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Development in Childhood – Stages and Types

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Physical and Cognitive Development in Early Childhood

Brain development

At the initial stages of child development the brain increase from 70% to 90% of the total adult’s brain. Several areas develop during this stages of early childhood, these areas include:

  • The cerebrum which aids balance and movement control
  • The corpus callosum joins the two brain hemispheres and,
  • The brain reticular responsible for alertness and consciousness

An example of synaptic pruning includes the physical transformation that occurs during puberty.

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Handedness also develops at the initial stages of child developments, by the age of two years, the hand preference for the child is stable. Children that use both hands (either left or right) are all the same, however, left-handed children have a greater chance of developing outstanding mathematical and verbal talents (Berk, Physical Development in Early Childhood, 2016, Slide 8).

Nutrition, vaccination, and sleep

An example of a healthy meal for developing child includes meals with a balance of vitamins and proteins including, fruits and other healthy sources of proteins such as eggs, nuts, and fish

Vaccination plays a crucial role in protecting children from serious complications and illnesses of vaccine preventable diseases which may include paralysis, brain damage or even convulsions

Vaccinations for a four-year-old includes

  • Hepatitis B vaccination
  • Influenza
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
  • Inactivated polio vaccine
  • Rotavirus vaccine
  • Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine
  • Haemophilus infuenzae vaccine

Sleep schedule for a three-year-old should include 11 to 13 hours every night and a one or two-hour nap during the afternoons.

Physical growth, motor development, safety and exercise

  1. Physical growth during the early years of child development includes five pounds and two to three inches each year. Between the ages of 2-6 years, physical developments include the growth of 45 new epiphyses which emerge in specific parts of the skeleton. Physical growth also includes the loss of baby teeth
  2. Fine motor skills for children ages between the age of 6 and 12 years includes good endurance in writing, correct formation of numbers and letters,  maintaining the legibility of his or her handwriting, using real tools, and at a later age (by 12 years) write complete paragraphs.
  3. Some important strategies for preventing child injuries includes the creation of awareness to parents and highlighting prevention solutions to parents (Berk, Development through the lifespan, 2007, p. 8).

Preoperational Thinking

An example of sociodramatic play activity in early childhood includes preparing dinner together while carefully watching the child which would play a crucial role in helping the child become more familiar with the names of cooking items and the names of food. Examples of:

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  • Dual presentation includes the use of scale models such as maps
  • Egocentrism includes the three mountain problem
  • Lack of conservation includes inability of a child to determine equalness or fairness
  • Lack of reversibility includes inability of a child to determine the changes in liquid color mixtures
  • Difficulty in classification includes inability of a child to arrange objects in terms of their colors or sizes

Follow up research on preoperational thought examples of:

  • Dual representation- child’s inability to use scale models such as maps
  • Egocentrism- instructing a child to pluck yellow flowers but instead plucks purple flowers.
  • Centration- when a child continues to carry out their own tasks even when their parents call them
  • Magical thinking- when a child demands a toy and her parents buy it, they think they caused it
  • Animistic thinking- crying when their toys are broken
  • Logical thought- a child’s ability to arrange specific colors of a rubrics cube even without being able to solve it
  • Categorization- arrangement of object in terms of their colors

Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory:

  • An example of scaffolding in early childhood based on Vygotsky’s theory includes teaching a child the sound and words beginning with that sound when he or she recognizes a specific letter
  • An example of private speech may be evident when a child learns specific sentence and attempts to repeat it by himself privately. In case a teacher recognizes this, he or she may ask the child to repeat the sentence loudly (Berk, Development through the lifespan, 2007, p. 23)

I once witnessed my aunt’s child narrate how she celebrated her Christmas to her friend who also narrated how her Christmas. At the beginning of the story, she explained a story she was told by her parents about Father Christmas and his gifts. The narrations were specific and detailed that the child remembered her encounters with other people during the day and some of her father’s activities. The child also narrated how the gifts she was given by her relatives and parents. According to her story, both her parents and her relatives presented her with nine gifts

Evident in this were important elements of attention, memory, metacognition, and mathematical reasoning and literacy developments. Memory was marked by the whole narration of her story and the details within the story; attention was evident in the way she narrated the activities her father undertook during that specific day.

