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Developmental milestones are physical or behavioural changes of development or the maturation of children and infants. They provide important information that relates to a child’s development. These changes are different for each child. Cognitive development theory is about the development of human intelligence and is primarily known as development stage theory and concerns the nature of knowledge and how humans develop gradually to acquire and use. Piaget’s argues that “language is a contingent on cognitive development” ( Piaget, 1983).
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Attachment theory concerns human relationship. Infants need to develop relationships with a caregiver for social and emotional development to be normal. During a child’s development period they begin to have attachment figures for security and to explore from and return to. Responses from parents or guardians can also enhance patterns of attachment that leads to internal working models that guides the feelings of an individual. There are special emotional relationship that involved an exchange of comfort pleasure and care. The roots of attachment theory was tailored by Freud Sigmund’s theory concerning love. John Bowlby also devoted most of his research to this concept of attachment and described it as a lasting psychological connectedness between individuals. He argued that, experiences in early childhood influences the development and human behaviour later in life. Attachment styles in individuals is established during childhood through an infant/ caregiver relations. According to Bowlby, attachment has an evolutionary component and assists in survival, ” The prosperity to make strong emotional bonds to particular individuals is a basic component in human nature” (Bowlby, 1988)
Developmental milestone has been described as the changes in the physical and mental abilities that marks the end of a developmental period and the onset of another in an individual, therefore they indicate a transition stage. There are typical chronological ages concerning development milestones. These varies between individuals because, some milestones are more variable than others. Having knowledge on age specific milestones enables parents and care givers to keep track of their children’s development.
Considering my story, “my boyfriend and I were high school sweetheart’s (14yrs). One year out of school Robbie (18yrs) was offered an apprenticeship interstate, I was devastated. We kept our relationship going despite the distance. Then Robbie asked me to go live with him interstate, my heart and head where torn between Robbie and my family. Robbie and I splitting up was devastating to me. However, the main problem was I was not prepared to leave home, or my family and friends to move interstate. I am extremely close to my Grandfather and my parents; I’m still living at home (19yrs). I became quite depressed as time went on, could not focus, and smile without effect or see my friends and family just wanted to be left alone, taking all my energy just to cope. My emotions were all over the place anger, guilt, fear, separation and sadness not wanting to live, the hardest time of my life. After a period of time I began to hear my self-talk, that I was nothing without Robbie, on the other hand if I left my family I was nothing without them! I’m not good enough! Failed! I became very lost, who I’m I? This is when I began the journey of self- discovery. I left home (21yrs) and for four years travelled and worked my way around Australia”.
In this example of developmental milestone, I showed the characteristic of attachment. I needed the proximity of maintenance from my lover, Robbie. The proximity of maintenance is the desire to be near people we are attached to. In addition to this, I needed a safe haven i.e. returning to the figure of attachment for comfort and safety in the face of fear or threat. The attachment figure acts as a security base from which an infant can explore the surrounding environment. The other characteristic is the distress of separation or anxiety that occurs in the absence of the attachment figure.
Piaget (1983), discusses a formal operational period which is the fourth and last stage of cognitive development. It follows the Concrete Operational stage and begins at puberty (11 years) and continues to adulthood. The operational period individuals starts to think in an abstract way, reasons logically and makes conclusions from available information and applies all the processes to situations that are hypothetical. The quality of an adolescents thought at the formal operational level is clearly evident in an adolescent’s verbal ability of solving problems. During adolescent stage, the logical quality of an individuals thought is when an individual is likely to solve issues in a trial and error way by using hypothetical deductive reasoning i.e. developing hypotheses or good guesses and deduces systematically and concludes.
In order to understand the developmental milestone, there are sets of principles that characterize the patterns and processes of growth and development that typically describes development in a predictable and orderly manner. Most children will develop at the same rate as others. However there may be differences in a child’s personalities, activity levels and the timing of developmental milestones like age and stage.
Developmental milestones attempt to explain the roles of mental functions in an individual and the social behaviour and also explore the physiological and the neurological processes that underlie certain functions and behaviour. Hence the concept of perception, an individual’s cognition, emotions, motivation, the functions of the brain, personality, behaviour and individual’s interpersonal relations are considered.
In understanding developmental milestone, many psychodynamic theories emphasize on the unconscious motives and needs and the importance of a child’s experience in shaping personality, According to Freud( 1957), personalities arise due to the attempts by an individual to resolve conflicts that are essentially between unconscious, sexual and forceful impulses and the collective demands to control these impulses.
