The Theories of Child Development

Introduction

Main theorists of child development include Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson. Sigmund Freud placed more emphasis on children’s development based on the experiences and myriads of events encountered during children’s lifetime that shape their emotional and cognitive development. However, he was more inclined on the mental disorders associated with these developments as opposed to the normal functioning of children. On the other hand, Erik Erikson placed emphasis “on stage theory of child development with a focus on human growth during the lifespan of an individual” (Hello n.d, p.1). Inspired by these theorists and others, the paper seeks to discuss child development from the applied approach, social constructionist approach, and scientific approach. This paper focuses on the theories of child development and their applicability in the context of the United Kingdom. However, the paper will only focus on only three main theories namely emotional, social, and cognitive theories of children’s development in a family set up in the UK. To this extent, differentiation of abnormal and normal behaviors observed in children in the UK is explained in the context of these approaches of child development. This will be backed by evidence on the social and cultural contexts that affect the development of children and or families in the UK. The roles of the writer in meeting the needs of these families and children will be analyzed within the context of health visiting or school nursing perspective.

Introduction of Family and Child

The paper uses Graham’s family which is made up of Isabel, Joe, and Billy. However, the focus is given to Billy who is a child. Children’s development in the UK can be approached from the context of social, physical, cognitive, or emotional theoretical paradigms. However, the focus is on the changes anticipated to take place in Billy’s behavior from birth through adolescent age. In this process, Billy will be used synonymously with children as he is used to representing UK’s children in general. As such, he is anticipated to transit from a state of total dependency to a state of total autonomy.

Child Development Overview

In fact, as Kail (2011) notes, “because developmental changes may be strongly influenced by genetic factors and events during prenatal life, genetics and prenatal development are usually included as part of the study of child development” (p.73). One of the main causes of developmental changes in children in the UK is the maturation, which encompasses a “set of generically controlled process” (Reck & Mundt et al 2004, p.272). Another important cause of children’s developmental changes is the environmental factor coupled with various learning processes that children undergo in their lifetime. Additionally, with regard to Gerhardt (2004, p.23), child developmental changes in the UK also take place due to “human nature, lack of parental love, and people’s ability to learn from their environment” (p.182). The UK people have an immense capacity to adapt to various changes that take place in their surroundings where they live. Precisely, this is what the discipline of child development constitutes. It is then arguable that all children (leave alone in the UK) attempt to struggle to ensure that they find their own emotional, cultural, social, and cognitive identities during their development process. For this to happen, development cannot be negated.

Theories of Child Development

Children begin to express their feelings at very early stages in life through actions such as laughing and crying. However, later in life, parents can foster emotional, cognitive and social development in their young children through effective communication with their children. Unfortunately, evidence-based on the UK research on the effectiveness of parents being good communicators with their children suggests that communication is a great impediment towards effective emotional development of children in the UK. In fact, “A poll was undertaken by ‘I CAN’ showed that only 43% of parents of 0 – 5 years old were able to correctly identify the stages of communication” (Hello n.d, p.1). Failure to identify stages of communication of children infers that parents would not be able to condition their children to specific ways of expressing their inner feelings. This challenge is made worse by considering that, also in the UK, “over 1 million children and young people – that is 2 – 3 years in every UK classroom – have some form of long-term and persistent speech, language, and communication difficulty” (Hello n.d, p.1). What should then be considered normal speech development in children?

Speech Development in Children

Speech is an important aspect of children’s development in that parents can only understand various other aspects of the development of their children such as cognitive development based on how children communicate their day-to-day life experiences. Speech development in children begins as early as the age of six months in which a child is able to give a response whenever his or her name is mentioned. The kid can respond to angry and friendly tones and human voices via turning his or her head. At the age of one year, normally developing children are capable of using few but fragmented words to express themselves in an attempt to practice inflection. Additionally, they are also aware of the value possessed by speech in helping them to socialize with other people. At the age of one and a half years, children are able to follow simple commands. Their speech is characterized by echolalia and immense jargon often possessing many emotions. With regard to Child Development Institute (2012), at this age, a child’s speech usually comprises about five to twenty words (Para.3). Later, at the age of two years, children have the capacity to name several things that are common in their surroundings. They can respond to many commands given to them. Besides, they have poor speech fluency, rhythm, uncontrolled pitch, and volume of speech. Furthermore, according to Child Development Institute, “my and mine” also develop at this age (2012, Para.7). At the age of 3 years, children will have developed the ability to use plurals, past tenses, pronouns, and prepositions through speech expression in about 9000 to 1000 words (Child Development Institute 2012, para.7). The child is also able to state his age, sex, and even his or her name. Although the children may know what is anticipated of them, they may not be able to answer all the questions addressed to them.

