Study Session 2
Four aspects of development are: cognitive, social, emotional and physical.
You could have identified a wide range of features of a child’s development. For example:
- In the first two years of life, children begin to recognise and respond to their primary caregivers, start to roll over from their back to their front, and are able to put 2–3 words into phrases.
- Between 6-10 years, children begin to understand and assert a sense of self, are able to consider several parts to a problem or situation, become increasingly separate from parents and seek acceptance from teachers, and become more involved with friends.
- In adolescence, young people have an emerging interest in sexual activity, desire greater privacy, are increasingly influenced by their peer group, often struggle with a sense of identity, and develop the ability to think through the consequences of their actions.
There are a number of factors that influence children’s development. To some extent it is driven by biological and psychological factors – children are ‘pre-programmed’ to grow and develop in particular ways. However, without access to basic standards of physical care and provision – such as food, shelter, clothing, health care, and clean environments – children’s development will suffer. Children’s particular childhood experiences also influence how they develop. Secure family life, a stimulating education, opportunities for play and recreation and the chance to take increasing levels of responsibility for their own lives are also key factors that impact on how a child develops.
Understanding how children develop is very important for health workers. Such knowledge enables you to identify if a child is developing normally or if she or he needs additional assessment and support. It also enables you to help parents understand what to expect of their children. For example, you can encourage parents to see that a small child’s curiosity and wanting to reach out, touch things and put them in their mouths is not naughty. Rather it is an important part of how they are discovering and making sense of the world around them. It can also help you provide guidance to parents on how to meet children’s needs more effectively, by, for example, encouraging them to value the role of playing in a child’s life.