African American Girl Development

Running head: Developmental Psychology

This case study presents findings with regard to the development of an African American girl. Understanding the developmental processes and psychology associated with child development is crucial in elaborating the needs of children at different stages of life.

Developmental psychology provides an explanation of the changes related to psycho-physiological and cognitive development processes as well as language acquisition. When dealing with children in the preschool age, an understanding of the physical, cognitive, socioeconomic developmental processes and family dynamics are important in explaining the needs of such children. The experiences of the subject in the case study were related to several theories of development.


The phenomenon of developmental psychology involves life changes that take place in the course of human life. It entails transformations that occur as humans develop from infant stage through different stages of life.

Human developmental changes detail the changes regarding psycho-physiological processes, such as the motor skills and in cognitive development, which pertain abilities such as problem solving, conceptual understanding, language development and acquisition, moral understanding with social, emotional, and personality development. Developmental changes also take place in self-concept and identity formation.

Understanding developmental processes and the associated psychology are processes that are time bound to occur at a gradual pace accompanied by gradual knowledge accumulation. As Boyd and Bee (2006) assert, the psychology in development considers the innate mental structures as entwined in learning and experiences exposed to a growing and developing individual.

As elucidated in the case, the interactions among diverse personal attributes and their behaviors, environmental and social factors define the developmental impact in individuals. This article explores a case study defining the demographics and developmental processes affecting a child in the age group 4 to 6 years. Biological development, cognitive development, socioeconomic development, academic and family dynamics are expounded.

Developmental processes

Biological/physical development

Developmental processes pertaining human life are lifelong processes, which entail the physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral changes that occur in an individual. Enormous changes take place in the transition between prenatal and postnatal life stages while more changes occur, especially in the transition between an infant and a child (Keller & Keller, 2009).

It is during this transition stage that an individual is able to understand and relate changes associated with attitude and values, which guide an individual on choices, understanding, reasoning and relationships. The intuitions associated with biological development in relation to developmental biology entail organ growth and development with a close association with ontogeny.

In this regard, the genetic control elicited in cell growth, differentiation and morphogenesis results in changes leading to tissue and organ development, regeneration, senescence and aging. During the prenatal stages of life, embryogenesis takes place at the start of fertilization, leading to the development of an embryo that is preceded by a zygote.

Placental development takes place after 39 weeks while fetal life ends with parturition. Postnatal stage of life is one accompanied by visible physical changes that define an individual. At the close of prenatal development, it is worth noting that some birth defects are probable due to genetic reasons such as mutation, or environmental reasons such as the influence of teratogens and stochastic events.

At the age stipulated in the case study, a child could have a slower rate of growth that is characterized by some body parts growing at a slower rate than others do. As seen in the study subject, a faster growth rate of organs makes children in the developmental stage assume a round belly. Additionally, a child attains about 50% of his or her height during his stage of development.

At the same time, a child acquires 20% the weight of their adult stature by the age of five years (Keller & Keller, 2009). The child elicited in the case study shows more coordinated motor skills, which allow her to run and clip places up and down, skip, skid, and other cognitive and coordinated motor skills that allow them to tie shoelaces, using scissors, buttoning shirts and recognizing different shapes and figures that they are able to draw.

The brain is significantly grown and developed, where it completes over 90% of such development at this stage of life. The baby look is lost at this stage with the appearance of their limbs, yet both males and females appear same size.

Cognitive development (using Piaget’s theory of cognitive development)

When using the Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, one is able to deduce that the theory comprehensively defines human intelligence development with a focus on the nature of knowledge, and aspects such as its gradual acquisition, construct and its use (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).

In line with Piaget’s worldview, during the age stipulated in the case study, the individual becomes aware of the physical world, and is able to interact with it learning world issues through child-play with it. There are many things that the child is experiencing regarding the world. For instance, it is shown how the child is inquisitive about itself and the surrounding. Moreover, the child feels distanced from family due to increase in time away from parents and less proximity to parents or other caregivers (Parker & McKinney, 2012).

A feel of independence is elicited by the child. Adherence to rules and regulations is another cognitive aspect deduced from the case study with respect to the stage of development. In this regard, a definition of right or good from wrong or bad is shown although many a child in this stage is not able to deduce why the difference exists.

In line with Piaget’s connotation explaining reality as a sense of dynamic system as elucidated by continuous change, expression of learning through imagination, mental imagery, perception and drawing are other important aspects defining this stage (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).

For instance, the understanding of healthy benefits of hand-washing and brushing of teeth is related to the perception that diarrhea comes from failure to wash hands, or loss of teeth ensue from failure to brush teeth. Concepts of privacy and sexuality come into light differentiating gender (Stoller, 2012).

Socioeconomic development

It is during this stage that children understand the need for friendship stemming up from the increased socialization with peers and adults. Moreover, they understand that one may rely not only on primary caregivers, but also on other people who may provide similar help (Boucher, 2012). Anger and joy are expressed physically as this stage as elucidated in the case.

Understanding of the right from wrong or good and bad is made elaborate with an understanding of the moral values that an individual should have in the society. Similarly, these children understand the need of financial obligation to the society by playing games with rules that define the same. With the understanding of different genders, the child recognizes the roles of a traditional male or female such that their roles are distinguishable by gender (Stoller, 2012). This is evident from the case study.

Academic development

The primary knowledge this age understands is the difference between opposites. For instance, an understanding of high and low, counting zero to ten, and names of different letters are clear in their young academic minds (Huitt & Hummel, 2003). These children are also able to deduce numbers and names out of order. Using long sentences to explain simple concepts is normal at this stage. Additionally, the child is able to distinguish different shapes and is able to draw them.

Family dynamics

The child is able to understand family relations with an understanding of relatives and others. Primary care is obtained from immediate relatives or caregivers, although there is decreased need of much physical contact with the parents or caregivers as was before during infancy.


As with children in this age group, the study subject in the case study expresses emotions with physical deeds while seeking attention from others with hugs and kisses. In addition, there is continued socialization with peers where they easily develop relationships with immediate recognition and identity of some people as friends while others as just people they do not like. As a result, an individual in this stage has increased opportunity to interact with peers in school and other recreational activities.


In order to understand the developmental needs of a child, it is crucial that one acquires knowledge of the cognitive, biological, and social processes that directly affect their growth and development. Similarly, an understanding of a child’s family dynamics and attachments, especially to the family and the wider society is indispensable. The child in the case study exhibited normal development processes that are documented in theories.


Boucher, J. (2012). Putting theory of mind in its place: psychological explanations of the socio-emotional-communicative impairments in autistic spectrum disorder. Autism, 16(3), 226-246.

Boyd, D. R., & Bee, H. L. (2006). Lifespan development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Huitt, W., & Hummel, J. (2003). Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Educational psychology interactive, 3(2). 1-24.

Keller, E. F., & Keller, E. F. (2009). Making sense of life: Explaining biological development with models, metaphors, and machines. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Parker, S. T., & McKinney, M. L. (2012). Origins of intelligence: The evolution of cognitive development in monkeys, apes, and humans. Baltimore, MD: JHU Press.

Stoller, R. J. (2012). Sex and gender: The development of masculinity and femininity. London, United Kingdom: Karnac Books.