Modern Theory Of Rethinking Childhood Essay

Introduction to Child And Childhood

Child And Childhood both are the different terms and convey different meaning that is child can be defined as individual beneath the age of eighteen while the childhood is being termed as event or phase of the children (Bärnighausen and et.al., 2011). Rethinking childhood, generally analyse the belief, attitude and experiences of the childhood so that adults may have positive behaviour toward living with children. The present essay focuses on different approaches that result in constructing the childhood. Therefore, it also result in shaping the productive attitude and experience of the child. The essay will also critically evaluate the statement that is 'the child' or ’childhood’ that are socially constructed discourses. In addition to this, it also focuses on prominent modern theory of the childhood that support in shaping the attitude and experience of them.

What do critics mean when they say that accounts of 'the child' or 'childhood' are socially constructed discourses?

Childhood of children that is lived and experienced is different from one place to another. The term ‘childhood’ is considered as a state or phase of being a child (Hatch, 2010). In the contemporary scenario, the significance of childhood is increasing within the life course as it results in affecting adulthood of the children. Therefore, it is necessary for the adults and parents to focus on providing proper education and values to their children so that it may not affect their future. Herman and et.al (2009) has asserted that education in the childhood positively shapes the attitude and perception of the children and it support them in increasing their knowledge (Herman and et.al., 2009). However, with the help of primary and secondary education children enhance their knowledge and experience that further support them in their adulthood and lives. On the contrary basis, Taguchi (2010) stated that childhood get disappear when the parents are supportive in providing them education and schooling (Taguchi, 2010). Education plays a vital role in the life of children as with the help of education, children acquire knowledge and information regarding each and every aspect. With the help of proper education and schooling, children may also come to know about the diverse aspects and characteristics of the children.

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Present Scenario

In the present scenario, child development plays an important role that amends their knowledge and learning so that they may survive in the environment. Basically, there are different aspects that need to be considered while focusing on the theories of childhood. There are variant and diverse childhoods; different perspective on the childhood,. Children play active participation in the family and society that directly contribute in enhancing their lives etc (Jutte and et.al, 2010). On the other hand, the social constructionism is the approach that mainly focuses on share assumptions and anticipation about the reality. The main rationale behind social constructionism is to determine the ways and methods under which the individual or certain groups within society participate collaboratively to construct the idea on the childhood through measuring the sensed social reality. The social reality focuses that there are multiple and diverse childhood that provide different experience and knowledge to the children.  Diverse childhood situation varies from place to place for instance; the childhood of developed western countries is differing from the poverty-stricken region. Childhood of western developed countries mainly concentrates on providing or rendering the education and learning so that they may enhance the children’s mental state and their perspective regarding the other children and their state (Blaise and Taylor, 2012). On the other hand, in the time period of poverty-stricken region, earlier children were expected to work as the labourer so that their family could easily survive in the world. With the changing scenario that is with the increase in western society and implementation of the different policies, it tends to focus on the development of the children and providing them childhood so that they may live as children. According to Shonkoff and Fisher (2013) with the socially constructed discourses, child and childhood, both the terms play a significant role in the society (Shonkoff and Fisher, 2013). Key vision of historical childhood was to use children as the key resource for performing the activities and services within the industries and it replaces them with the education. But the modern theory of childhood generally focuses on the development of children and childhood so that they may acquire immense knowledge.

As per the view of () the contemporary view of the child generally acknowledges the agency that is from the birth child demonstrate that it possess the competencies to understand and act. It also concentrates that children inherently possess extraordinary competence and abilities from the birth that support them in growth. However, agency and participation are considered as two essential characteristics that constitute the sociology of the childhood. The foremost characteristic include agency that perceive child, as an active agent construct their own and individual culture and features their own activities and practices (Share, 2009). Another new sociology of childhood focuses on participation. Within the UK, government actively enforce and participate in conserving the lives of child and their childhood through focusing on different acts such as the children act 1989 or agenda like every child matters etc. all the agenda and legislation framed by the UK government generally focuses on protecting the right of child and its childhood. According to the critics, the concept of social construction of childhood is different from societies to societies. Sociologist stated that children are biologically distinct from the adults. For instance, James (2010) has stated that in 19th Century in Britain before the occurrence of industrialization minor or children were seems as mini adults that perform activities as the child labourer and so same work as their parents used to do (James, 2010). However, after the industrialization Burt (2009) has also asserted that children has become dependent on their parents as the significance of education has been increased that overall develop their knowledge (Burt, 2009 ).

As per the view of Strandell (2010) in the contemporary environment children have no economical use as they have to engage in the studies and education to acquire the new skills and knowledge usually till the age of 16 as they are mainly dependent on their family members and parents (Strandell, 2010). However, in some societies children are consider as main source of income and possess economic use as in the early age they started to work. In these societies there is no conception of childhood for the child and so childhood is consider to be a societal construction.

