Stages of Child Development

The First Two Years: Physical Development

Human development is a continuous process that runs throughout his life. From the moment of birth to death, a series of sequential regular morphological, biochemical, and physiological changes take place in the body, and therefore certain time periods or periods are distinguished. The boundaries separating one age from another are to some extent arbitrary, but at the same time, each age is characterized by its inherent features of structure and functioning. The following criteria were proposed as the criteria on the basis of which these periods are distinguished: body weight, ossification of the skeleton, teething, muscle strength, puberty.

The First Two Years: Cognitive Development

The given stage is considered to be a sensorimotor period, where a child uses his or her innate abilities to explore the surrounding world. Children comprehend the objects and their corresponding features, such as permanence. During exploration, a child adapts to the environment and adjusts its behavior and movement pattern to fit within it. Symbol usage is a major part of the communication because the overall language skills are fully developed yet. In the first years of his life, a person actively uses gestures, however, as his/her body grows further, the body movements become less required for communicating. The main reason is that the overall vocabulary increases and what was previously only possible to show, now it becomes easier to explain in words.

The First Two Years: Social Development

Imitation plays a major role in communicating with other individuals. In the first years of life, infants are able to distinguish the facial expression of an adult. Moreover, they better distinguish positive facial expressions than negative or neutral. Babies discover not only visual but also auditory preferences. They clearly prefer to listen to a human voice compared to sounds of the same pitch and volume and distinguish coherent speech from a set of meaningless syllables. Voices in the female range babies prefer voices in the male range. There is innate coordination between vision and hearing, helping babies recognize different people, and especially the mother.

The First Two Years: Skills

In the early years, a child acquires basic skills of movement and communication. At this stage, a child can perform basic versions of walking and jumping. In order to communicate, he/she might use gestures and basic forms of speech, which mostly comprised of two-word sentences. Before the children can speak different words, they make sounds that gradually become more diverse and become distinguishable. Each child, before the pronunciation of various words, goes through a period of walking. This is the stage at which the adult may get the impression that the child said the words, but it is not clear what. The child’s scale is gradually moving toward words, as adults, and possibly older children, take his sounds seriously and react to them.

The First Two Years: Major Risks

The major risk factor for a child at this stage is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The latter might affect any child, but it has a higher chance of occurrence in infants with lower birth weight. The safest posture for sleeping the baby is on the back, and thus, it is important to put the baby to sleep on the back, and not on the stomach or side. This does not apply to cases where the child is awake or already knows how to roll over in both directions without assistance. In addition, dangerous inherited disorders and birth-related trauma can severely hinder the development. Poor nutrition and hygiene can be a problem for children because they lack a strong immune system to combat various infectious disease agents.

Early Childhood, Ages 2 to 6: Physical Development

The state of children’s health reflects the conjugate variability of morphological and functional parameters of the body at different stages of ontogenesis, while each age period has its own characteristics of the organization of physiological systems and their reactivity. Therefore, in order to control and timely identify risk groups for deviations and health disorders, it is necessary to carry out mass studies of its main indicators – indicators of physical and psychophysiological development, the state of homeostatic systems, adaptive capabilities of the body, taking into account the individual characteristics of age development. In recent decades, there has been a tendency toward deterioration in the indicators of physical development, especially in ecologically disadvantaged agricultural and industrial regions.

Early Childhood, Ages 2 to 6: Cognitive Development

Egocentrism – the inability or unwillingness of a person to look at what is happening from the point of view of other people, to put himself in the place of another person (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2018). The child’s cognitive-personal development understood as an interconnected process of the development of cognitive structures, and the social and communicative qualities of a person include the emergence of psychological neoplasms in the child’s psyche and their further improvement. The structural-dynamic characteristics of psychological neoplasms of cognitive-personal development include motivational, affective, intellectual, and communicative indicators and changes in their attributive properties, namely: invariant, variant, and relatively autonomous. At different stages of ontogenesis, these attributive properties change relative to the content side.

