Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
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Child Development and Parenting: Early Childhood

Major Child Development Theories and Theorists

Angela Oswalt, MSW

Though many scientists and researchers have approached the study of child development over the last hundred or so years, only a few of the theories that have resulted have stood the test of time and have proven to be widely influential. Among this core group of theories are five that will serve as the basis for the documents in this series. These are:

  • Freud's psychosexual stage theory
  • Erikson's psychosocial stage theory
  • Kohlberg's moral understanding stage theory
  • Piaget's cognitive development stage theory
  • Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory