Many people do not recall their first two or three years when they were toddlers, but early life experiences are likely to live with them for many years. As such, early learning continue to shape their actions into adult life. While upbringing ordeals one undergoes when growing up characterize the childhood memories, they play an important role in the later lives. Infant development is the succession of thoughts, emotions, language, and physical changes that take place in a baby spanning from birth to adulthood (Child Development.com). The growth is influenced by parental genes that are passed during pregnancy and other events taking place during the prenatal period. The period from conception to five years of age is crucial for developing and initiating the foundation for behaving, thinking, and personal emotion. Furthermore, it is the time in which child growth in cognitive, linguistic, regulatory, and social skills are enhanced, thus, influencing their adult functioning in different and numerous domains (Bakken et al. p. 256). This paper explores various stages in the growth of children and how they impact their adult lives.
There are distinct phases that encompass child growth from infancy to maturity. During each of the numerous stages, many changes are bound to take place especially in the development of the brain and other motor skills which are genetically influenced. Conversely, the environment in which the child is raised has a lasting influence on an individual’s behavior afterwards (Staff). Consequently, during infant development which signifies the first two years of a child after birth, bonding takes place. This is the basic ingredient for building self-esteem which will influence the way a child relates with others and as an adult as well (Staff). Parental responsibility in care plays an important role during this period since every kid is different and unique, thereby encouragement is crucial.
In addition, the toddler phase (2 to 3 years) involves a unique period where the babies start to be on their own by walking. They roam around resulting in the exploration of their surroundings. Language discovery and learning take place simultaneously as the buildup of emotional fluctuations where they are thought to understand wrong and right (Staff). To be successful in this, the bond developed during the beginning enables the kid to correlate and understand what is bad and good. Also, intellectual and physical growth takes place as they start school while parents take the central role of coaching, supporting, and guiding. This forms the background from which an individual’s behavior and character are shaped.
Besides, the preschooler development stage is an extension of the previous phase with advancement informal learning, age, and exploration. After they began with prekindergarten, they complete it by enrolling in first grade. Here, they learn letters, numbers, simple mathematics, and reading. The kids develop motor skills leading to their interest in riding toys like scooters and bikes. Another important development part is the school-age period (6-12 years) which is preceded by frustrations. Parenting becomes a daunting task as they learn to accept weaknesses and mistakes while building on the kid’s strengths (Staff). Here, children are taught moral code and integrity as they struggle with internal and external personal challenges. Guidance through encouragement, guidance and occasional experience of the repercussions of their mistakes makes them grow into responsible adults. While researching the correlation between parental relationships with their children, Shannon et al. explored their ability to regulate attention by assessing the daily executive function (1042). Consequently, it was discovered that early negative experiences such as neglect, abuse, and family dysfunction affect adult behavior towards the kids. Furthermore, it was discovered that adverse childhood encounters led to conflicts with their offspring.
Perhaps this is the most difficult age group since it transcends from one phase to the next. The ages between thirteen to eighteen years mark the start of a new era in human history. This is pinned to the circumstances and the environment that an individual has passed through. It is characterized by passive and aggressive behavior, overconfidence, moodiness, and self-consciousness. Skills are honed and accelerated; talents developed amid peer pressure (Staff). Positive family engagements and a supportive environment which includes open communication with the teens, encouragement in sports, and mentoring enhances positive outcomes in the young adult. Parental connection and closeness play an important role during this period of discovery and personal independence.
Various stages in human development especially at the tender age play an integral part in an individual’s life span. Highlighting this, the World Bank gives dazzling statistics on the plight of child growth in developing countries. It asserts that investments during the early years by governments can not only eliminate poverty but also, enhance prosperity and create capital for the economic prosperity of their countries (Devercelli). Conversely, millions of children in the aforementioned regions do not reach full potential due to impediments such as nutrition, nurturing and care, inadequate early stimulation, learning, and exposure to a stressful environment. These factors inhibit their development and as such, in low- and middle-income countries globally, 250 million in the under 5 categories are not likely to develop into maturity due to stunting growth and poverty. Furthermore, one in 200 children is exposed to stress as a result of displacement that undermines their eventual growth (Devercelli). Therefore, there is a need for investing in their cognitive, linguistic, physical, and socioemotional development since this affects their productivity in adult life.
