Developmental Principles,

Developmental Principles,



Glossary of Terms


Principles and Theories

·  Principles of Development
Developmental Domains
Domain Components

·  Physical Components

·  Affective Components

·  Cognitive Components
Physical Development: Gesell
Affective Development: Freud and Erikson
Moral Development: Kohlberg and Gilligan
Aesthetic Development: Housen
Cognitive Development: Piaget
Socio-Cultural: Vygotsky
Glossary: Piagetian and Vygotskian Terms

Principles and Theories

principle is an established relationship between two or more factors.
theory is a set of interrelated concepts, or integrated statements of principles, which are used to make predictions or explain phenomenon.

Three General Principles of Development

Key Words

Relatively Orderly    1. Development is a relatively orderly progression

Gradual Process       2. Development is a process that takes place gradually over time

Individual Rates       3. There is variability between individuals, as people progress at
                                       their own rates of development


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Primary Developmental Domains
Physical, Affective, and Cognitive


Domains and Their Components Are Overlapping and Integrated in the Whole Child, as Processes are Complex and Functions Rarely Occur in Isolation

Development Typically Involves:

·  Interaction Within and Across Domains

·  Physiological and Socio-Cultural Influences

·  Stable Traits

·  Dynamic States

Some Aspects of the Developmental Domains --Not Necessarily Exclusive to a Single Domain

Physical --Biological

Ability of organism to adapt to new environments and adverse conditions
Arousal and alertness

·  circadian

·  diurnal, etc.
Brain-behavior relationships

·  genetics

·  gray and white matter

·  dendritic branching

·  neurotransmitters

·  hormones

·  distress vs. eustress
Sensory --acuity and integration

·  visual --sight

·  auditory --hearing

·  tactile --touch

·  gustatory --taste

·  olfactory --smell
Simple and complex motor control and movement

·  flexion

·  extension

·  rotation

·  prone

·  supine
Gross motor --large muscles

·  ambulation --locomotion, etc.
Kinesthetic --movement

·  proprioceptive --muscles, tendons, and joints
Vestibular System --balance, negotiating gravity

·  tactile

·  kinesthetic
Fine motor --small muscles

·  grasp

·  visual-spatial

·  eye-hand coordination

·  personal/self-help --dressing, etc.
Oral motor --feeding, speech, etc.

Affective --Social/Emotional --"Interpersonal" & "Intrapersonal" aka "Social Competence" & "Emotional Intelligence"


·  easy

·  slow to warm up

·  difficult

·  approach-withdrawal

·  intensity

·  threshold

·  mood

·  rhythmicity
Activity level

·  distractibility

·  attention span
Task persistence

·  perseveration

·  psychological/behavioral inertia

·  habituation
Personality ("The Big Five" Factors)

·  need for stability

·  extraversion

·  openness

·  agreeableness

·  conscientiousness

·  inclinations

·  intentional patterns of behavior

·  symbiosis

·  healthy narcissism

·  proximity-seeking

·  attunement

·  engagement

·  synchronicity

·  reciprocity

·  turn-taking

·  mirroring

·  emotional checking

·  "the good enough fit" (Do the processes of mismatch and repair propel development?)

·  disengagement and alone time (Balance of related times and unrelated times)

·  self-modulation

·  individuation

·  secure base from which to explore the world
Verbal and non-verbal communicating

·  interactions

·  signaling

·  social cueing

·  reading

·  interpreting

·  reacting

·  sending
Resolving nuclear conflicts

·  trust

·  autonomy

·  initiative

·  industriousness

·  identity

·  intimacy

·  generativity

·  integrity

·  self-awareness

·  self-soothing

·  impulse control

·  delayed gratification
Emotional stability
Need for achievement
Conflict resolution

·  social problem-solving

·  negotiation

·  mediation

·  compromise

Cognitive --Intellectual 


·  focused --orienting to stimuli

·  sustained --maintaining concentration on stimuli/event/task at hand

·  selective --attuned to what is relevant; blocking out extraneous stimuli

·  alternating --attentional switching between stimuli

·  divided --attending to various meaningful stimuli at one time (multi-tasking)
Motility --Flexibility of Mental Set
Task Persistence/Perseveration

