The evolution of the human being has been commented from different perspectives and approaches, each one with an incidence on the development of the personality and one of them has treated it from an evolutionary and global approach on the childhood age. 

In the following article, we explain what Wallon’s theory consists of and what his contributions to child development were.

What is Wallon’s theory?

The theory of the French psychologist and doctor Henri Wallon (1) , is a Theory of Human Development that tries to explain the psychological and intellectual evolution of the child.

According to his work, he conceived the mental development of children as a succession of stages , focusing on the analysis of the cognitive, biological, affective and social aspects, in which the mental faculties and the nervous system intervene .

To highlight: Henri Wallon studies the intellectual development of the child through Genetic Psychology (2) , since he points out that psychology belongs to the field of natural sciences as well as to the humanities.

What are the contributions of Wallon’s theory?

The contributions of Wallon’s Theory focused on the intellectual development of the child in the following aspects:

1. Affective and cognitive aspects influence development

The establishment of relationships and affective bonds at an early age is of vital importance, since it acts as a stimulus in the integral development of the child , which affects learning .

Note: Regarding the cognitive aspect, from the moment of the formation of consciousness in the child, the accumulation of experiences at each stage allows him to mature the development of his intellect.

2. Movement with the environment creates knowledge

Another aspect that stands out is that the relationship and interaction with the elements of the environment , once the child develops consciousness, is the moment in which knowledge is produced.

For this reason, it is proposed in this theory that consciousness resides in the origin of intellectual progress, but it does not appear at birth but is a quality that is built with interaction.

You should know: At this point sociocultural learning comes into play , as a decisive factor in the intellectual and psychological development of the individual.

3. Knowledge is built through affective symbiosis

Affective symbiosis is the affective bond, which derives from the physiological relationship with the mother , later transforming into an affective relationship. 

To highlight: Wallon states that the origin of intellectual progress resides in consciousness , but it is socially constructed through affective symbiosis towards the psychological evolution of the child.

What are the stages of development according to Wallon’s theory?

Next, we describe the six stages or stages of child human development proposed by Wallon in his theory:

1. Impulsive Stadium

It is a stage where the construction of the child himself and his own knowledge constitutes the central interest, which begins from birth to 6 months of age. 

At this stage, one cannot yet speak of consciousness, nor of intention, nor of will in the child. His responses respond to unconditioned and conditioned reflexes, which revolve around the satisfaction of his needs .

On the other hand, emotion and its expression are constituted as the dominant function and this is the period that Wallon would call preconscious activity , since there is still no complete psychic being.

You should know: Moral , psychosexual and psychosocial development , as well as Wallon’s Theory, describe the development of the individual from their perspectives but dividing it into successive stages from childhood.

2. Emotional stage

For Wallon, this stage begins at six months of age and extends until the child’s first year of life and is characterized by the fact that a strong affective symbiosis is established with the mother and emotion dominates behavior, which allows contact with the mother. affective human world and the appearance of self-consciousness. 

Note: For Wallon , emotions play an important role in the child’s communication with his affective and social environment. (3)

3. Sensorimotor and projective stage

This stage covers from the first to the third year of age , this being a little more complex, since the child’s activity is oriented towards the outside world to understand any object that surrounds him, thanks to the increase in muscle tone, which allows motor skills.

To highlight: During this period , language appears in the child, allowing the establishment of interrelationships with others and space-time relationships, he recognizes the point, the color, but he still does not depend on himself and does not feel capable of acting on his own. your own account.

4. Stadium of personalism

The stage of Wallon’s personalism, comprises from three to six years of age of the child and here the consolidation of the personality occurs, although not definitively, due to his concern to differentiate himself from others and manifest his own ” I ” .

This is how this stadium lays the foundations for their future independence, determining the need to be different from the rest and for this it relies on their development of motor and expressive skills.

5. Categorical Stadium

In this stage, which covers approximately from 6 years to 11 years of life, the child begins to organize his knowledge and thoughts, first in a vague and general way and then more and more systematically, since he is interested in understanding the world around him. surrounds him and his interest shifts outwards.

You should know: Here the child states or names things and then relates, classifies or categorizes them.

6. Stage of adolescence

It begins from the age of 12 and is characterized by the development of cognitive functions , on the other hand, it is highlighted by an affective and personality immaturity that produces a conflict. 

Note: Adolescence points towards the integration of knowledge in life and towards autonomy. Again, one of the main concerns is the affirmation of the self.

Key Findings

  • Wallon’s theory tries to explain the psychological and intellectual evolution of the child.
  • Wallon conceived of children’s mental development as a succession of stages.
  • This theory focuses on the analysis of cognitive, biological, affective and social aspects.
  • For Wallon , emotions play an important role in the intellectual development of the child.

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