Effects of Childhood Experiences
There are many factors that influence the outcome of personal behavior as a result of one’s experiences while growing up. As a result, these encounters influence people’s actions and views in their adult life in many ways such as, thinking, feeling, acting, and associating. Through the psychological encounter one had when growing, it shaped the character of the individual. For instance, if a child was lonely and locked when growing, he or she will show ant-social characteristics. In addition, young ones who never had parental or family love will portray irresponsible and uncaring nature as grown-ups while those in a friendly environment will reciprocate by loving and caring. Furthermore, one’s cultural upbringing enhances his adult character. For example, children who grow in places where black color is associated with evil or inferiority, will become mature and treat the color with indignation. Either, one who is taught gender roles or, that girls are inferior to boys will always disregard ladies as lesser human beings (Magai al. 559) Besides, the physical and emotional relationship between parents and siblings determine the outcome of an individual. Therefore, a baby raised in a hostile surrounding will become violent.
Emotional Behavior and Its Effects
Recent studies by mental health stakeholders and parents have shown a concern for the emotional well-being of children and adolescents due to behavior problems in adults that are associated with early childhood development. It has been highlighted that most vices like the ability to learn, drug abuse, violence, and inability to sustain social relationships progress to the later stages of life (Magai al. 559). Although there are different problems such as anxiety, depression, and anti-social behavior among others, they remain the most prevalent across the ages. For instance, a mismatch resulting from personal wants and societal prescribed demands may manifest themselves in different behavior patterns during the various stages of development. These may include difficulty in the toddler phase, opposition during school and pre-school ages, deteriorated conduct disorder during adolescence resulting in crime and delinquency in adulthood if the problems are not addressed early (Magai al. 559). Also, studies have shown that throughout the world, large numbers of adolescents have become victims of mental health challenges.
As such researchers have confirmed that the aforementioned negative traits resulting in vices have numerous problematic outcomes in the adult population. Consequently, they have a ripple effect across many domains of society such as education, family functioning, employment, and mental health (Magai al. 660). Similarly, defiance in childhood result in anti-social and conduct disorders as well as substance use, criminal acts, and risky sexual behavior in adults. Besides, studies have shown that cases of disruptive children committing offenses are rife where they are likely to participate in delinquent acts which makes them vulnerable and susceptible to becoming violent (Magai al. 660). Also, numerous adverse effects have been expounded in the study on the inherently negative consequences of emotional obstacles during growth. As such, they multiply with age and as an individual matures, they increase threefold whereby children who suffered during initial development stages risk developing depression disorder, inadequate problem-solving skills, academic and underachievement (Magai al. 559). Therefore, kids who experience behavioral and emotional challenges when young are likely to develop future problems that will interfere and inhibit a range of their adult life which in turn negates their mental health.
Personally, I think it is paramount to understand the essence of human development and how the surrounding plays a crucial role in shaping our adult life. Understanding the correlation between the emotional, physical and social growth of a child to the well-being of an adult, necessitates investing resources to create a conducive environment for their development. Also, early experiences by kids such as parental bonding, initial environmental encounter shape their future emotional, cognitive, physical, and social maturity which determines their adult behavior. Therefore, babies raised in caring and comforting surroundings tend to grow into loving and responsible adults. Conversely, parental behavior during infancy and toddler periods influences the aftermath of personal traits inherent in grown-ups. While different people are attuned to the environment differently, early experiences affect all human beings. Therefore, the provision of a conducive surrounding is synonymous with proper child care.
In summation, every person went through the stage and some have poignant memories about their childhood. Similarly, the way adults, act, feel and behave has a profound origin from their experiences when they were growing up. As such, positive encounters bear admirable personal traits while negative occurrences compromise the well-being of an individual as an adult. Therefore, parents, caretakers, and guardians need to provide a conducive environment during child growth to enhance positive behavior when the kids come of age.
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Magai, Dorcas N., et al. “Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Children and Adolescents in Central Kenya.” Child Psychiatry & Human Development, vol. 49, no. 4, 2018, pp. 659-671.
Shannon, Guss S., et al. Parents’ Adverse Childhood Experiences and Current Relationships with Their Young Children: The Role of Executive Function, Early Child Development and Care, vol. 190, no. 7, 2020, pp. 1042-1052.
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