Meaning, Nature, Principles and Factors affecting Growth and Development

Growth means increase in size, height and weight of child. It implies growth of heart, brain, muscles and body in general. It can be easily observed

Meaning and Definition of Growth

Growth means increase in size, height and weight of child. It implies growth of heart, brain, muscles and body in general. It can be easily observed and measured. It is generally confined to quantitative changes.

Meaning, Nature, Principles and Factors affecting Growth and Development

Growth is defined as an irreversible constant increase in the size of an organ or even an individual cell. Growth is the most fundamental characteristics of living bodies accompanied by various metabolic processes that take place at the cost of energy. The processes can be anabolic or catabolic. When it comes to plants, the seeds germinate, develop into a seedling and acquires a shape of an adult plant are discrete stages of growth and the growth of Plants is indefinite.

1. According to Frank, "Growth refers to the increase in cells, such as increase in length and weight."

2. According to Watson & Lower, "Growth means an increase in the physical size of the whole or any of its parts. It is the quantitative changes that occur in the body of an organism."

Types of Growth

There are four types of human growth-

1. Physical Growth:- Physical growth refers to bodily growth that includes weight, height, and other types of development in the body.

2. Mental Growth:- Mental Growth develops the child's mind that helps the child solve problems, make judgements, etc.

3. Emotional Growth:- Emotional Growth refers to the growth of feelings like love, joy, anger, hate, etc., in an individual.

4. Social Growth:- Social Growth refers to the growth of an individual through interaction with other social groups.

So, these are the four significant types of growth. But growth and development are not only limited to humans. They also occur in plants as well. So, let us discuss about that. There are three types of growth in plants.

Primary/Secondary Growth:- Primary/ Secondary growth is defined as the growth wherein the plant grows in length. This increase in height is termed as primary growth. On the other hand, when the diameter of a plant gets increased, then it is known as secondary growth.

Vegetative Growth:- The formation of a plant, along with its leaves, branches, stems, etc., is known as vegetative growth. The vegetative growth takes place in a plant before flowering.

Reproductive growth:- When the flowering in a plant begins, it is called reproductive growth.

Nature and Characteristics of Growth

  1. Growth is a natural process.
  2. The process of human growth lasts from pregnancy to a certain period (18-20 years).
  3. In growth, there is an increase in the size, weight and working capacity of the human body.
  4. The rate of growth varies at different age levels.
  5. Human growth depends on human inheritance and environment.
  6. There is a limit to human growth, which is almost complete by the age of 18-20 years.
  7. Human growth is quantitative so it can be measured by mathematical methods.

Meaning and Definition of Development

Development refers to the qualitative changes in the organism as whole. Development is a continuous process through which physical, emotional and intellectual changes occur. It is a more wider and comprehensive term than growth. It is also possible without growth.

The process and phenomena, where an entity, physically grows, physiologically evolves, to attain mental growth and maturity is collectively referred to as Development. The process of development of shape and structure of a living organism is known as Morphogenesis.

1. According to Harold Stevenson, “Development psychology is concerned with the study to changes in behavior through the life span”.

2. According to Libert & Poulos, “Development refers to a process of change in growth and capability over time, as function of both maturation and interaction with the environment”.

Nature and Characteristics of Development

It has the following main nature and characteristics:

  1. Human development is a natural and social process.
  2. The process of human development continues throughout life.
  3. Human development consists of both quantitative growth and qualitative improvement.
  4. Human development takes place in a particular sequence and the pace of development varies at different age levels.
  5. Human development depends on heredity and environment.
  6. There is no limit to human development.
  7. Quantitative growth can be measured by mathematical methods but qualitative development cannot be measured by mathematical methods.

Forms of Growth and Development

Development is a process and it has some specific characteristics. The characteristics of development help or guide us to understand nature of development of a child. The following changes are observed during the process of development.

1. Structural Change:- Growth concerns with the change in height, weight, form of the body. It can be observed and measured.

2. Changes in Proportion:- The child is a miniature of the adult. There is proportionate changes or growth in structure of an adult. The proportion is also noted in mental, social and emotional development.

3. Changes in Old Features:- Some changes are observed in old features of an individual. These changes are caused by thymus and pinnal glands.

4. Acquisition of New Features:- The old features gradually vanish and new features and acquired. There is change in teeth and growth in sexual organs. Maturation is the stage that an individual is ready to function.

5. Predictability of Development:- The rate and speed of development provide the basis for the prediction of development. 6. Definite Pattern of Development: What-so-ever the form of development but if has definite pattern. It is the law of nature.

7. Development has Specific Characteristics:- Each stage of development has some traits or specific characteristics. The most effective traits of each stage emerge in process of development. Every individual has to go through these stages. The behaviour which appears unique behaviour during the process of development, are normal.

Difference Between Growth and Development

In the Biological term, there's a minute difference between the terms growth and development. These words describe a separate set of events in an organism or plant. Growth and development are used in various ways. Usually they are used simultaneously, sometimes these are used interchangeably or synonymously.

