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Lifespan Development: Examining Child and Adolescent Development Influence on Adulthood

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Lifespan Development: Examining child and adolescent development influence on Adulthood

Lifespan development is the developmental periods expanding from conception to death. During these periods, individual changes are experienced throughout stages of development according to age beginning with infants and children, progressing into adolescence, followed by adult and lastly elderly. It is important to examine the development throughout one's course of life from birth to adulthood biologically, cognitively, and psychosocially and how movement from one stage to the next can affect previous stages. Many theorists have developed their own theory to define how movement occurs during development. Having a personal knowledge of each developmental stage as well as being able to pinpoint each stage from different resources will help professionals apply their understanding in the work field. As a Juvenile Probation Officer, I have had the opportunity to work with children and families from diverse socioeconomic statuses, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. My experience and training includes working with late childhood and adolescence, in which I would like to continue pursing a career working in this area. Through this course, I have been able to reinforce what I know about childhood and adolescence development, extend my knowledge, as well as, gain a deeper understanding of the areas of least knowledge.

Many theorists have devised theories to explain growth until death. Sigmund Freud's personality theory suggests that adult personality is divided into three aspects of personality, id, ego, and superego. The results of one's experiences from conflicts that arise are due to changes in the id, which are explained through his psychosexual stages of development. Expanding on Freud's personality theory, Erik Erikson's personality theory suggests that development occurs over eight stages of development and "personal identity and interpersonal attitudes are continuously evolving from birth to adulthood (Broderick & Blewitt, 2010, p.9). It focuses on the success or failure of conflict, which determines the impact of functioning. On the other hand, Jean Piaget's cognitive theory explains that in order for development to continue, one must reach a level of intelligence, which is influenced by logical thinking throughout experiences and transformations. These three major theorists who have developed theories for understanding development across a lifespan has helped me in understanding child and adolescent development, and how to use this information in my later works. For example, during the stage of infancy, when there are no secure bonds or attachments with caregivers, one will experience developmental issues in forming intimate and/or romantic relationships with others during adolescence and adulthood. Understanding how each aspect of development can affect overall development has enlightened my knowledge by helping me be able to address healthy developmental suggestions and provide services for therapy if needed. I can relate more to Erikson's theory, by understanding the developments of children and adolescents; however, Freud and Piaget's theory explains important implications within each stage of development that influences the next.


Prenatal development begins with conception, which is considered the start of pregnancy in the reproduction process. During the prenatal stage, a child's development begins. However, many factors can damage the healthy development of a fetus (child). For example, exposure to teratogens such as illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs can affect fetal brain cause later psychological and behavioral disabilities that can affect cognitive development through later life span. Not only teratogens, but also prenatal stress can affect later development. As Broderick and Blewitt (2010) state, "hormones influence the expression of genes and influences stimulation, activity rhymes, and the ability to modulate and regulate behaviors" (p.59). As explained by Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917-2005), ecological system theory that everything in a child's environment can affects development whether it is prenatal development, postnatal development, or later stages. Emotional factors such as parental stress can affect the development of secure attachment and trust within infancy, identity and the ability to form relationships as the child develops.

Freud believed babies are born with id and being able to fulfill physical needs and pleasure. During the first stage of Freud's psychosexual stage of development, the stage of oral satisfaction from birth to one years of age, babies are constantly looking for something to put in their mouths. Freud's explanation is because "the mouth is the source of greatest pleasure" (Broderick & Blewitt, 2010, p. 8). This explains why if babies cry, the mother may feel as if he is hungry, but when giving a bottle the baby does not eat instead sucks on the nipple of the bottle; this is also why when a baby is given a pacifier he gets quite and content. The conflict is weaning the baby away from bottle, pacifiers, even breastfeeding. On the contrary, in Erikson's first stage of psychosocial development, Trust vs. Mistrust, also from birth to one years of age, this is the time a baby develops a sense of its surroundings with trust the caregiver will provide nurturing, reliability, and safekeeping. The baby develops the sense of trust that if he cries, he will get attention and his needs will be met. At this time, he is seeking an affectionate connection, or attachment, that exists between self and the caregiver that is supported by an internal working model or expectations, which the baby develops through interaction experiences with caregivers or people around him. According to John Bowlby, who developed the attachment theory, in order to grow up mentally healthy infants should develop secure bonds with mothers for "the infant should experience a warm, intimate, and continuous relationship with his mother in order for both to find satisfaction and enjoyment" (Bowlby, 1951, p. 13). Bowlby's attachment theory has helped me understand why children who have been adopted during infancy may show signs of behavioral problems or depression in later stages; the child did not have continuous attachment to one recognized caregiver to development an attachment. The internal working model helps "pave the way for later psychosocial development" in which is revised as the child grows and enters into new relationships and levels of attachments (Broderick and Blewitt, 2010, p.133). This model shapes our personality and influences during close relationships with others. During this crucial



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