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Development from Birth – 19 Years Essay

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The aspects of development are defined as Physical, Social & Emotional, Language and Intellectual. There are different stages of development for each category, 0-3 years, 3-7 years, 7-12 years and 12-19 years.

All children will follow the same pattern of development but at different rates and will reach their milestones at different times.


During the 0-3 year period a child’s physical development will see them start to move and react to memorable sounds and voices. They recognise people, reach for brightly coloured or noisy items.

Their ability to move begins with rolling over, moves to crawling, shuffling and finally the ability to walk. Fine motor skills will also increase, from being able to hold and shake interesting objects to using crayons to scribble and make marks. They will use body language to communicate, such as shaking the head to indicate ‘NO’.

As they move into years 3-7 their skills become more refined, they will be able to walk up and down stairs, catch a ball, use paints.

Then they will learn to pedal a bike start to draw basic pictures of people or houses. Movement continues to improve and they become confident at climbing and jumping and their fine motor skills allow them to write more clearly, sew and manage shoe laces.

By ages 7-12 years children are generally able to hit a ball and participate in team sports although their ability may not meet their own expectations at first.

During adolescence physical development becomes more about appearance and the process of puberty. Whilst girls begin this process earlier than boys all children will develop as individuals. This can be a very difficult time for teenagers, with insecurities about they way they look and how they compare to their peers. Some will suffer anxiety at some point and worry about being a late or early developer.

Social and Emotional

Social and emotional development begins by showing affection and becoming attached to parents or carers and becoming what we usually call ‘clingy’. Young children may become distressed when a parent leaves the room or is not in sight. Slightly older children may demand attention and use tantrums to get their own way. They will generally be easily distracted from unwanted behaviour.

By age 2-3 years children enjoy playing with older people who provide them with attention and begin to enjoy time with children their own age. Over the next few years the child becomes more independent and coopertative and likes to help. They develop social skills and play with others is more comfortable as they begin to consider the feelings of others and make friends, although resolving disputes can still be an issue. Rules and routine are required to help the child feel secure and safe.

In later years the child becomes less dependant on their parents and moves closer to their peers. They develop a sense of right and wrong by may still adult intervention to settle arguments. They become aware of their gender and normally prefer the company of their own sex. Their behaviour differs with their emotions depending upon circumstance.

In the final stages of development puberty creates feelings of self-consciousness and insecurity about body image. Behaviour is very unsettled as they sway between the feelings of being a child and wanting to be an adult. Friendships become stronger and adolescents depend less on the parents. They are much more aware of the opposite sex and need to fit in social with their peer group. People of this age begin to think about their social environment and may start to form strong opinions about community, politics and religion.


In the early stages of development language is more about making sounds to show feelings. Babies watch others to learn facial movements to help them to begin making their own sounds and will turn towards sound they hear. From making sounds, words develop and gradually increase in number. They begin to understand key words spoken to them and will repeat back what they hear building from single words, to phrases and then sentences. Children’s ability to understand develops faster than the ability to speak and this can cause frustration with not being able to express themselves.

During the 3-7 year period children begin to question things more intently, use more accurate grammar and their vocabulary increases dramatically. Reading skills start to develop, first recognising a few frequently seen words and understanding stories and books. During the Key Stage 1 years learning and recognising letters and the sounds they make develops into reading and later into writing.

The next stages of language development involves the vocabulary increasing further and learning to spell more difficult words. Adult interaction is important to help children learn fluency and progress towards telling more complicated stories and the correct use of grammar and tenses.

During adolescence language becomes more mature and logical thinking begins to develop. They can be sarcastic and begin to experiment with humour or may wish to publicly demonstrate their new found skills.


Early intellectual development involves copying others through play and testing different styles of behaviour. Young children also begin to recognise that all people are separate from themselves. Next comes the ability to understand instructions and recognise things that are similar, for example, shapes and colours. Between 5-7 years children start to become aware of their environment and understand what is means when things are different or the same. Next a child will develop their own interests and reading becomes a skill used for entertainment.

Finally the mind matures and young people learn responsibility for their own thoughts and actions. They begin to think about their future lives and things they might like to do like, jobs, marriage and children. The ability to make connections between pieces of information and the world around them also matures. The speed of development at this stage very much depends upon the amount of guidance received. The more guidance a person gets the quicker they are able to reflect upon how things relate to in practice to their lives. An individuals personal identity is formed from the things they learn at this stage which should be more moral and cultural.

Adolescents begin to take more responsibility away from their parents with regard to managing their finances, employment and their personal relationships and becomes complete during adulthood.

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