Impact and outcome of early childhood education

The sociologist generally have different perspective over the modern psychologist that proposes the theory of childhood as well as child development. In the contemporary environment the early childhood education plays a vital role in the lives of child as it result in raising their knowledge as well as mindset so that they may easily enjoy their childhood. According to Schoorman (2011) in the ancient time period there were no government that frame or devise the policy or act that protect the right of child and childhood (Schoorman, 2011). Thus, the gradual extension of the mandatory schooling has decline the rate of child labour and have also changed the attitude and perception of children from an economic assets to the most important or valuable part that is necessary for family for their survival. In the past scenario, children are mainly consider as responsibility that intervenes their educations, health and diet. However, to improve the health and diet of the individual or children government has intervene different policies and agenda related with the early childhood education that concern with upbringing the well-being of children and their childhood. In addition to this, early childhood intervention also impact positively on developing and amending the emotional and behavioural outcome in the children. With the emergent of industrialization has impact the population as well as the lives of children. According to Taylor, Blaise and Giugni (2013) within the pre-industrial societies children mainly focuses on working in the industries and cottage craft (Taylor, Blaise and Giugni, 2013). Child labour was the ultimate outcome of the industrialization that was economical as it mainly contribute in the household income.

The impact and outcome of early childhood education was constructive as it result in enhancing the knowledge of children. However, it also impact in understanding the children as key resource that support the children as essential part that contribute in the overall development and shaping the behaviour and attitude of the children. According to Martini (2012) early childhood program also assist in cognitive development of the children that is advantageous to family as well as society as it result in uplifting the society (Martini, 2012 ). 

Modern theory of childhood

Therefore, to overcome the socially-constructed discourses the author or sociologist have framed and focused on the modern theory of childhood. As in the present scenario the child development has gaining the significant pace and they are not focuses on the social constructivism. Child development is consider as a process or period under which child typically develop and grow from infancy to the mature and adult level. Under child development basically there are various aspects related with the child growth and development such as physical growth, cognitive growth as well as social growth (Rogers, 2010). The different theory related with childhood and their development include Erik Erikson and Piaget's theory. Erik Erikson focuses on the social theory that focuses that social relationship act as the driving forces in the development of an individual and children. However, this theory is consider as one of the most comprehensive in nature and that basically focuses on the development of child from their birth up to the old age. In addition to this, the theory also stated that there are eight interconnected phase of the children and childhood that need to be matured over the whole life cycle. The key stages of the child development include the stage of infant, toddler, preschooler, school age child, adolescent, young adult, middle age adult and older adult.

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According to Jones (2009) the first stage is of infant the stage that focuses on the basic trust Vs mistrust (Jones, 2009). If the child is handled properly and carefully then child will develop optimum trust and confidence. However, in the situation if child may not experience trust then child may develop mistrust and insecurity. Another stage is toddler or early childhood year under which the child has possibility to build autonomy as at this stage they may acquire new skills and abilities. Third stage in the Erik Erikson model is preschooler that focuses on the initiative vs guilt as at this stage child has become active and in the move. They are basically active and very initiative in learning and gaining new things. However, at this stage children want to initiate for the learning for the purpose. However, at this stage when initiating for learning to attain the desired outcome and if they do not produce the desired outcome then child may feel guilt for the actions. As per the view of Kellett (2010) fourth stage is school age child under which they develop the competency of industry versus inferiority (Kellett, 2010). However, another stage is adolescent that generally focus on identity versus role confusion. As the adolescent generally struggle for their identity that what they are and what they want to perceive in their life. On the other hand if individual or child is unsuccessful at this stage then it may result in arising role confusion. Share (2009) has asserted that another stage in the Erik Erikson development model is of young adult that basically develop the feeling of love that is intimacy versus isolation (Share, 2009). The young adult often seek to attain companionship and love to develop intimacy and satisfied relationship with the other person. In the situation if they are unable to create intimacy it may result to occur the situation of isolation. Another stage focus on middle aged adult from the age group of 35 to 55 year. At this stage individual generally give importance to their career and work along with the family and friends. However, at this stage individual can also take greater responsibilities in establishing and guiding for the next generation. However, the last stage in the model focuses on late adult that develop the behaviour of integrity versus despair. The integrity is develop when the individual sees themselves in leading the successful lives. However, in the situation if individual is does not satisfied with their life then they may develop feeling of despair that results in leading the individual in depression.

