Child Development

Introduction

Child development can be defined as changes that occur in a human being starting from the time they are born extending to the close of adolescence. These changes include both biological and psychological which are influenced by various factors which may include; environmental, learning, genetics and pre-natal life.

The major ones that contribute to these changes are environmental and genetics defined as maturation. These two interactively lead to a healthy child growth. Developmental stages may be divided into several periods depending with the child’s age. These include; newborn 0-1 month, infant 1month-1yr, toddler 1-3yrs, pre-schoolar 3-6 yrs, school- age 6-13 yrs, teenage/adolescent 13-20yrs.

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All these sages are important as specific development are expected to take place, therefore all the necessities should be but in place to enhance a healthy growth. Development is a continuous process where one stage leads to the next and as such, success is to be endeavored at all the above mentioned stages. It is a common thing for some children to attain certain developmental millstone earlier or later in relation to the given average time frames.

Several theories have been formulated such as the attachment, behavioral, ecological system theories and many more all in attempt of explaining child development. During the age of 1-3yrs;toddler, much growth is achieved and great changes also take place, the child also have opinions and can solve problems and important of all is that the child learns to be independent. Toddlerhood is therefore, the most critical stage in a child development.

Various aspects of development in toddlerhood; In the society, child development is very crucial and therefore knowing the Cognitive, motor, social, emotional, moral, physical appearances and language development and the strategies that can be employed to enhance this development at this various stages is very crucial.

Cognitive development of a toddler; Play and imitation form major activities in cognitive growth. Toddlers are very curious of what takes place in the world for example, they can try mixing several ingredients as they see adults do and at some times they try to explore various things on their own, for instance they can opt to discover what happens if one drops a glass or throws something like a ball into water.

At this stage, the child does things repeatedly as a method of learning. It is in this stage that adults find challenges in bringing up a child as he/she will always imitate even the most dangerous activities and also try to discover through various experiments (Charlesworth 2010).

At the age of 18 months representational thinking develops whereby a child is in a position to think over a problem before taking any action. For instance if the child wants to reach a ball placed on top of a table he/she stretches and when unable, stops and thinks over how to solve the problem then, finds a chair to step on it as he/she stretches to reach the ball, contrary to the previous stage where he/she could stop thinking the moment he/she failed to get the ball.

It is also at this stage where the child likes to discover things hidden from them when they are seeing and especially when they are hid in the same place always. At a much latter stage, 18 months or latter they can be able to find things that are hidden without them seeing.

Also the child starts to develop language by naming the toys used for playing as it is the stage she/he uses more than one toy as compared to the earlier stage where only one was manageable. Speech is important in concept development and as such adults should help, support and guide the child reach his/her cognitive potential. Usually, learning is through manipulation of objects and language develops in connection to these objects.

During this stage concepts such as size, weight, length, time and others are learnt. As the child encounters so many objects in their day to day life, they learn the different characteristics of these objects in a more meaningful manner hence enhancing their brain development (Charlesworth 2011).

At 12-18 months child’s brain develops, whereby their memory span expands. Toddlers are able to master what they see the adults do and repeat at a much latter stage. This is known as deferred imitation where repetition is done hence improving brain connections (Charlesworth 2011).

At 18-24 months, the brain becomes more developed where many circuits that enable the child jump, scoop and such more activities become complete. Language and play provide new skills in problem solving and the older ways of doing things are now re-molded. At three years of age, the child’s brain is approximated to be 80% that of an adult. It is at this age that a child molds objects to represent the reality, for example the use of a folded sweater as a child.

Many opportunities should be presented to the child at this stage to help improve their skills in solving problems. Children should be bought materials such as toys, recycled containers, paints and many more. Moreover children should be given some space to try and to discover things on their own as this will improve their brains compared to when they are assisted wholly. Some activities that they should be left on their own to explore on their own include mixing different colors to see the outcome.

Concepts relating to categorization and classification are also learnt at this stage. Children can now be in a position to discover objects with a like features and classify them. At times this classification is incorrect, for example all objects to them may be generalize as vehicles which at long run may not be true, therefore, adults should label the objects , guide them in noting their differences and similarities to help them avoid generalizing when it comes to classification.

Pretend play becomes common such as making a call using a spoon or a maize cob, drinking from empty cups and many others form of pretence. During this time, adults should lower themselves to the toddler’s level and engage in a collaborative play (Charlesworth 2011).

Motor development of a toddler; this is concerned with issues of body movement. The coordinated movement of arms and legs is termed as gross motor skills, while those movements that involve hands and fingers are referred to as fine- motor skills; to improve these two types of development, the child should be provided with more opportunities to crawl, play and jump by providing an extensive playing ground (Goldberg, 2001).

