The development of a child is one of the things that have continuously stirred the minds of great scholars. Not one or two researches have been made on this topic. The study of a child's developmental stages have been scrutinized and analyzed in so many different ways.
A child develops in a series of stages. Many studies have been made in order to determine the major factors that are important in the development of a child. From the time of conception to birth, a series of changes affect the child and these changes can be manifested when the child is born. Also, the external factors that the mother encounters do have a direct effect on the baby (Sigelman, & Rider, 2009).
The growth and development of a child can be viewed in two different ways. There is the development that occurs to a child's physical growth. This can be observed with the naked eye. This way, anyone can notice how a child is growing. This will include the child having an increase in height. A child, regarding to their age, should increase in length proportionally.
At the same time, a child's development can be observed in the mass of the baby. The body mass that a child is supposed to have at a certain time in the development stages is known. There have been numerous researches that have defined the normal body mass that a child should have in the various stages of growth. This way a parent can know whether her child is growing normally of if there is something wrong with the growth and development of that child.
It is therefore important to know what is meant by a child's development. In my understanding, I have come to interpret the development of a child as being those milestones that a child achieves while he or she is growing up. These milestones are the capabilities that a baby should have and exhibit while growing up.
A child's development can be observed from the time it is in the womb. Here, it can be observed whether the embryo is developing well into a fetus. When the expectant mother is excited, the fetus is expected to make certain movements such as kicking. This is an example of the growth and development of an unborn child. Once a baby is born, it is very important for the parents especially the mother to monitor the growth of her child. At a certain age, the baby should be able to open his eyes. At a different age the baby should be able to follow objects with his eyes. These are the minor milestones that a child can exhibit.
A major milestone that a child can show is the ability to reach out and hold an item. Others will include crawling, walking and even talking. These developments should be observed in all the children of the world. However, these said milestones cannot be recorded at the same time universally by all the children.
There is a major challenge in observing that the growth and development of a child is the same. Children from different societies exhibit different levels of progress in their growth. This is largely attributed to the fact that not all the children can have the same environment while growing up. It is therefore important to note that children from not-well-to-do families are faced with the challenge of exhibiting late milestones as compared to the children who are being raised in families that have a lot of resources.
The main capabilities that a child can portray are universal. However, there could be little differences with regard to the different social settings. So it is therefore not in order to come up with fixed universal milestones that have been determined by a specific time scale. This is because not all the children develop at the same pace.
Children who are majorly from developing countries have a difficulty in achieving the main milestones as the others in the developed nations. This is as are result of the harsh conditions that the mothers and children face. One of the major factors that lead to the retarded growth for children in these countries is the lack of a proper diet. There is no enough food that is well balanced that is available to most lactating mothers. Most of these mothers are forced to go on end without food. This makes them weak and unable to produce breast milk. As a result, their children become emaciated and therefore it will be difficult for these children to attain the milestones set for them
As we have seen, there are a lot of factors that are in play in the development of a child. Thus, it is not proper to state that a child's development is a universal staged process. This is because a child does not develop just because he has good food and proper health. A child is not a robot and in that case, the environment in which a child grows plays a big role in influencing the mental, physical and emotional growth of that child. A child's understanding and interpretation of his environment will be influenced by the society. The society being the people the child will interact with. This is an influence that cannot be ignored. The people a child socializes with will have an impact in his behavior. If a child grows in a society where there is immorality such as crime and prostitution, then he will adopt these feelings and consider them as being normal and vice versa (Grantham-McGregor et al. 2000).
Culture comes into play in the development of a child from the onset. Language that is found in a specific culture will be one of the key factors that will cause a difference in children who are raised in two different societies (Sigelman, & Rider, 2009, p 40). Culture teaches a child his mannerisms. For example, the way a child addresses an adult will vary according to the various cultures. The gender roles that have been ascribed in a certain culture will definitely influence the development of any child. Therefore, the development of a child being a social and cultural process means that these two strong forces actually mould a child into being what he will become (Cherry, 2011). The way they talk and the way they walk will be largely attributed to the kind of people they associate with and the kind of traditions they have been exposed to.
Scientist view that a child's development should be categorized in stages as is with Piaget (Atherton, 2011). However, this cannot be the case as the socio-cultural factors also have to be considered. That is why various scientists do not agree to the scientific approach to the development of a child. To add on to that, Kohlberg tried to make Piaget's theory more credible when he factored in the social and cultural influence when it comes to the development of a child.
The social-constructionist approach has also tried to explain the behavior of a child. This approach has taken cognizance of the fact that the society has a role to play in the development of any child. A child needs to appreciate what is available in order to be able to be productive in that society.
To sum it up, I have explained how a child does not develop only on food but also on the external factors such as his peers and the culture given to him. Therefore it is hard to universally predict the developmental milestones of a child owing to the fact that these children come from different backgrounds.