Child Development Theories

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Human Development

Human development is a lengthy process of investigating how biological, environmental, and cultural elements impact human existence.

Definition of Development

In their books, Cynthia Lightfoot and other authors such as Michael and Sheila Cole defined development as a process involving a whole child in which biological and cultural contexts influence each other mutually, resulting in diverse developmental patterns that affect the children's individual lives (Aden, 2012).

Sequence of Changes

As a result, development includes a sequence of changes that occur during a lifetime and include age-related modifications.

Developmental Theories

Several psychologists, including Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, and Erik Erikson, have supported this description in their own developmental theories.These developmental theories postulate that people pass through various chronological ordered stages whereby each stage is built on capacities developed from the previous step.

Developmental Theory

Developmental theory is thus a collection of methods that try to explain how desirable human changes are best achieved in the society through social science approaches and disciplines. On the other hand, the Biblical view includes all the Bible and Christian reflections that humans go through their developmental process.

Contrasting Views

Theoretical view and Biblical view of human development, human nature, and human cognition have a different history. This is because Psychologists' view of humanity is contrary to the Biblical view as evidenced by the Psychoanalytic theory of Freud that disagrees with the Biblical teachings on human development as discussed below:

Freud's Theory on Mind

Freud in his theory postulates that human mind consists of the conscious and unconscious parts which are important in the cognitive process like decision making and other brain coordinated functions and self-awareness discovery. It is also in these parts that human's old, new and sinful nature is influenced and determined by social-cultural factors. On the other hand, the Christians through the Bible believe that human morality, self-awareness, critical thinking, decision-making skills and self-awareness comes from God. Christians continue to emphasize that, and individual thoughts and attitudes of their hearts are directly from God as seen in Hebrews 4:12. Secondly, Freud believes that past childhood experiences dictate human personalities and behaviour in future as adults; he believes that each should pass through a series of different stages in childhood for example if there poor parenting and nurture, it leads to development stagnation and fixation. This thus greatly shows how the present behaviour is influenced by his or her past life experiences. Psychological events also place a strong emphasis on what one has learned and how it was conditioned in the past hence determining a person's history of learning and reinforcement. The Bible, in this case, contrasts his psychological view in that it does not support past experiences influencing one's present behaviour and life, but instead it stresses that God's grace wipes all the past and old life experiences, deeds and evils and gives a new look and beginning (Acts 17:30). The Bible further highlights that God looks a person as at now and not his or her past (Romans 5:9, 1st Corinthians 12:27) (Lightfoot, 2013).

Freud's Theory on Health

The theory of Freud also treats individual personality parts of networking which include the id, the ego, and the superego are enough to make him or her wealthy of self-awareness and healthy. He explains that a person's health comes by relieving both mind and body challenging experiences through the process such as guidance, counselling, and therapy. Biblical view, on the other hand, stresses that true wealth and health comes from Christ and his Holy word. Also, the Bible continues to give explanations that it is only through Jesus Christ that humans obtain spiritual and mental health and wealth. It is only Jesus through the power of the Holy spirit which heals past wounds (John 8:32, John 13:34)

Freud's Theory on Childhood

The phallic stage of the psychosexual theory which covers the age of between 3 to 6 years elucidates that it is at this age that children take genital pleasure. Freud says that sexual desires towards the opposite sex emerge and the children try to struggle with them, that is boys develop towards their mothers and the girls towards their fathers. Here Freud has fixed the children in adult's sexual situations and exceeds to explain that parents are responsible for managing their children's sexual desires and drives. Christians are not in agreement with this view in that even the mention of sexuality to children is termed as immoral and sin, children and their parents also develop parent-child love and attraction from the time of conception and not at a certain age after birth through the power of the Holy spirit. Through the Bible, Christians believe it's only God who is responsible for controlling human sexual desires and that love is a gift of the holy spirit as in the book of (1st Corinthians 12;4-7) (Berk, 2011).

Freud's Theory on Behavior

The contemporary psychoanalytic theory insists that an individual's behaviour and actions determined by their genetic composition, his or her life's experiences and learning situations are genetically conditioned. In this case, the Bible differs with the theory in that it explains that a person's genes are not the reasons or excuses for one's actions such as wrongdoings. Moreover, it adds up that humans are more powerful than genes and get divine assistance from God to lie with their genes as evidenced in (Hebrews 2:17,18, Hebrew 4:14-16) (Light foot, 2004).

Views on Adapting to Environments

From the theoretical view of Freud, children are seen to struggle to fit into their environmental and societal system of living; humans have a role and process of searching for meaningful life goals, free will and choices thus evident that he or she is a victim of forces and experiences that mould their experience. This is different from the Christian view which asserts that God created human beings with the ability to adapt to their environments, ability to think, make informed decisions and search for goals of life hence a meaningful life. (Genesis 1:12,27).

Life Laws and Explanations

Lastly, Freud in his theory states that an individual's life experiences both simple and complex life laws and situations. These life situations can be very easy to understand or sometimes very complex to deal with or give possible explanations. Simple laws majorly look at sensation, perception, and motivation whereas the complex one examines the effect, unconsciousness, and psychopathology. In God's view, life laws are a combination of both simple and complex and its believed that it is it through salvation that a solution is obtained. It adds to detail that when one is a believer and saved, he or she can efficiently deal with both the simple and complex situations. In Biblical view, life depends on the influence of the Holy spirit and God's guidance for ultimate solution (ACTS 16:31) (Shute, 2015).


In conclusion, though the theoretical and the Biblical view of human development, human nature and human cognition contrast in many areas at some point the two are also coherent in that being active in psychology means that one is also Gods active agent in his kingdom. Many also lie in human nature, biological, psychological and social realms explore the brain activities such as mood, memory, rational functions, learning among others hence reflecting Gods kingdom. Individuals like Christians who are Gods image bearers also respond to life events, thoughts and behaviour psychologically and thus it is important to note that the coordination of both theories in human development, nature and cognition is of great importance in diagnosing and treating mental and human functions for one to restore physical, psychological and spiritual health.



Aden, L. B. (2012). Christian Perspective on human development. Baker Book House.

Berk, L. (2011). Child Development. USA: Pearson Education.

Light foot, C. (2004). A study of Adolescents Fictional Narratives. New York.

Lightfoot, C. &. (2013). The development of Children (7th ed). New YORK: Worth Publishes.

Shute, R. &. (2015). Child Development Theories and Critical Perspectives. New York: Routledge.

April 19, 2023

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