Metacognition was evident by the questions she asked her friend when she narrated her own story. Mathematical reasoning and literary reasoning, on the other hand, was evident in how she counted her gifts and the way she narrated the story of Father Christmas and his gifts. All these elements are important in the child’s cognitive development

Environmental influences

During my volunteer period to study some elements of child development, I had an opportunity to meet with Ben a four-year-old preschooler. In his activities, it was evident that Ben’s attentions paying skills were higher as compared to other students from his class. One evening his parents were late from picking him up from school, I decided to walk with him since we stayed along the same route and notified the teacher in charge. Upon arrival in Bens home, I noted many playing toys and puzzles in their home.  Even with this toys I also noticed that Ben loved watching television and use his computer.

The use of television and computers during early child development tends to have both negative and positive impacts on the development of the child. Some of the benefits include boosting motor skills, add educational value and also acts as a source of entertainment. The negative impacts, on the other hand, includes the fact that they limit social interactions, impedes physical development and causes vision problems

Language developmental delay

Examples of:

  • Speech patterns includes the ability of a child to maintain a specific topic
  • Vocabulary includes the ability of a child to speak specific words
  • Grammar includes ability of a child to combine two or three words
  • Conversation includes ability of a child to deliver specific messages to other individuals through the use of words

An example of a strategy to foster literacy includes, narrating children stories to aid in their language development developmental delay example includes a child’s disinterest in communication, through not speaking, and even having poor eye contact

Social and Emotional Development in Early Childhood

Initiative versus guilt, self-understanding

Examples of:

  • Initiative includes interests in the child’s need to tackle some new tasks and also their ability to discover the tasks they can do with the help of adults
  • Guilt, on the other hand, includes the feelings that arise when parents demand things that the child cannot achieve.

Self-understanding manifests itself in

  • Self-concepts manifests in what the child believes define who he/she is, his or her characters, and the qualities that are only unique to him or her
  • Body image manifests in the way the child presents himself or herself, and the grooming elements he or she believes are important.
  • Self-esteems manifests in the judgments children make on their individual worth and the feelings that are associated with the judgments (Berk, Exploring Lifespan Development (3rd Edition) (Berk, Lifespan Development Series), 2013)

Emotional competence

An example of:

  • Self-regulation includes the ability of a child to cope with some negative emotions
  • Self-conscious emotions include the ability of a child to describe who he is, and what he feels and the values the child’s beliefs define him or her
  • Empathy includes responding emotionally to other individuals
  • Sympathy manifest includes being concerned or sorrowful about another individual’s plight


Examples of:

  • Solitary play pattern includes a child playing alone in his or her own room for a long time
  • Parallel play pattern includes a child playing with one or more playing the same game or engaging in the same activity
  • Associative play pattern includes children playing same game but are not cooperating with each other
  • Cooperative play pattern includes children working together in order to play a specific game
  • Functional play includes when children play in seesaws, merry go rounds and even slide down slides
  • Constructive and make believe play includes when one child or more children playing independently or together create their own environment and build cities and towers using blocks

Peer relationships

Examples of:

  • Peer interactions includes playing with new friends, and getting specific friends to play with
  • Parental influence includes taking children to close neighbors or specific parks for them to play

Moral/Spiritual development

Examples of moral development in terms of:

  • Anthropomorphism includes the ability of a child to show emotions such as love, and even recognize beauty
  • Psychoanalytic includes difficulties in trusting people in families with violence
  • Social learning includes behaviors learned through modeling, the reinforcement and the organization of this specific behaviors into ideas about themselves
  • Cognitive developmental perspective includes acquiring gender constancy and later using it to guide and influence their behaviors
  • Moral imperative includes the ability of a child to protect others welfare and rights
  • Social conventions include the customs determined by the consensus which includes politeness and table manners
  • Personal choice includes picking up specific gender-based behaviors from other children, choosing specific friends, and seven specific leisure activities

Aggression and discipline

Examples of:

Types of aggression

  • Proactive
  • Reactive
  • Verbal
  • Physical
  • Rational

Influences of aggression

  • Neglect from parents
  • Physical, sexual abuse

During a child development seminar, parents discussed their methods of positive parenting strategies for their preschool children. Among the most discussed effective methods included, withdrawal of privileges, explanations as to why specific actions are wrong, and even time out

Gender identity and stereotyping

Gender identity manifests through gender constancy and androgyny. I once witnessed girl attempt to join a group of young boys aged between 7-8 play soccer. The boys denied the girl a chance to play with one of them claiming that soccer is a boy’s game. To reduce this belief (the act of gender stereotyping), it is important to explain to the boys they all have equal rights, and the girl child can play soccer if she is interested.

