...and his critics," 2009).

On the other hand, one of the cognitive aspects of children in the preoperational stage, according to Piaget, is that the child can only appreciate one perspective on a situation: her own. This is due to the egocentric nature of thinking for children in this age. Therefore, Piaget concludes that the cognitive development of children in the preoperational stage is based on egocentric, intuitive, and simple thinking ("Piaget ...and his critics," 2009).

However, there have been some criticisms again to Piaget's analysis of this stage in a child's development. One of the major defects of Piaget's analysis, according to some critics, is that Piaget's tasks, at this stage, may have underestimated the child's abilities due to a number of factors that include the use of complicated language, unfamiliar materials, lack of context. This is in addition to the fact that a child may have misinterpreted the experimenter's intention. Thus, these concerns call into question the reliability of Piaget's findings. In other words, some of Piaget's tasks were easier and some harder, but for relatively trivial reasons. As a result, recent studies attempted to ask children questions more clearly and to present situations to which children can relate more easily ("Cognitive Development," 2007).

Then, the middle childhood stage is represented by the Concrete Operational. This is the stage, which marks the beginning of logical thought for the child. That is why Piaget considered this stage a major turning point in the child's cognitive development. Unlike the previous stage, Operational thought is relatively decentred and conforms to physical laws such as reversibility and transitivity. However, a child at this stage uses operational thought only if he is asked to reason about materials which are physically present. If he is asked to reason about abstract or problems, he will tend to make mistakes. That is, children can do different activities, like find their way to a certain place, but they will not be able to draw a map of how they got there ("Piaget ...and his critics," 2009).

During the first ten years of a child's age, he or she undergoes a process of behavioral changes and development. These changes take various forms that are traced and identified by a number of sociologists and psychologists. One of these well-known psychologists is Erik Erikson, who has studied the behavioral and emotional development of human beings throughout their lives. During the first ten years of age, the child develops five behavioral senses, according to Erikson. These four senses are the senses of trust, autonomy, initiative, and industry ("Stages of Development within Childhood").The sense of trust is the first step, on which a child develops and shapes his own behavioral patterns. According to Erikson, a child, during his early years of age, is in need of a sense that the world and the people around him or her are dependable. Consequently, infants who get enough care from the surrounding adults and loving people grow to feel that their immediate environment is trustworthy ("Stages of Development within Childhood").

Researches have proven that the feeling of trust usually develops during the first year of the child's life. Yet, this sense of trust can be strengthened or weakened in later years. According to Erikson, infants develop their basic view of the world as "either a dependable, satisfying place or a place of pain, frustration and uncertainty" ("Stages of Development within Childhood"). This is usually achieved through the way that people respond to the infant's physical and emotional needs. So, the adequacy of such response affects the child's development of a sense of trust or of mistrust. After building the sense of trust at their first year of age, children start to develop a mind and will of their own during their second and third years of life. That is, they develop a desire to do things for themselves. According to many psychologists such as Erikson, a child is in urgent need to develop a sense of autonomy and independence during his or her first years of life; otherwise, children may lose faith in their own will and feel ashamed or develop doubts about their abilities if their parents are too strict in forcing them to do things and they do not have a chance to make their own choices ("Stages of Development within Childhood").

However, children at this early age are not required to make every decision; rather, there are some choices that adults should make. By giving children enough space of freedom to make choices, they will be healthier, and their behavior tends to be more responsible and self-confident. In other words, children at their first four years should be enabled to rule their own life in adequate matters ("Stages of Development within Childhood"). In fact, during this age period, a conflict between parents and child becomes more probable. "As children are trying to develop more control over their world, adults are trying to direct their behavior. Erikson maintains that if children are given some opportunities to make their own choices, without direction or control from others they will develop a sense of self-reliance" ("Stages of Development within Childhood"). That is, they will become more confident in their own ability to make choices. If children are denied this space of freedom, they may have trouble learning to trust themselves or develop a sense of initiative, which is so important in the process of children behavioral development.

If children experience a high sense of autonomy through the space of freedom they are given, they will then succeed in developing a sense of initiative, which would result from a willingness to try things and the self-confidence to take risks. This sense of initiate is usually traced around the ages of three to six, when children's curiosity, imagination and need to experiment new things normally have a great impact on what they do and how they view others ("Stages of Development within Childhood").