Perception --interpretation of sensation

·  attach meaning to experience
Semiotic function --use of symbol systems

Oral Language

·  receptive and expressive

·  phonology

·  morphology

·  semantics

·  syntax

·  pragmatics

Logical-mathematical --computation
Concept formation
Cause and effect
Reversible thinking
Memory --short and long term storage and retrieval

·  semantic

·  episodic

·  prospective

·  eidetic?
Mental rotation --maintaining and manipulating images in working memory
Pattern recognition
Metacognition --awareness and regulation
Planning --goal directed
Critical thinking

·  Declarative

·  Procedural

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Physical Development

Gesell's Maturationist Theory:  Biologically determined growth patterns; motor development
                                                      progresses from gross to fine (large and small muscles)

cephalo-caudal  Development from head to tale

proximo-distal  Development from trunk to extremities


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Affective Development

Freud's Psychosexual Theory:  First modern theory of development; stressed need to satisfy libido.

Psychosexual Stages

·  Oral (birth - 1½)

·  Anal (1½ - 3)

·  Phallic (3 - 6)

·  Latency (6 - adolescence)

·  Genital (adolescence on)

Erikson's Psychosocial Theory:  Eight life stages when inner needs and drives conflict with
                                                       social expectations and demands

Nuclear Conflict                            Approximate Age Range
Trust  vs. Mistrust                          Birth to 12 (or 18) months
Autonomy  vs. Shame/Doubt          12 (or 18) months to 3 years
Initiative  vs. Guilt                           3 to 6 years
Industry  vs. Inferiority                   School age (6-12 years)
Identity  vs. Role Confusion           Adolescence (12-18 years)
Intimacy  vs. Isolation                     Young Adulthood (18-40 years)
Generativity  vs. Stagnation           Middle Adulthood (40-65)
Integrity  vs. Despair                      Older Adulthood (65+)

self-esteem  Judgment of one's self worth (affective evaluation)

self-concept  Constellation of notions about who one is (cognitive structures)

See: Parenting Style and Its Correlates
Other related articles: Behavioral Intervention: Parenting Styles & Classroom Management Strategies
Conflict Resolution for Children and Staff


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Moral Development

Kohlberg: Three levels of moral reasoning relative to emotional and cognitive maturity

Level 1 Preconventional  --based on consequences  Characterized by concern for pleasure and avoidance of pain. (Approximate Ages: 4 - 10)
    Stage One Orientation: Punishment-Obedience
    Stage Two Orientation: Instrumental-Relativist (Reciprocal Personal Reward)

Level 2 Conventional  --based on authority  Characterized by concern with traditional values and adherence to rules and laws. (Approximate Ages: 10 - 13)
    Stage One Orientation: Conformist (Good Boy-Nice Girl)
    Stage Two Orientation: Law & Order

Level 3 Postconventional --based on principles  Characterized by conscience; concern for upholding justice, equality, and dignity. (Adolescence through Adulthood)
    Stage One Orientation: Social Contract
    Stage Two Orientation: Universal Ethics

Gilligan:  Moral reasoning of females impacted by caring and responsibility orientation;
                 movement across levels particularly evident from adolescence through adulthood

Level 1 Survival Orientation  Caring for self
Level 2 Goodness Orientation  Caring for others
Level 3 Caring Orientation  Caring for self and others


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Aesthetic Development

Housen's Stages:

·  Five stages of development based on studies of aesthetic appreciation of visual arts

·  For development to progress, exposure over time to the arts is required

·  Aesthetic development involves both cognitive and affective functions

Stage One
Accountive: The viewer enters the concrete work of art as a storyteller in an unfolding narrative, noticing the obvious and forming judgements based on sensations and associations.

Stage Two
Constructive: The viewer actively frames the work of art within the context of the familiar world (e.g., knowledge, experience, and values.)

Stage Three
Classification: The viewer critically analyzes cues in the art work and notes historical influences, in an attempt to decode the artist's message.

