Cognitive Development in Childhood: Language and Emotions

Cognitive Development

Language and communication

Children can communicate long before they are able to use spoken words. The rooting reflex points out the ability to suck and eat. Different types of crying indicate discomfort, pain or fatigue. In the non – verbal body language, posture, facial expressions, relaxation or muscle tension, movement, tears, perspiration, tremors or shaking are included. The alerts parents learn to interpret these body signals and give the correct meaning.

Therefore, language is only one method of communication, although it is the most important because it allows humans to exchange information, ideas, attitudes and emotions.

After all, thousands of words, language is an efficient means for one to communicate to others an unlimited amount of information, thoughts, ideas and feelings.

Cognitive Development
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Elements and language rules

To fulfill its functions accurately, the language contains a finite set of elements used in accordance with a set of rules. The basic elements of language are phonemes, morphemes, syntax and grammar, semantics and pragmatics.

  • Phoneme: The smallest unit of sound in a language.
  • Morpheme: the smallest unit with linguistic meaning.
  • Syntax: The grammar rules of a language.
  • Semantics: The meaning of words and sentences.
  • Pragmatic: The practical use of language to communicate with others in different social contexts.

Theories of language development

I. Biological Theory

The biological theory (known as natives approach) says that the child inherits the predisposition to learn language at a certain age.

II: Learning Theory

Learning theory suggests that language is acquired as any other behavior, by imitation, conditioning, association and reinforcement.

III. Cognitive theory

Cognitive theory emphasizes the idea that language develops from mental images, i.e. a direct result of cognitive development. Piaget (1926) said that children form a mental schema which will then apply linguistic labels.

IV. Interactions theory

Interactions similar theory emphasizes importance of biological maturation and the role of environmental influences and experience in language development.

Sequences of language development

Pre-linguistic period:

  • Lullabies: The first vowel emissions made ​​by infants.
  • Babble: Emissions of a syllable containing combinations of vowels and consonants.

The first words spoken:

  • Holophrases: Simple words that infants use to communicate different meanings.

Emissions from two words:

  • Duets: Emissions from two words.

Telegraphic speech:

  • Emissions of several words that carry meaning.


Of the 2 and a half to four years, children use sentences that contain multiple words (3 to 5 words is common), each with subject and predicate and few grammatical errors.

Emotional development


Clinging is the feeling that joins the father and son; is the emotional bond that exists between them, the desire to keep in touch through physical closeness, touching, look, smile, hear or speak.

The formation of this attachment is vital for the full development of children, as it provides them security, enables the development of a sense of self and enables socialization. Children who manage to form this attachment are less shy and inhibited in their relationships with others; they can get along better with other children, siblings and other children outside the family. Children begin to identify, imitate and learn from people or those who feel closer, and those contacts is learning what society expects of them; these relations become the basis for the formation of personality and character.

  • Multiple addictions: Children can develop close attachments to more than one person. The fact that children can form multiple attachments does not mean that people who are in charge of their care can constantly change. The important in the development of attachment factor is the total dialogue that takes place between parents and child.
  • Specific attachments: On average, it was not until 6 or 7 months attachments to specific people are formed. Before this age children no disturbance observed because of separations, whether an important, such as hospitalization or less, as the fact that the mother leave the room.

Development of trust and security

Erick Erikson suggested that the “cornerstone of a vital personality” is formed in childhood as the child interacts with parents or others responsible for their care. This cornerstone is the basis of trust to the extent that infants learn that they can trust that their caregivers will meet their subsistence needs, protection, welfare and affection. If these needs are not met, children become suspicious and insecure.

Requirements for the development of trust and safety in children

For trust and security can develop it is necessary to meet a number of requirements:

  • Receive adequate food on a regular basis. A chronically hungry child becomes an anxious child.
  • Babies can suck enough.
  • Receive touch and physical contact.

Some causes of mistrust and insecurity

  • Paternal deprivation.
  • Tension.
  • Exposure to frightening experiences
  • Reviews.
  • Overprotection.
  • Overindulgence.

Differences in temperament

Personality and temperament

Psychologists make a distinction between personality and temperament. Personality is the sum total of the physical, mental, emotional and social characteristics of an individual.

Temperament refers to basic, relatively consistent, inherent provisions and underlying and modulates much of the behavior.

Components and patterns temperament

Buss and Plomin (1984) specified three features as elements of temperament:

  • Emotionality, which is the intensity of emotional reactions.
  • The second feature is the activity, of which the main components are the pace and vigor.
  • The third feature is the sociability, consisting of preference for being with others rather than alone.

Development of self, self, self – concept and self-esteem

  • Self – awareness: The development of self – consciousness means that the child begins to understand their separation from other people and other things.
  • Autonomy: Erikson says that the main psychosocial task to be accomplished between year and 2 years of age is the development of autonomy.
  • Separation and individuation: Infants develop a gradually separated from the mother. Infants still dependent on the mother, but as they develop greater physical and psychological separation, they need to balance their conflict of dependence-independence while developing a sense of self.
  • Self – definition and self–concept: As children begin to develop a real awareness, also they begin to define themselves, to develop the concept of them, to develop an identity. For 3 years of age, personal characteristics are defined in terms of children and usually are positive and exaggerated. “I’m the fastest runner”. For half of elementary school, most children begin to develop a more realistic concept.
  • Self -reference and self-efficacy: The self -reference has to do with ourselves and the estimate we make of our skills, and how effective we are able to deal with others and with the world. It is called self – efficacy estimates we make of our effectiveness. It does not refer to both our ability and effectiveness in dealing with real situations and others, but our perceptions of those things. Bandura (1986) suggested that the trial that children make their personal effectiveness stems from four main sources.
    • First, self-efficacy depends on personal achievement and perception that children have of these achievements.
    • Second, self-efficacy derives in part from the comparison that the child makes of himself with others.
    • Third, self-efficacy is also influenced by persuasion.
    • Fourth, self-efficacy is influenced by the level of activation of the individual.
  • Self-esteem is closely related to self – concept and self – efficacy. When children perceive their value, skills and achievements, have a positive or negative view of themselves? Everyone needs to feel loved, to love others, accepted, valued, capable and competent. Self-esteem is the way children feel about themselves. There are four main sources of self – esteem: the emotional relationship of the child with the parents, their social competence with peers, intellectual progress in school and attitudes of society and the community towards them.

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