At the age of 48 months, children are able to differentiate between a few colors, names of common objects, and familiar animals. However, their speech is still dominated by repetitions of words. At the age of 60 months, children will have developed the concept of numbers. They are able to follow commands precisely without any interruptions and are well familiar with opposites. Ideally, at this age, the speech of a child is “completely intelligible in spite of articulation problems” (Child Development Institute 2012, para.9). The development of these aspects of speech continues until the age of 6 years when children are able to differentiate between happenings and objects. They can tell stories that are connected with pictures. By the age of 7 to 8 years, children are able to use compound sentences and phrases to express themselves. In addition, they have minimal grammatical constrictions lapses. They can do simple writings and readings. They have mastered various consonants and can relate various accounts that occur in their daily life experiences. These developments in speech are often characterized by parallel developments in cognitions, social, and emotional development. Several scholars have postulated several theories to explain this development.

Emotional Development Theory

Erik Erikson who is a developmental psychologist advanced the theory of emotional development. This theory is based on eight crises. At infancy, from birth to the age of 18 months, based on how the parent treats the child, trust and mistrust crises occur. For instance, in case a baby “is fed whenever he or she expresses a feeling of hunger, changed promptly when required to, and in general terms cared for in the right way as he or she deserves, a child develops trust” (Kaysili & Acarla 2011, p.1824). Consequently, in the future, this has the implication of making the child indulge in “healthy-risk behaviors in adulthood” (Kaysili & Acarla 2011, p.1828). On the other hand, in cases where a child is maltreated and or ignored, he or she builds up a feeling of suspicion. Therefore, the communication barrier may act as a subtle contributing factor to the development of the mistrusting attitude of children towards their parents. While paying attention to the seriousness of the implication of this fault in the emotional development of children, about 57 percent of parents in the UK are not able to identify the stages of communication development in their kids (Hello n.d, p.1). Arguably, it is impossible to articulate and devise appropriate means of ensuring that their kids develop fully through the stages of communication. This drawback affects the children in the future in the sense that, “in areas of poverty, over 50% of children are starting school with delayed communication skills” (Hello n.d, p.1). Trust, which is a function of communication between the child and the parent, is a critical aspect in the next crisis in the ten Erikson’s emotional theory: doubt of shame versus autonomy.

Shame versus autonomy occurs between the age of one year and three years. According to Kaysili and Acarla (2011, p.1822), “…a child in this stage builds self-confidence and independence by exploring the self and the environment.” In situations where parents neglect their children, chances are that the children would not engage in any risky behavior. Therefore, the child fails in developing “a healthy sense of independence” (Gutman & Feinstein 2010, p.535). In the third crisis, which takes place at the age of three years to six years, children develop purpose senses through planning and engaging in some things on their own, for instance, dressing. Now, communication becomes immensely pivotal in helping to shape the direction of the emotional development of a child. For example, if parents discourage children at this age not to do some things since they are done erroneously, the concerned child may even stop trying much simpler tasks in the fear that the parent would disapprove or criticize the way he or she does them.

Still under Erikson’s theory of emotional development in children, at the age of five years to twelve years, a fourth crisis occurs: the crisis of inferiority versus industry. This crisis “is crucial for a child to develop a sense of competence and or enable a child to find his or her areas of strength to develop a sense of accomplishment” (Gutman & Feinstein 2010, p.535). This crisis leads to the fifth crisis, which takes place between the ages of nine to eighteen years. At this age, children develop their senses of their own identity through self-exploration based on the information acquired from their parents and their peers. Since the roles of the parent in the emotional development of a child come up again at the fifth crisis, it implies that the capacity of a parent to know well the communication stages that his or her child has to undergo is critical in the success of emotional development of a child. This argument acquires more relevance by appreciating that, in the UK “two-thirds of 7 -14-year olds with serious behavior problems have language impairment” (Hello n.d, p.2). Mental health problems such as social phobia among people up to 19 years old are also more prevalent (2.7 times) among children who have communication challenges in their backgrounds. Additionally, “…at least 60 percent of young people in young offender institutions have communication difficulties” (Hello n.d, p.2). Arguably, many juvenile deliquescence cases are committed in such a way to express one’s emotions towards certain experiences uncovered in the process of social interactions. The other three crises occur at an age, which does not qualify the definition of a person as a child. Therefore, they will not be discussed in this section.

