Child Cognitive and Psychological Development
In order to understand behaviour management for helping children accept dental care, a basic knowledge of the child’s cognitive and psychological development is essential.
Theories of Cognitive and Psychological Development
The cognitive capability of children changes from birth through to adulthood. Various theories divide this process into a number of stages for clarity and ease of description.
John Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
This important theory has three important concepts, schema, assimilation and accommodation. Schemas are categories of knowledge that help us to interpret and understand the world. The process of taking in new information into our previously existing schemas is known as assimilation. Accommodation involves altering existing schemas, or ideas, as a result of new information or new experiences.
Piaget believed that all children try to strike a balance between assimilation and accommodation, which is achieved through a mechanism called equilibration. As children progress through the stages of cognitive development, it is important to maintain a balance between applying previous knowledge (assimilation) and changing behaviour to account for new knowledge (accommodation). Equilibration helps explain how children are able to move from one stage of thought into the next.
According to Piaget there are four stages of cognitive development:
Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory (Table 3.1)
Erikson believed that personality develops in stages with each stage characterised by a conflict or a crisis (Table 3.1). The stages are:
- Stage 1. Infancy: age 0–1 years.
- Stage 2. Toddler: age 1–2 years.
- Stage 3. Early childhood: age 2–6 years.
- Stage 4. Elementary and middle school years: age 6–12 years.
- Stage 5. Adolescence: age 12–18 years.
- Stage 6, 7 and 8 relate to young adulthood through late adulthood.
|Stages||Crisis or conflict|