S.No. Growth Development
Growth refers to the increase in mass and size of a body. Development refers to the qualitative changes in form and function.
Growth stops at the certain age of the individual. Development process continues till end of the life.
Growth is a biological phenomenon, concerns with the increase in size, shape, height and weight Development is environmental interaction with a person to change in from and functions.
Growth can be measured or it is quantitative phenomenon. Development is the qualities but can be observed through the behaviour of the individual.
Growth is structural. Development is considered as functional.
Growth points to changes in a specific phase or partial aspect. Development indicates pattern of changes in the total organism.
Growth is an external process. Development is an internal process.
Growth is influenced by development. Development is not dependent upon growth.

Importance of Growth and Development

Development process depends on heredity and environmental factors. Growth is universally used by health care professionals and care givers to judge the physical condition of babies and children: poor growth in early life has a negative impact on cognitive development and morbidity, whereas rapid and excessive growth is associated with a higher prevalence of obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Factors affecting growth and development

Growth is natural and automatic process but development is planned and deliberate efforts to bring desirable changes among children. The pattern of human growth and development is mainly determined by the genetic as well as environmental factors. Growth and development is the result of an inseparable mixture of heredity and environmental factors. It has been discussed below:

1. Heredity factors:- The heredity or genetic factors determine the potential and limitations of growth and development. Heredity in the form of genes and chromosomes determine the growth rate of a child. It is believed that the size and shape of body, colour of eyes skin and hair, nervous system etc. are deeply influenced by the heredity system.

2. Environmental factors:- Environment in which an individual is born and brought up determines the pattern of growth and development largely. Environment is everything except his/her genes. These factors give direction to the genetic potential of growth and development of an individual. Environmental factors like climate conditions, nutrition, social, economic conditions, emotional support, opportunity of play, language training etc. affects the development and growth of a child.

3. Gender:- The gender of the child is a very common but important factor affecting the physical growth and development of a child. The growth pattern of girls and boys is quite different like boys tend to be taller and physically stronger than girls on the other hand girls tend to mature faster during their adolescence than the boys.

4. Hormones:- You must be knowing that hormones belong to the endocrine system and influence the various functions of our bodies. Hormones secreted from different glands that are situated in specific parts of our body and control many of our body functions.The proper functioning of these hormones plays a major role in the normal physical growth and development of the children. If these hormone-secreting glands cannot function properly, children may suffer from growth defects, obesity, behavioral problems, and some other diseases.

5. Nutrition:- Growth and development is also highly depend ed upon nutrition. A proper balanced diet and nutrition leads to normal growth of a child. Thus availability of healthy diet like protein, vitamins, amino acid, zinc, calcium etc plays a major role in the development and growth of a child.

6. Socio Economic & Cultural Factors:- Economic, social and cultural factors also highly influence in the growth and development of an individual. Different socio-economic & cultural backgrounds lead to differences in psycho- physical development of an individual with different rate of growth maturation and development.

In fact, a constant and complicated interaction of genes, hormones, nutrition and other environmental factors throughout the lifespan influence the process of growth and development. In humans, the Growth Hormone is known as Somatotropin. Plants also contain such hormones called Auxins, Gibberellins, Cytokinins, Ethylene, Abscisic acid. These are also called Plant Growth Regulators.

Principles of growth and Development

The 7 principles of development which are put forth from the scientific knowledge gained from observing children. These are as bellow:

  1. Principles of continuity.
  2. Principle of orderly development
  3. Principles of sequential development
  4. principle of unique development
  5. The principle of interrelated development
  6. Principle of interaction between heredity and environment
  7. Principle of interaction of maturity & learning

1. Principles of continuity:- Development is a continuous process. There are definite developmental stages such as gang as or adolescence. However it is a fact that growth continues from the time of conception to till the individual reaches maturity. It starts at a slow regular pace rather than “leaps and bounds”. Both the physical and mental traits continues gradually and continues till the level of maximum growth.

2. Principle of Orderly development:- This principle states that development proceeds from general to specific directions. It can be observed that a new born baby moves his whole body at one time instead of moving a specific part of it. The baby waves his arms.

3. Principles of sequential development:- According to this statement the development follows a sequential pattern where in puberty achieved before full physical structure. For example, the human body cuts his molars before his incisors, can stands before he walks and can draw, a circle before he can draw a square.

In physical growth one can see the cephalocaudal pattern in the prenatal stage of the human child. This means that of the body as well as improvements in the structure it develops first in the head and progresses later to the parts further from the bread.

4. Principle of Unique developments:- Though development follows a set of pattern but every individual differs or vary from one another with regards to the time he achieves the changes. For examples all children crawl before standing properly but the age at which they perform these activities is different.