Apart from Erikson, other emotional child development theorists have contributed to the growth of this immense body of knowledge. They include Kohlberg who advanced the theory of moral development. His theory is based on Jean Piaget’s work on emotional development in children. It is grouped into three main levels. The first level is referred to as the pre-conventional level. The morality at this level is related to children despite the fact that even the majority of adults’ moral operation is akin to this level. The key elements in these levels include punishment and obedience, exchange, and individualism. From the context of the first stage, children engage in some acts and not others based on the repercussions of the chosen acts. Consequently, “a child labels it as a “bad act if the act is likely to end in punishment” (Gutman & Feinstein 2010, p.535). Conversely, an act that is labeled as good behavior by a child is the one that attracts praise. Therefore, amid the nature of emotions aroused in a child, many children would only focus in a manner that would help their actions to end up being labeled as good. Again, this is dependent on the emotional learning undergone by a child in his or her lifetime. In the second stage, exchange and individualism, children judge their emotional actions from the paradigms of individualistic self-interest. Arguably, these two stages do not have considerations of society and family. The focus is on the actions coupled with the anticipated consequences. The second level (convectional) is associated with adolescents and young adults while the third (post-conventional) is associated with late adulthood and late adolescence. Thus, they are beyond the scope of this paper.

Cognitive Development Theory

As children mature, their thinking processes change. According to Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, “…children’s thought processes change as they mature physically to interact with the world around them” (Goldstein 2008, p. 253). Additionally, the psychologist immensely believed that mental models or what he termed schemas develop in children as they grow. These schemas act as a representation of the world they live in and interact with. As the interaction process with the world continues, children are able to progressively change and amplify their representation of the world by the procedure of adjustments and interactions. As pointed out by Goldstein (2008, p. 253), “Assimilation entangles the process by which the schemas that already exist are expanded to incorporate new information”. On the other hand, accommodation refers to the process by which the existing schemas are changed so that new information can be included.

With regard to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, children undergo four main stages in the process of development of their cognitions. The first stage is the sensorimotor period. This stage occurs from birth to 2 years. At this stage, children normally learn senses coupled with moving around. Towards the end of the sensorimotor stage of cognitive development, a child acquires a symbiotic thought. This means that a child in the UK is capacitated to “represent objects in terms of mental symbols” (Goldstein 2008, p. 255). Another important aspect of cognitive development that occurs during the sensorimotor period is object permanence. This refers to “the ability to recognize that an object can exist even when it is no longer perceived or in one’s sight” (Goldstein 2008, p. 256). Object permanence sets forth the next stage of cognitive development of children: the preoperational period. According to Piaget’s theory, this stage takes place between two to seven years. In this stage, children develop well the aspect of symbiotic thought, which was initiated in the first stage. However, children are neither able to reason nor develop conservations yet. Conservation refers to the “ability to recognize that measurable physical features of objects such as length, area, and volume, can be the same even when objects appear different” (Goldstein 2008, p. 257). The failure of children to develop conservation is articulated to three main challenges. These are egocentrism, irreversibility, and centration. Irreversibility incorporates the process by which an individual reverses various mental processes. Egocentrism refers to the incapacity of a child to assume another person’s point of view. Arguably, it is then common for children to make a presumption that, simply because they are alive, everything else that surrounds them is also alive. Lastly, centration involves the adoption of only a single dimension of view of certain issues while neglecting or not even being aware of all other possible dimensions of view of the same issue.

The third stage of emotional development according to Piaget is the concrete operational period. In the UK, this occurs between the ages of seven to eleven years. Children develop the capacity to “perform mental operations and the capability to solve a myriad of problems and or generate ideas in their minds” (Gutman & Feinstein 2010, p.535). Reversibility, decentration, and conservations are also fully developed in this stage. Lastly, Piaget’s pigment theory sums up children’s cognitive development by considering the fourth stage referred to as the formal operational period. In this period, “children become capable to apply mental operations to abstract concepts and ideas” (Goldstein 2008, p. 256). This encompasses thinking systematically, logically, and in abstract terms. With regard to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, this takes place between the ages of eleven years through adulthood.

