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.
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)
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
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.