The development of children happens in various ways at the same time. Different aspects of this process are not reliant on the completion of another, and, instead, they occur simultaneously. Although physical growth and maturity are the most obvious signs of development, children can also grow cognitively, socially, sexually, and emotionally. This paper aims at reviewing information regarding the growth and development of children between birth and 11 years of age, from infancy to late childhood. It will also consider the works of Piaget, Bowlby, and Ainsworth and how they intersect with this period of life.
The first sphere of development is the physical aspect that occurs in several ways. For instance, when I was born, all I could do was to flex my arms and legs. Between six to eight weeks, when I lied face down, I could raise my head at an angle of forty-five degrees. By the age of six months, I sat without support, and at nine months, began crawling, and a month later, I could stand but with the support of a table or chair. I made my first independent step at 12 months, though unsteadily; however, I became steady by the 15th month. Piaget made infancy his “sensorimotor” stage as he recognized that infants learn about their environment by interacting with it via their senses (Santrock, 2019). They learn how to perform physical actions, such as crawling and walking. Moreover, they are particularly orally fixated as they tend to put everything into their mouths. During infancy, I had a tendency of sucking my feet and other objects that were both in and not in view (object permanence). It is essential to note that babies do this to feel the texture and structure of objects.
Beyond the physical tasks, infants also learn about social and emotional ones. Babies are capable of learning to express their feelings and emotions and understanding other people’s feelings. Therefore, the environmental experiences that infants have as they grow and develop are critical to their socioemotional development. I was an easy child as I was generally active and happy as I could freely interact with other children. Furthermore, I could adjust easily to new environments and situations. Bowlby and Ainsworth’s theory on attachment describes the affectional bond that an infant shares with its mother (Santrock, 2019). It is necessary to create this bond as it is central to social and emotional development. Additionally, engaging in mutually enjoyable interactions helps to further cement this attachment. For instance, even though I was an infant, I liked to be involved in my parents’ activities, such as farming and selling. Thus, participating in such activities under the protection of my mother made me attached to her. She was a secure base that granted me a sense of safety as I explored my surroundings.
Lastly, infants are growing not only physically and socioemotionally during the first two years of life but also cognitively. As their brains continue to develop, babies concurrently acquire the ability to communicate, comprehend, and produce spoken language. They utilize their ears, tongues, and mouths to mimic the sound and sight of other people to produce their sounds. One of the first sounds that children often create is “mama” and “dada”. However, it is necessary to point out that, according to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, during the sensorimotor stage, children explore with sounds and language, which is reliant on the auditory aspect. Infants do not consider the meaning but only create sounds. Nevertheless, in the concrete operational stage, they start to think symbolically and learn to use words to represent objects or people (Santrock, 2019). For instance, when I first said “mama” at infancy, I kept calling every girl that I met this way. However, a few months later, I was able to identify her as my real mother and only called “mama” when I saw her. This exhibits the change in language development that occurs between the sensorimotor and pre-operational stages.
In conclusion, infancy is regarded as a period of intense development. Babies start with only intuitive reflexes and a natural ability to learn, and after 11 years, they develop to the point that they can move objects and themselves, and have recognizable personalities. These developmental milestones set the stage for later learning in the subsequent years. However, it is important to stress out that their environment influences infant development at every level. Children progress toward the various milestones via interaction with the physical environment comprising of their parents and the world. Therefore, any external interference might have an adverse impact on their ability to progress smoothly.
Santrock, J. (Ed.). (2019). Essentials of life-span development (6th ed.). Mc-Graw Hill Education.