This article throws light upon the four major aspects of human growth and development. The aspects are: 1. Physical Development During Infancy 2. Mental Development 3. Emotional Development 4. Social Development.
Human Growth and Development: Aspect # 1.
Physical Development During Infancy:
Physical growth and development describe the physical as well as psychomotor changes in an individual. The physical development is very rapid at this stage. At birth a baby is generally 18 to 20 inches long and seven pounds (3 kg) in weight.
He grows about three times after a year. By the time he is two years of age he attains a length of 33 inches and a weight of 25 pounds. At birth the brain is almost one fourth of its final weight.
The upper part of the body is well developed at birth while the lower part has a period of accelerated growth after the birth. Legs and trunk gradually lengthen. There is significant increase in the length of arms and use of muscles.
The first nine months of a child are a period of rapid growth. During the first two months a baby shows postural changes. He sits at seven month?, creeps by ten months, stands alone at thirteen months and walks by thirteen to fifteen months. This development follows a proximodistal sequence. By six months milk teeth appears.
Early Childhood Stage:
Early childhood stage covers from 2/3 years to 6/7 years. Rate of growth during this stage becomes slow in comparison to infancy stage. At the age of six years a child becomes 43 to 45 inches tall. There is an average increase to 3 to 5 pounds of weight annually.
At six, the child weights 36 to 42 pounds. Boys are found to be slightly taller than girls. Body proportions change and head grows at a slower rate. At six, it attains 90% of adult size. Hands and feet grow bigger. Muscles grow larger and stronger. Hand-skills are established at this stage. Brushing the hair, bathing and better toilet habits develop.
The child can draw pictures and can also point. The child learns to hop, skip, jump, run, climb and dance during this stage. He learns to do various things and he is satisfied with this achievements. A major development task for a child during six years of life is to acquire a gender identification. The environment is the most powerful factor in shaping the gender identify among children.
Later Childhood Stage:
During later childhood period (6 years to 12 years of age) physical growth is initially slow. Arms and legs grow faster than the trunk and the child appears tall and thin. He loses his milk teeth and permanent teeth begin to appear. The sense organ, muscles and brain are more or less mature. The overall appearance of the child changes during this stage.
The child at 12 years is nearly 55 inches in height. Boys are slightly taller than girls. Sex differences begin to appear at this stage. Child continues to grow in the strength, speed and coordination needed for motor skills. He climbs trees, walls etc. He develops precision in athletic ability.
The child gains full control over the movement of his limbs. Being active and participating in games helps the child to develop a concept of himself. He gets feedback regarding his desirability, worth and status from other people.
The period of transition from childhood to adulthood is called adolescence. Adolescence is very crucial stage of development. In Indian conditions the period of adolescence may vary from 12-13 years to 18-21 years.
A.t. Jersild defines adolescence as “the span of years during which the boys and girls move from childhood to adulthood.” All types of changes like biological, physical, social, intellectual, moral etc. take place during the adolescence stage.
At the early adolescent years, most children experience the adolescent growth spurt, a rapid increase in height and weight. Usually, this spurt occurs in girls two years earlier than boys. The spurt usually last about two years and during this time girls gain 6 to 7 inches and boys 8 to 9 inches in height. By the age of seventeen in girls and eighteen in boys, the majority of them have reached 98 percent of their final height.
Sex differences become apparent during this stage. Sex glands start secreting for the first time and this is responsible for the growth of boys into manhood and of girls into womanhood. Primary and secondary sex characteristics appear at this stage. Pubic hair grows.
The voice of boys becomes rough and that of girls becomes sweet. Certain bodily appearances make both boys and girls bodily conscious. Sexual development is the most remarkable features of adolescence. The boys and girls are attracted towards the opposite sex.
Due to hormonal changes there is an increase in sexual drive. The early adolescent involves himself in intense friendship with the members of either sex. A capacity for mature heterosexual relationship and true intimacy develops in late adolescence.
