DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES- INFANCY 7
Thedevelopment of a child is one of the most crucial aspects with whichany parent is concerned. In all cases, parents are hopeful that theirchildren will not skip any developmental stage and will grow withoutany hiccups whatsoever. Needless to say, the growth and developmentof a child starts right when he or she is in the mother’s womb(Berne, 2006). However, the most distinctive development and growthat this stage is the physical development as the doctors can onlytell whether the child has the necessary body parts at a certain timeof growth. However, once the child is born, other aspects ofdevelopment touching on the emotional and psychological elementsstart to be displayed. It is worth noting that every stage of growthor development comes with distinctive elements whether they arephysical, psychological, or even emotional (Bergen & Juliet,2001). As the first stage where the parent can watch over the child’sdevelopment, infancy comes as one of the most fundamental stages ofdevelopment.
Theterm infancy “Infancy” is used to underline a time when babiesare entirely dependent on their caregivers and parents for care andprotection. It is the period between the time when the child is bornto when he or she acquires language after a year or two. Apart from acollection of inherited reflexes that assist children in obtainingnourishment and even react to anger, infants incorporate apredilection for a number of visual patterns such as a human face, aswell as for certain sounds including human voices (Bergen &Juliet, 2001). After a few months, infants have the capacity toidentify their caregivers or mothers by sight and can even exhibit astriking sensitivity to rhythmic flow, individual sounds and tonesthat are part of a human speech (Soltis, 2004). Scholars have notedthat even young infants have the capacity to make complex perceptualjudgments that involve distance, depth, direction and shape and aresoon capable of organizing their experience through the creation ofcategories for events and objects just like grownups do (Berne,2006).
Asmuch as there are variations in the rate of motor development, thereis no difference in the developmental sequences. Infants, on averagelearn to roll over when they are about 2 months and can sit withoutany support by the time they are six months old. Most children canwalk unaided when they are 12 months old. Scholars have noted thatthe physical growth and development of a child from infancy tochildhood takes place in cephalocaudal direction, where the head andupper trunk grow prior to the lower trunk and the feet (Mooney,2010). With regard to the perceptual and sensory development, infantshave the capacity to respond to numerous environmental stimuli.Indeed, every other human sense operates to some extent at birth withvision being the least developed while touch is the most developed(Mooney, 2010). At this stage (commonly called sensorimotor stage),infants grow the capacity to coordinate motor actions with sensoryactivity. Initially, the behavior of the child is dominated by simplereflexes. However, infants can use mental images at the end.
Infantsadvance speedily both with regard to recall memory and recognition,which in turn enhances their capacity to comprehend and anticipateevents that are in their environment. One of the most crucialadvances at this stage revolves around the recognition of permanenceof objects (Mooney, 2010). This underlines the awareness of theinfant that external objects exist autonomously of his or herperception of them. In this case, the physical interactions of theinfant with the environment advances from simple uncoordinated reflexmovements to significantly more coordinated actions that the infantdeliberately repeats as they can be used to achieve an external goalor because they are interesting (Bergen & Juliet, 2001). By thetime the infant has attained 18 months of age, he or she startsmaking attempts to solve some physical problems through making mentalimaginations pertaining to certain outcomes and events instead of viasimple trial-and-error experiments (Soltis, 2004).
Atthe age of 3 months, infants already exhibit behavioral reactionsthat suggest such emotional states as excitement, distress,relaxation and surprise. Within the first year, the child also startexhibiting new emotional states such as anger, fear and sadness. Ofparticular note is the fact that the emotional life of the infantrevolves around the attachment that he or she creates towards theprimary caregiver or mother (Mooney, 2010). Psychologists haveunderlined the fact that the mutual interactions allow infants tolearn how to trust and love, as well as rely on other human beings.Infants start to smile at other individuals by the age of two monthsand become attached to their primary caregiver or their mother by thetime they are six months old (Berne, 2006).
Oneof the most fundamental aspects pertaining to this stage revolvesaround the psychosocial development of the child. According to thetheory of psychosocial development by Erik Erikson, the infancy stageis characterized by Trust vs. Mistrust psychosocial conflict. Themajor question that the infant would be facing revolves aroundwhether he or she can trust the people with whom he or she interactsor lives (Owings & Deborah, 2004). While the most crucial eventat this stage may simply revolve around feeding, this stage is themost fundamental in the life of an individual. Since the infant isentirely dependent on the primary caregiver or the mother, thequality of care that is provided to the infant plays a fundamentalrole in shaping the personality of the child. At this stage, infantsdetermine whether they can trust the people with whom they live(Bergen & Juliet, 2001). This is determined by a number ofactivities and the reaction or response of caregivers to them. Forinstance, does the caregiver attend to the needs of the child when heor she cries? Does she comfort him or her when he or she isfrightened? In instances where the infant’s needs are met in aconsistent manner, he or she learns to trust people that areattending to the needs. However, the reverse would take place ininstances where the needs are not met in a consistent manner as thechild starts distrusting the people with whom he or she interacts andlives. Scholars have noted that if the infant successfully developsthis trust, he or she will feel secure and safe in the world (Owings& Deborah, 2004). It is well noted that primary caregivers orparents who are rejecting, emotionally unavailable and inconsistentmake an immense contribution to feelings of mistrust in the infantsfor whom they care. Further, the inability to establish trust at thisstage will lead to fear and cement the belief that life on earth isunpredictable and inconsistent.
However,there is a thin line between providing for the needs of the child andspoiling him or her. Indeed, a large number of parents becomeconfused with regard to whether they are not providing sufficientattention, which may result in various problems in the child’sfuture. She may also have to draw a line and prevent herself fromproviding too much attention as this would spoil the child in thefuture (Owings & Deborah, 2004). Nevertheless, parents cansucceed in this crisis by making efforts that will ensure that thechild genuinely believes that all his or her needs are met within areasonable time with reduced amounts of fear or anxiety for thefuture. It is imperative that the child feels secure, relaxed andsafe when he is around his or her caregivers. Scholars have alsonoted that the stage is crucial in the life of the child as thedevelopment of trust would allow an individual to form relationships,as well as learn to be reliant on other people in a healthy manner.Nevertheless, Erik Erikson also underlined the importance of allowingfor some mistrust so that the child can leant to discriminate ordistinguish between honest and dishonest people (Owings &Deborah, 2004). In cases where mistrust wins over trust at thisstage, the child is likely to become withdrawn, suspicious,frustrated and even lack or have low self-esteem or self-confidence.Underlining the importance of this stage is the fact that a largenumber of studies on suicide attempts and even actual suicides havecredited the formative or early years of development, where the childcomes to believe that the world cannot be trusted and that not everyperson should be living (Owings & Deborah, 2004).
Bergen,D and Juliet, C. (2001). BrainResearch and Childhood Education: Implications for Educators.Olney, Md.: Association of Childhood Education International.
Berne,S. A. (2006). The primitive reflexes: Considerations in the infant.Optometryand Vision Development37(3): 139-145.
Mooney,C. G. (2010). Theoriesof Attachment.St. Paul, Minn.: Redleaf Press
Owings,D.H., & Deborah M. Z. (2004). Human crying as an animalcommunication system: Insights from an assessment/managementapproach. In D. Kimbrough Oller and Ulrike Greibel (eds.), Evolutionof Communication Systems: A Comparative Approach.Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Soltis,J (2004). The signal function of early infant crying, Behavioraland Brain Sciences27(4): 443-490