I cannot disclose the name of this student, but here is the paper I wrote for him (for some reason, he thought it was useless for him and I wasn't paid for it). Maybe it will be useful for another student. :)
Child and Adolescent development covers a span of roughly thirteen years, eighteen if infancy and toddler stages are included. Through these eighteen years, children grow and develop in a myriad of ways. As talked about previously, there are several theories of child and adolescent development. Each suggests that children develop in a similar way, yet each also stresses that different parts of development are of primary importance. What, then, are the primary criteria for children to develop successfully?
Successful emotional and cognitive development is commonly believed to be two separate processes. Yet, according to a study by Martha Ann Bell and Christy D. Wolfe, emotional and cognitive behaviors and developments are linked and act upon each other an with each other to process ideas and information, and to act (2004, 1). For children to develop successfully then, both processes must be taken into consideration. A child who is emotionally delayed will not be able to excel cognitively, and vise-versa.
For children to develop, they need to be offered an environment in which they feel safe and protected, able to explore both their own feelings and their actions. This environment also must be cognitively and physically stimulating, offering new and unique concepts while maintaining familiarity. Finally, this environment must allow the child to see and be a part of society and experience societal norms. Without this key piece, the child will be unable to successfully function in their own society.
Societal expectations and norms play a major role in child development. Vygotsky presents social learning theory, as does Bandura. Vygotsky suggests that children develop and experience society in zones, and how those zones interrelate affects the child's development. Bandura, similarly, suggests that children learn behaviors and concepts through interaction with society, and that the behaviors they learn influence how they think and what they believe. Piaget, Bruner, Erikson, Freud, everyone suggests that in some way society plays the key role in children's development. Indeed, it must. Because for children to develop successfully, they must firmly understand how their own society works, so that they may alter their behaviors to fit within that society. Behavior and thinking patterns even are societally linked, and are learned behaviors.
Therefore, the criteria for successful child and adolescent cognitive and emotional development is an environment that allows the child to develop and achieve their own needs, and yet one that also allows the child to learn about the society in which they live, so that their actions will not hinder their ability to become a part of that society. This criterion depends on the child's ability to interpret their own surroundings, and to be able to interact successfully with their environment. Children with disabilities will be limited then in their ability to successfully engage in societal growth, forcing them to learn to adapt, or forcing society to adapt to their needs. With this in mind, it is clear then that physical development plays a role in both emotional and cognitive development.
Looking at development as learned behavior, understanding normal child and adolescent development and recognizing its link to physical development becomes much simpler. Simply put, all of development is closely interrelated. Normal child and adolescent development successfully ends in a person who is able to live and interact in the society in which they were trained. These people understand societal norms and expectations, and use just such rules to monitor and self-select their behaviors.
Brofenbrenner's theory of development is particularly relevant to a discussion of physical and cognitive development. His theory of micro and macro systems working together to allow a child to develop suggest that all parts of development are closely interrelated, and that if any part of development is delayed, all other areas of development will be affected (Papalia at al., 2006, p. 36-38). As a child develops, physically, they begin to recognize the limitations that are placed on them both by their own body, and by society.
Normal development requires a child to be able to interact with their environment, and to interpret their findings. Children who have had physical delays or physical disabilities will be limited in their ability to successfully interact with their environment. Children who have cognitive or emotional delays or disabilities will have trouble interpreting their findings, which with also delay their development.
According to Wilson, there is a biological basis for all behavior. His research draws on other areas of science (including biology and anthropology) and looks at the impact of biology and social development (Papalia at al., 2006, p. 35). From Wilson's work, it is clear that children who are delayed in their physical development will also be delayed in their ability to develop cognitively and emotionally. Additionally, these children will experience a different social reality that children who have not experienced physical disability will, since people react to and act differently towards people with disabilities. Looking at how abnormal development is affected by physical development, it is clear that there is a link between different developmental areas and how they affect one another.
For children who develop normally, this interplay is hardly recognizable, as each area develops successfully and does not require review. Yet physical growth requires the body to recognize and utilize outside experiences to develop (i.e. recognizing that climbing will help build muscle memory) and the emotional ability to feel safe about trying new things. Therefore, physical development relies on emotional and cognitive development to be successful. Emotional development relies on thinking to interpret situations and to recognize people's responses, in addition to being able to interpret their responses and shape behaviors accordingly. Emotional development relies on physical development to be able to shape those behaviors. Cognitive development relies on both physical and emotional development to shape thoughts about behaviors, and to carry out the thoughts. If at any point one of these areas is delayed or limited, both of the other areas will be similarly limited.
Child and adolescent development is a complex intertwining of systems and mechanisms, all of which take place in the greater world environment. Each theory and theorist has a different view on development, and yet, they all agree that the one thing that affects development most is the external, societal environment.
Bell, Martha Ann & Wolfe, Christy D. (2004)Emotion and Cognition: An Intricately Bound Developmental Process. Child Development 75 (2), 366-370.
Papalia, D., Olds, S., & Feldman, R. (2006). A child's world: Infancy through
adolescence. New York: McGraw-Hill.