Cognitive Development: Piaget’s Theory


Jean Piaget is one of the leading scientists and specialists in the field of cognitive psychology and child psychology; sometimes his deep works are viewed as philosophical. Thought processes, awareness of oneself in the world of people, and opposing oneself to parents, peers – all this is laid at a very young age when there are not even the rudiments of critical thinking. Cognitive processes, according to Piaget, develop through four stages: sensory-motor, preoperative, operational, and formal. During these stages, the child is separated from concrete and objective thinking (about toys, children’s furniture that surrounds the child) to abstract symbolic concepts (love, faith, God). Religious faith begins with parent-child relationships and the figure of the father in particular. Through four stages, the father figure develops into a conscious belief in God.

Sensorimotor Stage

During this stage of a child’s development, the sensorimotor stage occurs. At this period, an infant’s capacity to perceive the world improves as they mix sense experiences such as seeing and listening with physical contact with things like grabbing (McLeod, 2018). Infants learn about the environment via the physical behaviors they engage in while exploring it. At birth, they go from a state of spontaneous, intuitive activity to the beginnings of symbolic reasoning. Youngsters begin to understand that they are distinct from their surroundings. Even if the child’s senses cannot pick up on these details, they may still think about them.

It is one of the most significant achievements, according to Piaget, to acquire object persistence. Understanding that items exist even when you cannot see or hear them is known as object permanence. By the conclusion of the sensorimotor stage, children have persistent awareness of themselves and their surroundings. Understanding God at this time was molded by how I interacted physically and emotionally with my parents. In my early years, my biological father left my mother and me and never returned. To me, it seemed like God was neither steady nor accessible; thus, he was not a good parent. While playing at home, I wished I had a father to play with.

Pre-operational Stage

During the pre-operational period, there is very little information on mental operations. A youngster can develop both logical and magical beliefs. The pre-operational Stage is comprised of two substages: the intuitive thinking and the symbolic function substage (McLeod, 2018). In the symbolic function substage, children can imagine, interpret, and remember things in their minds. ‘Why’ and ‘how’ are the most common questions posed by children throughout this period. It is the time of life when children are eager to learn all they can. At this stage, I began to believe that I was to blame for his absence, despite having done nothing wrong.

Concrete Operational Stage

Adolescence may be defined as occurring between the ages of seven and eleven (preadolescence). During this stage, children’s mental processes grow increasingly mature and adult-like in comparison to previous steps (Marwaha, Goswami, & Vashist, 2017).

There is an improvement in their ability to think through situations logically. Only actual events or objects can be used to solve difficulties for a youngster who has not yet developed abstract, hypothetical thinking (McLeod, 2018). At this point, the youngsters undergo a shift in which they learn the norms of conservation. Piaget discovered that children are capable of incorporating Inductive reasoning into their thinking. Inductive reasoning is the process of making generalizations based on observations. This type of deductive reasoning is more difficult for children because they are not yet capable of applying it to a specific situation. In this stage, children often have a hard time making sense of their reasoning.

At this stage, I came into contact with many diverse perspectives on what it meant to be a good father. Many children had experiences that were very different from mine. As a result, they had quite different views of their fathers based on their own experiences of desertion. I was able to see that the break-up was driven by my father’s issues rather than my own.

Formal Operations Stage

The logical use of symbols relating to non-concrete notions is a sign of intelligent thought. This type of thinking is based on assumptions that have no basis. Hypothetical and deductive reasoning is possible at this stage. During this time, a person’s capacity to think imaginatively develops significantly. Adolescents are capable of deductive reasoning, which enables them to draw inferences from abstract notions using logic, while children in their early school years rely on inductive reasoning (McLeod, 2018). Because of their ability to think in terms of the hypothetical, they can do this. According to studies, however, formal operations are not used by everyone, and most people do not utilize them in every part of their lives.

As an adult, I heard both sides of my parents’ stories when I was reunited with my biological father. I imagined what it was like to be a teenager on both sides of the issue. The best part is that I had personal contact with Jesus Christ, who accepted me just as I was. Because of him, I now know what a Father looks like and how much he cares for my well-being. It is an adequate time to be in this final stage since it allows me to think critically.


As children grow, they proceed through distinct phases of development, each with a different way of seeing various world events. At the sensorimotor stage (from birth to 2 years), interaction with parents and with a father is possible at the level of emotions, attachments, and the first frustrations (if the father leaves). The child is just learning to recognize his (or her) body among the surrounding objects and trust the world around him and people. Consequently, the feeling and interaction with God were not stable. The preoperative period (2 to 7 years) develops symbolic and intuitive thinking; the child especially vividly learns the punishment for wrongdoing and feelings of guilt. This feeling of responsibility and the act of accepting punishment converges with the religious perception of discipline.

The 7 to 11 years’ stage is marked by familiarity with social norms and adherence to those norms. The norms include rules of conduct, how the family and parents should look. The child’s thinking prepares to work with abstract concepts, but so far only develops an inductive method of collecting information. The formal-operational stage (from 11 years old) includes working with complex symbolic and abstract concepts, which are based on critical thinking. Children think in hypotheses and assume this or that outcome of the situation. Children accept their parents’ stories by understanding both sides; the same happens with the figure of God, which is already being evaluated critically.


Marwaha, S., Goswami, M., & Vashist, B. (2017). Prevalence of Principles of Piaget’s Theory Among 4-7-year-old Children and their Correlation with IQ. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research: JCDR, 11(8), ZC111. Web.

McLeod, S. (2018). Piaget’s theory and stages of cognitive development. Developmental Psychology, Simply Psychology. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Cognitive Development: Piaget's Theory." September 6, 2023.