On the other hand, it is during this stage that children may acquire bad habits and behavior disorders. There are many psychological theories that can explain the learning process and behavioral disorders. The classical conditioning approach to learning is demonstrated when a neutral stimulus acquires the eliciting properties of the unconditioned stimulus through pairing the unconditioned stimulus with a neutral stimulus. Operant conditioning approach to learning, on the other hand, is demonstrated when the reinforcing consequences immediately following the response increases its future likelihood; aversive consequences immediately following the response to decrease its future likelihood. In order to clearly understand the concept of operant and classical conditioning in behavioral disorder, it is important to relate them to any act, disorder, or bad habit. By doing this, one can easily understand his or her behavioral disorder trying to develop a behavioral modification plan.

Adolescence

Like earlier stages of development, the adolescence age witnesses some physical changes in the children at ages thirteen to fifteen. Although most of the new physical abilities have been acquired during the early childhood ages, there are some other physical changes that are left to this stage. For instance, adolescents usually have a rapid growth of muscles at this stage, especially for boys. Also, one of the physical attributes of the adolescence age is the sexual maturation, referred to as "puberty," during which adolescents experience increased sweating, growth of pubic hair, and changes in body proportions ("Aspects of Adolescent Development," 2011).

Therefore, it can be said that adolescents usually experience some important physical changes in their bodies. The importance of these physical changes lies in the fact that they usually lead to some changes in the ways they are treated by others. For example, they no longer are seen as children, but as adult human beings. So, people around them put on them some expectations about the matured way they should behave ("Aspects of Adolescent Development," 2011).

On the other hand, these physical changes also leave their effects on the lives of adolescents themselves. They become more aware and concerned about their physical appearance. So, it is normal at this stage of development that we see adolescents caring about their bodies and shapes, trying to develop a unique style of their own. Consequently, some adolescents turn to feel uncomfortable with the change that happened to their bodies. Others become dissatisfied by their shapes. So, it is the duty of parents and surrounding grownups to inform them that this transition stage with the physical changes is normal (Howley, 2009).

At the age of ten till fifteen, children's basic cognitive abilities are complete. For example, at this stage, children can master the way of thinking in absolutes, like the principles of black as opposed to white, and right as opposed to wrong. Also, in that age, children can use their logic in thinking, while demonstrating formal operational way of thinking. (Cox, 2008) Thus, children at this stage become able to analyze situations logically depending on their reasoning. Among the cognitive talents they develop at this stage is the evaluation of alternatives and identification of personal goals. However, two of the defects of their thinking abilities at this stage are that they usually jump to conclusions without enough analysis, and argue for the sake of arguing ("Aspects of Adolescent Development," 2011). Therefore, during this stage of development, the child acquires the capacity for logical reasoning on concrete data, and starts demonstrating intellectual talents.

Adolescents from age ten to fifteen develop very important social changes. At first, they develop a sense of values, beginning to be aware of principles, such as honesty, and helpfulness ("Aspects of Adolescent Development," 2011). So, the social activity that adolescents at this stage tend to do is joining of clubs and groups, and moving away towards independence. In other words, it can be said that adolescents usually tend to get away from grownups and be attracted to other peers of their age.

Thus, one of the main social characteristics of this stage is that the child tries to adapt to a group and be appreciated by others; that is, the child tends to be more sociable and be related to a group instead of being self-centered. Other social characteristics of the stage include the child's capacity to develop mutual exchanges in a group, his or her ability to imagine oneself in another person's situation, and his or her acceptance of the authority of adults ("Stages of Childhood Development," 2008).

As for the social needs of children at this age, they need the help of their parents to promote certain concepts, such as success, independence, creativity, and individualism. In fact, this stage is critical in a child's development, as his or her sense of self-esteem emerges from feeling good about his or her successes in dealing with others. So, a child, at this stage, should not get instructions such as " "You can't do that" from his parents. Such instructions would teach the child not even to try any new things or activities because he or she gets the feeling that they may fail. So, the key concept of this stage is that the child should be allowed to take calculated risks in order to achieve benefits from those risks ("Stages of Childhood Development," 2008).

