Human Growth and Development

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INTRODUCTION
Human Lifespan Development
Human development is marked by different stages and milestones over the lifespan. It is expressed over three domains: physical, cognitive and socio/emotional. While human physical and cognitive development is universal, socio/emotional definitions and development vary from culture to culture. Gaining a basic knowledge of human lifespan development will lead to a better understanding of the appearance, perceptions and behaviors of the self and others. Adolescence is a demanding and critical period in life. Failure to meet certain developmental milestones can have serious short- and long-term implications for the individual and society at large. Adolescence is a transitional stage of physical and psychological human development generally occurring during the period from puberty to legal adulthood (age of majority). The period of adolescence is most closely associated with the teenage years, although its physical, psychological and cultural expressions can begin earlier and end later. For example, although puberty has been historically associated with the onset of adolescent development, it now typically begins prior to the teenage years and there have been a normative shift of it occurring in preadolescence, particularly in females. Physical growth, as distinct from puberty (particularly in males), and cognitive development generally seen in adolescence, can also extend into the early twenties. Thus chronological age provides only a rough marker of adolescence, and scholars have found it difficult to agree upon a precise definition of adolescence. A thorough understanding of adolescence in society depends on information from various perspectives, most importantly from the areas of psychology, biology, history, sociology, education, and anthropology. Within all of these perspectives, adolescence is viewed as a transitional period between childhood and adulthood whose cultural purpose is the preparation of children for adult roles.

Stages of Human Development
The various stages of human development include the prenatal period, infancy, toddlerhood, early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle adulthood and late adulthood. Each stage is marked by milestones in physical, cognitive, and socio/emotional development. 1. Physical Development

Physical development has to do with the way that the human body develops over a lifespan. The most rapid and complex human development occurs during the prenatal period. From infancy to early childhood, the physical milestones include developing motor skills like learning to control body movements, walk, talk, speak, use tools like spoons and forks and use the rest room. From infancy to early childhood, humans grow in height, weight and mass and get their first set of teeth. Middle childhood has only a few physical milestones, such as continued growth at a much slower rate and the gain of permanent teeth. Adolescence is the second most rapid and complex time of human development and is when the sexual maturation process begins. Females begin to grow breasts, their hips expand and they grow pubic hair and begin menstruation, which marks their physical ability to procreate. They may grow a few inches more in height. Males have significant growth spurts and develop facial and pubic hair, their voices deepen and they begin to have sperm-producing ejaculations, signifying their ability to procreate. Young adulthood is when humans are at the prime of their physical development. All of the systems are functioning optimally, making this the best time for reproduction. Middle adulthood brings the beginning of physical deterioration, such as the end of fertility in women, or menopause. The decrease in physical abilities and health for both sexes continues through late adulthood. 2. Cognitive Development

Cognitive development has to do with the way humans perceive and experience the world and deals with issues like memory,...
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