The stages of growth in human life

There are a variety of sources and descriptions for the phases of human development. Erik Erikson, Lawrence Kohlberg, Lev Vygotsky, and Jean Piaget are some of the theorists who have contributed to a deeper understanding of development by offering more helpful knowledge about the essence and process of development from childhood to adulthood. According to Santrock (2011), the stages of development can also be characterized by laws, traditions, and social structures that exist in societies. Early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence, according to Thomas (2005), are the three most critical stages of development. To identify these steps, one must emphasize the primary development tasks, as the ideas currently present about them are improving with new information on each stage is coming up. This paper concentrates on the middle childhood stages which is one of the critical stages in the development phase.

The Key Events or Milestones Experienced At Middle Childhood

According to Thies, Travers, & Thies (2014), middle childhood is a critical development stage as the child can develop interpersonal relationships, motivation, personality, and cognitive skills. Children at the middle childhood phase get to learn the values and norms of their societies in addition to their development both within themselves and within the society. According to Berk (2016), the middle childhood age is less dramatic compared to early childhood and adolescents since there is less physical development as growth is steady and slow. The children start a faster growth rate when they at their puberty which may start at varying ages.

Wehmeyer et al. (2017) state that cognitive development of the child is also steady and slow as they build their skills that they learned during the early childhood phase. Furthermore, they are preparing for the adolescent phase which has more cognitive development. In their learning skills, the children are seen to be more mature as they learn classification and forming hypothesis skills. However, they still need concrete, hands-on learning activities (Crain, 2016). According to Santrock (2011), this stage is the time when children gain more interest in work and learning as they find their life achievement as a motivating factor and they strive towards building self-esteem and competence.

Berk (2016) writes that middle childhood stage is the development stage in life when the children can develop their capability in both interpersonal and social relationships. There is a growing orientation towards their peers, and they are on the other hand influenced by the people around them such as family. The children are prepared for the next stage through the foundations in learning the social skills from their families and their peers and through their improved ability in participating in the important interpersonal communication. They form best friends who are an important part of their life at this stage as the relationships built to provide the building blocks for healthy adult relationships.

The Key Aspects of Each of the Theories

In recent years, there has been continued study and research on the human development stages by psychologists. Some available theories have greatly contributed to the human development. Thies, Travers, & Thies (2014) define a theory as a principle that is proposed, researched, and accepted as an explanation of an idea or concept. The theories in development are important as they provide insights into how children learn and grow and they are helpful for guiding and understanding the processes of development. According to Crain (2016), the theories are important as they help form personal beliefs, values, and help learn how to promote the development of children. There are some theories based on experiences and observation developed during the 20th century by theorists such as Erik Erikson, Lawrence Kohlberg, Lev Vygotsky, and Jean Piaget. This paper has mainly focused on two developmental theories.

One popular theorist in psychosocial development is Erik Erikson. According to Crain (2016), Erikson believed that the development takes place throughout the life of a person. Erikson’s psychosocial theory provided new insight into the formation of a strong personality as it focuses on the emotional and social aspects of growth. According to Erikson, the child will develop their personalities and skills for social interaction based on the social environment and how they respond to it. At the basis of the psychosocial theory are eight stages where the child experiences different social conflicts. The solutions to these conflicts must be able to satisfy both socially and personally, and according to Erikson, the conflicts need to be resolved before the individual moves to the next phase in life. The theory also states that social forces and maturity are important as they help in the resolution of the conflict (Santrock, 2011).

Another favorite psychosocial theorist is Lev Vygotsky. According to Vygotsky, the children can build more knowledge through the experiences they have in the different stages. Vygotsky believed that children learn through cultural and social experiences with the adults and their peers. They learn the language, beliefs, values, and customs of their culture through the experiences and interactions with people around them. According to Vygotsky, language is one of the most important aspects as it plays a key role in the cognitive development of a child. He was able to propose terms such as self-talk or private speech that refer to children thinking out loud. The children will regularly be engaged in acts of self-talk as it helps guide their activities and also helps develop their thinking.

