Stages of Human Development

Indian sages have divided the stages of human development into 7 periods. Even today in India, human life is divided into these 7 periods and seen and

Stages of Human Development

As we know that for human organism, life starts from a fertilized ovum in the womb of the mother. Not only before birth, but also after birth for many years the child is a helpless organism until or unless he is helped by the continuous process of growth and development and attains maturity. When one attains maturity, one ceases to be called an adolescent and is labelled as an adult member of the society. He is supposed to play a responsible role in the society. Before being called an adolescent, he is named as a child or an infant etc.

Stages of Human Development

All of these names infant, child, adolescent and adult etc. are linked with various stages of growth and development through which the child passes from birth to death. There are certain common development or practical characteristics belonging to each stage. The human organism shows peculiar quantitative and qualitative changes in his body and behaviour with the help of which we can say at what particular age an individual belongs to which definite stage of his life.

There is great dispute among psychologists and scientists regarding the stages of human life. Indian sages have divided the stages of human development into 7 periods. Even today in India, human life is divided into these 7 periods and seen and understood. These 7 stages are as follows-

  1. Pregnancy - conception to birth
  2. Infancy - birth to 5 years
  3. Childhood - 5 to 12 years
  4. Adolescence - 12 to 18 years
  5. Youth - 18 to 25 years
  6. Adulthood - 25 years to 55 years
  7. Old age - 55 years till death

The western psychologist, Kolesnik has divided the process of human development into eight stages:

  1. Prenatal period - conception to birth
  2. Neonatal period - birth to 3-4 weeks
  3. Early infancy - 1 month to 15 months
  4. Late infancy - 15 to 30 months
  5. Early childhood - 2`frac{1}{2}` to 5 years
  6. Middle childhood - 5 to 9 years
  7. Late childhood - 9 to 12 years
  8. Adolescence - 12 to 21 years

Ross has divided the process of human development into only four stages:

  1. Infancy - 1 year to 3 years
  2. Early childhood - 3 to 6 years
  3. Late childhood - 6 to 12 years
  4. Adolescence - 12 to 18 years

The Stages of infancy

The special features of the developmental trend and behaviour pattern at this stage (up to 5 years) are as below:

(i) Dependence:- At this stage child depends upon his mother, father and other family members for the satisfaction of his basic needs. He is a helpless creature and can move and function only with the help of others. Even for the emotional satisfaction, he depends upon others. He expects that everybody around him should love him and give him his entire affection and attention. He wants to love and to be loved and in this exchange he totally depends on the mercy of others. In this way, the child at this stage is dependent.

(ii) Rapid Growth and Development:- It is the period of rapid growth and development. Inner as well as outer organs develop rapidly at this stage. There is rapid growth in terms of height, weight, and size There is rapid development of emotions and almost all the emotions developed in the child during this stage. This stage is marked by intensive motor activity and restlessness.

(iii) Period of Make Believe and Fantasy:- Here children live in the world of their own creation. This is a period of rich but baseless imagination. As in this stage the child has limited potentialities and aspires more than what he can actually get in actual life, he compensates himself in fantasy and make-believe.

(iv) Self-assertion:- Although the child is a helpless one and depends upon others for the satisfaction of his needs, he is quite self-assertive. He tries to dominate his superior and elder ones. His wishes must be fulfilled He thinks he is always right and all around him should obey him. He is the prince although without crown and tries to assert himself all the time in all situations.

(v) Emotionally Unstable:- It is the period of violent emotional experiences. The emotions at this stage are marked by intensity, frequency and instability. They are spontaneous and the infant is hardly able to exercise control over them. He is not able to hide his feeling and in this way, the emotional expression of the infant is generally in the overt form.

(vi) Selfish and Unsocial:- At this stage the child is almost completely egocentric and selfish. He does not want to share his toys or give any of his possessions to anyone else. He wants to have all the things, even love, admiration and affection reserved for him. He does not care for the social and moral codes and principles and places his self interest at the premium.

Characteristics of Mental Development

(i) Time Concept is not Developed:- To the child at this stage, the divisions of time such as yesterday, today, tomorrow, month, year etc. are meaningless as he has not yet developed the concept of time.

