Child Development Theorists
Erik Erikson
Jean Piaget
Rene Spitz
Harry Harlow
Fraser Mustard
Erik Erikson (1902-1994)
 Danish-German-American
 Best known for theory on social
 Stages of psychosocial development
 Coined the phrase “identity crisis”
Jean Piaget (1896-1980)
 Developed theory of cognitive
 Psychologist & philosopher
 Stages that children pass through in
the development of intelligence
 Childhood is unique and important for
Rene Spitz (1887-1974)
 One of first researchers who used child
 One of first to establish importance of social
interactions in child development
 Followed 2 groups of children from birth:
one raised in orphanage, second group of
babies raised in nursery in prison (mothers
allowed to give care and affection each day,
plus contact with staff)
Spitz Studies
 Children raised in orphanage had lack
of motor, social
 & cognitive skills
 Focused on normal and abnormal
 Pointed out effects of maternal and
emotional deprivation
Spitz on Development
 Conclusion: Catastrophic effects of
sensory and social deprivation at
certain critical periods in early
childhood can have on children’s
subsequent development.
Harry Harlow (1905-1981)
 Infant monkeys were separated from their
mothers at six to twelve hours after birth and
were raised instead with substitute or
'surrogate' mothers made either of heavy wire
or of wood covered with soft terry cloth
 Both types of surrogates were present in the
cage, but only one was equipped with a nipple
from which the infant could nurse.
 Even when the wire mother was the source of
nourishment, the infant monkey spent a
greater amount of time clinging to the cloth
Harry Harlow
 “Motherless mothers” later became
either indifferent when they had
children or abusive
 Provided evidence of need for
warmth, affection and nurturing
Fraser Mustard (1927-2011)
 CANADIAN physician and scientist
 Wrote several papers and did studies
on early child development
 Instrumental in Ontario adopting fullday kindergarten based on Early
Years report
 Emphasized critical nature of early
Fraser’s Contributions
 Brain development during the first
five years sets stage for health and
 3 Enduring Messages:
-The years before 5 last a lifetime
-It takes a village to raise a child
-Pay now or pay later!
2 Views on Education
 John Locke & Jean-Jacques Rousseau,
two philosophers of 17th and 18th
century, developed opposite views of
education of children
 Tabula Rasa: At birth child is
unformed person whose mind is a
blank slate.
 Parent’s responsibility to fill child’s
 Rosseau believed children are born
with innate capacity for
understanding, curiosity, and
creativity that is often deadened by
education and control imposed by

Child Development Theorists