Early Childhood, Ages 2 to 6: Social Development

Empathy is the ability to empathize with another person. Empathy is not inherent in a person from birth but develops in the process of life when a child interacts with people. The baby is completely incapable of sympathy with another person. However, at this stage of development, basic empathy develops in children. Since empathy is an emotional and sensual process, its development begins at early preschool age, since it is this age that is very densely saturated with experiences. It is during this period that the foundation for the development of emotional competence is laid.

Early Childhood, Ages 2 to 6: Skills

Fine motor skills is a set of coordinated human actions aimed at performing precise small movements with hands and fingers and toes. It is achieved by the coordinated functioning of the nervous, muscle, and skeletal systems, as well as, usually, by the visual system. Fine motor skills naturally develop from infancy on the basis of general motility. First, the child learns to grab the object, after which skills of shifting from one hand to the other appear. By the age of two, he is already able to draw, hold the brush, and spoon correctly. In preschool and early school age, motor skills become more diverse and complex. The proportion of actions that require coordinated actions of both hands is increasing.

Early Childhood, Ages 2 to 6: Major Risks

HIV infection in children is one of the most pressing problems worldwide. Initially, it can be caused by nosocomial morbidity, and in recent years, by the birth of children by HIV-infected women. Most of the childhood HIV infection is the result of the perinatal transmission of the virus. Children with HIV infection and their loved ones need professional treatment and rehabilitation support for their social functioning and optimal quality of life. This work should be primarily aimed at updating the views of both sick children and their parents. It is imperative not to leave them in social isolation, because sometimes secondary problems negatively affect the patient and his relatives no less than the disease itself.

Middle Childhood, Ages 7 to 12: Physical Development

At this age, the anatomical and physiological maturation of the systems that ensure the motor activity of the child is completed. However, at the beginning of the period, these systems are still far from mature, the process of motor development itself is still far from complete, although it proceeds at this age with a high degree of intensity. The younger school age is characterized by a relatively uniform development of the musculoskeletal system, but the growth rate of individual dimensional signs is different. The joints of children of this age are very mobile, and the ligamentous apparatus is elastic, the skeleton contains a large amount of cartilage. The muscles of primary school children have thin fibers, contain only a small amount of protein and fat. In this case, large muscles of the extremities are developed.

Middle Childhood, Ages 7 to 12: Cognitive Development

For this age, affective components retain greater invariance. The emotional sphere of man is a special phenomenon that can be considered as an indicator of the integrity of the human being. The emotional mechanisms of interpersonal perception as special cognitive patterns in the early stages of ontogenesis acquire great significance in interpersonal interaction, while general cognitive structures acquire significance at the beginning of adolescence. Social activity as a variant of communicative parameters is variable. The development of motivational-demanding and operational-technical components of cognitive activity is both a condition for improving cognitive structures and a consequence of their further improvement. The genesis of the level of social activity is characterized by unevenness in various activities.

Middle Childhood, Ages 7 to 12: Social Development

One of the main components of the child’s social development is the development of communication, the establishment of relationships, and the formation of friendships with peers. Communication is a process of human interaction, and it is an important aspect of education because, at this stage, children spend the majority of their time at schools. Pedagogical communication is understood as a system of interaction between a teacher and children in order to cognize children, provide educational impacts, organize pedagogically appropriate relationships, and create a microclimate favorable for the child’s mental development in the group.

Middle Childhood, Ages 7 to 12: Skills

An important feature of the organization of educational activities in elementary school is the fact that primary school age is sensitive for the formation of motives for learning, the development of sustainable cognitive needs and interests, which requires a certain “mental” readiness. One of the indicators of intellectual readiness for schooling is the level of development of fine motor skills. Usually, a child who has a high level of development of fine motor skills is able to reason logically, and he has sufficiently developed memory and attention, coherent speech. However, teachers note that first-graders often experience serious difficulties with mastering writing skills. The fine motor skills of primary schoolchildren need and must be developed. An effective means of developing fine motor skills in the educational process are games involving finger motor movements.