An Analysis of the Middle Childhood Stage

The developmental theory by Erik Erikson provides a scientific view of the social development of a child including the middle childhood stage. Erikson believed that social interaction in the life of a human is important as it controls human behavior and the development of personality. According to the developmental theory, children at the middle childhood phase become more aware of themselves as individuals. In the middle childhood stage, the child becomes more responsible, kind, and they strive to do everything in the right way. They become more reasonable and can cooperate and share. In addition, Erikson described the middle age childhood as a stage where children are eager to accomplish and learn new skills which in their previous early childhood stage were complex such as writing and reading. A child at the middle childhood can form moral values as they are now able to express their independence. According to Thies, Travers, & Thies (2014), the child will become rebellious to corrections, disobedient, and they even start to back talk.

Reflective Essay

Middle Childhood

In my middle childhood stage, it was a joyful time full of independence. This freedom brought me into having regular contact with the outside world hence making friendships to become more important regularly. Moreover, it was a stage when I started to develop interests like sports and music. A recognized performance shift was seen in my third grade and the skills required during this period became more complex. This was the period when I developed confidence in most aspects of life as there was more interaction with friends, sports, and schoolwork. Middle childhood period brought many changes in my life. By this period I could dress, catch a ball easily and also tie my shoes. Therefore, there was the development of mental, social, and physical skills. There were emotional and social changes, and I was able to understand the world in a better view. Friendships and teamwork were now an important part of my life as I tried to form new friends and tried my best to impress and get accepted by people around me.

Key aspects of each of the Major Developmental Theories

Sigmund Freud prosed a psychosexual developmental theory. According to Freud, children develop through a series of development due to natural body changes. The stages of development according to Freud end when a child reaches the adulthood stage. Freud constructed the psychosexual theory through a series of interviews he conducted with emotionally troubled adults. Freud concluded that how the children are treated in their childhood stages significantly affects their healthy personality development.

Erik Erikson created another developmental theory that was slightly different from the psychosexual theory. In his theory, Erikson emphasized on the social relationships that children have in their development stages. These social relationships according to Erikson were important as they were a key driver in children development. Wehmeyer et al. (2014) state that Erikson referred to the developmental phases as psychosocial stages. This theory is critical in learning the development stages as it covers the full human development from birth, early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, through to adulthood. The Erikson theory is referred to as the psychosocial theory (Crain, 2016) and it states that at each of the development stages, the skills and attitudes are significant as they shape an individual to become active and contributing towards society building. According to Erikson, the normal human development can be better understood about an individual’s culture and life situations.

Jean Piaget another major theorist developed the theory of cognitive development. The theory mainly focused on an individual’s cognitive phase. According to Berk (2016), the theorist believed that in human development, in every stage a child experiences different thinking as they progress from one stage to another. The child’s thinking, perception, learning, and understanding regarding their surrounding is distinct in the several developmental stages. The children according to Piaget, will attempt to understand the life concepts that they seem not to understand. They gather more knowledge in their active involvement with real-life situations. In the middle childhood, the child creates, modifies, organizes, and reorganizes new information to include it in their thinking. In the case that a child does not understand this new information, they will try to balance either through accommodation or assimilation.

Reference to the Major Developmental Theories

Erik Erikson believes that during the middle childhood age, recognition is an important aspect of the life of a child. At the stage, Erikson states that the child begins to learn new skills and master the skills that the adult around them practice. On the other hand, Piaget believes that middle childhood sets the children to manipulate the world around them as they experience and interact with their peers. The theorist, Piaget, believes the children at their middle childhood stage have their mind strengthened by the experiments and physical activities they undertake. Vygotsky in his theory believed that at the middle childhood phase, adults are an important part of the child’s life as they help develop their learning and development. The adults are important in promoting the child’s cognitive advancements.


Berk, L. E. (2016). Development through the lifespan. Boston: Pearson.

Crain, W. C. (2016). Theories of development: Concepts and applications. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Santrock, J. W. (2011). Child development. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Humanities.

Thies, K. M., Travers, J. F., & Thies, K. M. (2014). Growth and development through the lifespan. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Thomas, R. M. (2005). Comparing theories of child development. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth.

Wehmeyer, M. L., Shogren, K. A., Little, T. D., & Lopez, S. J. (2017). Development of Self-Determination through the Life-Course. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

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