Educational Implication of Physical Development:
The following are the educational implications of physical development at various stages:
i. The children must be provided with a rich and balanced diet for proper physical development.
ii. The child must be trained in acquiring good habits of personal cleanliness and hygiene.
iii. The child must be encouraged to do many things by independently.
iv. Play activities involving maximum use of limbs should be provided to the children to facilitate better motor development.
v. Good and healthy habits should be developed in children.
vi. Sympathetic and affectionate type of atmosphere should be provided at home as well as in the school, so that the child develops into a well-balanced personality.
vii. For proper physical development, physical training and physical education be emphasized.
viii. Health and sex education should be provided during adolescence period.
ix. The teacher and parents should try to understand the adolescent and his problems.
x. The adolescent children must be sympathetically dealt with.
Human Growth and Development: Aspect # 2.
Mental development includes such abilities as attending, perceiving, observing, remembering, imagining, thinking, solving problems and growth of intelligence as well as of language. These abilities grow and mature with age or in different stage.
The child at infancy stage reacts to external stimuli like light, sound and temperature. Perceptual skills develop during the first year. In this age the child can imitate, discriminate and recognize to some extent. The child is mostly engaged in manipulation of objects. A Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget called this stage as sensory-motor period which covers first 18 months of life.
In this period the infant seeks physical satisfaction based upon immediate sensory experience. At the age of one year he has a vocabulary of two or more words and he can respond to simple questions or requests. He gradually acquires the sense of form, shape, size and colour.
He learns things through imitation, manipulation and play. He recognizes known and unknown persons. He fails to understand the difference between fact and fiction. He usually puts many embarrassing questions to the parents which shows his inquisitiveness.
At this stage child’s contact with environment increases and he begins to explore things. He often asks ‘why’ of everything. The child develops general intelligence, perception, memory, learning, problem solving and language. Jean Piaget named this stage as the stage of pre-operational stage which covers 1 ½ years to 6 years of age.
In this stage the child begins to develop language and is able to talk and form simple concepts. But he has very little understanding of operations; particularly it is difficult for him to understand reversibility of operations. For example, if water contained in a tall narrow glass is poured into a small broad glass, the child will judge that there was more water in the narrow glass than when it is poured in the broad glass.
This stage is also marked by ego-centricism. There is natural shift from the sensorimotor stage to logical and social egocentricity. He fails to understand another’s point of view. His attitude is, “I am I and you are you, and how can you be I and I be you?”
Animism is another characteristics of this stage which the child regards everything to be alive unless it is broken or damaged. Children up to six years of age regard everything that moves to be alive.
Mental development is rapid at this stage. Child becomes more and more inquisitive which indicates his thinking capacity. Thinking and imagination takes active form in this stage. As per the views of Piaget this is the stage of concrete operations which covers the period from 7 to 11 years.
Piaget illustrates the use of concrete operations as he observed how an 8 year old child learnt what factor controls the oscillation of a pendulum.
During this stage, the child also learns to organize systems of classification for the perceptions and concepts acquired by him. The child is able to establish cause and effect relationship. The child at this stage develops better concepts of length, distance, time, area and volume.
The abilities of understanding, reasoning, memory, attention and discrimination develop to a great extent. The child acquires a rich store of vocabulary. Child’s speech becomes increasingly socialized and communicative. At this stage the child is interested in performing creative and productive work.
At this stage of adolescent attains intellectual maturity. The intellectual maturation is the result of interaction between maturation, experience, education and training. Memory and imagination increase to a considerable extent. The adolescent can concentrate on any activity for a longer period. He also develops ability to take decisions.
According to Piaget this stage is known as the stage of formal operations which covers the period from 12 to 15 years. In this stage the youngster acquires the ability to think and reason beyond his own immediate world.
He applies formal logic to solve his own problems, and approaches them more systematically. The adolescents take interest in scientific pursuits. Towards the end of the adolescence an individual has a complete mental preparations for a full-fledged adult life.
The following points should be taken into consideration for proper mental development among the children:
i. Children should be provided a variety of direct experiences before they can be expected to cope with abstract ideas and concepts.
ii. Emphasis should be given on acquisition and mastery of language which is one of the aspects of mental development.
iii. Emphasis should be given on reading and writing ability of the children.
iv. The children should be given opportunity of learning through imitation and repetition.
v. Rote learning should be discouraged. Let the children think and learn, that should be the approach of the process of education.
vi. Students should be engaged in debates, discussions, seminars, creative writing and competitions etc. for mental development.
vii. Greater importance should be given on the active participation of the students in class room teaching.
viii. The children must be helped to form good habits and attitudes.