Motor development is influenced by many factors such as genetics which determines the size of the body parts and their strength. Nutrition and exercise are also crucial in determining the strength and the ease in movements. The child should also be provided with play objects such as toys, a pair of scissors and others that will require manipulation by use of hands and fingers to strengthen the young muscles which will encourage and improved the motor development.

Usually, motor development takes place in a sequential manner whereby the child starts with crawling at the age of 6-8 months. They then stand and walk while supporting themselves with objects. They then learn to stand without any support and eventually walk a few steps (Charlesworth 2011).

Social development of a toddler; the major aspect in social development is play. At this stage the child has learnt how to walk and communicate and it is the time that he/she proofs very playful. Though according to the adults, these children may not be physically fit to play alone, they like doing their things independently. Toddlers play near other children though they don’t know how to intermingle with them, they have not yet learnt to share and enjoy in pretence games.

Toddlers also become anxious about strangers and places they fear could be dangerous. They will usually find an attachment to the object they find comfort such as toys. Social development in a toddler is of great value because all the values instilled to the kid at this stage are even portrayed at adulthood. When the child grows socially, he/she finds it easy to interact with other toddlers and also adults, thus easily making friends.

One important aspect of the social aspect of a kid is that when well guided through this stage the child develops self confidence which can be molded by praising the child in every other attempt she/he makes. Important to mention also is language, training a child to use courtesy words such as please, thank you, sorry cultivates discipline in a child and makes it easier for him or her to socialize.

When language is understood well, then, expressing ones feelings become friendly than when it is done physically. Language is a way of communicating which is vital in social development .Toddlers majorly learn through mimicking and as such according them respect and also treating others well will lead to a healthy social growth as they will always do what their parents or caregivers do.

As mentioned earlier, toddlers are forgetful and they learn when something is repeatedly done, therefore one should be consistent in instilling a certain skill or value, but not just doing it once and assuming that the child has grasped everything right (Charlesworth, 2011).

Emotional development of a toddler; it is in this stage that the child become more independent and very possessive. The child expresses his/herself in many ways such as crying, pointing at want they want and throwing tantrums. Also the child recognizes him/herself and has preferences to certain things such as cloths.

Due to the sensitive at this age it is good to create a good relationship with the child by expressing what you feel on his/her action, not punishing them harshly and using humor in correcting them rather than shouting and use of harsh words. Important of all is to control emotions as the child will imitate adults emotional behaviors thus affecting their growth (shaffer, 1995).

Moral development of a toddler; this stage of development is crucial because through imitation, a child develops morals. It is therefore important for the adults to have good morals so that they can act as role models to the toddlers. Also feelings of guilty, empathy and other moral feelings are also pronounced. Learning moral concepts at this age such as truth is important as this will have an influence in a child’s life.

Parents should be very conscience in all they do because at this stage the child is very observant as he/she is curious of all that takes place in the surrounding. It is good to instill punishment immediately the child does wrong and even setting out the mistake very clearly so that the child can appreciate what he /she is punished for. Opportunities for doing things that were previously done wrong should be provided. Moral development is very important as it has far stretching effects into a child’s future endeavors (Shaffer, 1995).

Physical development of a toddler; This is a very important stage in child development and it is perceived to be the most troublesome stage as the child will always stand by his/her opinion with a no answer at hand. This stage includes children from one to three years where by in each year some physical and biological changes occur.

In this paper toddler stage has been selected as the stage of address and all the millstones, physical changes activities and rationale to promote development at this stage have been considered herein.

One year old; curious, imitate sounds, name people they know, point at what they want, frequently use no answer, follow simple directions, pronounce one or two words. Two year old; think before acting, don’t know how to make decision, low concentration span, use two to three words combined, join in singing, memorizes short poems or songs.

Three years old; the child is more active. uses several words to in combination to construct a sentence, can memorize a verse or a short stanza, becomes interested in learning by using a pencil to scribble, he/she becomes more independent in activities such as toileting, dressing in some occasions and feeding. At this stage, children are known to eat very little but after every short time span throughout the day.

Children at this stage should be allowed to play most of their time and playing objects such as toys should also be provided, parents should tell the short stories about them or of other children of the same age, sing to them short songs, providing a balanced diet every time they need to feed, playing games such as hide and seek with them and other forms of exercise so as to enhance their physical growth (Malley, 1995)

Language development of a toddler; at the age of 10 months most children have their first words come out of their mouths, they are the simplest ones such us mummy and daddy. This is the most exiting moments to the parents. As the child starts to walk, these words may be forgotten owing to the fact that the child cannot concentrate at two things as mentioned earlier.

