Development is often subdivided into specific periods, such as development of gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language, cognitive function, and social / emotional development. This separation is useful, but there is significant overlap in periods. Studies have established the average age at which certain developmental milestones are reached, as well as normal limits. The normal child’s progress varies at different stages, such as a toddler who starts to walk late but speaks early in coherent sentences.
The influence of the environment, ranging from nutrition to stimulation and from the influence of disease to the influence of psychological factors, interacts with genetic factors and determines the pace and nature of development.
Stages of Child Development
Development is assessed continuously by parents, school staff and doctors when examining children. Many tools are available for more specific development monitoring. The Denver Developmental Assessment Screening Test II facilitates the assessment of multiple periods. The distribution of scores indicates the average age at the onset of certain stages and shows well the critical concept of the range of normality.
Development of motor skills
Development of motor skills includes the development of fine motor skills (for example, the ability to pick up small objects, drawing) and gross motor skills (walking, climbing stairs). It is an ongoing process that depends on family characteristics, environmental factors (for example, if the activity is limited by a long-term illness), as well as specific disorders (for example, cerebral palsy , mental retardation , muscular dystrophy ). Babies usually start walking at 12 months, can climb stairs at 18 months, and run well at 2 years old, but the age at which normal children reach these developmental stages varies widely. The development of motor skills cannot be significantly accelerated by the use of increased stimulation.
The ability to understand language precedes the ability to speak; children who can pronounce a few words can usually understand a lot. Although delayed expression is usually not accompanied by other developmental delays, all children with severe speech delay should be screened for other developmental delays. Children who have a significant delay in both perception and expression often have other developmental problems. The assessment of any delay should begin with a hearing assessment. Most children with speech delays have normal intelligence. At the same time, children with accelerated speech development often have intelligence above average.
Speech progresses from pronouncing vowels (humming) to composing syllables that begin with consonants (ba-ba-ba). Most babies can say “dad” and “mom”, especially for 12 months, pronounce a few words at 18 months and form 2-3 phrases for 2 years. The average three-year-old can have a conversation. A 4-year-old can tell simple stories and engage in conversation with adults or other children. A 5-year-old child has a vocabulary of several thousand words.
Even as young as 18 months old, children can listen to and understand the story being read to them. By the age of 5, children are able to spell out the alphabet and recognize simple typed words. These skills are fundamental to learning how to read simple words, phrases and sentences. Depending on the perception of books and natural abilities, most children begin to read at the age of 6-7 years. These time intervals are highly variable.
Cognitive development refers to the intellectual maturation of children. Appropriate adaptation and upbringing in infancy and early childhood are increasingly recognized as critical factors in cognitive development and emotional health. For example, reading to children from a very early age provides an experience that stimulates mental development, provides warm and constructive relationships that seriously affect development in these areas.
The intelligence of young children is assessed in terms of language skills, curiosity, and problem-solving ability. As children begin to communicate more verbally, intelligence becomes easier to assess with a range of specialized clinical tools. As soon as children go to school, they are constantly monitored as part of the educational process.
By the age of 2 , most children understand the concept of time in a broad sense. Many 2- and 3-year-olds believe that everything that happened in the past happened “yesterday” and that everything that will happen in the future will happen “tomorrow.” A child at this age has a vivid imagination, but it is difficult for him to distinguish fantasy from reality.
By age 4 , most children have a more complex understanding of timing. They understand that the day is divided into morning, day, and night. They can even distinguish changes in the seasons.
By the age of 7, the intellectual capabilities of children are becoming more complex. By this time, children become more and more able to focus on more than one aspect of an event or situation at a time. For example, schoolchildren may understand that a tall, narrow container can hold the same amount of water as a low, wide one. They may realize that the medicines may taste bad but they will feel better if they take them, or that their mother may be angry with them but will still love them. The perception of the value of another person is increasing in children, and thus they learn to understand the sequence of actions in conversations and games. In addition, school-age children become able to follow the agreed rules of the game. Children of this age are more and more inclined to reason.
Emotional and Behavioral Development
A child’s emotions and behavior depend on his level of development and temperament. Each child has an individual character or attitude. Some children can be fun, adaptable, and easily develop regular daily activities such as sleeping, staying awake, eating, and other daily activities. These children tend to respond positively to new situations. Other children do not adapt very well and may have disruptions to normal activities in their daily lives. These children tend to react negatively to new situations. The rest of the children are in between these groups of children.
Emotional growth and the acquisition of social skills are assessed by observing children’s interactions with other people in daily life. When children master speech, it becomes possible to understand their emotional state much more accurately. Like intelligence, emotional states can be more accurately identified using specialized tools.
Crying is the infant’s primary means of communication. Babies cry when they are hungry, uncomfortable or painful, and for many other reasons that may not be obvious. Babies usually cry for 3 hours a day at 6 weeks of age, usually with a decrease in crying periods to 1 hour a day by 3 months. Parents tend to offer food to a crying baby, change their diapers, and look for a source of pain or discomfort. If these measures are unsuccessful, lulling the baby in your arms can sometimes help. In some cases, nothing calms the child down. If the reason for crying is hunger, then the child will willingly eat, if not, then the parents should not force-feed the crying baby.
Around 8 months old, babies tend to be more anxious when their parents are not around . Separating before bed in places like kindergarten can be very painful for a child and can be accompanied by tantrums. This behavior can continue for several months. For many older children, a special blanket or stuffed toy serves as a transitional object during this time that acts as a symbol of the absent parent.
At the age of 2-3, children begin to test their boundaries and do what they are not allowed to do, just to see what happens. The frequent word “no” that children hear from their parents reflects the desire for independence at this age. Though for parents and child’s hysteria very painful, but this is a normal state that helps children show their confusion when they cannot express their feelings in words. Parents can help reduce tantrums by preventing their children from overworking or getting very upset, knowing their child’s behavior patterns, and avoiding situations that can trigger tantrums. Some children find it difficult to control their emotional impulses, so parents should set tighter limits to help regulate and make them safe in their perception of the world.
At the age of 18 months – 2 years , children usually have gender identification . During preschool age, children also acquire a concept of gender roles, which is what boys and girls tend to do. At this age, children begin to study the genitals and match the gender with the body.
Between the ages of 2 and 3, children begin to play more interactively with other children. While they may still be possessive of toys, they may start to share and even play with them on a queue basis. Declaration of ownership of toys, through the words: “This is mine!” helps them to establish themselves as individuals. Although children of this age strive for independence, they still need their parents to feel protected and supported. For example, if they are curious, they can move away from their parents, but when they later become scared, they hide behind their parents.
At the age of 3-5, many children begin to play with interest in imaginary games and with imaginary friends. Imaginary games allow children to calmly act out different roles and potent feelings in every way. Imaginary games also help children develop socially. They learn to resolve conflicts with parents or other children by venting their frustration and supporting self-esteem. Also at this time, typical childhood fears such as “monsters in the closet” appear. These fears are normal.
Ages 7-12children are guided by numerous personal problems: the problem of self-esteem, the basis for which is an understanding of their place in the class; the problem of peer relationships, which is determined by the ability to communicate well and fit into the environment; and the problem of family relationships, when children are fed to get approval from parents and siblings. Although it seems that many children look up to their peers, they still look primarily at parental support and guidance. Brothers and sisters serve as role models, support and criticism of what can and cannot be done. This period is very active for children who are involved in many activities and are ready to explore new activities. At this age, children crave knowledge and often respond well to safety advice.