Stage Four
Interpretive: The viewer seeks meaning in subtleties and symbols. Each encounter is a catalyst for a new consciousness and relationship between self and art.

Stage Five
Re-creation: The viewer, with a long history of observation and reflection, suspends disbelief and finds new meaning, as s/he reconstructs the art again and again, infusing it with both personal and universal truths.

See also:

·  A Brief Guide to Developmental Theory and Aesthetic Development 

·  Research and Aesthetic Development

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Cognitive Development

Piaget's Cognitive Theory: Qualitative stages, or typical changes, occur in children's and
                                               adolescents' cognitive functioning. People try to make sense
                                               of the world. Knowledge is actively constructed from direct
                                               experience, through the manipulation of objects, ideas, & events



Approximate Age Range


Birth to Two Years 


Two to Six or Seven Years 

Concrete Operational 

Seven to eleven (through fourteen) 

Formal Operational 

Eleven (through fourteen) and up 

(Progression to formal operations dependent upon level of expertise in given area)


Vygotsky's Socio-Cultural Theory: Perspective on the individual as inseparable from the
                                                            social context. Both social interactions and cultural
                                                            practices affect children's development. Focus is on
                                                            providing challenges and supports, or scaffolding,
                                                            within the child's zone of proximal development (ZPD)
                                                            --just beyond the child's actual level of development—
                                                            and withdrawal of supports as child begins to gain
                                                            competence in functioning independently.

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Piagetian and Vygotskian Terms

accommodation Change in an existing cognitive structure to include new information (adaptation of scheme, or creation of new folder in which to file information)

adaptation Adjustment to new information about the environment through the complementary processes of assimilation and accommodation, in order to make sense of experience

assimilation Incorporation of new information into an existing cognitive structure (filing information in a related scheme or folder)

assisted learning Provision of guidance and supports to facilitate learning

classification Categorizing according to a common dimension or attribute

concrete operations The third stage of cognitive development (approximately from ages 7 to 11), during which children develop logical but not abstract thinking

conservation Awareness that two objects which are equal according to a certain measure (such as length, weight, or quantity) remain equal in the face of perceptual alteration (for example, a change in shape) so long as nothing has been added to or taken away from either object

decentering Thinking simultaneously about several aspects of a situation; characteristic of operational thought

disequilibrium The "out-of-balance" state that occurs when a person realizes that his or her current ways of thinking are not working to solve a problem or understand a situation

egocentrism Inability to consider another person's point of view; a characteristic of preoperational thought

equilibration The tendency to strive for equilibrium (balance) among cognitive elements within the organism and between it and the outside world

formal operations The final stage of cognitive development, characterized by the ability to think abstractly

hypothetical-deductive reasoning Ability to develop, consider, and test hypotheses; believed by Piaget to accompany the stage of formal operations

irreversibility Limitation on preoperational thought, consisting of failure to understand that an operation can go in two or more directions

object permanence The understanding that a person or object continues to exist when out of sight

preoperational stage The second major stage of cognitive development (approximately from age 2 to age 7), in which children become more sophisticated in their use of symbolic thought but are not yet able to use logic

private speech Talking aloud to oneself with no intent to communicate to others

reflexive behaviors Automatic, involuntary responses to stimulation; schemes existing at birth

reversibile thinking Concrete operational thought consisting of the ability to think backwards from the end point to the beginning

scaffolding Temporary support given to a child who is mastering a task

schemes Basic cognitive structures consisting of organized patterns of behavior used in different situations

semiotic function Ability to use mental representations (words, numbers, or images) to which a child has attached meaning; this ability, characteristic of preoperational thought, is shown in deferred imitation, symbolic play, and language

sensory-motor stage The first stage of cognitive development, during which infants (from birth to ap. age 2) learn through their developing senses and motor activities

seriation Ordering items along a dimension, such as by height

social speech Speech intended to be understood by a listener

zone of proximal development (ZPD) The level at which children can almost perform a task on their own and, with appropriate teaching, can perform it

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