Posted: May 25th, 2022

Human Behavior Theories 8 pages

Human Behavior Theories

Developmental psychology entails the changes that occur to human beings and their lives. Originally, it was concerned with children and infants: the field’s expansion currently covers the entire life span of children. This field focuses on a range of topics such as psycho-physiological processes including motor skills. It also entails cognitive development involving areas such as moral understanding, language acquisition, problem solving, identity formation, emotional development, self-concept, and conceptual understanding. Developmental psychology examines the extent of development through the stage-like development vs. gradual accumulation of knowledge, and the extent to which children learn or born with innate mental structures. This report endeavors to describe the psychological, biological and socio-development of Isagani aged five years old in terms of developmental milestones and neurobiology. This study uses various theories to elucidate the degree in which a child meets expectation of normal development. It will analyze the socio-cultural and environmental factors that play a role in the child’s development. The report uses the psychodynamic theory to explain how a child’s behavior is developed.

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It is important to appreciate the fact that many factors like environment, personal characteristics, and social context affect either positively or negatively on the development. The way a child acts, learns, and speaks offers important clues about the child’s development. Milestones in terms of development are things that most children can do after attaining a certain age. There are several milestones exhibited by children in terms of social and emotional, communication/language, cognitive development, physical/movement development. In adults, political behavior is viewed as inactive, active or reactive (See, 2006).

Ecological theory

Ecological theory states that family, work, and systems are microsystems consisting of face-to-face relationships. Interaction between persons may be negative or positive or may be reciprocal or unidirectional (Voydanoff, 2011).

Social and emotional development

In this stage, children exhibit several characteristics that are termed normal. First of all, children want to please friends, want to be like friends, are more likely to agree with rules and regulations. They show concern for others, are aware of gender, they can distinguish between what is real and what is a make-believe. In most cases, they show independence by visiting neighbors by themselves. They are sometimes demanding and very cooperative at times. Children like to act, dance and sing and finally show concern and sympathy for other people.


In normal development, children speak very clearly. They tell simple stories using full sentences. It is a normal characteristic for them to say a name whilst addressing and using the future tense in their sentence structures.

Cognitive development

This entails the manner in which children learn, think, and solve problems. They can count to ten or more things. They can draw a person and print some letters or numbers. They can copy triangles or other geometrical shapes and know about things that are used on a daily basis such as food and money.

Movement or physical development

Normal children exhibit physical characteristics such as standing on one foot for one second or longer may be able to hop and skip; they can be able to do a somersault. Besides, they can use a spoon and fork and sometimes a table knife. They can use toilets on their own (Milton et al., 2004).

Timeline of childhood milestones exhibited by Isagani

For the first month of his birth, he slept an average of 12-16hrs a day. He liked to suck his fingers and anything else that got close to his mouth. When he was hungry or wet he used to cry, and his mother was always there to change and feed him. After three months, he was turning his head when he heard his mother’s voice. At six months, Isagani would smile at his parents when he saw them. He used to roll over at six months, making his parents happy. At the age of twelve months, expressed self-independence when he showed no anxiety when his mother would leave him.

At the age of 21 months, Isagani was able to touch his own nose for the first time. His father was always giving in to Isagani’s demand. The child showed a lot of independence when he fed on Filipino spaghetti and climbed the car seat by himself. Alejandro bought his son a blue pair of transformers, which he insisted on wearing every single night. At the age of three years, Isagani learned to fly a kite on his own at the age of three and was able to communicate clearly to his father about it. At the age of four years, Isagani had learned to tie the trash bag on his own and took it to the dumpster every Friday morning. He learnt to lock the doors and claimed responsibility for doing so. Every night he would get up to go and open for his father.

Numerous psychiatrists and psychologists have identified various theories attempting to explain the stages of a child development. Some children may move through the stages by themselves. If a parent notices an abnormal development, they should contact their child’s pediatrician. There are mainly five stages of child development. These stages are trust/mistrust, autonomy/doubt and shame, initiative/guilt, industry/inferiority and finally identity vs. role confusion.

