The Stages of Family Development

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The formation of physical, cognitive, and psychosocial skills is an ongoing process that begins with the birth of a child. Dividing the lifespan into separate developmental stages allows highlighting the key steps that a person goes through as they grow up and gain new attainments. This work aims to compare and contrast the early childhood and play age stages, identify two potential family developmental traumas, and assess the impacts of these traumas at each of the proposed stages.

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Development Stages

Early Childhood

The early childhood stage is one of the initial stages of life. According to Knight (2017), it follows the infancy stage and is characterized by active cognition, as well as the juxtaposition of autonomy versus shame and doubt. Dunkel and Harbke (2017) also call this stage toddlerhood and note that a child is willing and sets goals to learn and comprehend contrary to basic notions of safety. Providing learning opportunities at this stage is the key to productive cognitive and psychosocial development.

Play Age

After the aforementioned toddlerhood stage, the play age period follows. Brakke and Pacheco (2019) state that, in contrast to the previous period, at this stage, the interests and knowledge levels of children differ. Moreover, according to Wang et al. (2020), specific factors begin to play critical roles in the formation of cognitive or psychosocial skills, for instance, a negative family environment. During this period, a child learns to set goals and begins to understand the concepts of initiative and guilt.

Family Developmental Traumas

Intimate Partner Violence

Individual family traumas can have a severe impact on the development of children during the two stages discussed. One of them is intimate partner violence, which, as Pill et al. (2017) note, tends to occur between spouses. A child at the stage of toddlerhood cannot critically understand the causal factors of disagreement between parents. However, according to Easterbrooks et al. (2018), based on research data, many children have behavioral disorders at an older preschool age caused by domestic violence between spouses. At the stage of toddlerhood, a child does not perceive abuse adequately.

Nevertheless, from a psychological point of view, he or she feels the tension between parents, which manifests itself in the child’s anxiety and delayed development. As risk factors, one can mention unhealthy relationships between partners. Pill et al. (2017) argue that early pregnancy is one of the most common and resilient prerequisites for the problem. Parents’ inability to avoid the issue can affect the child’s further development negatively in the form of emotional stiffness, closeness, and unwillingness to adapt socially.


Another potential family development trauma may be manifested in disasters. One of the dangerous manifestations, as Osofsky (2018) remarks, is the separation of a child from their parents due to natural disasters or mass catastrophes, for instance, wars or terrorist attacks. For toddlers, the consequences may not be as dangerous as for preschool children. According to Wolmer et al. (2018), during this developmental period, a child understands the basics of family and parenting not intuitively but consciously.

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Therefore, for example, the loss of one parent as a result of disaster can become significant stress and cause the development of severe developmental constraints. Wolmer et al. (2018) state that special behavioral therapies are applied to children of play age. Living in disadvantaged regions is one of the critical risk factors, and as resilient drivers of the problem, one can mention tense political or economic situations. Ignoring this type of trauma in the context of the impact on the psyche of preschool-age children is fraught with dangerous cognitive disorders and developmental delay caused by a stressful state.


Early childhood and play age periods have been chosen as the target development stages, and as the family development traumas, intimate partner violence and disaster manifestations have been identified. At each of the two stages, a child acquires new knowledge and skills and behaves differently. Ignoring family traumas can be fraught with delays in psychosocial and cognitive development, and problems are more common in preschool children than toddlers.


Brakke, K., & Pacheco, M. M. (2019). The development of bimanual coordination across toddlerhood. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 84(2), 7-147. Web.

Dunkel, C. S., & Harbke, C. (2017). A review of measures of Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development: Evidence for a general factor. Journal of Adult Development, 24(1), 58-76. Web.

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Easterbrooks, M. A., Katz, R. C., Kotake, C., Stelmach, N. P., & Chaudhuri, J. H. (2018). Intimate partner violence in the first 2 years of life: Implications for toddlers’ behavior regulation. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 33(7), 1192-1214. Web.

Knight, Z. G. (2017). A proposed model of psychodynamic psychotherapy linked to Erik Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 24(5), 1047-1058. Web.

Osofsky, J. D. (2018). The traumatic effects of child-parent separation and the importance of the relationship. Zero to Three, 39(1), 83-87.

Pill, N., Day, A., & Mildred, H. (2017). Trauma responses to intimate partner violence: A review of current knowledge. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 34, 178-184. Web.

Wang, H. Y., Huang, J. P., Lin, C. L., Au, H. K., & Chen, Y. H. (2020). Paternal influences from early pregnancy to postpartum years on child development: A longitudinal study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 275, 23-30. Web.

Wolmer, L., Hamiel, D., Pardo-Aviv, L., & Laor, N. (2018). Preschool children facing mass trauma: Disasters, war and terrorism. Journal of Mental Health & Clinical Psychology, 2(1), 1-5.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 18). The Stages of Family Development. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 18). The Stages of Family Development.

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"The Stages of Family Development." PsychologyWriting, 18 July 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'The Stages of Family Development'. 18 July.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "The Stages of Family Development." July 18, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "The Stages of Family Development." July 18, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "The Stages of Family Development." July 18, 2022.