Parenting and family

Examples of:

  • Authoritative parenting includes listening to children, encouraging independence, and allowing children to express their opinions. Impacts on the child positively as it improves the relationship between the parents and the child
  • Authoritarian parenting includes harshness in helping the child obey and make decisions. Authoritarian parenting strategies have negative impacts on the child
  • Permissive parenting includes having few rules on certain behavior parent’s act as a friend rather than as parents. Allows the child to be dependent on the decisions they make in the future
  • Unresolved parenting includes abusing and neglecting children. Unresolved parenting impacts on the child negatively

Cultural influence on parenting is an evident factor in many families. This is most evident in the adoption of past parenting techniques in modern parenting. For example, parents that use the authoritarian parenting techniques are highly influenced by the past techniques of parenting. Stepfamilies, extended families affect child development in terms of the techniques they bring into child development.

Child maltreatment

  1. Examples of types of abuse include , sexual abuse, physical neglect,  emotional neglect, and physical abuse
  2. Influences of child abuse include depression, academic failure, substance abuse, problem with peers, delinquency
  3. Examples of ways to prevent child abuse includes, lawsuits, and creation of awareness (Berk, Development through the lifespan, 2007, Slide 23)

Physical and Cognitive Development in Middle Childhood

Physical development

Examples of Physical growth manifestations include gaining 5 pounds, and 3 inches per ear and permanent teeth grow. At the age of 8, boys are heavier than girls and also grow at a faster rate. At nine, however, this changes and the girl’s height spurt. At this age, the bones of both girls and boys broaden and lengthen.

Sleep needs for boys and girls at middle childhood should be only at night for 10-11 hours

Nutrition and obesity

  1. Healthy meals for middle scholars should comprise of food with high levels of vitamins and proteins
  2. Under my volunteer activity, I also had a chance to interact with a ten-year obese child. Evident from my interactions her parents had played a big role in her obesity through providing her with fatty “junk” foods. Most of her meals comprised of food comprising high levels of fats. An effective work plan for this child would be consistent exercise scheduled sessions, and improvement of diet through the reduction of fatty foods and the balance of the necessary diet foods.

Motor development and play

Also, I had a chance to interact with a boy aged 11 years old. As a mid-school, it was evident that he was developing through his physical changes. However, it was evident that he was making fine motor milestones in the activities he engaged in. Some of these activities proved an increase in creativity.

These activities included writing complete paragraphs and combining this paragraphs to make a story. Proper pronunciation and an increase in the vocabularies. The drawings were also more accurate and complex

An example of games children between the ages of 6-12 years old engages in includes riding bicycles for both boys and girls and even jumping ropes for girls. Most of these game use a combination of the mind and the body (Berk, Physical Development in Early Childhood, 2016, p. 20).

Concrete operations

Examples of exhibiting:

  • Conservation includes a child’s ability to track specific changes with an aspect of fairness and justice
  • Reversibility includes the ability to explain that a glass of water and a bucket of water contains the same liquid
  • Classification includes the ability to recognize than a specific object belongs to a part of a subset class within the parent set
  • Decentration includes ability to identify an object even when minor changes are done to the object
  • Combination includes a child’s ability to explain when two liquids are mixed together
  • Seriating includes placing sticks or polls in terms of their height
  • Spatial reasoning includes ability of a child to explain the change of colors when two liquids of different colors are mixed together
  • Transformation includes ability to recognize an inflated and a deflated ball

Time and spatial concepts

For six-year-olds

  • The child can make specific sounds consistently
  • The child can make use of specific grammatical makers
  • The child should understand the number concepts up to 20

For 12-year-olds

  • The child can give specific directions
  • The child can tell the differences between times
  • The child can understand number concepts from 20 and above
  • The child shows outstanding performance in specific fields

When John, a 12-year-old boy was asked to explain what he learned on the day before, his narration depicted many elements of a working memory. This was evident in the specifics he provided on what he earned from specific subjects and what he had read and learned on that day

Cognitive self-regulation and intelligence

Examples of

Child developing self-regulation includes the ability of the child to continuously attempt to complete certain tasks

Measuring intelligence includes instructing a child to repeat specific sentences or even complete tasks as instructed. Intelligence measuring plays a crucial role in identifying the capability of the child and if the children need special care.

