Human development is the study of the growth of humans from childhood to adulthood that involves the development of social, emotional, intellectual, and physical attributes. The development of these features in the individual will enable her/him to relate well with other people, have a healthy relationship, and make better choices in life. Although this may seem obvious, individuals who are unable to develop well always have difficulty in many aspects of life. Some of these people may experience relationship problems, academic difficulties, and other physical inabilities.
Firstly, we consider the physical development. During early childhood, children develop a streamlined body and the limps grow much longer at a slower rate than during the infant stage. In late childhood, girls grow faster than boys while some of them start experiencing signs of adolescence like the development of breasts. As they grow older, they enter the adolescence stage and undergo final growth where boys put up more muscles while girls become fat. At this point, the reproductive organs mature, with boys experiencing the enlargement of the scrotum and penis while girls’ breasts mature (Gladding, 2008).
There are various factors that determine changes in the physical development and attributes of children during childhood. However, the major ones include hereditary attributes that are controlled and determined by genes. These are genetic information stored in the sex cells of human beings, which give instructions to the growth hormones. They are specific and never similar for any 2 people regardless of their relationship whether blood or otherwise.
Besides, they dictate the nature of growth and development that should take place in the physical attributes of individuals. Besides the genes, the physical environment surrounding the child is a major determinant of nature and the complete physical growth of the individual.
In addition to that, there are some principles that govern the physical development of children. According to the dynamic systems theory, it is suggested that the bodies of children are naturally made of dynamic systems. These systems change depending on the environment and the genetic instructions from the genes thus explaining the origin of the varied actions of children. When a child is growing the actions of the body parts like the ability of the hands to hold begin with a random movement of the muscles. It is necessary for the child to learn how to control those random movements of its hand to be able to hold an object. The move is perfected by the ability of the child to curiously try out the move until it can lean to hold.
Due to the varied ability of the different but combined body systems, body parts grow at different rates creating the variation in development. The head usually takes a shorter time to attain maturity compared to other parts of the body like the trunk.
Furthermore, the forelimbs grow much slower than the hind limbs, which eventually leads to the variation in length at maturity. This may also be observed in the internal system of an individual whereby, the lymphatic system grows faster during childhood and stabilizes during adolescence. At childhood, the lymph nodes are the major source of defense for the body against infection-causing pathogens. On the other hand, the reproductive systems usually have a very slow growth rate during childhood and uncontrollably grow during adolescence (Gladding, 2008).
It is also evident that each child follows a distinctive development pattern. For instance, all children must learn certain moves but some of them will learn earlier than others. This may also occur because of the varied environmental and genetic factors.
For example, the different exposures and the possibility of the child going through a prolonged illness during earlier stages of life while others are healthy throughout. Besides, physical changes may also be characterized by qualitative and quantitative changes. Quantitative changes are perfected by the child practices overtime to do it like other older children, for example, kicking of a ball or finger-snapping. On the other hand, qualitative changes are observed in the ability of the child to make credible moves, like walking upright which may take a lot of time for the child to fully develop.
Next, we look at the development of the child’s intelligence; it has the ability to make the child stand out for a more superior ability to analyze situations more quickly and accurately. Moreover, the individual is able to get involved in multiple mental activities and make precise choices. In most cases, it is observed that more intelligent people are able to use past experiences to solve current challenges facing them more swiftly than the less intelligent people.
In early childhood, the child is not able to comprehend complex situations, unlike in late childhood where they start to understand more complex situations but lack emotional maturity until towards the end of adolescence. The intelligence level of an individual may be observed in his/her performance in school and in life, where he is able to make well-calculated decisions and be ahead of situations by making informed choices (Gladding, 2008).
There are several theories that try to explain the ability and nature of intelligence in human beings. To begin with, we consider Spearman’s g, a theory suggested by Charles Spearman. According to him, intelligence is the ability of an individual to exhibit pervasive and more knowledgeable reasoning and decision ability in general and specific tasks. In his opinion, he suggested that when an individual carries out a task, it always has the general and more specific aspect. In addition to that, related tasks will enable the individual to perform above average in the two tasks because of their similarity.
Lastly, we consider the Cattell’s Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence theory. In his opinion, Cattell suggested that intelligence is made up of two components involving fluid and crystallized intelligence. Fluid intelligence is the differentiated ability of different people to quickly and effectively acquire knowledge and use it to adapt and prevail in existing and new situations. The individual is able to find solutions to complicated circumstances more quickly than other people.
On the other hand, crystallized intelligence is the ability of an individual based on the accumulated experience over time in addition to the person’s academic knowledge. The skills and abilities are utilized according to the nature of the task at hand (Gladding, 2008).
On top of that, communication is a basic skill necessary in the life of all human beings. It is facilitated by the development of excellent basic elements of language by an individual. There are several rudiments of language that if perfected by an individual may help in facilitating his/her ability to master any given language fluently. Firstly, we consider the ability of an individual to master the phonology of any given language, which is the specific sound patterns used in producing words while speaking.
