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What is Child Development?
Child development basically is any transition in human beings between birth and the end of maturity. It is progressive and is bound to affect the next change or preceding development of a child. Child development may be as a result of many factors including; getting educated, environmental factors and the completion of adolescence. They are many development times in a child before being an adolescent. (Feldman, 2012, pg 67) A child is referred to as a new born between the first 4 weeks of childhood, an infant between 4 weeks and 1 year, a toddler up to 3 years, a preschooler 4-6 years, school aged child 6-13 and an adolescent as from 13 years up to 19 years.
There are many factors that lead to proper child development; parents being one of the many factors, the parents hence play a key role. They help the child to blend socially, academically and reach development wholly. A child is also supposed to receive good care for any chance of proper development which should be the case in order to reach full development. There are so many theories that define child development, such a theory is the ecological systems theory brought up by Urie Branfenbreener who based his postulates on four systems .These were Microsystems, Ecosystem, Macrosystem and Mesosystem .The systems clearly give directives on development. (Feldman, 2012, pg 87)
Jean Piaget a Swiss scholar also developed a theory solely on animals. He came up with stages which include the sensorimotor stage, preoperational stage, concrete stage, formal operations stage which is the last stage. During the sensorimotor stage the child is able to perceive the unseen .At the preoperational stage children explicate their surrounding using symbols of the mind such as words and images.
With this the child is able to apply them in their childish endeavors assuming that they know better and very well as compared to other people. They tend to display ego mostly and knowing more than most people .The concrete stage shows how children begin to think differently and bear a sense of mind. They are able to make it out of situations just by putting their mind to it.
The formal operations is the final stage which depicts children as beings able to relate very well and have the clear indication of things that happen or are to happen. This however also means that the child creates a sought of feeling of superiority to most people at times thinking that maybe he/she is at the peak and above the rest which is not the case. Vygotsky based his theory on the society’s role in developing the child. The child first grows then is able to relate with other people at large. With the help of an adult the child is able to grow and learn for example using rhymes or by certain movements such as tapping.
John Bowlby came with the attachment theory but Mary Ainsworth improved it. It clearly depicts that the strong ties or bonds between a child and a guardian, a child and a parent, a child and the one looking after the child helps with the growth of the child. Eric Erickson developed a theory to the aspect of child development too. (Demick & Andreoletti, pg 82, 2014) This include trust vs. mistrust (infant),Autonomy vs. shame (toddlerhood),Initiative vs. guilt (preschooler),Industry vs. inferiority (young adolescent),Identity vs. role confusion (adolescent),Intimacy vs. isolation (young adulthood), Generativity vs. stagnation (middle adulthood),Ego integrity vs. despair (old age).
Other theories include behavioral theory as well as the psychosexual theory .The stages needed to be fully complete for the preceding one to take course basing it also on the libido in a particular place or different places. (Demick & Andreoletti, pg 85, 2014) The theory has similarities with Bowlby’s theory of attachment and the study of motor development .It helps to relate developments together and to create assertiveness and perception to things.
A different theory known as the “core knowledge perspective” is based on certain domains very important to development which include; physical ,linguistic, numerical, psychological and biological. The main cause of growth is mainly genetic or as a result of the immediate environment. Genetic factors have a great influence on the cell, the diet required, development of the brain too and its growth basically. Certain experiments show that organisms are able to survive with a small change in the environment too or when exposed to environments of slight variation.
However the environment still serves as a factor of development, sometimes both genetic and environmental factors both cause developmental changes .When the rate of genetic factors on the child is high this means that the rate of environmental factors is very low.(Crowley, 2014, pg 114). Physical growth is mainly change in stature over time and this includes the size, weight and physique or stature. This is accompanied with the change in structure such as of the limbs, as a child one has small limbs but as one matures into an adult the limbs become even bigger.
The child shows growth from the head up to the toe with development of vital organs too in the body. The child at first grows fast then progressively and much slower later on. Nutrition ,dieting ,diseases, injuries and exposition to certain things play an important role in the general development. .(Crowley, 2014, pg 114) Variations created later could be as a result of the environment or the genes of the parents and sometimes differences created as a result of different reproductive maturation.
Movement too is a factor of development with the child developing from single steps to continuous and progressive much more conducive steps. This also has an effect on the final posture what is known as motor development. Continuous and vigorous exercise also determines the posture and the ability to move oneself. Children with developed complications may find it very hard to develop and may develop complications. .(Crowley, 2014, pg 115)
This includes sitting, talking or even walking. Development may also vary due to individual differences such as a boy and a girl or even of the left foot and hand as well as the right hand and foot. A child should also be able to develop intellectually and grow certain cognitive abilities .However this depends on certain factors including nutrition, exercise and the parents’ response to the child.