Communication and language

Examples of vocabulary, grammar, and pragmatic development:

  • The child’s vocabulary increases up to 40000 words.
  • The child has the ability to figure out the meaning of specific vocabularies
  • The child’s shows improvement for complex grammar
  • Gets better and adopts some methods of listening to other people and phrase complete sentences

During my practicum, I had an opportunity to meet with Natasha Yu a Chinese girl born in America. With the fact that she was Chinese, her parents had enrolled her in an American school that also had Chinese classes so she could study both English and Chinese, her mother language. Evident in her interactions the Chinese program had played a crucial role as it had taught her Chinese as a language and also some of the cultures of the Chinese.


Examples of:

  • Activities in traditional classes includes role playing and jigsaw activities
  • Activities in constructivist classrooms includes real-life simulations, and hands-on creative activities

Under my practicum also I noticed the interaction between the teachers and the children. Most of these activities were evident both inside the classroom and outside the classroom during the physical education classes. Evident from the relationship between the teachers and students, the interactions played a crucial role in helping the children build self-confidence and improve their social life.

An example of a program for disabled children includes the autism society of America and the special needs scholarship programs in some states.

Social and Emotional Development in Middle School

Industry versus inferiority and self-understanding

Examples of behaviors depicting:

  • Industry includes working together in school work, for example, doing homework with friends
  • Inferiority includes bullying other students of same age or younger

Self-esteem greatly influences children between the age of 6 and 12. At this age, the child’s develops more emotional than at an early age. At this age girls are more emotional than boys, this mostly revolves around their developmental features.  The interests of boys, however, are greater than in girls, at this age both girls and boys have a tendency of becoming more withdrawn from their families. Even with this, this stage shapes the children’s adolescent life (Berk, Physical Development in Early Childhood, 2016, p. 26)

Emotional development

Examples of behaviors related to:

  • Self-conscious emotions include shame, embarrassment, and guilt
  • Emotional understanding includes modesty and discipline
  • Self-regulation emotions includes discipline and cooperative
  • Copings strategy for middle school includes grooming oneself which mostly works when the child is faced with issues of low self-esteem

Moral and spiritual development

Natasha Yu when learning the Chinese language was also taught of some of their cultural beliefs. Under the program, she was taught how she was supposed to present herself as Chinese girl and some of the most important cultural elements to preserve their moral beliefs

Peer relations

Natasha’s friendships were evidently successful especially with the fact that she had both Chinese and American friends. Her peer group comprised of both Chinese and American and element that showed her close relationships with her friends

Children with friendship challenges in most cases stay alone, even in their free time. In most cases, they tend to look depressed and with poor communication skills. To improve socialization processes children can receive counseling from school counselors, parents can also improve the relationships between them to increase the levels of openness (Berk, Physical Development in Early Childhood, 2016, p. 27).

Gender typing/identity

Natasha Yu growth is in a period where her bodily features are developing, and she recognizes her identity and sexuality. These changes have influenced her both positively and negatively. An important factor, however, is the fact that she has accepted her identity and is able to surpass many of the gender stereotypes she faces

To reduce gender stereotypes, Natasha is more open to her parents who provide guidance on some of the challenges she faces. Her relationships with the teachers have also played a major role in reducing the stereotypes


Examples of how a child is affected by parents, siblings, only child family, blended, family, divorce, single parents, blended family working parents and childcare includes

  • Depression
  • Poor or good communication
  • Insecurity

Fears, stressors, sexual abuse, and safety

James was born in a family with violence, at the age of 6 he had experienced high levels of family violence from the brutality of his father towards his mother and even sexual abuse. This impacted greatly with his school life evident with the decreased performance in school.

Strategies for:

  • Sexual abuse prevention includes creating awareness, guidance and counseling, and the enrollment into prevention programs
  • Injury prevention strategies include guidance and counseling, safety lesson plans and also the enrollment into educational programs

1. Berk, L. E. (2007). Development through the lifespan. Boston, MA: Pearson.

2. Berk, L. E. (2013). Exploring Lifespan Development (3rd Edition) (Berk, Lifespan Development Series). Pearson.

3. Berk, L. E. (2016). Physical Development in Early Childhood. Infants, Children, and Adolescents.

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