Many of the mental processes are considered to be unconscious and, individuals have three levels of awareness; the conscious level of awareness that consists of all the information that an individual will pay attention to at any given moment. The preconscious level of awareness that constitutes of the information that are not within a person’s attention but is available when required. The unconscious level of awareness contains thoughts and feelings, desires and memories of which an individual may not be aware of but which influences every aspect of an individual’s daily life.
As an adolescent, I understood love, logical values and proofs and began to entertain possibilities for my future life. I began to change cognitively, my way of thinking changed especially on social matters, ( Piaget, 1995).
A child who is securely attached gets visibly upset when the care givers leave. in my story, I was distressed when Robbie was leaving to go interstate. When a child is frightened, they will always seek comfort from a caregiver. The contact that a friend of guardian initiates is readily accepted by a securely attached child and readily accepts the return with a positive behaviour. A securely attached child are very empathetic during later stages of childhood development and are described as less disruptive and less aggressive and shows a lot of maturity than children with ambivalent or avoidant attachment styles.
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Adults who are securely attached are very trusting and end up in long term relationships. Other characteristics of securely attached individuals includes having high self esteem and enjoys a very long lasting intimate relationship, seeks out social support and have ability to share their feelings with others.
Studies have shown that, women with secure attachment styles always shows positive feelings on adult romantic relationships than those women with insecure attachment styles (Bowlby, 1999). Sexual maturation has been identified as a key milestone in the development of individuals, and is influenced by factors such as, psychosocial factors, hormones and genetics. However, the timing of puberty has an influence in the social environment of the adolescents. Time is a factor that shapes an individuals interactions with others. Hence contributing to the overall psychosocial well-being of an individual during puberty.
It has been speculated that adults who had early sexual maturity in puberty and initial sexual relationships differs from others who have late sexual maturity in making judgements that deals with attractions in the opposite sex. The hypothesis has been framed by other reproductive strategies that respond to the development environment. The issues considered are; the early sexual maturation leads to a negative outcome leading to stress and, early sexual maturation as a positive influence on social status and, having a mate choice preference as a result of result of learning through peer social interactions.
During my intimate relationship with my lover, Robbie. We were at an adolescence stage, a time for individuals to explore more and come to terms with the social hierarchy in groups and rank with it. For adolescents, this is this is a very sensitive time to determine reproductive strategies as well as the adolescents sexual behaviour and social status are of paramount importance. It is evident that an individual at an early puberty stage can have negative psychological, social and behavioural effects during and after adolescents.
‘Studies have indicated that reaching puberty earlier than others may give an individual an advantage in terms of social status and, these advantages are likely to continue on into adulthood’, (Reuben, et al, 1983). I may describe my boyfriend, Robbie, as one who matured earlier and therefore, had a greater opportunity to affiliate with me as a female, romantically. These affiliations increases the potential for earlier initiation of sex as compared to those with slow maturity. On the other hand, girls who attains early maturity are also likely to procure the attention of the older i.e. more physically mature boys. Thus, associating with older boys find them more attractive than those of their peer age. In addition to this, girls who associate with older boys always get an access to social activities and the trappings of higher social status that can not be afforded by those with slower developing peers and an increase to the likelihood of engaging in romance or sexual activities.
The early affiliations with early maturity developing sex peers of the opposite sex enhance the preferences of a more sexually- mature characteristic.
I considered my self as a faster developing girl because I learnt a positive association with Robbie, a faster developer, who also related more feminine characteristic in me with early sexual relationship. These preferences may continue into adulthood such as the association between early maturation preferences for embroidered sexually dimorphic features would be normal in making choices for mates for those with early maturation.
In the analysis of my developmental milestone, the influence in my sexual development on mate choice is that I gained the social states within my peers in school which enhanced my self-perceived attractiveness of mate value. These self perceptions when continued into adulthood, the early matures are more likely to perceive themselves as to be of high status and adults of high quality. However, self-perceived quality has an influence on adult partner choice. For instance, individuals with high quality may prefer partners of the same standard that can be reflected in their increased preferences for quality makers like symmetry and the exaggerated sexually dimorphic facial characteristics.
In conclusion, development milestones are life history theories that helps in suggesting the rate of sexual maturation in individuals at puberty and is linked to the reproductive strategy having a lot of investments associated with few off springs and delayed maturation. Human beings have age of puberty and age of first sex relationships as developmental milestones that are associated with reproductive strategies. Attachment theory considers human infants to have a relationship with a care giver for normal social and emotional development to occur.
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