As argued before, Piaget’s theory proclaims that a child develops cognitions through a stage-to-stage approach. This makes the theory suffer in various ways. For instance, scientific research shows that “babies achieve object permanence much sooner than Piaget said they do” (Goldstein 2008, p. 257). It is also possible for children to develop various traits that characterize Piaget’s cognitive development stages simultaneously. Due to this, the idea of stage-to-stage cognition development in children appears as an invalid theoretical paradigm for explaining the cognitive development of children. Additionally, with regard to Keenan (2009), “research has shown that children from different cultures tend to go through Piaget’s stages in the same order through the timing and length of stages vary from culture to culture” (p. 46). Surprisingly, Piaget’s theory does not consider the impacts of culture on the cognitive development of children.

Social Development Theory

The discipline of child social development has attracted a wide range of scholarly research. John Bowlby is one of the earliest social development theorists. He argued, “Early relationships with caregivers play a major role in child development thus continuing to influence social relationships throughout life” (Maynard & Thomas 2009, p. 45). As opposed to this argument, Albert Bandura proposes a social learning theory, which he believed could explain social development in children. From the context of this theory, social development in children results from the observation of behaviors of adults. Somewhat different from the behavioral theories of child development, Albert held, “intrinsic reinforcements such as a sense of pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment could also lead to learning” (Maynard & Thomas 2009, p. 87). This implies that children do not necessarily learn new things through external reinforcements. Rather, by “…observing the actions of peers and parents, children gain the capacity to develop new skills and or gain new information” (Shonkoff & Phillips 2000, p.86).

On a different theoretical paradigm, Lev Vygotsky came up with seminal learning theory to explain the social development of children. This theory has established central roles in the education sector. Tantamount to Piaget, Lev Vygotsky held that children develop socially through direct experiences in the world where they live. Opposed to Piaget’s cognitive development theory for children, Lev Vygotsky incorporated cultural perspectives that affect the social development of children. Therefore, he suggested, “parent, caregivers, peers, and culture at large were responsible for the development of higher-order functions” (Shonkoff & Phillips 2000, p.86). It is critical to note that making specifications of social, cognitive, and emotional development is hard compared to physical development.

In the social development theory postulated by Lev Vygotsky, he attempts to explain the impacts of socialization on the learning processes of children. The main aspects introspected by the theory are awareness and consciousness, which Lev Vygotsky claims to emanate from a child’s exposure to socialization processes. Arguably, this theory may be interpreted to mean that, whenever children interact with peers and their parents, they do it principally for the sake of enhancing communication. However, when the child interacts with other people, the ideas priory discussed by a child with the parents and the peers are internalized.

Social development theories rest on three main platforms. The first platform is the proximal development. The zone of proximal development (ZDP) involves the gap between the unknown and the known by a child learner. ZDP “is the difference between the ability of a learner to perform a specific task under the guidance of his or her MKO and the learners ability to do that task independently” (Kail 2011, p.207). From this context, social learning and hence development takes place in the ZDP. Another pillar of social development is ‘the more knowledgeable others (MKO)’. MKO are persons who are better understanding than the learner in relation to the execution of tasks, concepts, and or processes. MKO concept is applied in the social development theory to refer to people interacting with children such as teachers, parents, and or experts whose interaction brings social development. For instance, in school settings, learning takes place simply because teachers are able to teach children well. The last pillar of social development theories is the merger between cognitive development and social development in children. To this end, social development theories maintain that social interaction has a magnificent role in fostering cognitive development in children. Kail (2011) argues, “Vygotsky’s theory opposes that of Jean Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory because Piaget explains that a person undergoes development first before he or she achieves learning whereas Vygotsky argues that social learning comes first before development” (p.220). From Vygotsky’s line of thought, cultural development in children takes place at the inter-psychology social level followed by an individual level referred to as intra-psychological. Amid the postulation of different theories of child development, it sounds plausible to postulate that child development, whether socially, cognitively, or even physically takes place simultaneously. Therefore, these developments cannot be segregated from each other. From this assertion, it is essential that consideration be given to discuss HV (Health Visiting) and its implications in child development in the UK.

