Cognitive and Emotional Development


These tasks are based on Piaget and Erikson’s theories

Birth – 2 Years

  • Infants are exploring their world through sucking, grasping, gazing, etc
  • Need consistency and will develop trust if they can rely on their parents
  • Aware that objects exist even when out of sight (object permanence).  Example: when a toy is placed under a blanket, child knows that the toy is still there.
  • Child mirrors another person’s behavior after it has occurred (deferred imitation)

2 – 7 Years

  • Can move around and explore the world, giving him/her more independence (autonomy)
  • The control the child has can give him/her self-esteem
  • Becomes curious about people, models adults, and becomes aware of gender differences
  • Takes on new responsibilities and learns new skills
  • Thinking is based on how the child sees the world; children believe that everyone thinks like they do (egocentrism)
  • Begins to play by pretending an object is something else (symbolic play). Example: a block can be used as a telephone
  • Focuses on one part of an object at a time (centration)

7 – 11/12 Years

  • Begins school and wishes to succeed
  • Learns important skills and gains status among classmates
  • Thought becomes more organized
  • Can understand that something can have the same properties, even if it looks differently (conservation). Example: an equal amount of water is poured into a tall, skinny glass and a short, wide glass. The glasses look very different, but they still hold the same amount of water.
  • Can reverse the steps he/she has taken (reversibility). Example: 5 + 2 = 7 and 7 – 2 = 5
  • Can sort dissimilar objects into groups that make sense (classification)
  • Can put items in a particular order (seriation). Example: arranges toys according to height

11/12 – 19 Years

  • Concerned with appearance
  • Development of a personal identity
  • Thinks about the future (goals, occupation, a partner, etc.)
  • Capable of identifying a problem, coming up with several suggestions, and testing them
  • Uses planning to think ahead
  • The adolescent can put together all the possible outcomes before beginning the problem (abstract thinking)