As for the cognitive development of children at this stage, Piaget notices some changes that they go through. For example, he discovers that children "grasp conservation of mass by about age 7, understand conservation of weight at bout 8, but they do not understand conservation of volume by age 11" ("Building an Understanding of Constructivism," 2003). In addition, Piaget also realizes that about the age 7 or 8 the child first grasps the idea that subordinate classes are included in larger super ordinate classes.

On the other hand, there are also some advances in information-processing skills for children at the latency age. For instance, children become able to remember longer lists of numbers, letters, and words. Besides, during this stage, children tend to be able to make efficient use of short-term memory. What affects the cognitive development of the child at this stage, according to Piaget, is schooling and the kind of education given to the child; that is to say, the child's learning experiences.

Another important aspect of the behavioral and social development of children at this stage is the individual and group differences, such as learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sex differences, racial differences, and cross-cultural differences" ("Building an Understanding of Constructivism," 2003). All of these group and individual differences among children affect learning and achievement during the latency age.

On the other hand, it can be said that a child's behavioral development during this stage is dependent greatly on the kind of education given to him or her at the schooling age. That is to say, children tend to behave rationally if they are taught to use reason correctly, during their learning process. That is why "Piaget called for teachers to understand the steps in the development of the child's mind" ("Building an Understanding of Constructivism," 2003).

For Piaget, discovery is the fundamental basis of learning for the child in the latency age. One of the magnificent quotes by Piaget, regarding the significance of the concept of discovery in education, reads as follows: "To understand is to discover, or reconstruct by rediscovery and such conditions must be complied with if in the future individuals are to be formed who are capable of production and creativity and not simply repetition."

According to Piaget, children have to go through stages in which they accept ideas they may later see as unreal in order to reach an understanding of basic phenomena. Consequently, children must discover ideas in classroom situations that involve activities of interest to them in real situations. Therefore, according to Piaget, "understanding is built up step by step through active involvement" ("Building an Understanding of Constructivism," 2003).

On the other hand, it should be noted that Piaget is not the only psychologist who stressed the role of education on the behavioral development of the child. The Russian Lev. S. Vygotsky also believes that the kind of education affects the way a child during the latency age behaves. One of Vygotsky's main ideas about education is that "children learn scientific concepts out of a 'tension' between their everyday notions and adult concepts. Presented with a preformed concept from the adult world, the child will only memorize what the adult says about the idea. To make it her property the child must use the concept and link that use to the idea as a first presented to her. But the relation between everyday notions and scientific concepts was not a straight development to Vygotsky" ("Building an Understanding of Constructivism," 2003).

Like Piaget, Vygotsky attempted to study the stages of children's cognitive development throughout early childhood years. However, Vygotsky's approach was different from Piaget in the significance given to social-cultural theory that stresses the role of social referencing of children in determining the development of the child. In "Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes" (1978), Vygotsky writes that culture is extremely important in the context of child development, as it gives the child the important cognitive tools that are needed for development. For Vygotsky, the significance and the importance of those tools in child development have a much greater impact than Piaget believed they have. In that sense, the role of adults, such as parents and teachers, in the process of child development is stressed much more in Vygotsky's theory than in Piaget's. As indicated by Wertsch and Tulviste (1996), for Vygotsky, tutors and parents are conduits for the tools of the culture that impact the child, including language. Vygotsky cites several tools which the culture provides for the child, such as background history, social context, and language.

In his attempt to define the role of adults in the development process of children, Vygotsky identifies what he terms "the zone of proximal development (ZPD)." The ZPD is the difference between what the child can do without help and what he or she can do with the help of the surrounding adults, as explained by Tharp and Gallimore (1991). Within the ZPD, Vygotsky explains that the child usually follows an adult's example, whether a parent or a tutor, and gradually develops his or her own ability to do certain tasks without the help of adults. Since Vygotsky's original conception of the ZPD, it has been modified, expanded upon, and fine tuned recurrently into new concepts, by such theorists as Nancy Balaban, Ann Brown, and others.