5. Principle of Interrelated developments:- The development that takes place in an individual like social development, mental development, and emotional development all are interrelat ed to each other and one doesn’t exist without other. For example the mental development of an individual is intimately related to his physical growth and its needs. Again there is a close relationship between the total adjustment to school and his emotions, his/her physical health and his intellectual adequacy. An emotional disturbance od a child may create difficulties in eating or sleeping. A physical imperfection may be responsible for the development certain attitudes and common adjustments.

6. Principle of heredity and environment:- An individual is a product of heredity and environment neither heredity alone, nor the mere environment is the potent factor in the development of an individual. However it is not possible to determine in which proportion heredity and environment contribute to the development of an individual. Thus heredity and environment work hand to hand from the very beginnings.

7. Principle of Interaction of maturation and learning:- In simple word maturation refers to the changes in the developing organism due to ripening of abilities, characteristics, traits, behaviour due to training etc. so the interaction of the maturity and learning influence the development and growth of an individual.

Role of Education in Moral Development

1. Training of Will Power:- Proper care should be taken for the development of a strong will power among the children. Firm determination and power of taking right decision at a right time and products of will power and these two qualities are very essential for the development of a strong character. A man of strong will can make himself free from harmful factors and can remove the obstacles in the path of his character development.

2. Organisation of Good Habits:- Habits also form a path of the character. Therefore, due care should be taken to develop healthy habits among the children through proper conditioning. The wrong habits need extinction through de-conditioning and proper understanding.

3. Development of Worthy Ideals:- What a person does and how he will behave in a particular situation depends much on his aims of life and the ideals for which he strives. In other words the character of a person can be judged through his values and ideals. Higher the ideals and goals of life, the stronger is the character of a person. Therefore, the children should be made to develop worthy ideals. Higher values and noble aims of life so that they can imbibe good virtues in them.

4. Organisation and Development of Proper Sentiments:- Character is referred to as the system or organisation of sentiments. Therefore, every care should be taken to develop a well organized stable system of healthy sentiments among the children. First of all due consideration should be paid for developing right type of sentiments like sentiments of patriotism, moral sentiment, social sentiment, intellectual sentiment, aesthetic sentiment and self-regarding sentiment. The strength of one's character always depends upon the sentiment of self-regard. Therefore children must be helped to develop a strong sense of self respect and a sentimental of self regard. In developing this very important sentiment the following points should be kept in mind:

  1. Due respect must be shown for the individuality of the child.
  2. The child should be given reasonable freedom in day to day work.
  3. He must be encouraged to do his work independently and every care should be taken to build his self-confidence.
  4. He must get proper love and affection coupled with an adequate sense of security.
  5. He must be helped to share and play a role of responsible individual in his school and social life.

5. The Role of Suggestion:- Suggestion occupies an important place in the formation and development of character. Children are very sensitive to suggestion. Therefore. Help of suggestion should be taken in character formation. But as far as possible, positive suggestion should be given to the children for bringing desirable improvement in their behaviours. This can be achieved through the ideal stories and the life sketches of great men and women. Auto-suggestion can also bring very good results at this stage. The feeling, that he is improving day by day and acquiring good habits and characteristics, can immediately help the child to become a man of character.

6. The Role of Imitation:- Child is imitative by nature. He imitate what he sees id hears. To him his parents, elders and the teachers are ideals. He imitates them consciously and unconsciously. Hence, it is essential that the teachers, parents and other elder members of the society should place the ideal examples of their own conduct and character. Every care should be taken by the parents and teachers that nothing undesirable should be imitated by the children. They must be provided with health and inspiring atmosphere inside the school and at their homes. They should not be made to fall prey to bad company and unhealthy society.

7. Role of Reward and Punishment:- Punishment and reward both occupy an important place in the development of character. In the modern age of democratic values and applied psychology, the role of punishment in character formation is decried. It is said about it that he creates complexes in the mind of the students and goes more harm than good. The main function of punishment is negative as it can only choose wrong things, but it certainly cannot develop the desired attitude.

No doubt there is some truth in these observations but we cannot give up the punishment completely in our educational system. Sometimes punishment appears to be the only tool that can curb down the undesirable activities. But as far as possible the punishment should be resorted to o when other measures fail. Most of the time, positive measures his rewards, praise, appreciation and other methods for the due incentive and encouragement should be applied.

8. Role of Moral Instructions and Religious Education:- No can question the utility of moral and religious education as an instrument for character formation. In one form or the other provision should be made for its inclusion in a second system of education. Such type of educational need not to be based upon some narrow rigid sectarian feelings. In fact it should emphasize the lofty moral and human values and keep itself away from the rituals of the various religions, it should teach the children to pay respect of all the religions and men of character irrespective of caste, colour and creed.


At the end, we can say that development plays very important role in the development of the personality of an individual. In order to establish an ideal society parents, teachers, psychologists will have to build up competent and able children who should have the qualities like truthfulness, co-operation, self-control, self-dependence, obedience and discipline in them. With such children, we can dream of having world society and fraternity.

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