Human Growth and Development: Aspect # 3.
The term emotion is derived from Latin term ’emovere’ which means to stir, to agitate to move. Hence, an emotion is referred to as a stirred up state of agitation. We feel agitated or excited when we experience anger, fear, joy, grief, disgust, etc.
An emotional state consists of feelings, impulses, physical and physiological reactions. According to wood-worth, Emotion “is a moved or stirred up state of an organism. It is disturbed muscular and glandular activity”. We find different emotional development at various stages of human life.
They are discussed below:
Infants immediately after birth do to display any distinct emotions. His emotional reactions are diffuse and gross. He cannot show specific reactions like anger, fear and love. By the age two differentiations of emotions are marked.
According to Watson emotions of fear, anger and love can be identified even in very young infants. After the baby is a few weeks old, he starts smiling and gurgling to give expression to his feeling of pleasure and contentment.
As per the views of Bridge, by the age of three months the general excitement is differentiated into distress, if the situation is unpleasant, and into delight, if the situation is pleasant one. Jealousy appears by about 18 months of age. Between the ages of 18 and 24 months joy further differentiates from elation and affection. By the age three the child can express his distress, fear, anger, joy and affection.
Early Childhood Stage:
As the child grows, his emotional expressions are refined, become more definite and grow in intensity. Now his loves, fears and dislikes becomes more intense. Curiosity ad inquisitiveness develops at this stage. The child feels satisfied when his questions are answered. With growth and maturity in age comes decline in overt expression of emotional reactions.
Previous violent emotional reactions are now expressed in subdued form among children fear at first is general rather than specific. As children grow older fear responses become increasingly specific. The child shows his fear by running away to avoid the situation that brightens him. He also shows jealousy towards other when he finds them possessing things which he does not have.
Later Childhood Stage:
At this stage, the emotional behaviour of the child is guided by rational expressions. He experiences intense emotional feelings of love, hate and fear which lasts for a long period of time. But he is able to have control over his emotions. Emotions at wonder dominate the child at this stage. If anything goes against his interest he shows anger.
At the age of 10, he becomes obedient and friendly. Fear is less common in older children. Older children when become angry, do not kick things. Instead, they express their anger in the form of sarcasm, sneers, abuses, and belittling remarks.
Anger is expressed in refusal to speak or quarrelsomeness. At this stage, the children like to be with the persons whom they love. Joy, pleasure, love, curiosity, grief and affection appear in this stage.
Adolescence period is marked by heightened emotionality due to change of roles in home, school and society. It is due to the unfavorable relations in home. Parents and teachers in most cases are responsible for heightened emotionality in adolescents because they do not prepare their children to meet the problems of adolescence.
When the child becomes an adolescent, society and parents expect him to think and act like an adult for which he is not physically and intellectually matured.
In adolescence there is attraction towards the member of opposite sex but the adolescent is not able to understand the correct social behaviour, how to make friendship with the members of opposite sex, which create emotional tensions in him.
Adolescents come in conflict with their friends and family members who fail to understand them. School failures cause emotional disturbance among the adolescents. Vocational problems also create emotional disturbances.
Following suggestions are given to help children’s emotional development:
i. The children should be helped to eliminate the causes of emotional outbursts.
ii. Care should be taken to fulfill the basic requirements of the infants.
iii. Children should be helped to learn to express their emotions in a socially accepted manner.
iv. Counseling should be provided to express the emotional feelings of the children in a better way.
v. A child should be helped to develop a realistic understanding about the situations that aroused unpleasant emotions.
vi. The child should be assisted to control his emotional feelings which may offend other or which are destructive in nature.
vii. The child should be gradually directed to exercise more of internal- control than to need external control of his emotional behaviour.
viii. There must be provision for excursions, picnic, and scouting to give outlet to their extra energy.
ix. The child must learn to accept many restrictions in life, and learn to tolerate situations, persons, or events that cause annoyance.
x. Care should be taken to avoid causes of emotionality like fatigue, poor health, thwarted desires, unpreparedness etc. among the children.