Health Visiting

Stemming from the above discussions of cognitive, social, and emotional development, it is evident that people who are close to the children right from the time they are born to adulthood instigate these developments. They are essentially the caregivers. For children to borrow from the caregivers’ actions, it is vital that an attachment between the child and the caregiver exists in the development process. In fact, according to Partis, “insecure adult attachment styles are associated with dysfunctional attitudes, which in turn predispose individuals to lower levels of self-esteem, resulting in depression” (2000, p.500). Scholars have found out that social interactions at an early age have the ability to influence the social relations and self-esteem of children even in their adulthood.

From the theoretical postulations of Piaget, children will learn and develop socially from the experiences they gain from their parents and other older people they encounter. Therefore, adult relationships and self-esteem are critical in shaping the social development of children. This means that the influence of adults especially the parents remains essential in the social development of children. The emotional, economic, and social conditions of parents may influence the development of children at early years. Therefore, it is imperative to control these conditions in the effort to reduce instances of crime, underachievement educationally, and even deliquescence coupled with mental health challenges, which are associated with the abnormal social, cognitive, and emotional development of children.

Since, children in the UK will learn certain social, cognitive, and emotional experiences that may truncate into the above challenges from parents, “early interventions with parents and young children are crucial in laying the foundations of children’s future mental health” (Partis 2000, p.500). Through specialists’ training coupled with working with babies and mothers, health visitors can proactively help in the normal development of children growing up in families dominated by the discussed challenges. Indeed, “early intervention may prevent damaging cycles of deprivation, poor attachment, and poor parenting within families” (Partis 2000, p.500). Heath visiting can incredibly aid in the making of a turnaround of deteriorating caregiver-child attachment-especially in the age where family structures have changed incredibly. Nowadays, the number of single-parent families has increased meaning that children are often left behind by their mothers for economic reasons such as working. The overall impact of this is to affect the child-mother attachment negatively. In turn, this affects the child’s development emotionally.

Sensorimotor skills include one of the incredible developments that occur in children at an early age. In the same line of thought, Partis asserts, “child’s sense of motor mastery is accompanied by the acquisition of body image and self-confidence” (2000, p.501). Further research suggests that the structure of the brain of children develops based on experiences that children go through during the first two to three years (Cherry n.d, p. 3). Despite the fact that many of the skills possessed by children are programmed genetically, many of them may be developed through social interactions. Arguably, even if this evidence exists, “society has shown little concern on how parents tackle their roles unless the child’s welfare is perceived to be at risk” (Partis 2000, p.501). Amid this criticism, it is counterarguable that the government of the United Kingdom has enacted appropriate policies to ensure that solutions are enacted for the purposes of improving and reshaping families and children’s services. One such shift is depicted in the promoting infant mental health report of the UK. This report “argues that services supporting families and others caring for infants should focus on the young child’s needs and on improving the quality of the relationship between parents, caregivers, and the baby” (Partis 2000, p.501: Ingram n.d, p. 45). To this end, the services that are given by HV during the early years of child development are resourceful in aiding to produce positive results in the development of children, which are reflected in their adulthood. However, to achieve these roles, the modernization of HV is essential. This includes providing mechanisms that foster health visitors to operate from new approaches such as working in teams comprising health nurses, community workers, and nursery nurses.

Social Perspective in Development of Children

There are many social perspectives that affect the development of children emotionally, socially, and cognitively. They include parenting, gender, culture, and social-economic status among others. In the following discussion, parenting and social-economic status perspectives are considered.

Parenting

The development of children is directly correlated with the childcare giver’s attachment. Therefore, parenting has immense impacts on the development of children. To this end, Partis argues, “whereas secure attachment is related to warm positive representations of parents (from the child perspective), insecure attachment has the opposite effect” (2000, p.502). Therefore, it is arguable that parents who are cooperative and responsive have better attachments with their children. Thus, such children undergo better social development as opposed to children who are brought up by parents who are unresponsive and uncooperative (Robinson 2011, p.11). This argument is contested by some scholars claiming that it is void of concerns of experiences that mothers go through. Rather, mothers need to be empathetic for them to be sensitive caretakers (p.159). However, it is deducible that being empathetic often calls for parents to evoke experiences that are long forgotten coupled with sensations. Consequently, the experiences of parents end up affecting the social development of children. This creates a notion of transfer of experiences, some being not appropriate for normal social development of children, across generations.

