Toddlers: Explorers By Nature

30 Aug

Let’s say that there’s a mother of a boy named Christopher.  Christopher is a toddler and since getting ‘into everything’, as toddlers do, his mother has been keeping him in a playpen for most hours of the day.  Here is my response for my Infant and Toddler Development class based on Erikson’s theory of development….

I would try and help Christopher’s mother to understand just how important it is to keep her child out of the playpen.  Toddlers are explorers by nature; they are extra curious in discovering how the world works around them.

Parents and caregivers should allow children to become familiar with the environment.  Children require stimulation, ie: sensory and the manipulation of objects.  Allowing them to explore is also vital to their physical growth (University of Illinois).  By crawling around and grabbing onto furniture a child is slowly enhancing their gross motor skills.

This would be best explained to a person like Derek’s mother through Erikson’s first three stages of psychosocial development:

1.) Trust vs. Mistrust, where parents should interact with their child in order to instill an element of trust.

2.)  Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt, where it is important to introduce independency in order to instill confidence.

3.)  Initiative vs. Guilt, where children assert power and control through play and interactions.  This instills the feeling of social cabability to lead others (about.com).

As previously mentioned, allowing toddlers to explore their natural surroundings is necessary to their social and physical development. Most importantly, toddlers require parental interaction and improval to enhance their confidence, thus shaping the people that they will become in the future.  This will not only assist them in developing confidence with people, but with their world surrounding them as well. So in reality, a playpen is not the best place for Christopher.  As he grows, it may affect him in negative ways, socially.  His mother may find that he does not trust others, or that he has developed a fear of exploration.  According to Erikson, Christopher could also have feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy, as a result of not having control over certain choices such as food, toys, or clothing, which is vital to the beginning stages of independency (about.com).

In my opinion, toddlers are some of the most interesting human beings on earth.  When parents provide them with the freedom to explore is when they will discover how joyful it is to watch their child grow during a crucial stage in development.

Sources:

http://psychology.about.com/od/psychosocialtheories/a/psychosocial_2.htm

http://urbanext.illinois.edu/toddlers/exploring.cfm

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