Human Development Acroos the Life Span

Topics: Jean Piaget, Erikson's stages of psychosocial development, Theory of cognitive development Pages: 9 (2804 words) Published: September 30, 2008
This essay will discuss human development across the lifespan. This discussion will include physical, cognitive and psychosocial development in relation to the theorist Jean Piaget who developed the cognitive stage theory which emphasises the individual’s mental process. Erik Erikson who developed the eight stage theory of psychosocial development, which discusses the socially and culturally influenced processes of development of the ego, or self.

Infants are born equipped with a number of survival reflexes, such as coughing, blinking and grasping they are also with the ability to feel pain and hear things. The infant’s physical development in the first two years of early childhood is extensive and rapid following particular growth patterns such as cephalocaudal, which means from the head to the toes and proximal distal meaning from the centre out. During this period gross motor skills increase dramatically and children are more active than at any other period in their life span.

During late childhood muscle mass and strength gradually increase, legs lengthen and the trunk slim down, growth is slow and consistent. Children become better coordinated, stronger and assume a more adult like shape (Santrock, J.W, 1997).

Puberty (eleven to 20 years) is a period of rapid development and sexual maturation that occurs in early adolescence. Adolescents usually experience a growth spurt and varies according to gender. Girls generally reach puberty before boys and oestrogen a female hormone secreted by the ovaries results in secondary sexual characteristics such as breasts, pubic hair, fat deposits over hips and abdomen and menstruation (Santrock, J.W, 1997). Growth accelerates during the teenage years resulting from increased secretion of growth hormones and an average, 20 centimetres gained in height. (Papalia,D.E., Olds,S.W.,& Feldman,R .D ,2007). Most boys generally reach puberty after girls although puberty lasts longer. Boy’s growth spurt is initiated by Testosterone produced by their testes, which results in the secondary sex characteristics such as increased bodily hair, deepening of the voice, increased development of the muscles and rapid growth of the penis and testes. At this point, no more true growth occurs new cells are solely used for regeneration purposes (Santrock, J.W, 1997).

During early adulthood between eighteen and twenty years optimum physical status is reached with health at its peak during these years. However towards the later part of early adulthood a decline in physical status is apparent. Around the age of 30 muscle tone and strength usually begin to show signs of decline.

Late adulthood from 35 to 60 may show decline in physical development vision and hearing and people can become shorter (Santrock, J.W, 1997). Health problems may develop in middle age with cardiovascular problems, cancer and weight gain amongst them. Degeneration of the body can result from poor health, inadequate nutrition or addictive behaviours such as smoking.

Erikson developed eight psychosocial stages through which healthy developing human beings should pass from infancy to late adult hood. During each stage there is a crisis to be resolved and a virtue to be attained. Erikson indicated there was a need for balance between the two concepts which would enable the individual to adjust and be accepted within society (Papalia, D.E., Olds, S.W., & Feldman, R .D, 2007).

The First stage from birth to 12/18 months addresses trust versus mistrust. The child develops trust in parents/caregivers as someone they can rely on and develop a sense of optimism/pessimism during this stage. If a child does not learn to trust themselves, others and the world they can lose the virtue of hope, which can result in them feeling at the mercy of others (Papalia, D.E., Olds, and S.W., & Feldman, R .D, 2007).

The following stage early childhood 12/18months to three years is autonomy versus shame and doubt. The child...
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