Child and young persons development

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19 March 2016

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There are three main areas of child development. These are physical, communication and intellectual and social, emotional and behavioural development. The physical stage takes place naturally but children must have opportunities to develop their natural skills. Children will need support to develop their gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills use the large muscles in the body, arms and legs, for example crawling, walking and throwing. Fine motor skills use the smaller muscles in the fingers for example using a pencil, fastening buttons and using a knife and fork. The communication and intellectual area of development concerns a childs language skills and learning ability. The number of opportunities and experiences a child has been given from an early stage can have an affect on the intellectual development of a child. The “nature versus nurture” debate describes two different theories of a child’s intellectual development.

Some psychologists believe that a childs intellectual ability is something that they are born with, nature. While other psychologists believe that a child’s intellectual development is dependent on the opportunities that they have been given, nurture. How a child feels about itself, others and the confidence they gain are all part of their social, emotional and behavioural development. During this development stage a child will learn about the kinds of behaviour that are acceptable and how to become more independent. For a child to develop to the best of their ability they will need to have a secure environment where they feel safe. Physical development

From 0-3 years is a period of great physical development. In their first year a child will develop from having very little control over their body to being able to sit up, roll, crawl and hold objects. A child will start to walk, climb and play with a ball in their second year. As the ability to control their movement becomes greater they will be able to hold smaller objects, feed themselves and begin to dress themselves. In their third year a child will be able to turn pages in a book, use a cup, use crayons and pencils more effectively and walk and run more confidently. It is during this time that they will enjoy using more physical toys like tricycles and scooters. Between the ages of 3-7 a childs physical development means their movements are now more coordinated. The skills they have already developed have become more refined so they can now write, draw and use scissors.

They can also now catch a ball, pedal a bike, hop and skip. The child continues to grow and refine their skills during the ages of 7-12. It is during this stage that they often take up a hobby, for example football or dancing, and the skills that are required by that hobby are further developed. Their fine motor skills become much more controlled which now allows them to be able to sew or play an instrument. Some girls may start to show the early signs of puberty. Between the ages of 12-16 a child goes through adolescence. During this period they grow stronger, taller and their weight will increase. Most girls will have gone through puberty in this stage and boys will be starting to go through it. As all children go through puberty at different times there will be a great difference in strength and height of different children. On average by the end of this stage usually boys are taller than girls. It is during this stage in development that a young person will be more likely to master a skill. At the age of 16-19 a young person is now an adult. Most girls would have reached physical maturity by this stage but boys will continue to physically develop until they are in their mid 20’s.

Communication and intellectual development
As soon as a child is born they begin to learn the skills of communication when adults talk and sing to them. It is important that they are stimulated because they can experience difficulties with communication in later life if they are not. From the age of one a child will begin to speak, single words at first but by the age of two they may begin to form simple sentences. Their vocabulary will increase quickly, so they may have a vocabulary of around 200 words. By the age of three a child will start to use plurals and negatives in their speech. As the child becomes more social between the ages of 3-7 they begin to use familiar phrases and expressions. They will start to ask questions and use past and future tense. A childs intellectual development during this stage includes learning to read and improving their writing, drawing and number skills.

During the ages of 7-12 years a childs communication and intellectual development continues to refine skills they have already developed. Most children are now fluent speakers and their reading and writing skills continue to improve. They are now able to process information more effectively and can reason with others. This stage of development allows them to use more abstract ways to develop their own ideas. From the age of 12 to the age of 18 a young person will begin to get a clearer idea of what subjects they like and they will become more motivated in these subjects. They also begin to develop a clear preference for art or science and start to question sources of information. They may begin to try and avoid subjects they do not like or show a lack of confidence in them. It is important that during this stage of communication and intellectual development young people feels good about themselves and that they feel a sense of belonging. By the ages of 16-19 the young person is leaving school. They will be looking at their strengths and ways to continue to develop these so they can use them for their future.

Social. Emotional and behavioural development
The social, emotional and behavioural stage of development for a child between the ages of 0 –3 years will include the child smiling, gazing, forming strong attachments, with parents at first, and using a comforter like a dummy or a blanket. During this stage a child may become attention seeking, reluctant to share and start having temper tantrums. The tantrums are usually because of frustration and wanting to be more independent. Social, emotional and behavioural development is more prevalent from the age of three up to the age of twelve. Between the ages of 3-7 a child will begin to play with others rather than playing alongside them, parallel play. They will begin to form friendships, socialise and use imaginative play. A child will enjoy being independent and having responsibility but they will start to seek adult approval. During this stage of development it is important that a child learns about boundaries, what they are, why they are important and why they are necessary.

Firm friendships are developed where the children are supportive of each other between the ages of 7- 12 years. Children will usually play in groups of children of the same sex and they will be more aware of what other people think of them. They will develop a sense of what is right and wrong and they will be uncertain of any changes in their surroundings. It is important that during this stage of development they are given activities that require them to become more independent and they continue to receive praise and encouragement. Between the ages of 12 –16 friendships become very important to a young person, they begin to spend more time with their friends and want more independence. They may experience peer pressure, feeling pressured from their friends to do something or act in a certain way. During this stage in development a young persons self esteem can be very sensitive, this is due to the changes in their body due to puberty.

