What is Child Development? The biological/physiological, psychological and emotional changes that occur in the human body since parturition till th
What is Child Development?
The biological/physiological, psychological and emotional changes that occur in the human body since parturition till the adolescence wind-up is termed as Child development. Ever since an infant is born, the continuous course of development is a human evolution from dependency to increasing autonomy. From the first walk to the first word said by a child; from the first day of school to the last day before leaving for college, are all pillars in child development. The process of child development is continuous, but does not progress at the same rate for every individual rather is affected by preceding developmental experiences at each stage.
Genetic factors and prenatal developments are the major aspects that constitute Child development. Just like every child is unique and special in its ways, so is the parental experience for each parent different.
The nature of development and the stages of childhood are culturally defined by social institutions, customs and laws that make up a society. The study of human development is abundant and diverse, highlighting the aspects of social, emotional and cognitive growth. We all have or will have the experience of child growth and development at some point in our lives, but predictions and understandings do go wrong in some way or the other. In short child development includes milestones and experiences that leave you awestruck in most ways, both optimistically and pessimistically.
Milestones of Child Development
“Why is he behaving this way? Why are you retorting back to your parents? Your parents always want the best for you! You need to act sensibly!” are some among the million questions and advice that both parents and children might have reciprocated to or been asked.
Throughout childhood, there is growth, learning, maturity and the process of absorbing things. You cannot expect a five-year-old to act sensibly or obediently when he or she is forced to eat salad or greens, rather he or she will be stubborn as a mule refusing to eat. Kids do not know the nutritional value or the importance of nourishing meals at such a tender age, all they will do is be resilient to whatever the parents say. As one grows older, he or she realizes the importance and worth of what they have been taught in their childhood.
Let us understand the different stages of child development – primarily there are three stages as milestones of child development, naming – Early childhood, Middle Childhood and Adolescence.
- Early Childhood – The stage from birth to eight years is usually termed as early childhood and which identifies with tremendous growth across all areas of development both physically and mentally. Skill development such as growing from a dependent infant to a young person who is capable enough to take care of his or her body and interact effectively with people is a primary developmental task in this stage.
Physically speaking by the age of three, a child quadruples in weight and doubles in height along with mastering skills such as talking, walking, sitting, toilet training, hand-eye coordination and so on. Fine motor skills develop by the age of along with physical growth, cognitive growth enhances as well and children begin to develop a sense of cause and effect from their actions and responses from the parents. Socioemotional skills develop and attachment formation becomes critical.
Formation of peer relationships, gender identification and a sense of differentiating between right and wrong are some of the skills imbibed during early childhood. Affectionate or emotional attachment or lack of attachment in early childhood may be an asset for serving the later relationships.
School learning is a process during this stage and quite emphasized as well. The pressure nowadays to prepare young kids to enter school with prerequisite skills has created a negative impact on the health of young toddlers. A child should have an environment where quality and necessary learning is ensured rather than an environment where there is a readiness gap between children and their families.
- Middle Childhood – It is the stage from eight years to twelve years and focuses on developing competence in interpersonal and social relationships. Children during this age have a strong influence from their families. A child’s ability to communicate interpersonally is increased through peer and family. The social skills learned during this stage are a factor in building up of competence and self-esteem. Middle childhood is a joyful time for children as interests like – sports, art or music and likeness for things and activities develop. A recognized shift in school performance begins and somehow the skills required for academic success becomes more complex.
In the society that we live in, one who acknowledges and successfully meets the academic challenges passes the social barrier but one who fails to build the necessary skills falls behind according to society. There is more pressure now for students to compete as comparisons have taken over everyone’s mind, and hence we fail to recognize the problems that kid during this age face. Teasing, taunting and slandering peers can lower one’s self-confidence and in some cases, he or she might never overcome this phase resulting in PTSD or depression. Children should be taught the social and life skills that will help them continue to develop into healthy adolescents.
- Adolescence – The stage between thirteen to eighteen years (teenage) where a culturally constructed period that generally begins as individuals reach sexual maturity and ends when the individual has established an identity as an adult within the society. Children during this stage grow physiologically, culturally and cognitively, with each stage having its significance and value. Hormonal and physical changes take place in the body that has entered puberty. Increase in height, deepening of the voice, broadening of shoulders are common changes seen in young males, whereas females experience hormonal changes, menstruation, increase in height, increase in breast size, the shrilling of voice and many more.
Sexual maturity is a significant change during adolescence and is also an important time in emotional development due to intense experiences that teens go. An environment should be created where talking it out wouldn’t be difficult for children. Also, we must ensure that this is the time for a proper education – both practically and academically. There are things that parents feel awkward to talk about but it is very important to share this information with teenagers as they are at a very crucial stage in their life to explore things and implement. Proper sex education, drugs and alcohol, unattainable beauty standards, social media validation are some of the few things that should be considered talking about. Teenage minds are curious, hence the right amount of knowledge should be shared with them. The impact of social media, societal expectations, and peer group acceptance have been comprehensive for teens. All we can do is be there for them and help them overcome every stage step by step
The milestones in child development are unique and beautiful based on both research and cultural influences. Thus, the kind of sctivities we subject them to, should be selected accordingly in the empphasized area of development.
Growth should not be emphasized only in context to academics but should be identifying problems and be there as a mentor or friend whenever they need you.
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