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Child Development

Since the 20th century there has been widespread concern for child development, and up until now child development was completely studied as alternative children were look at just as small versions of adults. As a result of the wide spread interest, many theorists and researchers have suggested multiple theories to explain child development, but, different theorists have come to different conclusions with reference to how exactly children develop.

There are some theorists that believe that children develop easily and continuously, but on the other hands other theorists believe that children develop more discretely in a series of stages.

Child development includes the study of infants, children, and adolescents. It is a subfield of developmental psychology, which itself is a subfield of psychology. The scientific study of child development attempts to find explanations for both the similarities and differences in feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that occur in children between birth and the end of adolescence. This period is a time of dramatic changes when children move from being dependent beings to responsible, autonomous adults. Child development also includes genetics and prenatal before birth development, as these factors have a strong influence on later development.

Physical Development much of development occurs due to a natural, biological unfolding of growth over the course of time. According to Martin and Fabes (2003) growth in height and weight and dramatic changes in motors skills occur rapidly during the first two years of life, more rapidly than for other children. The proportion of infants are different from those of older children and adults, the head is about 1⁄4 of the size of the body; on the other hand, adults head makes up about 12 percent of the size of the body. Martin and Fabes also explain that after prenatal growth there is no other period of life in which children grow as quickly as they do during the first year, by the first birthday most children gain pounds and grow 9 inches. By the age of two boys reach about fifty percent and girls 53 percent of their adult height and birth weight usually doubles by the 5 months triple by the end of the first year, and quadruples by about 30 months of age and it will take ten years for children to reach half their adult weight ( p.135).

Moosler explains in Child Development, how changes in motor skills affect the way infants interact with the environment. Gross motor skills involve large movements of the head, torso, arms, and legs, whereas fine motor skills involve more precise movements of the hands and fingers, generally coordinating with vision. Motor skills section will explore variables that contribute to physical development, like opportunities to be able play sports in school.

According to Gulf Bend Center article, (Child & adolescent development), children build new skills and developments on top of old skills and developments from stage to stage; each stage is cumulative. A child is able to run bases in a game of baseball in the middle childhood phase because she was first able to walk near the end of her infancy stage. Gross motor skills related to locomotion are the most visible changes during the first years of life, and the first signs take place when children develop the muscle control to roll over between two and three months of age and typical infant obtains the skills to move quickly and then crawl between 6 and 10 months. As a child's body begins to stretch and look a lot like more of an adult body form, the movements also become more like adult, but some physical disability could take part in the child development. A physical disability is any condition that forever prevents normal body movement and control, and there are many different types of physical disabilities. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the parts of the brain which control movement during the early stages of development. Utmost cases, this damage occurs during pregnancy, but damage can sometimes take place during birth and from brain injuries in early infancy like a lack of oxygen from near drowning, meningitis, head injury or being shaken. Children with cerebral palsy may have difficulties with, postures, movement of body parts or the whole body, muscle weakness or tightness, involuntary muscle movements, balance and coordination, talking and eating. Children can have different types of cerebral palsy such as hemiplegia which involves muscle movements and weakness on one side of the body; diplegia which involves muscle movements and weakness in the lower part of the body, quadriplegia which involves muscle movements and weakness in both arms and both legs, and ataxia that involves problems with balance and coordination (, 2011).

Cognitive development refers to changes in thinking, language, and intelligence, and it includes things like creativity, and problem solving ability. The brain develops very quickly during the first few years of life and at six months of age, the brain weighs about half of what an adult brain weighs; by the time of two years of age, the weight of a baby’s brain is almost 80 percent of that of an adult brain. The Cerebral cortex is the largest part of the brain which has many difficulties throughout its surface and its main job is to control higher thought developments such as problem solving, consciousness, and language. The cortex is the last part of the brain to finish growing, and because of its slower rate of growth is more at risk to environmental influences than other part s of the brain. The cerebral cortex is divided into two halves are called hemispheres each are specialized for specific functions. For most people the left hemisphere specialize for language processing, whereas the right hemisphere is specialized for recognizing spatial relationship such as reading maps. The left hemisphere develops rapidly around the age of 2; whereas the right hemisphere develops later. According to Fieldman information-processing approaches consider quantitative changes in children’s abilities to organize and use information. Cognitive growth is considered as the increasing sophistication of programming, storage and retrieval. Information processing approaches to assessing intelligence rely on variations in the speed and quality with which infant’s process information. Infants clearly have memory capabilities from a very early age; although the duration and accuracy of such memories are unresolved questions. Furthermore Fieldman explains the fundamental features of Jean Piaget’s theories of cognitive development. Piaget stage theory asserts that children pass through stages of cognitive development on a fixed order and that the stages represent changes not only in the quantity of infants’ knowledge, but also in the quality of knowledge as well. According to Piaget all children pass gradually through the four major stages of cognitive development which are: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational. Piaget also believed that children’s understanding grows through assimilation of their experiences into their current way of thinking or through accommodation of their current way of thinking to their experiences (Fieldman, 2005). The infant intelligence is measured by focusing on average behavior observed at particular ages in large number of children. Children learned to use language by prelinguistic communication which consists of the use of sounds, gestures, facial expressions, imitation, and other nonlinguistic means to express thoughts and states also by preparing the infant for speech. Infants produce their first worlds between the ages of 10 and 14 months. At around 18 months, children begin to connect words together into primitive sentences to express a single thought.

Psychosocial development can be describing as changes in personality, social interaction, and understanding of emotion. The positive emotional connection between an infant and a significant individual, relates to a person’s later social competence as an adult. By the amount of emotion children display nonverbally, infants help determine the nature and quality of their caregivers’ responses to them. Infants and the persons with whom they interact engage in reciprocal socialization as they mutually adjust to one another’s interactions. Infants react differently to other children than to inanimate objects, and gradually they engage in increasing amounts of peer social interaction. Erikson’s psychosocial development considers how individuals come to understand themselves and the meaning of others’ and their own behavior. This theory suggests that developmental change occurs throughout people’s lives in eight distinct stages, the first of which occurs in infancy. He believed that the achievements and failures of earlier stages influence later stages, whereas later stages modify and transform earlier ones. According to Erickson the first 18 months of life, humans pass through the trust-versus-mistrust stage. During this stages infant develop a sense of trust or mistrust. Developing trust is the first task of the ego and according to Erickson, the balance of trust with mistrust depends largely on the quality of maternal relationship.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that causes problems with social interaction and communication. The symptoms typically start before the age of three and can cause delays or problems in many different skills that develop from infancy to adulthood. The main signs and symptoms of autism involve problems in the following areas: communication - both verbal and non-verbal, such as pointing, eye contact, and smiling, social, such as sharing emotions, understanding how others think and feel, and holding a conversation, and repetitive behaviors like as repeating words or actions, obsessively following routines or schedules, and playing in repetitive ways. The symptoms of autism can usually be observed by 18 months of age. There is no cure for autism, but there is much treatment for autism disorders as behavioral therapy and other therapeutic options, educational and/or school- based options, and medication options. Autism is more common in boys (National Institute of Health, 2011).

Theorists and researchers explain the child development, but also give us effect that could happen as conclusions with reference to how exactly children develop. Theorist like Piaget, Erikson, and many more gives their theoretical point for the physical, cognitive and psychosocial development. Theorists also believe that children developed by stages, develop easily and continuously, but theorists are certain that children develop one at a time in a series of stages. As we also learned how children development could be affected mental and physically.

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