Saturday, September 29, 2012

Impact of Bodily Growth and Changes on Development

Infancy and late adulthood are stages of development in which bodily growth and changes significantly affect functioning. As the body changes during these developmental stages, the effect on psychological, social, and emotional development is substantial and even life altering. The apparent interconnectivity between bodily functioning and psychological, social, and emotional development is striking, and even during physical and cognitive decline, development continues (Benoît, 2008).

                                                      Infancy/Early Childhood

Physical Changes

Early childhood is a time of rapid change for the body and the brain (Santrock, 2008). During the first two years of a child's life, the body reaches 20% of its adult weight (Santrock, 2008). The brain grows from 25% of its adult size at birth to 75% of its adult size at age two. The growth pattern, for the human body follows a cephalocaudal pattern in which growth is fastest at the top of the body, or the head (Santrock, 2008). Physical health, growth, and stamina translate to the babies' ability to thrive during the first few months of life and have significant implications for children's psychological, social, and emotional development (Corbett & Drewett, 2004).

Muscle development follows a proximodistal pattern that starts at the center of babies' bodies and works outward. Following this pattern, babies develop larger skills, such as moving and waving arms and legs, and later develop finer motor skills. Steri (2005) found when children develop muscles, the development not only supported children's desire to touch their surroundings, but it also affected the way babies perceive their environment. In effect, touching developed cognitive abilities. Growth and muscle strength begins to support children's eventual navigation of their environment. Muscular strength supports them, literally, in learning how to perceive the world from an upright position which consequently supports an entirely new way to interact with the world.

Changes as they Affect Psychological, Social, and Emotional Development
The rapid changes in infancy and early childhood alter children's perception of the world and their ability to interact with it. Clarity of sight lets them see, muscle growth supports locomotion and their ability to develop a physical relationship to objects and people around them (Santrock, 2008). During the rapid brain development during the first two years of life, cognitive abilities develop quickly and help children begin to understand how their environment functions as well as how they can affect their surroundings (Santrock, 2008). Rapidly developing mental capabilities help them understand and learn how to communicate with the people around them, which supports their emotional intelligence and social development. Language achievement and the ability to communicate is a major achievement that connects them to other people and enhances their ability to socialize and develop emotionally (Tsao, Liu, & Kuhl, 2004).

                                                           Late Adulthood

Physical Changes

In late adulthood, the primary change is a decrease in functioning of most aspects of bodily functions. Often, the older adult is plagued by chronic illness and other health problems, mobility becomes more difficult, and cognitive decline can cause mild to extreme symptoms of dementia (Santrock, 2008). The circulatory system pumps less blood throughout the body and the respiratory system becomes less effective. Older adults generally slow in their ability to respond to external stimuli because of a decrease in functioning of the nervous system and the brain (Santrock, 2008). Many older adults have losses of hearing and sight.

Changes as they Affect Psychological, Social, and Emotional Development

The changes that take place during late adulthood have an effect on the established normal functioning of older adults. Perhaps the most significant detriment is how these changes affect the self perception or psychological development of aging individuals, which contributes to an overall experience of health and well being (Guindon & Cappeliez, 2010; Mossey, 1995). Some of the losses and deficiencies sustained in late adulthood contribute to a feeling of separation and loneliness which may cause withdrawal from social encounters, in effect, altering social development (Guindon & Cappeliez, 2010). Chronic loss, mental and physical deficiency, separation, loneliness, and an inability to perform according to normal expectations can contribute to emotional changes and psychological ill health. Furthermore, these typical changes during late adulthood can cause older adults to perceive themselves as deficient. This, as much as any physical ailment has powerful implications in psychological and physical health and well being as well as longevity (Guindon & Cappeliez, 2010; Mossey, 1995).

Changes in the body directly affect individuals psychological, social, and emotional development (Santrock, 2008). The contrast between the two stages chosen for this assignment is striking. During the first two years of life, the increases in development support more accurate overall functioning, which, consequently supports positive changes in psychological, social, and emotional development. On the contrary, during late adulthood the deterioration in bodily functioning causes an overall deficiency in physical development. Perhaps because of the intrinsic adaptive nature of the human species, older adults continue to develop psychologically, emotionally, and socially, although bodily changes can render this population physically and cognitively compromised (Santrock, 2008).


Benoît, J. M. (2008). How the body shapes the mind. Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Association, 47(01), 199-202. doi: 10.1017/S0012217300002535

Corbett, S., & Drewett, R. (2004). To what extent is failure to thrive in infancy associated with poorer cognitive development? A review and meta-analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(3), 641-654. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00253.x

Guindon, S., & Cappeliez, P. (2010). Contributions of psychological well-being and social support to an integrative model of subjective health in later adulthood. Ageing International, 35, 38–60. doi: 10.1007/s12126-009-9050-7

Mossey, J. M. (1995). Importance of self-perceptions for health status among older persons. In M. Gatz (Ed.), Emerging issues in mental health and aging (pp. 124–162). Washington: American Psychological Association.

Santrock, J. W. (2008). A topical approach to life-span development (3rd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Streri, A. (2005).  Touching for knowing in infancy: The development of manual abilities in very young infants. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 2(4), 325-343. doi: 10.1080/17405620500145669

Tsao, F., Liu, H., & Kuhl, P. K. (2004). Speech perception in infancy predicts language development in the second year of life: A longitudinal study. Child Development, 75(4), 1067-1084. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00726.x

No comments:

Post a Comment