Besides, semantics is the meaning of words while syntax is the pattern which words should adopt in order to form a meaningful sentence. Lastly, pragmatics is the ability of people to effectively communicate and socialize with other people. During early childhood, the child starts to understand most words and some kids can make good sentences. When they reach late childhood they are able to form good sentences and communicate better than before. However, during adolescence, most children are fully developed in language.
There are several theories that explain language development in humans one of them is the Modeling and reinforcement theory. According to this theory, modeling plays a major role in developing the language of an individual. For example, children in early childhood learn through imitating the sound produced by others while speaking then trying it out. With time, the child is able to understand the meaning of certain words, there use in a given language, and in forming sentences.
Besides, every child has Nativism which is a biological mechanism associated with the language acquisition device. These biologically triggered abilities enable the child to develop and understand his/her native language very quickly as compared to other languages. In most cases, the children in late childhood have well-formed language abilities and can easily communicate. During adolescence, the language abilities are fully formed and the individual can communicate excellently in multiple languages (McDevit, 2004).
In human development, personal and emotional growth is a key element in the wellbeing of anyone. This entails the personal development of an individual’s self-image, emotional expression, and his relationship with other people. Moreover, it is a major aspect that determines a person’s emotional stability and maturity. Besides, they are the elements of the individual’s attachment to other people and the ability to establish lasting and stable relationships in life. When children are still infants and during childhood, the nature of the attachments they establish with their parents is the foundation of their lifelong abilities in forming relationships with people close to them.
There are several explanations for the personal and emotional development of individuals. During infancy and early childhood stages in life, the child will always develop a very close relationship in response to the kind of relationship portrayed by the caregiver. However, in late childhood, children experience poor emotional stability which improves as they progress into the late adolescence stage. The secure attachment is an example of a stable attachment where children utilize their relationship with caregivers as a safe base in the exploration of their immediate environment. Moreover, there is the insecure-avoidant attachment in which the child is indifferent to the caregiver’s relationship and seems to be independent.
Next, we consider the cognitive ability of the child during development. This is the ability of the individual to improve in his/her thinking, from seeing things from a personal perspective to the recognition of more complicated points of view. In early childhood, the child can recognize only simple situations unlike in late childhood where he/she can identify more complex situations and understand. During the late adolescence stage, the individual is more stable emotionally and is able to reason through highly complex situations. Its development improves an individual’s understanding of different perspectives.
For instance, categorization of events and things, logical reasoning, and insight derived from personal experience with a given situation. It involves the growth in the ability of the brain to understand and reason through more sophisticated circumstances. This is triggered by; genetically controlled changes in the brain, the different experiences that occur during normal playtime, and the ability of the child to try and make sense of the world on his/her own (McDevit, 2004).
There are some theories that try to explain the cognitive development of a child-like Piaget’s theory. In his research, he used wooden beads painted with white and brown to question and investigate the level of understanding of two children of 8 and 6 years old. In his experiment, he was able to conclude that children of different ages at their late childhood stage would perceive some things very differently from others. It displayed that children are very active, motivated learners, and able to systematically organize ideas into schemes and learn from previous experiences.
Besides, Piaget suggested that children usually learn and adapt to the new or prevailing environment through assimilation and accommodation. It is hard for a child to assimilate new things and ideas, as a result, they form a new scheme in order to deal with or accommodate the new information. However, if the information is closely related to an existing scheme, it may be modified to the needs of the new situation and form a new one.
In addition to that, assimilation involves dealing with a situation that the child has an existing scheme in mind. To be able to progressively understand, the child should be adventurous so that she/he can try out some of the new things she/he encounters. This will act as a trigger to the learning of new events and ideas.
Humans are social beings; as a result, the social life of someone starts from their childhood where they relate with members of the family. Sometimes the first relationship with family members grows to form attachments with specific members they trust as they grow to late childhood and into adolescence stage. Their social life is defined by the nature of the relationship they have with their friends and other students.
In early childhood, the child is partially developed in some aspects of development such as the ability to reason on their own. On the other hand, a child in middle childhood is able to comprehend more complex situations. They have a greater physical development as compared to early childhood, with well-formed limps that are able to walk and run around unlike the early childhood children who are still learning how to hold and have difficulty standing and walking.
It may further be observed that a child in middle childhood can easily concentrate and follow instructions and in the process learn quickly. They show a higher level of intelligence than the early childhood stage that follows instructions poorly and takes time to learn new things. The emotional stability of the older child is more stable than the early childhood who most of the time communicates by crying.
Gladding, S.T. (2008). The Development of a Child to Maturity. New York: Waveland Press Inc.
McDevitt, t. (2004). Child Development: Educating and working with children. Upper Saddle River: Person Publishers.