(ii) Developing Curiosity and Questioning Attitude:- At this stage the child is very much curious about knowing so many things around him. The world and the environment is new for him. He is in the habit of questioning like what is this, why does it happen or not happen etc. His queries are virtually endless. Answers do not interest him as much a asking questions. His speed of questioning is so rapid that he does no: bother to wait for the previous answers.

(iii) Creativity:- This period is also characterized by the tendency of creative impulse in the child. He develops a creative attitude and often engages himself in making or collecting so many things. He tries to take satisfaction in realizing that he can make, construct and perform the activities as his elders do.

(iv) Intellectually not Developed:- The child at this initial stage is very immature in intelligence. He lacks in reasoning and abstrat understanding. He can think only in concrete terms and is not developed in abstract reasoning and thinking. The powers of observation, perception, concentration etc. are also not developed.

(v) Rote Memory:- The child thought not developed much intellectually has a very good memory, but this memorization is without reasoning, it is purely a rote memory. He can cram and reproduce the matter easily.

(vi) Sexual Development:- Although the sex organs at this stage as not developed, yet the sex tendency in a continuous stage of development. The finding of Psychoanalysts like Freud and others have clearly show that the sexual life of the child at this stage is as rich as that of an adolescent. He passes through the three stages of sexual development stage of self love, homosexual and heterosexual.

At this initial state, a child derives pleasure from his own body by sucking his thumb or touching the sex organs. Later on he seeks the satisfaction of his sex impute outside and develops sentiments of love for the mother or father depending upon his sex. Finally the child develops heterosexual tendency and in the respect the male child gets itself attached to the mother and the female child to the father.

The Stage of Childhood

When the child completes his five years and steps into school going age, this period of childhood starts. It goes upto the on-set of puber. During this period significant changes in the sphere of Physical intellectual, emotional and social aspects take place The inner characteristics of development during this stage can be name is follow:

(i) Formation of Sentiments and Complexes:- Infancy is the age of innocence. The child at this stage is not in the habit of hiding his feeling and checking his emotions. Therefore, no complexes are formed at this stage whereas childhood stage gives birth to so many complexes due to inhibition, repression, etc. At the stage of infancy, emotional behaviour does not turn itself into a permanent structure for giving birth to sentiments. But at this stage of childhood emotional behaviour gets itself structured into sentiments. Various sentiments like religious, moral, patriotic and aesthetic sentiments begin to develop at this stage.

(ii) Period of Slow and Steady Growth:- Where the infancy is the period of rapid and intensive growth, the stage of childhood is characterized as the period of slow, steady and uniform growth. Development rate, although continuous and uniform, is very slow at this stage.

(iii) Sexual Development:- With regard to sexual development, this stage is called 'latency period'. Sexual energy, generally, at this stage remains dormant but emerges with great force at the end of this stage. The sexual behaviour of the children at this stage is characterized by the development of an attitude of antagonism and indifference towards the opposite sex. While at the infancy stage the boys and girls play together, the children at this stage like to play with the members of their own sex.

Due to their varied interests they gradually develop a general attitude of antagonism towards the opposite sex. As a result of this antagonistic behaviour the two sexes naturally draw apart. Even when brought together in family gatherings, boys and girls of this age are barely civil to one another. Sex antagonism is more pronounced in boys than in the case of girls. They do not want anything that resembles a girl. In the case of girls the attitude of antagonism, generally, takes the form of indifference. They try to ignore the boys in place of tormenting, teasing and interfering with their play.

(iv) Emotional Stability and Control:- Childhood in the emotion aspect is the period of stability and control. Intense emotional outbursts which usually find their expression in motor activity and physical form during infancy are rarely repeated at this stage. The child learn to hide his feelings. He can exercise control over his emotions and express them in appropriate and socially approved ways. His emotional behaviour is not guided by instinctive cause but has an appropriate rationale behind it.

(vi) Realistic Attitude:- Child at this stage begins to accept and appreciate the hard realities of life. He, no longer remains in the own world of make-believe, fantasy and fairy-tales. He is not a perfect realist in place of imaginative idealist. He begins to take a close interest in the world of realities and tries to adapt himself in the real environment.

