Life-Span Development 12th Ed., Santrock : Outline and Review

Life-Span Development 12th Ed., Santrock : Outline and Review

Cognitive Development in Infancy


  1. Piaget’s Theory of Infant Development

  2. Learning, Remembering, and Conceptualizing

  3. Individual Differences and Assesment

  4. Language Development


The first section discusses Piaget’s theory on cognitive processes in infants. He believes information is obtained and stored in two ways; in infants it is primarily through behavioral schemes or physical activity and in early childhood it is through cognitive activities. He focused mainly on Soensorimotor stage development and how the infant builds its development through a system of substages from simple reflexes to primary and secondary circular reactions, to coordination of those reactions, to tertiary reactions through novelty and curiosity and finally to the internalization of schemes through symbols and representations.

In the second section Santrock discusses the correlation between conditioning, attention, memory and imitation in learning. Both operant and classical conditioning occur in infants. Infants ability to focus is linked with habituation and drives their attention span. Memory retention occurs at a very early age (between 2 and 6 months), but mainly for perceptual and motor actions. Long term memory as we know it does not really develop until late in the 2nd year of life. Infants have been shown to match behaviors through imitation and deferred imitation occurs as soon as 9 months.

The third section covers how we assess development in infants, both physically and intellectually. It goes over a number of different scales used such as Gesell’s scale which provides a DQ (development quotient) for physicians. The Bayley scales and Fagan Test are also used to look at cognition, language, motor skills, socioemotional and adaptive development, and information processing.

The final section covers the complex process of language development. Language is highly organized and follows a system of rules; phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics. It talks about how language develops through initially recognizing language sounds to the combination of words. It also covers the biological and environmental influences in language development.

The chapter was the most interesting so far; particularly in the development of language and how our language is structured. I have not seen the language rules system broken down before and though it seems very intuitive it is fascinating to see how it ties together. I would like to do more research on not only language development, but how it is affected in those with disabilities or in individuals who have strokes or damage to language centers in the brain. The section I found least enjoyable was on measurements of infant development and the scales that are used. One because the rate of development is so varied and two because I think they give parents the wrong idea about their child’s development.

 Socioemotional Development in Infancy


I. Emotional and Personality Development

  1. Social Orientation/Understanding and Attachment

  2. Social Contexts


Chapter six begins with a discussion of emotional development, both positive and negative. It discusses the biological aspect of emotions and the need for emotional regulation as a child moves from infancy. It also looks at temperament and its relationship to physiological characteristics. It also talks about Erickson’s and Mahler’s somewhat conflicting theories on the development of personality.

The second section looks at goal directed social interaction in referencing, its importance and how it increases in the second year of life. It lays out the development of attachments in four phases and talks about four types of infant dispositions in attachment based on strange situations.

The third section talks about the social contexts of family and child care to a child’s development.

I thought the section discussing ‘strange attachments’ and the affects on caregiving was worth a more in depth look. It made me think of possible links to instances of severe postpartum depression or infant abuse. It seems that better education to adapt to differences in infant attachment may prevent tragic situations from occurring. I didn’t really find the section on social contests of family and child care very useful, mainly because it was so brief and didn’t really discuss different social constructs on child rearing. It would be interesting to see more studies in the chapter on extended family involvement on infant development.

 Physical and Cognitive Development in Early Childhood


I. Physical Changes

  1. Cognitive Changes

  2. Language Development

  3. Early Childhood Education


The first section of chapter seven discusses the rate of body growth and change in early childhood and the differences between boys and girls. It discusses the development of gross and fine motor skills and the affects of nutrition on both body growth and change and motor development. It also looks at the illness and death rate among young children in the US and other countries due to malnutrition and disease and the dangerously increasing problem with obesity.

Section II discusses the stages of cognitive development in early childhood. It focuses on Piaget’s theories on the preoperational stage and its sub-stages of symbolic representation and intuitive thought. It also considers Vygotsky’s theories about a social constructivist approach to development. Vygotsky believes development occurs more through social interaction and that caregivers or more skilled children should assist only to the borders of a child’s current skill set, so they can learn and master new skills.

The third section discusses the development of language. It looks at increased sensitivity to phonics and an understanding of morphological rules. Children begin to apply syntax and to stretch their vocabulary and they also learn to adjust tone and change speech depending on situational needs. This section also briefly discusses children’s literacy and the importance of early childhood programs.

The final section looks at variations in childhood education and looks at different educational theories such as Montessori. It also looks at education for disadvantaged youth in impoverished areas and controversies in childhood curriculum.