Closely related to the ZPD is the concept of scaffolding, which is usually linked to Vygotsky's theory of child development, although he himself never developed the idea explicitly. Scaffolding was developed by other theorists, in particular, in the 1950s by Jerome Bruner, a famous cognitive psychologist. Philips and Tolmie (2007) point out that scaffolding is the process through which a tutor assists the student within the ZPD as necessary. The process is gradually modified to shift the responsibility onto the child. In the context of education, scaffolding is usually referred to as instructional scaffolding, referring to the provision of sufficient aid to students to promote learning when new concepts and skills are introduced to them. These aids may include many factors, such as resources, compelling tasks, as well as guides and templates. It is during this stage when children can develop their own cognitive skills.

Therefore, the core of Vygotsky's child development theory is the concept of social constructivism. Wertsch and Tulviste (1996) write that Vygotsky emphasizes the role of the surrounding community on the process of development of children. As these children grow up, they start to develop significant social changes. In Vygotsky's theory of social constructivism, a child's mental development is dependent greatly on the kind of education given to him or her at the schooling age. That is to say, children tend to behave rationally if they are taught to use reason correctly, during their learning process. For Vygotsky, discovery and creativity are the bases of learning (Meadows, 2006). In this sense, Vygotsky agrees with Piaget, as both stress the role of discovery and creativity for children. One of the magnificent quotes by Piaget, regarding the significance of the concept of discovery in education, reads as follows: "To understand is to discover, or reconstruct by rediscovery and such conditions must be complied with if in the future individuals are to be formed who are capable of production and creativity and not simply repetition" (Philips, S. & Tolmie, A., p. 151). Thus, both Piaget and Vygotsky can be understood as constructivists, with Piaget stressing the mental development of children, while Vygotsky stressing the role of tutors in aiding children within their process of cognitive development.

Vygotsky's theorization about social constructivism can best be understood in his explanation of language acquisition. Schutz, R. (2006) writes that to Vygotsky, a clear understanding of the interrelations between thought and language is necessary for the understanding of intellectual development. Language is not merely an expression of what the child has acquired. There is a critical interrelation between thought and speech in terms of one providing resource to the other; language becoming essential in forming thought and determining personality features, as noted by Schutz, R. (2006). Thus, according to Vygotsky, the role of tutors in accelerating children's cognitive development is crucial, especially in the fields of language acquisition and skill development.

One of the recent issues that are widely discussed by sociologists and linguists in regard to language acquisition is the suitable age for the teaching of a foreign language in order for the child to become bilingual. While some think that a foreign language may be taught as early as four years old for the sake of internationalization, others believe that a foreign language should not be introduced before the age of fourteen or fifteen. Although for a long time linguists have advocated ages 0-5 as the best learning period for a foreign language, recent research provides evidence that children acquire foreign languages more easily at the slightly older age of 4-14, since their first language is better established, their cognitive skills are more developed, and they are able to take an active role in their own learning.

From the various studies that are conducted to identify the age at which a foreign language may be taught to children, it is widely agreed upon that the success of mastering this foreign language depends on school readiness and the processing capacity in regard to the age at which the student learns this language. Virginia P. Collier, from George Mason University, states that "a substantial amount of research... tells us that successful language acquisition depends on the learner's age" (Collier). In this context, it should be referred to the fact that the old belief that the younger the child learns a foreign language the better is replaced by many recent studies that prove that a child at the age of fourteen may be as successful in acquiring a foreign language as- and may be better than- a child at the age four due to the degree of attention the child develops. That's because a young child at the age of four or five did not yet complete his or her acquisition of the first language, and so the learning of a foreign language at that age may constitute a burden on the child's mind. In one of the studies that are conducted in that field, "a nine months of instruction in French, 7- to-9-year-olds performed better than 4- to 6-year-olds did in comprehension, imitation, and conversation" (Collier). However, in another study that aimed at realizing the effect of age on the acquisition of a foreign language, "by year three the younger students outperformed the older ones on the same types of measures" (Collier). Thus, it is the theory of mind that should guide parents about the best age to teach their children a second language.