Trust vs. Mistrust

Before the age of two years, the infant is focused on the chief caregiver, who is responsible for providing for his basic needs. If a child is regularly comforted, bathed and fed the child develops and learns a basic trust in the wider world. Rejecting the child or withholding care may lead to mistrust and conflicts. Isagani’s mother was always there to feed and change him whenever he used to wet himself. The care she showed his son was healthy for his development.

Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

The second stage occurs in two to three-year-olds. In this phase, children learn to control some basic functions and make simple choices like wearing, eating, and toileting. At this age, children seem irritable and willful. Parents are encouraged to provide age-appropriate options and encourage their children’s attempts at self-control. According to research, children develop a sense of autonomy if encouraged to act within safe boundaries.

Initiative vs. Guilt

Children aged between three to five years are often curious about their surroundings and are highly imaginative. At this age, they begin to take charge of how they spend their leisure, often inventing a rich fantasy life and creative games. Parents must allow their children to face age-appropriate challenges. They should provide plenty of downtime for them in order to create fun for their children. Children who are dismissed or stifled tend to develop feelings that are of helplessness, and may feel embarrassed or guilty about their growing independence. At the age of three years, Isagani was able to fly a kite independently.

Industry vs. Inferiority

In the early school years, mainly six to eleven years, they are marked by numerous changes. Children at this stage face increasingly demanding requirements that are new in both social and schoolwork situations. This stage mainly focuses on a child’s growing need to feel competent and efficient. Children who successfully navigate these challenges end up developing a strong sense of self-confidence. Those who fail to navigate these challenges lose their self-esteem or may feel inferior. Parents must not attempt to solve the problems for their children in case they are related and part of their development. In fact, parents should keep in mind that they are children and should remain supportive and open, proving a safe environment for their children to work through their feelings.

Identity vs. Role confusion

This mainly occurs through the teen years, between the ages of twelve to eighteen. These years are challenging for parents and teenagers. At this age, children are increasingly focused on developing some self and independent identity. They are particularly focused on where they fit in and how they appear to others. It is normal for teenagers to try different ways of behaving and different personalities. Parents should support their children’s independence while at the same time setting age-appropriate boundaries. They should offer feedback and foster open dialogue with their children, but should avoid the tendency to set age-inappropriate and rules. Children who successfully make their way through this stage develop a strong understanding of themselves and others. This increases their self-confidence, which helps them make reasoned choices like adults.


Research has confirmed the direct relationship between the early brain development and the development of babies and young children. Neuroscience confirms the existence of many vital factors influencing early childhood development. These factors include the first five years of a child’s lifetime, exercise, and good nutrition is critical. The most important learning happens through nurturing relationships. Research shows that children learn through watching and being engaged. Relationships with siblings can provide experiences can make a significant impact in a child (Conger & Kramer, 2010).

Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. It provides compelling evidence showing that the experiences of a child affect the brain development and can have a long-term effect on their well-being. This includes behavior, learning, physical and mental health. Research shows that parenting is the primary influence on a child’s development. The first three years are the ones are the most sensitive periods for the optimal growth of a child.

First, exercises health and nutrition are critical in the development of a child. When the child’s brain is relatively immature, it is vulnerable to the adverse environmental impacts on its developing functions and architecture. This creates a permanent impairment with lifelong adverse effects on mental and physical health learning and behavior. Disruption on the intensity, pattern, and timing of the environmentally and genetically determined messages can result in diminished functional capabilities and mal-organization of the child. One night Alejandro, Isagani’s father came home fatigued and passed out on the couch. The child’s mother called an ambulance that was to take him to the hospital. The loud sirens of the ambulance, fire truck and cop cars rang in Isagani’s ears. He watched as the paramedics cut open his father’s pants and shirt. Isagani did not cry and after a few hours, his father died.

Alejandro’s death had a negative impact on Isagani’s development. He began to isolate himself and did not talk to his teacher. He only communicated with his family members and did not comply with adult instruction even when instructed. His teacher complained that he was extremely defiant and independent. He prefers to stay alone in class and hates playing with other children in school. When Isagani plays with other children, he easily gets frustrated and hates to lose or be embarrassed. His school has taken strict measures by keeping Isagani from groups in the school to avoid him harming other kids. These measures include a restricted recess, his desk, and a bathroom chaperone.