I think the section on variations in childhood education to be most applicable to my history in that I went to a Montessori school and so I was very interested its teaching philosophy. Looking at it now, I think it probably had a great impact on my level of independence and self confidence. I would have liked to see more information on issues in children’s literacy and how computer technologies may be hindering reading development. There was not much information on the subject, but it is becoming increasingly important to development.

Socicioemotional Development in Early Childhood


I. Emotional and Personality Development

  1. Families

  2. Peer Relations, Play and Television


Satntrock evaluates the development of self in young children in section I. He discusses the levels and development of physical self awareness in early childhood. He also looks at emotional development and the increasing complexity of emotions developing such as pride, shame and guilt. He talks about early development of morals and how positive emotions of empathy are important to moral development. He also discusses Piaget’s theory on how young children develop moral ideas based on consequences and that conscience develops from emotional relationships with parents or caregivers. Finally in this section he discusses a child’s development about gender ideas and how associations are both biological and social.

Section two looks at the influence of family on child development. It discusses different types of families, the influence of siblings, instance of child abuse and neglect and the changing face/ structure of family.

The third section discusses the types and importance of peer relations and play. Play is critical to a child’s development in terms of obtaining knowledge, social development and sense of trust. The types of play discussed are sensorimotor play, practice play, pretense/symbolic play, social play, constructive play and games. The influence of television both positive and negative is discussed with relation to child development.

The discussion on the development of personality and the role of birth order I found to be very interesting. I also really like the discussion on children in divorced families and how it really looked at all sides and the age of the children at the time of divorce which I feel is very important. What I didn’t like in the chapter was the section on television and its affects on child development. It really only discussed violence and non-violence and did not look at the affects of diminished social interaction because of time spent in front of the TV. It also failed to discuss the affects of computers and gaming in this same way. It addressed violence on TV leading to aggression, but did not consider the act itself as a non physical and non interactive medium having an affect on violence because of unexpelled energy. I think more research into the topic would be interesting.

Physical and Cognitive Development in Middle and Late Childhood


I. Physical Changes and Health

  1. Children with Disabilities

  2. Cognitive Changes

  3. Language Development


Section I discusses body growth and change in middle and late childhood to be slow and consistent. The brain is developing higher cognitive thought and activity centers around the prefrontal cortex which relays into improved attention, reasoning and cognitive control. Motor function becomes more coordinated and smooth and should be actively pursued particularly in American children who do not get nearly enough exercise. Health is in many ways at its peak during this time, having weathered the storm of most dangerous childhood illnesses.

Section II discusses an array of learning and attention disabilities such as dyslexia, autism, ADHD. It talks about classroom adaptations to meet the special needs of children with disabilities.

In section III, cognition and types of information processing is addressed. Santrock talks about learning intelligences such as Gardner’s Eight frames of mind. There is also an indepth discussion on IQ; the influence of genetics and environment as well as discussion on teaching of mental handicapped and the mentally gifted.

I thought the most interesting section was on the Eight frames of mind or different types of intelligence. I took a test when I was younger for a learning strategies class about how learn best, but it did not relate it to types of intelligence. I can see a clear correlation however and it would be interesting to look into it further. I think looking at types of intelligence and how children learn is vitally important to maximizing their potential, particularly in the middle to late childhood years. I didn’t really enjoy the section on reading and approaches to teaching reading. I think there should be more study references. It is interesting though that from my personal observations, friends of mine who were not taught phonics are terrible readers relatively speaking and younger children will just guess at words rather than sounding them out when they don’t have a strong phonics background. I would like to see if there is any research done on learning phonics to aid students with dyslexia – though I am totally speculating, it seems phonics may be a better approach for kids who struggle with dyslexia as well.

Socioemotional Development in Early Adulthood

The young adult at this stage has to deal with socioemotional tasks such as love, attraction and close relationships. Love is said to develop when there is familiarity, similarity and physical attraction. There also a number of stages in love, from intimacy to friendship. If the young adult fails to find love and to engage in a love relationship, loneliness is the most likely result. When the feeling of love has been established, the next task for the young adult is to settle down in marriage and start a family. The family starts with the couple and grows with the addition of children. Marriage nowadays is more complex than ever before in the sense that there are many kinds of marriage. Essentially marriage is the legal and religious union if two individuals, it can be between the same sex or of the opposite sex. Divorce is also a looming reality in every marriage and the young adult has to invest time, energy and emotions in his/her relationship with his/her spouse in order to make the marriage work. With the coming of children, parental roles are also evident. Thus, young adults have to deal with caring, nurturing and disciplining children. On the other hand, many people delay marriage and instead pursue adult lifestyles that may not be in accordance with social expectations such as cohabitation, gay-lesbian lifestyles, divorce and remarriage.