A child first develops response to time and sequence and these increases with the continuing years. This ability was built on successive years checking keenly on their speed and pattern. This is however affected by an individual being left behind or choosing to, this happens in the case of boys and girls. Newborns also tend to create a liking which later changes and they later become weak and scared of people and certain things.
As the child grows he/she becomes friendly and is able to pick out her friends as well as developing feelings attached to people warding off anger or resentment. The more the child tends to relate with the parents certain aspects of social and emotional development are also seen to grow and build. Boys acquire certain behaviors while girls also acquire certain behaviors with differences in their character. (Charlesworth, 2016, pg 20)
Language serves a very important role in development .The components of early childhood development are phonology which leans more on the sounds of language, lexicon, morphology which entails looking deeply into the forms and pragmatics .Infants usually at first have soft vowels and develop cooing and then babbling comes in next ushering repetition of sounds.
(Charlesworth, 2016, pg 22) At 6 months the child is able to understand other’s speech and build on it up to age six as well as acquire mastery of speech and pronunciation .This ensures full participation of the child and exchange based on language .Theories of language development include the bootstrapping theory which bases it theory on the child’s ability to pick out meaning .
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The multi-route model believes in the parent’s ability to influence strongly the speech of the child. Children’s language depends on the attachment of words also known as semantics. .However speech is an important form of development. Delays may lead to serious consequences on the child’s side and the parent therefore should keenly monitor the child’s speech .
There are many causes to this and could be either environmental such as the concentration on other development milestones and stages whereby a child focuses on standing or even walking and neglects even talking. Dire causes could be as a result of neurological causes, for example, deafness, dyslexia and autism. (Brainerd & Pressley, 2012, pg 115) Factors that may pose a risk to the child’s development are either environmental or hereditary.
Environmental factors include those of the prenatal and post natal environment. Prenatal factors are those factors during pregnancy they include nutritional deficiencies, use of drugs, state of the uterus, exposure to radiation, infections, placental implantation. The post natal factors include the external environment, hormones influence, family, nutrition of the child. However malnutrition, maternal depression and substance abuse remain the common factors.
Other factors include post natal depression, socioeconomic status, parasites and poisoning. Abuse of substance also has a great effect, for example, cocaine which leads to poor development of the child especially the mental development altering with the brain functioning. (Feldman, 2012, pg 56) Children who face malnutrition weigh lesser in terms of kilograms and are most times shorter in length .It is also believed that malnutrition poses a danger to one’s intelligence quotient.
Certain ions also serve as important functions to the body and it is therefore important that one observes proper nutrition of a child. The socioeconomic status is based on income, academic or educational achievements and work. Poverty is seen to affect so many children in the case of malnutrition and development also due to nutrition. The parents academic achievement may have an effect on the child’s too ,that is how he/she is to perform. This children are affected in class and perceived by many as daft and left behind by teachers.
Some parasites also result into greater effects preventing the development of most children .Obesity still remains a common problem to all with most children not following a proper diet as a result of exposure and sometimes the parents or themselves. Some factors also popular include abuse which could be physical .A child may also not reach his proper state of development due to non proper state of development due to no proper observance of the common factors as a result of not receiving care. (In Edelman, In Mandle & In Kudzma, 2014, pg 418)
A child who has been neglected is identifiable even by practitioners .The developmental delay may be as a result of many factors and can never easily be ruled out on nurturing .It could be as a result of genetic disorder, disease, physical, sexual or emotional abuse or even a mixture of them at times.
In conclusion, child development is a very important stage in the human cycle therefore it is necessary for all relevant parties involved in this process to take all due duty of care to ensure that the process is attained in the optimum possible favorable factors.
Brainerd, C. J., & Pressley, M. (2012). Verbal Processes in Children: Progress in Cognitive Development Research. New York, NY: Springer New York.
Charlesworth, R. (2016). Understanding child development. Place of publication not identified: Cengage Learning.
Crowley, K. (2014). Child Development: A Practical Introduction
Demick, J., & Andreoletti, C. (2014). Handbook of adult development. New York: Springer
Feldman, R. S. (2012). Child development. Boston: Pearson
In Edelman, C., In Mandle, C. L., & In Kudzma, E. C. (2014). Health promotion throughout the life span.
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