Human Growth and Development: Major Aspect # 4.
At birth, the child is neither social nor unsocial. When the child grows up, he develops some social behaviour which makes him an acceptable social being. Social development can be defined by Hurlock as social development is the “attaining of maturity in social relationships”.
Garret regards social development as the process whereby “the biological individual is converted into a human person.” Social development is closely associated with mental, physical and emotional aspects of development.
An individual’s social and emotional behaviour is so closely interlinked that feelings of jealousy, shyness, affection and sympathy which are primarily regarded as emotional responses can also be treated as social forms of behaviour.
During the first few months the child begins to make active .social contacts with the persons in his social environment such as mother, father, grandmother, elders who care for him. He becomes aware of the individuals, who stimulate in him the feeling of satisfaction.
The child soon learns to differentiate between his mother and other persons. Social responses that starts early in life are those of smiling and laughing. During the second half of the first year the child shows negative response to strangers.
After the eighteen months the infant reacts to other infants in the environment and after that he becomes more and more interested in his playmates. By the age of two years, he can obey certain commands given to him and call attention of other persons to objects be feels interested in.
During this period the child displays the tendency towards negativism by responding to almost every request with a ‘no’. The child at this stage is likely to have many phantasies.
Early Childhood Stage:
In this period the child usually has one or two friends with whom he identifies and plays for short intervals. The young child selects his playmates of his own age from his immediate neighbourhood. He selects friends who provide him friendly companionship ship. The child at this stage often quarrels and fights.
The child shows his sympathy by helping others in difficulty. He needs recognition and praise. He needs approval of adults. Feeling of being ignored makes him naughty in the hope of getting attention that he craves for.
Studies have reported that nursery school experiences contribute in acquiring acceptable social habits, overcoming fear of strangers and other children, ability to express themselves, and decreasing tension.
Later Childhood Stage:
At this stage the child enters, the school and wants to have many friends. He is interested the play activities that involve the group. He desires to be in the group of friends of his own age and sex. The peer approval at this stage is linked with the strong desire for friendship and leads to cooperative behaviour.
The child shows interest in what happens in the outside world. He becomes more extroverts in this stage. Quarrels are also common among friends during this period.
One important development that takes place is the increasing interest and ability in organized activities and in team work. They form clubs or gangs for games, sports and other social activities. These gangs are formed separately for boys and girls. However, these groups are often short lived. Different qualities like taking up responsibility, self-control, self-reliance, obedience, discipline etc. develop in this stage.
The adolescents have a strong loyalty and devotion to their groups. They are deeply influenced by peer groups and their decisions. At this stage, the adolescent acquires many habits, attitudes, ideals and social skills.
During early adolescent period the close-friend is usually a member of the same sex. At the later adolescent period, one usually tries to seek friendship with a member of the opposite sex. However, this is not generally permitted in some cultures, and so same sex friendships are more common.
Crow found that in the selection of friends both adolescent boys and girls place considerable emphasis on display of traits like sincerity, consideration for others, good manners, friendliness, modesty and self control by members of the opposite sex.
Identification with peer groups, hero-worship, growth of patriotic spirit, development of a sense of sacrifice and leadership are some of the important features of the social development of the adolescent.
It is evident that the social growth of children is a significant process which cannot be ignored by the teachers and the parents.
For proper social development following suggestions can be taken into consideration:
i. The school should endeavor to provide adequate and ample opportunities favourable to the social growth of the children.
ii. The school should aim at creating such a healthy atmosphere in and outside the classroom that children feel it convenient, pleasant and desirable to develop satisfying social relations with all those with whom they come in contact.
iii. The general attitude of a class teacher must aim to promote a feeling of security in the minds of children.
iv. Each student should be stimulated to participate in group activities in and out of the class room.
v. Children should be provided training in leadership which will develop personal and .social qualities among them.
vi. The children should be engaged in different social work according to their interest and skills.
vii. Education should be imparted to curb the negative tendencies among the children.