In addition, the role of family in the development of adolescents is vitally important. That is why divorce of parents may negatively affect the development of children. Starting by assessing the negative effects of divorced parents on children, we can say that divorced couples usually fail to bring up psychologically stable children, and this reflects its shadow on offspring children, and on the society at large. All behaviorists around the world almost agree that the behavior of children to divorced parents changes negatively, causing various forms of conduct disorder problems. That is, many of the ill-behavior of children to divorced parents can be closely attributed to the fact that their parents are separated. That's why many psychologists believe that "the children of divorce are more likely to engage in behaviors that lead to higher rates of crime, drug use, child abuse, poor educational performance, higher incidence of behavioral, emotional, physical, and psychiatric problems." ("Divorce.") Thus, the clearest destructive effect of divorce on children is that they become more likely to indulge in bad and violent behavior due to their inner feeling of lack of security and parental warmth, not to mention that they mostly become neglected children. In some other cases, those children of divorced parents turn to be rejected children due to the fact that their both their mothers and fathers reject them. What makes the case worse is that, in most cases, these bad behavior of children of divorce usually moves in a cycle as those children transfer this misbehavior too their future generations of children.

Furthermore, children at this adolescent stage may suffer from some conduct disorders. For example, there are many forms of eating disorders among young people all over the world especially at their adolescent growth stage. Although biological reasons play an important role in spreading or causing eating disorders among young people, yet, there are other psychological reasons that share in complicating this problem. For example, clinical depression, isolation, and search for early maturation may be main motivators behind the spread of many forms of eating disorders among youth, such as Bulimia nervosa, which is basically an illness that represents a form of eating disorder and that is usually found in adolescent and adult girls more than boys. The most obvious symptom of this disease is the continuous episodes of binge eating of large quantities of food. So, this disease may take a light form by eating considerable amounts of food but not too much or another severe form by eating extremely large amounts of food in short periods of time (Rowan, 2001). In order for the body to get rid of these large quantities of food, it makes recurrent incidents of vomiting or unusual number of bathroom visits. Thus, most physicians and psychologists look at this disease as a completely unhealthy eating habit that can lead to very serious negative effects on health (Debra F. et al., 2003).

In most cases, this kind of eating disorder has no biological reasons. Rather, it often starts with young and adolescent girls, who may share ideas at school about the way the body can be enforced to get rid of the unnecessary amounts of food. That is, the danger of this disease stems from the fact that some girls consider it as an ideal diet because it allows them to eat any kinds of food with the quantities they want, without gaining weight because the body naturally gets rid of these large amounts of food by vomiting (Hirst, 2003). In other words, this behavioral disease starts as a habit and ends as a severe illness that is caused psychologically by one's concept of his or her body image.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it can be said that a child during his first ten years of age goes through various stages of development on the physical, social, and behavioral levels. The time span of these ages is defined by many psychologists and sociologists. However, Piaget's stages of child development and the accompanying social and behavioral changes remain the most widespread and well-known among all the other theories. Finally, we can say that Piaget conceived mental development as stage-like process, being a successive structure and additive process, reconstructing new knowledge. He characterized mental development as a successive process or stages.

Finally, it should be noted here that anthropologists and psychologists have started to recognize the close link between anthropology and psychology in regard to culture since the early years of the twentieth century. Thanks to the theories of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), it has been recognized that culture and personality are closely linked together. As argued by Freud, a person's identity is shaped by both his own personality and the environment around him. That is, personal and cultural factors play important roles in developing one's identity. In that sense, the study of culture and personality focus on understanding the development of all types of identity in relation to the surrounding social environment (Mcghee-Snow and Lawrence).

To put it clear, the study of culture and personality makes a connection between psychology and anthropology. Famous psychologists and anthropologists have started searching for common grounds that would characterize different peoples by their various cultures. In this context, Sigmund Freud has put the basis of the study of culture and personality. As noted by Mcghee-Snow and Lawrence, "Freud was one of the first psychologists to break down the barrier between anthropology and psychology." However, the degree of the social and personal effects on one's character is debated widely among various psychologists. For example, the process of a child's socialization is viewed differently by Sigmund Freud on one hand, and Charles Horton Cooley and George Herbert Mead on the other hand. While Freud views the process of socialization as "a confrontation between the child and society," Cooley and Mead, on the other hand, view this process as "a collaborative effort between the child and society." Freud views socialization as a constant struggle between the child who wants to fulfill his desires and sexual urges, and the parents who want to impose their standards of proper behavior. On the contrary, Cooley and Mead believe that the child develops his own awareness of the society around him through social interaction with family, parents, and friends. Thus, it can be said that Freud sees the process of child socialization as a struggle with the society, while Cooley and Mead view this same process as a cooperation and interaction with the society.