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Child Developmental Theories

Jimmy and Hanna, twin siblings live in a beautiful house right next to my door and are my closest friends, too. We used to go to school and often play in an adjacent park to our houses. They belong to a well-established family but I sometimes have observed their emotional disturbance. They hesitate while interacting with other children in the neighborhood as dysfunctional families do not allow for emotions to be expressed easily. Upon inquiry, they told me that their parents fight a lot and that physical and emotional violence had left the children neglected to some degree. Both their parents when fighting also shows destructive behavior towards children which has led them to constant fights among siblings, fear, and disharmony among family members which is cracking the family structure. Child development theories which involve Jimmy and Hanna’s dysfunctional family aspect are as follows:

Psychosocial Theory: Jimmy’s family has been in poor emotional and psychological situations due to constant fights among parents and siblings which puts extra pressure on the mental health of the children. Therefore, both Jimmy and Hanna hesitate while interacting with others due to the fear that people might know about their family’s cracking situation and would hurt them through harsh judgments. They used to quarrel with other members of our housing society which suggests that there is no mutual respect between their family members. Parents’ dynamics with their children are dysfunctional which has led the children to destructive behavior with their peers and the cycle remains unbroken (Baron & Spear, 1989). The abusive behavior of parents will lead both siblings to abuse children around them and they may parent their kids using similar abusive methods and traditions.

Attachment Theory: Although both Jimmy and Hanna are so attached to each other, still there is mistrust and tension in their relationship. They hurt and abuse each other like their parents do which suggests that children who have unresolved emotional issues in a dysfunctional family from their childhood have disorganized attachments and exhibit more frightening association behaviors. Jimmy being the eldest has dire impacts as he often insults his siblings, swears falsely before his mother for his wrongdoings, and humiliates his housemaids. This also affects family cohesion and the overall physical as well as mental health of the family members.

Cognitive Theory: Jimmy and Hanna always struggle with their memory process and are not performing well at school. Jimmy’s teachers complain most often than Hanna’s about bad academic performance because Jimmy has experienced the worst of fights being the eldest child of the family. Besides, he always tries to protect his siblings due to which his cognitive development is limited as compared to the other children of the family. People around him often complain that he manipulates the information and sometimes has difficulty taking the point of view of other people as he might have struggled in the pre-operational stage of cognition development suggested by Piaget in his cognitive developmental theory (McAdams III et al., 2009).


Baron, A., & Spear, H. (1989). Surviving dysfunctional families. Citeseer.

McAdams III, C. R., Foster, V. A., Dotson-Blake, K., & Brendel, J. M. (2009). Dysfunctional Family Structures and Aggression in Children: A Case for School-Based, Systemic Approaches with Violent Students. Journal of School Counseling, 7(9), n9.



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