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Human Growth and Development

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Infants grow and change as they progress into a preschooler, middle aged child and into adolescents. Physical growth, intellectual/cognitive growth, psychosocial changes, social development, moral development, and the personality all changes and evolves as the infant makes its way through these stages of life. During infancy, children attach to others. “Attachment, a strong, positive emotional bond that forms between an infant and one or more significant persons, is a crucial factor in enabling individuals to develop social relationships” (Feldman, 2014, p. 198).They normally form their initial primary relationship with their parents and other family members. “Research suggests an association between an infant’s attachment pattern and his or her social and emotional competence as an adult” (Feldman, 2014, p. 198). Through the process of “reciprocal socialization, in which infants’ behaviors invite further responses from parents and other caregivers,” infant’s social world starts to take form (Feldman, 2014, p. 188). Infants express their sociability, at first, in nonverbal ways. They smile, laugh, stare, and with age make vocalizations and imitate others. A mothers’ interactions with her baby is important for the babies’ social development. As mothers’ respond appropriately to their babies’ social cues, the infant’s attachment is strengthened. A father’s expression of positive emotions is also important to the infant’s social well-being. Personality includes those stable psychological characteristics and temperaments that define each human being as unique (Feldman, 2014, p. 191). Infants have personality traits; long‐term characteristics, such as temperament and states; changeable characteristics, such as moodiness (Feldman, 2014, pp. 191-193). Personality traits and states form early in life. A combination of genetics and psychological and social influences influence the formation of personality. From birth, an infant shows a stable temperament and traits that give the child their personality foundation. An infant’s temperament encompasses enduring levels of arousal and emotionality that determines the type of interaction an infant has with a caregiver. “At the beginning of the preschool years, children engage in functional play” (Feldman, 2014, pp. 248-249). This is represented by simple, repetitive activities. Next comes the constructive play stage. This is represented by a child manipulating objects to make something. Parallel play happens when children play independently, but in a similar way to the child next to them. Onlooker play is when children watch others play, but not actually participating in the play. Associative play happens when at least two children play with each other, sharing and borrowing toys or materials. The older preschooler uses cooperative play. This involves actually play with, interacting, and taking turns during a game (Feldman, 2014, pp. 248-249). Around the age of 3, children start forming real friendships. “While preschoolers’ relations with adults reflect children’s needs for care, protection, and direction, their relations with peers are based more on the desire for companionship, play, and fun” (Feldman, 2014, pp. 248-249). “The preschool years largely encompass what Erikson called the initiative-verses-guilt stage” (Feldman, 2014, p. 241). During this stage the preschool child has to resolve the conflict of being independent with the possible negative consequences. Support through this stage is facilitated by providing the preschool child with independent activities along with giving some guidance. The self-concept also begins during this time (Feldman, 2014). Children’s experiences at home, the environment around them, and their physical, cognitive, emotional, and social skills influence their developing sense of right and wrong. Preschool children start to show morally-based behaviors and beliefs. “Moral development refers to changes in peoples sense of justice and of what is right and wrong, and in their behavior related to moral issues”, (Feldman, 2014, p. 259). Children also start to show empathy-based guilt when they break the rules. According to Piaget, children see the world through a heteronomous morality (Piaget, 1932). In other words, children think that authority figures such as parents and teachers have rules that young people must follow absolutely. Rules are thought of as real, unchangeable guidelines rather than evolving, negotiable, or situational. As they grow older, develop more abstract thinking, and become less self-focused, children become capable of forming more flexible rules and applying them selectively for the sake of shared objectives and a desire to cooperate. This paves the way for abstract modeling which leads to more development in the rules and principles of morality. “A gene called AVPRIA, which regulates a hormone in the brain that is related to social behavior”, helps determine if a child will act more selfishly or generously (Feldman, 2014, p. 261). The child’s home life helps to determine a child’s moral behavior. Empathy also starts emerging consistently at this stage and is the foundation for moral behavior. Increased empathy leads children to behave in a more moral fashion. Sometimes, a preschoolers attempts to avoid negative emotions leads them to act in more moral, prosocial ways (Feldman, 2014). Tremendous physical and intellectual/cognitive growth occurs as a child moves from the preschool years to adolescents. The brain never stops learning. The brain and body work together to make an adult like functioning and capable person. The preschool years are marked with tremendous growth as the child increases his or her knowledge and physically grows larger. The average child in the United States gains around 20 pounds and a foot in height (Feldman, 2014, p. 204). “Their arms and legs lengthen, and the size relationship between the head and the rest of the body becomes more adult like. Muscle size increases as children grow stronger, and bones become sturdier” (Feldman, 2014, p. 205). During the preschool years, “the brain grows at a faster rate than any other part of the