At the age of two years the child learns new words in his/her day to day encounters and is now able to construct simple sentences and at the age of three the child has a vast number of new vocabularies. Parents need to do a number of things so as to help the child learn and master language.

This may include, echoing a word correctly immediately the child pronounces it, restating a word used by the child in various ways and even using the word to construct a sentence, shout the name of a new object severally and encourage reading and writing as this will improve language skills and mastering (Malley, 1995)

Conclusion

Toddlerhood is therefore, the most critical stagein a child development. This is seen in the various aspects of growth that take place during this stage. It is in this stage that determines how the child will be like in the future, therefore, proper care should be taken in the manner of bringing up the child at this stage ensuring that all aspects have been well nurtured

References list

Charlesworth, R. (2011). Understanding child development. (8th Ed). Wadsworth: Cengage Learning

Malley, C. (1995). Toddler Development. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts.

Retrieved from http://www.nncc.org/child.dev/todd.dev.html.Accessed on 30th March 2011

Shaffer,D,R. (2009). Social and personality development. (6th Ed). Wadsworth: Cengage Learning.

Child Development

Introduction

Child development can be seen as a continuous process which constitutes distinct phases. The child continuous interaction with the immediate and wide environment influences his or her development, for instance, the transactional model postulates that “the development of a child is….a product of the continuous dynamic interactions between the child and the experience provided by his or her family and social context” (Sameroff & Fiese, 2000 cited in Davies, 2004, p.4).

In addition, adequate research has portrayed how transactional processes influence the development of brain during the first year of life, observing that physical touching, social interaction and sensory stimulation encourage physical brain growth and also boost brain function (Nelson, 1999 cited in Davies, 2004).

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This particular observation indicates how a particular process that may appear to be biological turns out to be transactional, at the same time while the process of development continues; quality of parenting, opportunities and stressors in the child’s and parents’ lives, social circumstances, social institutions, culture and historical events forms a wider circle of key elements that exert influence and determinants of who the individual child becomes.

First years in the life of a child matter and in long-run do impact heavily on the life of the child. This research will explore the concept of child development basing the arguments on the thesis that, experiences children engage in early life and the environments they are exposed to become vital in shaping their brains structures while affecting the development of the child and in the long-run these early experiences become key determinants as to whether the child grows up to be happy, healthy and productive member of the society.

Reviewing early childhood development

Freud established that the period from birth to five years in the lifespan of a child is a very important stage in which early life experiences lay foundation for later development. Freud conclusion was that the future personality development is much dependent on these early experiences, adjustments and coping behaviors of the child which are also determined on the basis of early experiences during this period.

By the time the child reaches the age of five, a number of personality traits are established and some of these established traits expand up to the periods of adolescence and adulthood (Wal, 1999).

The period from two to five years of age has been seen as the period when the education and learning experience for the child starts while at the same time the development of the child remains at peak. During this moment, the child is geared for easy and rapid learning and attempts to accustom him/herself with the environment. The stage is sometimes known as curiosity age, early childhood years, preschool years and formative years (Wal, 1999).

Research has shown that learning begins in infancy long before formal educations starts in the life of a child, and this continues all the way through the life of an individual. Experiences of early learning influences later learning and from these early attempts of success in learning will result to later success whereas early failure will breed later failure (Heckman, 2004).

Further, the research indicates that early childhood interventions of high quality have lasting effects on learning and motivation of the child. Moreover, the period account for almost 80 per cent of the cognitive development and the period is seen as appropriate for inculcating values and habits, development of desirable traits and also the formation of attitudes.

Freud Sigmund stages of development

The field of psychosexual development is credited with the work of Sigmund. According to Freud, personality in individuals is largely established by the age of five and it is the work of early experiences that contribute a lot in personality development that later influence behavior in the lives of individuals (Cherry, n.d). Freud developed six stages in the development process of a child and stated that when the child goes through the stages successfully, he or she is likely to experience a healthy personality.

The oral stage forms the primary stage where the child interacts with the environment through mouth, hence rooting and sucking becomes important. Success of this stage will see the child develop a sense of trust and comfort while the failure in this stage will lead to dependency and aggression resulting in later problems like drinking, eating, smoking and nail biting (Cherry, n.d).

The anal stage is the focus on libido and how the child controls bladder and bowel movements. The parents become the main teachers in toilet training and whereby using praise and some form of rewards encourage the child in attaining positive outcomes.

Indeed, the success of this stage in later life makes the child to become competent, productive and full of creativity (Cherry, n.d). The phallic stage is where the children develop the ability to recognize the difference between males and females, and through proper training they identify their roles by copying from their parents.