It is a reality that when people reach a certain age, society dictates that he/she should be able to accomplish such tasks that are deemed appropriate or normal for this stage. For example, young adults are expected to have a special person in their lives, to eventually get married and have kids, but at present, young adults have delayed marriage to pursue other goals such as their careers. The discussion in this chapter should also acknowledge the growing trend on late parenting, and late marriages. I think this is the point of interest that I want to research and know more about.

Physical and Cognitive Development in Middle Adulthood

Middle age is changing, thanks to the advances in healthcare and aging products, more and more middle age adults do not appear old or middle age for that matter. However, there are still visible signs of aging when a person gets into middle age, height is said to decrease while weight increases, physical strength is diminished, vision is lessened and the need for reading glasses may be imminent, hearing also becomes weaker and sleep patterns may change. In terms of health, the middle age adult now suffers from cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, breast cancer and others. On the other hand, many middle age adults also do not suffer from the said ailments or conditions because they are healthier and lead active lifestyles. Even at this stage, males have higher mortality rates than females; they also suffer more from hypertension and diabetes. Females now has to deal with menopause and for some, this becomes a very trying and difficult period. The cognitive abilities of middle age adults are weaker than compared to their early adulthood; for example, information processing may become slower. The middle age adult however is more adept at solving practical problems, have more expertise on their occupational field and generally are satisfied with their jobs.

Middle age is the start of the weakening of physical strength and beauty and which is dreaded by all adults. People tend to laugh and make fun of those who are advancing in years and people are consumed by this thought that more and more people try to stave off the signs of aging. What has happened to aging gracefully? I think that with age comes wisdom and experience that cannot be bought or developed in a day or two. It is a reality that our bodies and beauty deteriorate, but this should not be the only focus, instead, we should learn how to accept these changes.

Socioemotional Development in Middle Adulthood

Middle age is also a very emotional period in a person’s life, central to this stage is the psychosocial task of generativity and stagnation as proposed by Erikson. Generativity is achieved when the middle age adult is confident that he/she has made a contribution in the life of the younger generation in terms of bringing up productive adults. Some find fulfillment in contributing to worthwhile causes and advocacies. Stagnation refers to the dissatisfaction with one’s accomplishments in life, of not being able to do what one had dreamed of doing. Midlife crisis is also an important element of middle age, people suffer from midlife crisis is a catch all term for all the emotional and social difficulties of the middle age. When middle age spouses behave erratically, when they fight about mundane things or become emotionally sensitive, they are said to be suffering from midlife crisis. However, middle age does not always become stressful and painful for most people, sin different cultures, people do not have middle age, and thus there is no midlife crisis there. Love and marriage at middle age also undergoes some changes, for one, children leave their parents and the middle age parent experiences the empty nest syndrome. It is also when most divorces occur or when divorcees remarry. It is also when the middle age rediscovers his/her relationship with siblings and friends.

Middle age should be fun, it should not be filled with horror stories such as the emotional turmoil and insecurities that middle age people feel and experience. What I mean is that midlifers at this stage can enjoy the fruits of their labor that is rearing children, contributing to their workplace and achieving professional growth. Of course not all people are able to this, but everyone should be given the chance to become proud at what they have accomplished in this life, it should not be compared against what others had been able to do. I want to study the perceptions and attitudes of midlifers to middle age.

Physical Development in Late Adulthood

Old age or late adulthood is a lonely period; the marked physical deterioration of the body makes the old man/woman become healthcare receivers. There are more old female adults than males, due to the higher life expectancy of women and the higher mortality rates of males. Old people also have three categories, the young-old or the more recently old, the old-old or the old who is old but not yet very old and the oldest-old or the more advanced old age people. The physical deterioration is marked in old age in terms of its physical attributes; the brain is aging and thus cannot function effectively as it used to. Memory lapses are common, difficulty in expressing ideas and emotions are also observed, wrinkles and loss of muscle mass and fats make the skin sag and adds to the appearance of being “old”. In terms of senses, the old age person loses hearing, vision, taste and even smelling faculties. Moreover, pain tolerance is very low and they also have difficulty in their sense of touch. The circulatory and respiratory system is also weak at this stage, it is almost normal for old people to suffer from hypertension, respiratory infections and organ failures. Adults in old age become healthcare concerns because with the improvements on medication and treatments, more and more people live well into their old age.

Being old is daunting, I think I would not want to grow old, the loss of physical attributes, senses and the many sicknesses associated with old age make me rethink whether I would want to grow old. Of course, old people are not useless and should not be considered as such, and more people should be there to provide for the care and understanding of this old people. I really would want to get into the thoughts of old people, what they feel now that they are old, and whether they would have chosen getting old if they had the option.


Santrock, J. (2008). LifeSpan Development, 12th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

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