Cognitive development at the age between 1-3 years

Cognitive development at the age between 1-3 years

  Autor Claudia Gabriela Dumitriu, psychologist Data: 23.07.2009

Cognitive development at the age between 1-3 years

The ante pre-school period of the child is marked especially by living the current experience of life, immediately after birth, the child being integrated into the family relationships, and the relationships with others gain, in time, the character of complexity.

Between 1 to 3 years, the child is adapted to the environment or immediately to life, not being able to survive without help in complex environments. During this period it begins the long process of adaptation, there being theories according to which, in the first three years of life, children acquire 60% of the fundamental experience of life.

One of the major psychological theories of cognitive development is that developed by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget which considered that the intelligence develops as a result of interaction with the environment. Child acts on the environment, and observing the effects it produces, develops behavioural diagrams cause-effect type, which contain all the ideas, actions, effects included in his interactions with the environment. These behavioural schemes become cognitive experiences, to which the child calls whenever he encounters situations similar to those in which the schemes have been formed. As the experience of life is enriched, such schemes become more complex, forming sets of behaviours that define the child behaviour.

There are several stages of cognitive development, each presenting specific features. Between 0-2 years, the child crosses the sensory-motor stage, in which he knows the environment through immediate perceptions, movements, and sensations. It is especially important the tactile-visual activity (child touches and watches the objects). Through this analysis, the immediate environmental knowledge starts and the first experiences are formed (the blanket is soft, the window is cold, the bed is hard). Perceptual experience is influenced by acquisitions in language, thus the objects being put into correspondence with the words. Child's mind is dominated by the present time, from "here and now"; he has not, until the age of 8 months, the concept of permanence of the object. Surrounding world objects exist in his experience as long as they are placed in the field of his vision, if they disappear, he is not trying to seek them.

Since the age of 2, the pre-operational period begins, characterized by intense development of language, which runs until around the age of 7. Since then, the desire for knowledge, which had previously been predominantly sensorial, is transferred in the verbal questioning plan. There frequently appears, and strongly repeated, the question "What is this?". This progress enlarges his capacity to understand, he succeeds to relate the action, with its reason -you eat because you are hungry, wash your hands to be clean, etc. With the development of language, there is a decrease in self-centeredness, because the child sees that through communication he acquires meaningful relationships. Others become important and more often seeks opportunities to socialize. He likes to hear stories, he prefers them to have a happy ending, and obviously lives intense emotions when his favourite characters are crossing plights.

At the age of 3, he can retell what he heard in a few short sentences, but consistent. There is also developed the verbal fantasy, the child can invent situations or stories to tell them to the adults, can learn a short poem, greetings, can mimic to some extent common gestures and conversations of adults. It is the period of "Why?" and "how?", applied with persistence and that sometimes bring parents' patience to the limit, because the child does not give up until he receives satisfactory answers. They produce a vast accumulation of experience, and a growing curiosity towards the environment objects and phenomena. One manifestation of curiosity is attraction to prohibition, the child going often in places he is forbidden, and often violating the restriction "not allowed". Mental schemes are still relatively rigid, the child does not understand the phenomenon of reciprocity, if, for example, asked if he has a sister, he would say yes, but if you ask if his sister has a brother, he would say no. There also occurs a development of practical intelligence, his actions gaining, in time, a safety increasingly greater, which widens his field of exploration of his immediate vicinity, to wider areas.

Exploration results represent life experiences, so it is well that parents encourage, in a controlled way, environment knowledge, without putting too many prohibitions. They may allow the child to explore, supervising him so that he does not feel hindered and being careful not to take actions that would endanger him.

Read the English version of this article: Cognitive development at the age between 1-3 years