Categories Anthropology

I.10 Principles of Human growth and development

There are several basic principles that characterizes the pattern and process of growth and development.

1. Development involves change:- The human being is undergoing changes from the moment of conception to the time of death. There are differenttypes of change occur such as, changes in size, proportions, disappearance of old features and acquisition of new features etc. The goal of these developmental changes is self-realization, which Abraham Maslow has labeled as self-actualization. Each individual is equipped with certain abilities and potentialities at birth. By utilizing the innate or inborn abilities one tries to realize and strive for self actualization during the total life period. Children‟s attitude toward change are generally determined by his knowledge about these changes, social attitudes toward this change and the way people of society treats to children when these changes take place.

2. Development is a continuous process:- Development continues throughout the life of an individual. This process takes place in interaction with the environment in which a person lives. One stage of development is the basic framework for the next stage of development. A child has limited knowledge and experiences about his environment. But as he develops, he acquires more information through explorations and adds to the skills already acquired and the new skills become the basis for further achievement and mastery of skills. For example, the child is able to write and draw, he must have developed a hand control to hold a pencil and crayon. Thus, a person has vast experiences and knowledge as he grows up.

3. Development follows a direction and uniform pattern in an orderly manner:-

(i) Development proceeds from the center of the body outward. This is the principle of proximodistal development that describes the direction of development (from nearer to far apart). It means that the spinal cord develops before outer parts of the body. The child‟s arms develop before the hands and the hands and feet develop before the fingers and toes.
(ii) Development proceeds from the head downwards. This is called the cephalocaudal principle. According to this principle, development occurs from head to tail. The child gains control of the head first, then the arms and then the legs.

4. Individual Differences in the Development Process:- Even though the pattern of development is similar for all children but the rate of development varies among children. Each child develops as per his abilities and perception of his environment. Children differ from each other both genetically and environmentally. So, both biological factor and environmental situations have their impact on individual‟s development which leads to individual differences in development. Understanding this fact of individual differences in rates of development should aware us to be careful about using and relying on age and stage characteristics to label children.

5. Development depends on maturation and learning:- Maturation refers to the sequential characteristic of biological growth and development. The biological changes occur in sequential order and give children new abilities.  Changes in the brain and nervous system account largely for maturation. These changes in the brain and nervous system account largely for maturation. The child‟s environment and the learning that occurs as a result of the child‟s experiences largely determine whether the child will reach optimal development. An enriched environment and varied experiences help the child to develop his/her potential.

6. Development is predictable:- Human development is predictable during the life span. Although this development is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors, however, it takes place in a pre-defined manner. Specific areas of development, such as: different aspects of motor development, emotional behavior, speech, social behavior, concept development, goals, intellectual development etc. follow predictable patterns. For example, the growth of the child in height and weight etc. continue up to a certain age. In general, it is also found that all children follow a commonality in the development periods of life. All children generally grow following the periods like prenatal period and postnatal period. The postnatal period includes infancy, babyhood, childhood, puberty and so on.

7. Early development is more critical than later development:- Milton writes “ The childhood shows the man, as morning shows the day.” Similarly, Erikson views “childhood is the scene of man‟s beginning as man.” He explains that if parents gratify the needs of the child for food, attention and love etc. , his perception towards people and situation remains positive throughout his life. He develops positive attitudes, feels secure, emotionally stable and adjust well with the environment. If negative experiences occur during early life of the child, maladjustments may take place. Glueck concludes that delinquents can be identified as early as 2-3 years of age. Different researchers view that the preschool years age are most important years of development as basic foundation is laid down during this period which is difficult to change.

8. Development involves Social expectations:- In every society there are certain rules, standards and traditions which everyone is expected to follow. Development is determined by social norms and expectations of behaviors form the individuals. Children learn customs, traditions and values of the  society and also what behaviors are expected from them. They realize from the approval or disapproval of their behavior. Social expectations are otherwise known as “developmental tasks”. Havinghurst defines developmental task as a “task which arises at or about a certain period in the life of an individual. Developmental tasks arise mainly

  • (a) as a result of physical maturation,
  • (b) form the cultural pressures of society,
  • (c) out of the personal values and aspirations of the individual.

The developmental tasks remain the same from one generation after another in a particular culture. As societies are evolving, changing traditions and cultural patterns of a society are learned automatically by children during their development process. These developmental tasks help in motivating children to learn as well as help parents to guide their children.

9. Development has potential hazards:- Development may be hampered byvarious hazards. Hazards may be of physical, environmental or psychological type. These hazards may be originated from the environment in which the child grows or due to hereditary factors. They have negative impact on physical as well as sociopsychological development of the child. The growth of the child may be retarded, he may be an aggressive person or he may encounter adjustment problems. For example, if a child is slurring or stammering and parents neglect the child, the child may continue with this problem.

10. Happiness varies at different periods of development:- Happiness varies at different periods in the development process. Childhood is the happiest period of life and puberty is the most unhappy. The patterns of happiness vary from child to child and it is influenced by the rearing process of the child. Paul B. Baltes stated six principles of development of life span approach. The six principles of development are mentioned below:
1) Development is a lifelong process- Development is a process which continues throughout life. It begins at birth and ends in death of an individual.
2) Development includes both gain and loss during life span. The child may develop in one area and lose in another area.
3) Development is influenced by the biological factor and environmental situations- The human development is influenced by  biological and environmental factors. For example, the body strength of the child develops in the early period but may deteriorate during old age.
4) Development involves changing allocation of resources. It states that during different developmental periods, resources such as; time, money, social support etc. are used differently. For example, during old age people require more money to maintain their proper health.
5) Development can be modified- This principle reveals that through proper training development can be modified. For example, an individual can maintain his proper health by doing different exercises even in old age.
6) Development is based upon historical and cultural environment- The child grows, develops, acquires knowledge about the traditions, rules, regulations of society according to his historical and cultural environment.

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