The Theoretical Approach to Child Behavior

According to the theoretical approach to child behavior, brain structure, cognitive development, social environment as well as psychology, are factors greatly influencing a child's behavior 1. As children grow, they experience a number of significant changes in all these areas, which results in their ability to shape their personality and to expressing themselves in a certain manner. As stated by the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families, the first three years of a child's life are of chief importance to his overall behavioral development 1.

Brain Structure

As shown by Alan Slater, Ian Hocking and Jon Loose, authors of "An Introduction to Developmental Psychology," brain structure, along with physical and motor development, influences child behavior 12. For example, when a child acquires a certain developmental milestone, he will also learn a new way to act on the world. By developing the ability to stand upright, he will have a new appreciation and understanding of heights. This will influence the way he sees the world and in the way he behaves within it. Motor development works with experience and practice to create a dynamic system, which proves to be an important part of the child's behavioral training. As children learn to move and think in a certain way, they grow emotionally and socially. These aspects of their development affect their communication with others and their understanding of the world around them. As a result, their behavior is shaped accordingly.

Cognitive Development

According to psychologist Jean Piaget, children grow by making their environment completely theirs. They seem adapt to their surroundings and understanding their world in their own way. Take the use of language, for example. One child may interpret a word like "more" differently from another child. If one child looks at two bottles of milk, and one is half full and the other one is full, he might point to the full bottle of milk, saying, "More." A child's cognitive development enables a child to build on more advanced concepts to reach his own conclusions.

Social Environment

The theoretical approach also emphasizes the role of social environment in a child's behavioral development. From parents to school and friends, a child's social world shapes his communication with the people around him. According to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development of the State Government in Victoria, Australia, children who socialize in a nonhurtful and respectful environment are more likely to establish empathic relationships with other people and are less likely to express themselves inappropriately.


According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, a secure child is more likely to be emotionally stable as he grows. As a result, behavioral problems are often traced back to psychological disorders. On the contrary, children who are emotionally secure seem to shape better communication and social skills skills that are characterized by a healthy and constructive attitude.