They will begin to become very concerned about what other people think about them. Young people may feel under a great deal of pressure because of the increase in expectations of them as they are growing up and they may not be aware of how to behave in some situations. It is important to remember during this stage that even though they may begin to look like an adult a young person will still need guidance and advice. From the age of 16-19 the young person becomes an adult but they will still need advice as they lack experience in many areas of life. The way in which people interact and their emotional maturity will vary between different people. It is important to remember that development is a holistic process and the milestones previously described are a broad average.

Every child is unique and develops at their own rate some children may hit the milestone earlier than others, some may hit them a little later than others A childs development may be split into three main areas but these areas are not independent of each other. All three areas of development are linked for example a child who is good at football has refined a physical skill which will enable him to socialise more and grow in confidence. It is also often the case that a child who is a low achiever has social, emotional or behavioural problems.

A childs development can be affected by different factors including their background, health, and the environment that they grow up in. Children in schools can come from many different backgrounds and cultures. During their time at school a lot of children will experience changes in their home life this could include illness, family break up and moving house. All these can affect a childs development in different areas. I currently work with a child who is 9 years old and the second youngest in a family of four. The children were taken from the family home three years ago because their parents had alcohol problems, which were affecting the welfare of the children. This childs background has greatly affected their development in a number of ways. Their development in social and behavioural areas has been affected, as they are very confrontational and disruptive.

They find friendships quite difficult, as they tend to be controlling. They are a low achiever; their literacy and reading levels are lower than expected this may be because they have not received any support from home or had the opportunity to read to anybody. A child who suffers from a physical disability, impairment or ill health can have developmental problems. Their disability or impairment may mean that they cannot engage in certain activities which may limit what social activities they can participate in. they may have problems with their fine motor skills meaning that they would find holding a pen or pencil difficult. If a child is absent from school a lot because of illness they may find it hard to catch up on the work they have missed and they may find making firm friendships difficult. It is important that adults within a school are aware of the problems these pupils face so that they can support them in the best way possible.

Children who come from a background of deprivation and poverty are more likely to have problems achieving in school. The childs parents would have difficulty managing the needs of their child, which would have an affect on their development. The child may not have access to books to help with reading and other materials that would support their studies at school. Development may be affected in a child who has been experiencing a different method of schooling, such as home schooling or a child with no previous education for instance if they have come from another country where formal education does not start until a later age. This child would need additional support until they have settled in school. If a child is in care this may affect their development. Their social, emotional and behavioural development will be affected but the school will monitor them closely and put into place any support that they feel is necessary.

Every child or young person will go through a period of change, transition, while they are at school. There are school-based transitions such as changing class along with a change of teacher also changing key stage. The biggest school-based transition that a child will have to face is moving from primary school up to secondary school. During their school life they will also face personal transitions as they go through puberty. When children go through, or are coming up to a transition period they should be given lots of opportunities to talk about what is happening or going to happen. They should be able to ask questions that will help them be as informed as possible. Being informed can help minimise any negative affects transitions may have on a childs development

There are some transitions that not every child will experience. These transitions are usually unexpected and the child may not prepared for it. These transitions could include parental separation, bereavement, a parent changing their partner, moving house, new sibling, illness or injury and a change of carer. Parents should inform the school if something has happened or is going to happen that could have an affect on their child so the school can support the child where necessary. As a member of staff you have to be aware that this does not always happen, if you notice that a child begins to behave out of character then you must inform other members of staff of your concerns. If you work with a child who is experiencing parental separation this could affect the child in many ways but it is important to remember when speaking with the parents you must be sensitive. Bereavement for a child can be very traumatic. Schools usually have procedures in place that will help guide the staff in the best ways to support the child while they go through this difficult period.

A child whose parent has recently changed partner can be greatly affected by the change. How often the child sees their absent parent and how the new partner is introduced to them will affect how big the impact of this transition will be on the child. In this situation you will need to be sensitive when talking to the childs parents. Moving house can be quite exciting for some children, especially those who are not having to change schools but for children who are it can be a very daunting time. If a child has just started at school after moving into the area the child will need support until they have settled into their new school.

A new sibling can have an affect on children, particularly young children. Having to vie for their parents’ attention can be difficult to cope with for some children, especially if it is for the first time. A child will need support if they or their loved one becomes ill or injured. They will need support until they become used to the change in their circumstances however long or short that may be. If a child you are working with is in care they may find it difficult to cope with if they have a change of carer. School and social services work very closely with each other in these circumstances and would be able to support and advise any staff that work with the child.

Transitions can affect children in many different ways. They may become withdrawn and quiet, attention seeking, very anxious or they could start behaving uncharacteristically. It is very important that children feel secure in other areas of their life and that they are supported during any transitions. They should be given opportunities to talk about how they are feeling and to ask any questions they may have. If the children are aware of what is going to happen and prepared it can lessen the negative affects that the transition may have. If you know that a child or a group of children are going to experience a transition, such as a change of class, teacher, school or even sitting exams, then you can plan ahead on how best to support them during this period. Transitions can be very traumatic for children so it is vital that they receive support or there social and emotional development can be affected.

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"Child and young persons development" StudyScroll, 19 March 2016,

StudyScroll. (2016). Child and young persons development [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 3 October, 2023]

"Child and young persons development" StudyScroll, Mar 19, 2016. Accessed Oct 3, 2023.

"Child and young persons development" StudyScroll, Mar 19, 2016.

"Child and young persons development" StudyScroll, 19-Mar-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 3-Oct-2023]

StudyScroll. (2016). Child and young persons development. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 3-Oct-2023]

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