body” (Feldman, 2014, p. 208). Interconnections between and with neurons increases along with myelination allowing for increased cognitive abilities and more sophisticated fine and gross motor skills. The corpus callosum becomes thicker, attention, concentration, and memory improves, and lateralization becomes more pronounced (Feldman, 2014, p. 208). Allowing for preoperational thought, symbolic functioning, scripts, and intuitive thought (Feldman, 2014). In the middle childhood years, “physical growth continues, although at a statelier pace than it did during the preschool years” (Feldman, 2014, p. 274). Children grow an average of 2 to 3 inches in height per year, and gain an average of 5 to 7 pounds per year during middle childhood. Muscle coordination improves along with fine motor skills that allow children to write in cursive and tie their shoes (Feldman, 2014). Middle childhood is the rise of concrete operational thought. Children are able to use decentering and reversibility although they remain tied to concrete, physical reality (Feldman, 2014, p. 287). Metamemory also appears and improves during this time allowing for the improvement of cognitive functioning and memory. Cooperative learning happens as children’s verbal and social skills improve to allow for more sophisticated interactions with others which in turn builds on reciprocal teaching among them. Myelination continues to happen throughout the brain supporting all this growth (Feldman, 2014). Adolescence is marked with tremendous growth for the child again. The adolescence growth spurt is a period of rapid growth in height and weight. “On average, boys grow 4.1 inches a year and girls 3.5 inches a year” (Feldman, 2014, p. 350). Boys and girls body shapes change as they enter puberty with its flood of hormones. These hormones, culture, nutrition, and environment work together to develop boys and girls bodies into a more adult like shape (Feldman, 2014). In adolescence, “the brain produces an oversupply of gray matter” (Feldman, 2014, p. 358). Myelination continues to increase making the transmission of neural messages more efficient. The prefrontal cortex undergoes tremendous development allowing adolescences to think, evaluate and to make complex judgements. Adolescents use formal reasoning, propositional thought, and the use of formal operations. Metacognition rises to facilitate verbal, mathematical, spatial, and memory increases. They are more aware of their bodies and what their bodies can do although they have a tendency of overestimating the rewards that will come from their actions (Feldman, 2014). Although height and weight does not stop during any of these stages, the most rapid growth happens during the preschool years and adolescence. The steady gains in height and weight that happen in the middle childhood years allows the child to become more kinesthetically aware and allows for more autonym (Feldman, 2014). Myelination occurs in all three of these stages facilitating the development of intellectual/cognitive growth. Neural connections increase allowing for better control over the body’s movements. Learning progresses, but in different ways as different parts of the brain seem be too focused on in specific stages. Learning doesn’t happen independently, and the following stage of development is facilitated by the previous.

I. References
Feldman, R. (2014 ). Development Across the Life Span. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Physical and Cognitive Development in Adolescence. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 358). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Physical and Cognitive Development in Adolescencs. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 350). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Physical and Cognitive Development in Middle Childhood. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 274). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Physical and Cognitive Development in Middle Childhood. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 287). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Physical and Cognitive Development in the Preschool Years. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 204). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Physical and Cognitive Development in the Preschool Years. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 205). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Physical and Cognitive Development in the Preschool Years. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 208). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Social and Personality Development in Infancy. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 198). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Social and Personality Development in Infancy. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 188). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Social and Personality Development in Infancy. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 189). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Social and Personality Development in Infancy. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 190). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Social and Personality Development in Infancy. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 191). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Social and Personality Development in Infancy. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., pp. 191-193). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Social and Personality Development in the Preschool Years. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 241). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Social and Personality Development in the Preschool Years. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 259). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feldman, R. (2014). Social and Personality Development in the Preschool Years. In Development Across the Life Span (7th ed., p. 261). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Piaget, J. (1932). The Moral Judgment of the Child. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.…...

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