(vii) Independence:- Whereas an infant looks for help in every sort of work. Even if he is able to do it independently, the child at this stage desires independence. By acquiring experiences and developing physically, intellectually and socially he tries to adjust himself in his environment. In fact at this stage he feels more at home with the world and takes satisfaction by doing his work with his own efforts. He becomes increasingly independent of his parents whom he consider merely, convenient persons to provide food and shelter.

(viii) Developing Social Tendency:- In contrast to an infant who is egocentric, the child at this stage, develops social tendencies and picks up so many social virtues. He likes to play in group and shares his toys with others. Feelings of mutual cooperation, team spirit and group loyalties are developed among children of this age. This period of childhood is often named as gang-age as the child of this age is always a member of some group and develops a very strong sentiment for the group. He is so much loyal to his group that he sometimes even does not mind the displeasure of his parents and teachers.

(ix) Development of Interest and Aptitudes:- In childhood the child's field of interests widens and he shows special aptitudes, likings and dislikings towards the things and work. The children of this age are usually extrovert and are very fond of excursions and visits. They develop interest in reading various types of books. Radio, television drama and movies hold a strong appeal for them. They are interested in everything which is mysterious and romantic. Wide differences in the interest pattern can be seen among boys and girls. Boys are interested in the activities requiring fearlessness, courage and adventures while girls are inclined towards the activities requiring tenderness, softness and other feminine characteristics.

(x) Intellectual Development:- This stage is the period of intellectual advancement. The rate of intellectual development is quite rapid at this stage which resembles the rate of physical growth at infancy. At this stage the child requires new experiences and tries to adapt himself in his environment and prepares himself to solve the problems. His power of reasoning, thinking, observation, concentration, perception, imagination etc. are developed. He cannot very well go with abstract thinking. He develops the concept of length, time and distance and learns to express himself in various ways.

The Stage of Adolescence

Educational psychologists have described adolescence as a more important stage. And most teachers agree that they get the most challenges in their teaching work from the learners of this stage. Adolescence starts from the age of 13 to 19-20 years and thus includes all three of them including preadolescence, early adolescence and late adolescence.

Characteristics of Adolescence

Following are the characteristics of adolescence:

  1. Adolescence is considered an important stage.
  2. Adolescence is a transitional stage.
  3. Adolescence is an ambiguous individual situation.
  4. Adolescence is a problem age.
  5. Adolescence is a time of discovery of uniqueness.
  6. Adolescence is a time of unrealities.
  7. Adolescence is the threshold of adulthood.

(1). Physical development in Adolescence:- Adolescence is characterized by the maturation of the early sex organs. There are significant changes in the body weight and height of both boys and girls of this stage. Girls are taller and heavier than boys of the same age at the age of 11-14 years, but after 16 years, boys weigh more than girls of the same age. And this difference remains the same for the rest of the life as well. Under physical development, changes are seen in the form of breast enlargement, sweetness in voice etc. in girls and changes are seen in boys like moustache-beard, heavy voice etc.

(2). Emotional Development in Adolescence:- Physiological stress is at its peak in adolescence, as during this stage tremendous physiological and glandular changes occur in children, especially changes in the function of the sex gland and pituitary gland. Psychologists have called adolescence a state of storm and stress. The intensity of the emotion of anger is high in both boys and girls of 13-14 years of this stage, but the intensity of anger decreases by 18-19 years; Because now he becomes physically mature. And by controlling their emotions, they learn to express themselves socially.

(3). Social development in Adolescence:- In adolescence both boys and girls have to learn many aspects of social adjustment in order to be accepted as full social beings. In this stage, since the children spend most of their time in the group of their peers. Therefore, peers have more influence on their attitude, aptitude and behavior. In this stage, boys and girls like to mingle freely with people of opposite sex. Now they test people of opposite sex and homosexual people in the right context. This develops social intelligence in them and helps in social cohesion. In this stage, boys and girls want to work independently from the resistance of the parents, due to which they also have to face conflict and opposition from the parents.

(4). Mental development in Adolescence:- According to Piaget, the cognitive development of children takes a new approach from adolescence. In this stage, the child examines all the aspects of that problem in solving a problem. Collects all possible solutions in the mind and also examines the relationship between all kinds of properties of an object. In solving a problem, the child does systematic deductive thinking, which is clearly a type of scientific thinking, because it contains all possible solutions to the problem and the child reaches a final scientific conclusion by logically sorting out all the inappropriate means.

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