During his meeting with the social work intern, he was withdrawn and sat very close to his mother. His mother talked on his behalf. She explained the nightmares that Isagani experienced every night. The nightmares include Isagani chasing after a man he could not catch up with irrespective of the speed used. The second nightmare was that of a kite that flew from the sky and bit him. When asked to draw his family, he drew his father with bulging muscles and excessively large size. It is evident that the child was very close to his father. The care and concern that his father showed him remained vivid in his mind. His father’s death clearly affected his development both mentally, socially and emotionally.

Psychodynamic theory

This is the theory that was developed to help a person understand what is going in the mind of a patient. This helps to provide insight into how the patient views his experiences, relationships and the world, and how it affects his drives, preferences, behaviors, and personality. In general, it is the study of interaction of the psyche, personality, and various parts of the mind as they relate to motivational, mental, and emotional forces, especially at the unconscious level (Hall, 1954). It is also defined as the energy generated by human need (Klimek, 1979). Some assumptions are associated with the theory. First, the unconsciousness of an individual is the most powerful tool that affects the emotion and behavior of a person. The second assumption is that no behavior is without a cause, or undetermined. Thirdly is that childhood experiences greatly affects the behavior and emotions when adults. Fourthly, it is the super-ego, id, and ego make-up personality (Goldstein, 1995). The fifth assumption is that the various conflicts throughout a childhood development shape the overall personality (Freud, 1923). The cognitive approach attempts to explain the psychodynamics (Horowitz, 1988).

The theory asserts that in childhood, certain incidents that may occur produce certain behaviors in adulthood. Children adopt a number of defense mechanisms to deal with the challenges they may encounter. These defense mechanisms include displacement, repression, fantasy, projection, compensation, sublimation, intellectualization, regression, and projection. There are certain behaviors exhibited by children are explained by psychodynamic theory. A childhood event may cause fear and in an open space may trigger agoraphobia in adults. Hoarding behaviors may be because of childhood trauma. However, the greatest criticism of psychodynamic theory is that it is unscientific when analyzing human behavior. For instance, some scientists question the ability to study concepts like tripartite personality and unconscious mind. Relational theory is considered ideas that have grown out of a number of psychodynamic and clinical theories (Turner, 2011).

Attachment theory

I strongly believe that this theory clearly explains the child’s behavior. According to research, infants need stable and safe persons who can provide a sense of security from which they can explore and venture out. At the initial stages, Isagani was a healthy baby delivered through natural birth. Isagani would turn and smile when he saw his parents. Isagani became attached to his father by the age of 21 months. He aped his father by touching his own nose for the first time. His father bought him a pair of blue pajamas, which he insisted on wearing every single night.

At the age of three years, Alejandro would take his son to a local park along with their dog. He would show his son how to build and fly a kite. Isagani would see his father working hard and would insist on helping him out. He could watch his father fix broken things in the house. He soon learnt how to tie the trash bag and take it to the dumpster. He would wake up every night and open the door for his father. We can clearly see that this close attachment between Isagani and his father helped him learn many things. It aided in his healthy development as a child. It is after his father’s death that his development was interrupted. He became withdrawn and distant. He was defiant and arrogant and became easily irritable.


Conger, J.K., & Kramer, L. (2010). “Introduction to the Special Section: Perspectives on Sibling Relationships: Advancing Child Development Research”

Freud, S. (1923). “The Ego and the id.” Norton and Company

Goldstein, E.G. (1995). “Ego Psychology and Social Work Practice” The Free Press 2nd Edition.

Hall, C.S. (1954). A Primer in Freudian Psychology. Meridian Book.

Horowitz, M.J. (1988). “Introduction to Psychodynamics – a New Synthesis.” Basic Books. p. 3

Klimek, David (1979). “Beneath Mate Selection and Marriage – the Unconscious Motives in Human Pairing.” Van Nostrand Reinhold. p. 3

Milton, J., Fabricius, J, Polmear, C. (2004) “A Short Introduction to Psychoanalysis” Sage publication

See, L.A. (2006). “Human Behavior in the social environment from an African-American perspective” Routledge (2nd Ed.)

Turner, J.T (2011). “Social Work Treatment: Interlocking Theoretical Approaches.” Oxford University

Voydanoff, P. (2011). “Incorporating community into work and family research: A review of basic relationships” London Sage publications

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