Middle Childhood, Ages 7 to 12: Major Risks

Excessive deposition of adipose tissue in the body, that is, obesity, is a disease that must be treated. Obesity in children can lead to serious health problems: diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system, atherosclerosis, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, impaired sexual development, endocrine, and metabolic disorders, arthrosis, sleep apnea, and bulimia. The treatment of childhood obesity, regardless of its cause, is a complex and lengthy process that requires the participation of not only doctors but also the parents of the child. It is important that each family member understands the importance of all prescribed activities and follows the instructions of a nutritionist and other specialists. It is important for parents and all family members to set the right example and switch to a healthy lifestyle.

Adolescence, Ages 13 to 18: Physical Development

The transition from childhood to adolescence is accompanied by increased growth and interrelated development processes. In puberty, there is a rapid growth of the body and limbs, the development of the sex glands, and then secondary sexual characteristics, which is accompanied by a change in the structure of the body and internal organs. By the age of 15-16, adolescents already have the body of an almost adult person (Keenan et al., 2016). This coincides with the completion of physical and puberty, as well as the development of sexuality. Body maturation is an important prerequisite for mental and psychosexual development. In turn, all these processes ensure socialization and the formation of the personality of a young person, including the formation of a responsible attitude to their health.

Adolescence, Ages 13 to 18: Cognitive Development

Cognitive-personal development of a teenager occurs in certain microsocial conditions, the main mechanisms of interpersonal interaction are a way to organize and organize them. The family is recognized as the first and main institution of socialization. The behavioral mechanism in a family situation is simultaneously activated by two parallel systems: cognitive and emotional. Emotion is associated with simple perceptual signals, at the same time, it is “mounted” and integrated into the system of meanings, despite the fact that there is a certain degree of independence between the emotional and cognitive processing of information. Emotional states provide not only the interaction between different levels of representative knowledge but also interfere with their processing.

Adolescence, Ages 13 to 18: Social Development

In the period from 10 to 15 years, the leading activity of adolescents is communication with peers. It is in their community that the main need of this age period is realized – to receive recognition of their personality, to find their place in society, to be significant. Teenagers are actively looking for friends, find out relationships, change companies. The dynamics of motives for communicating with peers changes every two years: initially, there is a strong desire to be among peers, to do something together. The motive is to occupy a certain place in the peer team that prevails at the age of 13. The desire for autonomy and the search for recognition of the value of self is actualized in 14-15 years (Keenan et al., 2016).

Adolescence, Ages 13 to 18: Skills

Teenagers become fully capable of any physical skill and at the same level as adults. They develop morality and empathy and become more emotionally stable, but not as stable as adults. The majority of social skills are acquired at this stage. Empathy is a personal property that can be purposefully shaped and developed, since it has a social nature. In this case, empathy is a quality that leads to the development of a person’s humanistic values, accompanies personal growth and becomes one of its leading signs. Adolescence is a period of controversy, one of which is a slight excitability, a quick change of mood, but at the same time the ability to manage your feelings and emotions.

Teenagers begin to experience various events deeper, their feelings become more stable, a wider range of social reality phenomena causes an emotional response in a teenager. A special place at this age is given to empathy as the ability of an emotional response to the problems of another person. It helps to establish a balance in interpersonal relationships, acts as a way of understanding another person.

Adolescence, Ages 13 to 18: Major Risks

Often, symptoms of teenage depression manifest themselves in changes in mood and behavior. Teenagers lose motivation in life and become withdrawn. Coming from school, they close in their room, and can sit alone for hours, stop communicating with parents and friends. They have increased drowsiness, changes in appetite, craving for alcohol, and some resort to drugs.

Depression carries a very high risk of suicide. If the child once suffered an attack of depression, then it is most likely that in the future, he will recur again. Continued teenage depression can lead to future complications, or even death.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Stages of Child Development'. 26 September.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Stages of Child Development." September 26, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Stages of Child Development." September 26, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Stages of Child Development." September 26, 2022.