The latent period generally becomes the stage of exploration where the children engages in forming peer relationships, identifying their hobbies and other interest and when successful executed the child develops key social and communication skills while at the same time becoming self-confident (Cherry, n.d). The last stage is the genital stage where the individual develops interests in others and success of the stage is where the individual becomes well-balanced, warm and caring to others (Cherry, n.d).

Early life experiences and brain development

When the child is born, the brains are not fully constructed and it is through experiences which form the architecture that in turn determine how ‘blueprints’ are turned into reality. Basically, the development of brain is interaction between the genes the child is born with and the experiences the child receives from the environment (Deiner, 2009, p.168); and therefore, the early experiences shape not only the behaviors of the child but also the brain of the child.

The deduction from this is that, brain development in a child is an interaction between nature and nurture, while aspects like trauma, disease and abuse together with neglect have the potential to change the brain (Deiner, 2009, p.168).

At the same time, positive influences can also change the brains whereby an enriched, motivating environment has the capability to change the brains of a child both in the areas of cognitive development and also the social development. Davies observes that after birth, child brain growth and the specific ways brain functions are generally organized and subject to the influence of the child’s environment (Davies, 2004, p.140).

Early childhood experience influences which neural pathways will be strengthened, which remain available and which will atrophy and therefore the stimulation the child gets enhances his or her brain development while understimulation, poor and traumatizing environment will greatly hold back or shape brain functioning in maladaptive ways.

On the other part, McCain and Mustard, noted that, “the effects of early experience on the wiring and sculpting of the brain’s billions of neurons last a lifetime” (McCain and Mustard, 1999, cited in Young and Richardson, 2007, p.255).

From this explanation it is evident that: brain development is a continuous process, and that each developmental step influences the next step; the sequence of brain development that relates to experience is hierarchical and occurs in a series of stages and that the sensing pathways develop very early and connect with other pathways to influence learning, behavior and physical and mental health; negative together with the positive experiences in early life greatly affect the development of neural circuits that intercede cognitive, emotional and social capacities; and lastly, child’s early development has important effects on later physical and mental health risks as well as education and learning (Young and Richardson, 2007, p.256).

Conclusion

Therefore from analyzing various and related studies it becomes evident that early childhood experiences have the potential to shape what kind of individuals the child will develop into. All that happens in the life of a child present themselves as important aspects that influence and determine the course of life of the child in his or her later life.

It takes both qualitative and quantitative aspects of early life experiences that the child is exposed to in order to define and mould his or her later life. For instance, a child who experiences early life instances of uncaring, alienating or hostile environment are likely to exhibit higher risk to psychological disorder, participate in disorder and substance abuse and the likelihood they are faced with to fail in life.

At the same time a child who gets early life experience to sports and play is much likely to develop and appreciate sports in his or her life. To conclude, it can be stated that, early childhood forms a critical stage and period in the life of a child since it is during this period that the child acquires many skills that help him or her to become a productive and happy adult since the experiences forms a lasting impact on the life of such a child.

References

Cherry, K. (N.d). Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from
http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/ss/psychosexualdev_6.htm

Davies, D. (2004). Child development: a practitioner’s guide. NY, Guilford Press. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from
http://books.google.com/books?id=8gUYlyrjWTEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=child+development&hl=en&ei=KwdhTPTTNsKb4AbIp-yrCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

Deiner, P. L. (2009). Inclusive Early Childhood Education: Development, Resources, and Practice. CA, Cengage Learning. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from
http://books.google.com/books?id=nr9wQx_bv2kC&pg=PA169&dq=early+experiences+and+development+of+child+brains&hl=en&ei=Jw9hTO2cNNuX4gbo-OSZCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=early%20experiences%20and%20development%20of%20child%20brains&f=false

Heckman, J. J. (2004). Investing in the Very Young: Importance of early childhood development. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from
http://child-encyclopedia.com/pages/PDF/Importance-early-childhood-development.pdf

Wal, S. (1999). Encyclopaedia of Child Development: Priorities for 21st Century. New Delhi, Sarup & Sons. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from
http://books.google.com/books?id=Phwr-QWY-BIC&pg=PA77&dq=stages+of+child+development+and+how+early+experiences+shape+his+later+life&hl=en&ei=DQhhTM-iA5OW4AbbjuTNCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CGMQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

Young, M. E. and Richardson, L. M. (2007). Early child development from measurement to action: a priority for growth and equity. VA, World Bank Publications. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from
http://books.google.com/books?id=Cwa0LZOkv3MC&pg=PA255&dq=early+experiences+and+development+of+child+brains&hl=en&ei=Jw9hTO2cNNuX4gbo-OSZCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CEEQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=early%20experiences%20and%20development%20of%20child%20brains&f=false

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