Another childhood development theory that is also consider as modern theory of childhood is of Piaget's. It is a prominent theory that generally focuses on the nature and development of the children (Blaise, 2012). The basic assumption of the Piaget's theory is that this theory generally focuses on development of children rather than other individuals. However, the theory also concentrate on the development despite of enhancing the learning. In addition to this, the main aim of the theory is to justify the procedure through which the infant and child grows and develop into the adult.  The Piaget's generally observe the children at each and every stage and describe the actions so that they should construct their own ideas and knowledge from the experiences. The modern theory of childhood is very broad as it generally focuses from the birth through the adolescent age of the children as well as it also focus on understanding and including the concepts that are necessary in the moral and cognitive development of the individual.

Piaget's cognitive Theory

Piaget's cognitive development generally focuses on the four stages of a child life that they carry on in their lives. The first stage is sensorimotor that begins from the birth up to the 2 years. Piaget under this phase or stage generally focuses on using the motor actions without using any symbols (Hatch, 2010). The children generally possess limited knowledge at this stage because they are generally use their hands movement as well as infants under this stage cannot predict the adult reaction. However, at this stage the amendment of cognitive knowledge increases at this stage.

According to James (2010) another stage in the theory include pre-operational stage that usually occurs during the age group of 2 to 7 years (James, 2010). At this stage the children generally start using the language as it also result in developing the imagination and memory of the children. At thus stage children get engaged in the understanding the relationship. In addition to this, another stage is concrete operational that is up to the age group of 7 to 11 years. Under this stage children often use the symbolic language and manipulation symbol for communicating with each other (Clarke, 2002). Furthermore, the last stage in the Piaget's theory is formal operational stage that continues up to adulthood as the adolescent and the adults generally uses and understand the symbols related with the thought and concepts. However, the author has also suggested that the modern theory of the childhood is essential in gaining adequate knowledge related with the different stages of the child and childhood that need to be consider by the family so that they should provide constructive childhood to their children (Schoorman, 2011).


Sensorimotor, starts from birth to 2 years. Under this stage the children generally understand the outside world and language through the senses sand individual actions. Another stage is Preoperational that starts from 2 years to 7 years. Under this stage of the childhood they often understand the words through language or images (Ruhm and Waldfogel, 2011). Third stage is concrete operational starts from 7 years to 12 years. Under this stage children often learn through logical thinking and language as children has attained the stage under which they speak the language to communicate their views (Martini, 2012). While, the last stage is formal operational that starts from 12 years to adulthood. Children under this stage understand the world through there thinking and applying scientific reasoning to understand them.

As per the view of Jones (2009) children development theory generally focuses on the assumptions about the children that is they mainly construct their own and individual knowledge with the certain response to experience (Jones, 2009). However, the theory also assume that child often learn and acquire different things by their own without any participation of the children or adult. In addition to this, the theory also have assumption that children do not require any rewards from the individual or adults as they are intrinsically motivated to acquire the learning. According to Blaise (2012) there are certain criticism of Piaget's theory is that they have renders their efforts in teaching the development of advanced concepts to the children that would be unsuccessful in the future scenario (Blaise, 2012). In addition to this, Herman and et.al (2009) has also asserted that Piaget has recognized that children does not possess any competency thus, infants and young children are more capable and competitive that result in the cognitive development that assist them to understand the behaviour of other individual (Herman and et.al., 2009). However, another criticism of the theory is that assist them to understand the behaviour of other individual. However, another criticism of the theory is that the theory only focuses on the social component for enabling the cognitive development within the children (Simatwa, 2010). Despite of this, another criticisms of Piaget's theory is that theory was effective at describing the cognitive development processes rather than explaining that how development operates in their lives.

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From the above report it can be concluded that child and childhood both the terms are different from each other as child can be defined as individual beneath the age of eighteen while the childhood is being termed as event or phase of the children. Rethinking childhood, generally analyse the belief, attitude and experiences of the childhood so that adults may have positive behaviour toward living with children. Furthermore, the above essay writing report is focused on the different critical reviews regarding the social constructed discourses on the child and childhood. Lastly, the report has also focused on the Modern Theory Of Childhood that is Piaget's theory that generally focuses on the four stages of the childhood.


  • Blaise, M. and Taylor, A., 2012. Using queer theory to rethink gender equity in early childhood education. YC Young Children.
  • Blaise, M., 2012. Playing it straight: Uncovering gender discourse in the early childhood classroom. Routledge.
  • Burt, S. A., 2009. Rethinking environmental contributions to child and adolescent psychopathology: a meta-analysis of shared environmental influences. Psychological bulletin. 135(4). p.608.
  • Hatch, J. A., 2010. Rethinking the relationship between learning and development: Teaching for learning in early childhood classrooms. In The Educational Forum.  
  • Herman, K. C. and et.al., 2009. Childhood depression: Rethinking the role of the school. Psychology in the Schools.
  • James, A. L., 2010. Competition or integration? The next step in childhood studies?. Childhood.
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