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Articles » Child Development


Child Development is process of physical, intellectual, social and emotional changes that occur from birth to adolescence. Although people change throughout their lives, developmental changes are especially dramatic in childhood.

During this period, a dependent, vulnerable newborn grows into a capable young person who has mastered language, is self-aware, can think and reason with sophistication, has a distinctive personality and socializes effortlessly with others. Many abilities and characteristics developed in childhood last a lifetime.

Some developments in behaviour and thought are very similar for all children. Around the world, most infants begin to focus their eyes, sit up and learn to walk at comparable ages and children begin to acquire language and develop logical reasoning skills at approximately the same time.

These aspects of individual growth are highly predictable. Other aspects of development show a much wider range of individual differences. Whether a child becomes outgoing or shy, intellectually advanced or average, or energetic or subdued depends on many unique influences whose effects are difficult to predict at the child’s birth.

A variety of factors influences child development.

  Heredity guides every aspect of physical, cognitive, social, emotional and personality development.
  Family members, peer groups, the school environment and the community influence how children think, socialize and become     self-aware.
  Biological factors such as nutrition, medical care and environmental hazards in the air and water affect the growth of the body     and mind.
  Economic and political institutions, the media and cultural values all guide how children live their lives.
  Critical life events, such as a family crisis or a national emergency, can alter the growth of personality and identity.
  Most important of all, children contribute significantly to their own development. This occurs as they strive to understand their     experiences, respond in individual ways to the people around them and choose activities, friends and interests.

Thus, the factors that guide development arise from both outside and within the person.


This first stage of life is an important time, characterized by physical and emotional growth and development. During the first 24 months the average child makes considerable gains in height and weight, begins teething, develops sensory discrimination and begins to walk and talk.

Sensory acuity develops rapidly during the first three months of life. Research shows that newborns are capable of visual and auditory discrimination. By two days after birth, infants can discriminate odours. Infants react to loud noises and they probably possess taste discrimination. Within three months, they can distinguish colour and form; they show a preference for complex and novel stimuli as opposed to simple and familiar stimuli.

Newborns perform motor movements, many of which are reflexive. Soon after birth they gain voluntary control of movements. The major stages of locomotion are crawling (propulsion using arms only), creeping (propulsion on hands and knees) and walking. The average infant walks between 13 and 15 months of age.

Normal infants possess neurological systems that detect and store speech sounds, permit reproduction of these sounds and eventually produce language. Infants utter all known speech sounds, but retain only those heard regularly.

Word-like sounds occur at 12 months and have meaning at about 18 months. One and two-word sentences are used to convey meaning. Early words generally include naming objects and describing actions, for example, "fall floor". Acquisition of complex language after 18 months is very rapid.


is a psychological bond between an infant and her or his primary care giver, usually the mother. Crying and smiling bring infants in contact with caregivers and are called attachment behaviours. Attachment provides a secure emotional base from which mature relationships develop. Research shows that inadequate attachment impedes social and emotional development throughout life. For example, when an infant is subjected to maternal deprivation and thus does not form a secure attachment, subsequent development is often severely atypical.

Traumatic events such as physical abuse or malnutrition that occur during infancy will affect development and behaviour, usually in a negative way. Less extreme experiences are also influential, but their effects may be temporary and less apparent. All early experiences are known to influence attitudes toward the learning process, the self-concept and the ability to form and maintain social and emotional relationships in later life.

Physical Growth, Birth to 2 Years:

Human beings grow faster in infancy than at any other time of life. On average, infant boys are slightly taller and heavier than infant girls. Growth charts like these help health-care providers assess whether physical growth is proceeding normally. Percentiles indicate the percentage of the population a specific individual would equal or exceed. For example, a one-year-old girl whose weight is at the 10th percentile weighs the same or more than only 10 percent of girls the same age.

The cognitive accomplishments of early childhood—particularly, communication through language and a developing concept of how others think and feel—transform preschoolers’ social interaction and self-understanding. By age two or three, a child’s emotional repertoire broadens to include self-referential emotions such as pride, guilt, shame and embarrassment and the evaluations of others begin to influence the preschooler’s self-concept. The three-year-old’s insistence on 'doing it myself' also reveals developing self-awareness. Throughout early childhood, preschoolers correct themselves as they are drawing, tying shoelaces and performing other skills, demonstrating their growing capacity for self-monitoring and their motivation to be competent.

Beginning at age three, moreover, preschoolers begin to remember events in terms of their personal significance. These “autobiographical memories” help to provide a continuous sense of identity throughout life. Awareness of being a boy or a girl is also an important facet of developing identity, as children begin to enact gender roles and stereotypes around age three. By the end of the preschool years, children are adept at describing themselves not only in physical terms (big, fast) but also in psychological terms (friendly, shy).

The emotional attachments of young children to their parents (and other caregivers) remain a cornerstone of psychological well-being in early childhood. But as young children develop their sense of self and learn to negotiate, compromise, resist and assert their own preferences, they are likely to come into conflict with their caregivers. At the same time, caregivers increasingly set limits and expect compliance, based on the child’s developing capacities for self-control.

Certainly, childhood is the only phase of life when everything that happens has to have a lifelong impression on our minds. It’s like we get our brains blue-printed while we are child and rest of the life is constructing on that blue print. If we know this we must make sure that the world is rightly introduced to child because that will define how child is going to treat it. It’s too true that being child is not a child’s play

Encarta encyclopaedia 2007 DVD


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