Vygotsky's Concept of Periods of Crisis

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Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky’s socio-historical theory of the development of higher mental functions such as behavior and attention extended to discussion of “crisis” periods, one he felt occurred at age three, before the child began formal schooling. The crisis Vygotsky claimed occurred at age three is characterized by a group of seven “behaviors,” all of which indicate a struggle with the child’s position in relation to social structures. The journal article: Defiant Behavior in Two-and Three-Year Olds: A Vygotskian Approach by Keefer states that modern group childcare settings dominant today represent a change in the environmental variables that affect the behavior of young children and their families. The research done in this article examined the occurrences and characteristics of defiant behavior in two and three year old children during outdoor play at a university child development center. This study was done away from the family structure in a modern childcare setting. The study was done by examining patterns in defiant behaviors during play in different age groups, and comparing the observations to Vygotsky’s seven categories of behavior common at age three. The study was done to try to find out if Vygotsky’s seven categories of behavior continue to assist in the understanding of defiant behaviors at ages two and three. This study asks if Vygotsky’s categories of behavior characterizing the crisis of age three are still relevant, and if they apply to the new social environments in which young children operate today. Also, this study examines the types of defiant behavior that occur in group care at ages two and three, explores any patterns in that behavior, and relates the data to Vygotsky’s framework for understanding the behavior and experiences of children in this age group and in this setting. The research used in this study was descriptive research.
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