One of the vital aspects of the cognition development of children is language development. For this reason, “there has been enormous interest in the relevance of children’s experiences in the first year of life, especially adversity, for later cognitive development” (Stein et al. 2007, p.603). Language is essential in determining how parents and children would effectively communicate. It also predicts the performance of children in academics. Scholarly evidence exists based on the UK studies articulating the care accorded by mother and child caregivers in general on cognitive stimulation, speech coupled with responsiveness of the efforts of language development in children within the first to two years. One of the subtle pieces of evidence is that post-natal maternal depression can influence the magnitudes of quality care that is provided by mothers to their children (Fox & Riconscente 2008, p. 382). Post-natal maternal depression affects the emotional and behavioral development of children negatively. This again affects the language development of children (Waller 2009, p. 81: Milgrom, Westley & Gemmill 2004, p. 246). Due to these challenges, the services of an HV are essential since “the prevention of delayed language development represents a major challenge to health services” (Stein et al. 2007, p.603). The link between post-natal maternal depression on language development among children is also useful in shedding light on how early experience in the child’s life affects his or her subsequent development.

In the context of the above argument, the roles of HV are crucial since “the Bercow Review of Services for Children and Young People with Speech, Language, and Communication Needs (2008) found that 77% of parents who responded did not get the information and support they needed when they needed it” (Hello n.d p.1). HV can provide this information, which helps to solve language development challenges among UK children. This would go far in fostering the normal development of children socially and in terms of cognition. This position is held because cognition and social development are linked with the capacity of a child to communicate. For instance, it is impossible for conversations with peers and caregivers to contribute to the development of children’s cognition in the absence of good communication abilities.

Social Economic Status

Social developments of children are functions of the learning from their parents and other caregivers. Additionally, as children grow, social development takes different dimensions. Hence, parents have to modify parenting behaviors to meet the needs of the socially developing child. Nevertheless, with regard to Gutman and Feinstein, “parents’ effort to modify their parenting behaviors depends on their ability to do so” (2010, p.535). One of the substantive indicators of the capacity of the parents to modify their parenting styles is the social-economic status. Gutman and Feinstein are also inclined to this line of argument by further asserting, “Families with higher levels of socioeconomic status tend to engage in more behaviors that benefit children’s development” (2010, p.535). The national longitudinal survey of youth coupled with the national household education survey in the UK evidences these positions. This data makes it clear that poor mothers possess higher chances of communicating with their children in an effective way in comparison with their rich counterparts (Sohr-Preston & Scaramella 2006, p.68: Kurstjens & Wolke 2001, p.629). Additionally, poor mothers’ children are “less likely to show both verbal and physical affection towards their children” (Gutman & Feinstein 2010, p.535). The capacity of children to develop cognitions is also affected by the exposures of the children to various stimuli. To this end, parents in the higher social-economic statuses have higher probabilities of providing situations that may foster better cognitive development of their children such as theatre trips, museums, book reading, and participation in conversations (Shonkoff & Phillips 2000, p.27). Although research on the social-economic status of children’s development essentially focuses on the cognitive outcomes, social-economic status can influence various aspects of children’s development.

The relationship between social-economic status and the development of children initiates at an early age. Indeed, there exists a relationship between “social-economic status, lower levels of cognitive, language, social, and motor development in infancy, and early childhood” (Gutman & Feinstein 2010, p.535). Parent-child interactions have the aspect of social status tied within them. In particular, evidence shows that parent-child interactions are moderately associated with cognitive and social development among children. Additionally, with regard to Gutman and Feinstein, recent UK studies have also documented significant relationships between parenting and children’s social, behavioral, and cognitive development” (2010, p.535). Unfortunately, these studies dwell on narrow parenting behaviors.

Conclusion

Child ontogenesis occurs from cognitive, social, emotional, behavioral, and physical developments. However, this paper focused on the analysis of theoretical paradigms of cognitive, emotional, and social developments. The discussion of these theories has been presented from a scientific point of view. A central consideration has been paid to the discussion of HV in the context of child development in the UK. To this end, the paper discussed HV from an applied approach by drawing upon policy and referrals. The paper maintained that the UK faces a changed social context of familial roles. Consequently, child caregivers including parents deserve to be accorded health-visiting services that are essentially modernized and which respond to individuals’ needs. This means that the main role of health visitors is to ensure that families are supported to enhance normal child development via early interventions. Emphasis has also been put to present a critical debate on child development from a social perspective by considering the roles of parenting and social-economic status on child development in terms of their cognition, social, and emotional wellbeing.

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