Preoperational, Concrete-Operational, and Formal-Operational Thoughts
According to Piaget’s theories of development, there are several differences that exist between preoperational thought, concrete-operational thought, and formal-operational thought. These differences occur due to disparity in stages of growth as well as cognitive levels that exist in children as they grow and develop (Sigelman & Rider, 2011). As such, parents have to have to be aware of their children’s latest developments and help the children achieve the best in growth and development at each stage. To help their children best, parents have to be conscious of various facts that relate to their interaction with the children and develop desired responses to each (Sigelman & Rider, 2011).
Preoperational thought occurs in the preoperational stage. This stage runs between ages two and seven. During this stage, children start acquiring magical thinking, and become quite egocentric, with egocentricity reducing towards the end of the stage. At the same time, this is the stage where most basic motor skills and coordination develop. This is one of the most important stages in a child’s development (Sigelman & Rider, 2011).
Age 4 years falls within the bracket of Preoperational thought and stage. The most important facts parents interacting with children at this stage must keep in mind is the fact that there are limitations and achievements the child has. Therefore, parents should help the children to strengthen their achievements, at the same time; they should not lay too much expectation on children, even beyond their limitations. Limitations at this stage include tendencies of animism, being egocentric, subjective logic and failure in conservation tasks. On the other hand, achievements include quickly developing language, playing and motor ability and mental construction (Sigelman & Rider, 2011). An example of parent help at this stage includes playing and dancing with the child and using suitable puzzles to stimulate thought. It is not advisable to drill any developments but to let the child acquire them naturally.
Concrete-operational thought occurs in the concrete-operational stage. Age brackets for this stage run from age 7 to age 12. During this stage, concrete logic begins to emerge in the thinking of children. Egocentricity diminishes and use of practical aids is instrumental in conservation and logic development. This stage is most relevant for practical skill development and the onset of concrete logic (Sigelman & Rider, 2011).
Age 8 years falls within the bracket of concrete-operational thought. Similarly, a parent interacting with a child at this stage has to bear the limitations and possible achievements in mind. Though concrete logic and practicality on tangible materials develops, it is worth noting that this logic is limited to only practically tangible and not theoretical situations. Possible achievements to bear in mind include transitivity, objective, logical thought and dynamic transformations (Sigelman & Rider, 2011). Examples of engagement activities for an 8 year old to develop concrete-operational thought include involvement in comparison, measuring by placing them side by side, concepts of counting and numbers, and drawing of objects. The quality of practicality must be considered in each of these activities.
Formal-operational thought, which happens to be the last of thought development, occurs within formal operational stage. Starting from around age 12 and moving through to beyond ages of 17, this stage characterizes the most complex thought development abilities. At this stage, an amount of egocentrism reoccurs with the entrance of adolescence. The development and use of abstract thought is the most important milestone at this stage (Sigelman & Rider, 2011).
17-year-old children fall within this stage. Parents dealing with these children have to bear various factors in mind in relation to thought development. The limitation of egocentrism and imaginary characteristics to unseen audiences are evident (Sigelman & Rider, 2011). Children in this stage need to be given some freedom. In case they have siblings, parents have to make a clear separation on property owned by each child. Achievements include the emergence of abstract thought and deductive reasoning. Since the child at this age can apply logic and even trace eventual consequences and implications of their act, they can be occasionally allowed to make decisions for themselves.
Succinctly, cognitive abilities and thought development depend on practicality in most cases. Experiences and repetition play a major role in development and most children acquire abilities then apply them in solving higher problems according to Piaget’s theories (Sigelman & Rider, 2011).
Sigelman, C. K., & Rider, E. A. (2011). Life-span human development (7th ed). Belmont, CA:
Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.