Child and young person development

Development in children is gaining skills and experiences in every aspect of the child’s life. The different types of development are split into three main categories: physical development, communication and intellectual development and social, emotional and behavioural development. Physical development improves the child’s body skills such as gross motor development, which is using large muscles such as the muscles within arms and legs, and fine motor development, which is the use of precise muscles such as those of the hands and fingers. Communication and intellectual development allows the child to communicate and connect with different members of society – family, friends and all others – whilst also improving the child’s understanding and thinking skills. Social, emotional and behavioural development allows the child to develop relationships with other children and adults whilst learning the necessary skills to live in society with others and allows the child to form their own unique identity and self-image. Although each child develops at their own rate, there are things or certain milestones that are to be expected when reaching a certain age. Between birth and 3 months old babies cannot understand what is happening to them. They do not understand that they are being cared for, and they do not even realise that they are people.

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They feel ‘happy’ when they feed but don’t fully understand what ‘happy’ is. As babies are not able to think, they will pick up on somebody’s feelings and mirror them. Although babies grow to exist by themselves, outside of their mother’s womb, most of their bodies are still very immature. As they don’t understand their environment, babies can become very distressed if they are given too much to see. From birth to 3 months, babies communicate with others by crying. This allows their carer to know when they are hungry, tired, etc. From birth, when a baby’s cheek is touched, they will turn their head towards the feeling. By six weeks old, babies can smile responsively. By 2 months old, a baby can usually kick its legs vigorously. By 1 month old, a baby can follow a moving light, however, by 2-3 months old, they can watch a moving face accurately. Between 3-6 months old, babies are beginning to understand their surroundings. They start to know and recognise regular people within their lives, e.g. their mother, father, grandparents and siblings. They begin to make eye contact and at this age, start to smile. If they see that an adult looks cross, they will feel and look worried. Babies have trouble grasping that themselves and their primary care-giver (usually the mother) are separate. It is between 3-6 months old that babies start to gain some control over their bodies. They start to explore their hands and feet and begin to understand that they can feel on the outside as well as the inside. Babies ‘coo’ for pleasure and they are able to ‘talk’ to their toys by 6 months old.

Between 3-4 months old, they are able to hold objects, and swipe at dangling objects, but usually miss. Between the ages of 4-6 months, a baby will usually learn to roll over. By 6 months old, a baby will usually be able to support their own weight by standing on their feet for very short periods of time. Between 6-12 months is the stage that babies explore through physically doing. They will begin crawling and rolling over independently. From 6-8 months they will be able to sit up with support, and from 9 months onwards will be able to do so on their own. From 9 months old, babies will be able to use things such as furniture to stand up. Babies can imitate sounds and actions and recognise words and phrases. They can say a few words unclearly and it is at this point that they begin to respond to their name. Between the ages of 6-12 months, they are able to point to familiar things and they realise that things still exist when they are out of sight and will begin to look for them. Towards 10-12 months old, babies like to put things in containers. They like to remain physically close to their primary care giver, and shows pleasure when that person returns to them. They seek comfort when they are upset and start to read other people’s emotions. Babies, between the age 6-12 months, enjoy games such as Peek-a-Boo, and they play purposely with toys. They become anxious around strangers and may cry or cling when their parents leave.

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