Life Span Development

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This happens when a male and female engage in unprotected sexual intercourse. During sexual intercourse the man will in time ejaculate, releasing semen into the woman’s vagina. They then travel up the cervix and into the endometrium (uterus) towards the egg. At this time the women is hopefully at her fertility period of her menstruation cycle. One sperm then burrows itself into the egg. This process is called fertilisation. The woman is technically now pregnant.

Pregnancy

A fertilised egg (zygote) begins to divide itself. First into two cells then four then eight etc until it becomes a ball of small cells called a blastocyst. The embryo must then bury itself in the uterus before the next menstruation to release a hormone if not the embryo will be flushed out of the body with other waste products during the bleeding period of the cycle. By five weeks the embryo has started developing a brain, heart, eyes, ears and limbs. At eight weeks all major organs have been formed and the foetus has now got a human-looking face with finger toes. The body is now 3cm.

Early Childhood – Babies

A newborn baby (neonate) is a helpless individual that needs care and protection from parent or others to survive. The digestive, nervous & immune system has not yet developed properly (that is why it is advised to give your baby breast milk for the first month or so because it contains contents that can help the baby’s immune system). There are three reflexes that newborn babies are able to do. Rooting reflex is when the baby turn their heads towards the touch on their cheek. Grasp reflex is when the baby grasps your finger tightly after placing your finger on the palm of their hand. Finally the startle reflex when a baby is startled they throw their hands and arms outwards, arching their back and straightening their legs. Babies also gain body control from the ages 0 – 12 months. From 0 – 1 month babies are able to lift their head slightly. From 6 months babies are able to pass an object from one hand to another. From 9 – 10 months babies are able to crawl. And from 12 months babies are able to stand without any means of support.

Later Childhood – Infants

The nervous system sensory organs & head grows rapidly from 0 – 6yrs however, the reproductive organs remain small and undeveloped until puberty. They start to develop their first set of teeth (milk teeth) from the ages of six months to three years. From the ages of six years milk teeth are gradually replaced to permanent teeth. Infants are able to recognise and interact with people and they recognise their mothers face and voice. Form ages 3 onwards children practical abilities start to develop. At the age of 2 years toddlers are able to run and climb stairs. At 3 years toddlers are able to redefine their motor skills such as balance when walking and eye and hand coordination. 4 years toddlers become more balanced when walking and they can walk up and down stairs without support. Finally by the age of 6 or 7 a child maybe able to skip and ride a bicycle. Read also what is the importance of the light-independent reactions in terms of carbon flow in the biosphere?

Puberty & Adolescence

Puberty is the physical change which accompanies the emotional changes of adolescence it is cause in the hypothalamus part in the brain influencing the pituitary endocrine grand to release hormones such as gondothrophins. Puberty starts from between the ages of 10 to 15 years this is when secondary sexual characteristics develop and sexual organs mature for reproduction. The process of puberty is accompanied by growth spurt in weight and height.

With puberty in girls the hormone gondothrophins stimulates the ovaries to produce the hormone oestrogen. From the ages of 10 to 11 years girls breast start to swell, pubic hair begins to grow and hips start to broaden. At around about a year later girls will experience their first menstruation. Finally girls voices become less shrilled but voice change is not as noticeable in girls as it is in boys.

With puberty in boys start later than girls by around two years. Males’ penis normally grows bigger from age 12 and reaches full size at age 15. At age 13 facial, pubic and body hair start to grow. There is also an increase in the size of the voice box causing the voice to deepen.

Early Adulthood & Middle Age

After puberty there is little change in the body but muscles growth usually continues with increased work or activities e.g. Fitness gym.

From ages 45 – 55 women experience a decline in fertility until eventually there is a complete decline. This is process menopause. The symptoms are irregular periods (sometimes they can be light or heavy) night sweats, feeling bloated, mental and emotional changes. But some women can go through menopause without any symptoms whereas some women suffer from hot flushes. Now thanks to new research Hormone Replacement Therapy is available. This helps reduce the effects of the menopause. Men also go through a similar process called male menopause but their testosterone levels only reduce.

Later Adulthood

As the body ages it loses it sensitivity to cold. Older people are more likely to get hypothermia in the cold weather. Blood capillaries become more fragile, this increases bruising. Breathing and circulation system becomes less efficient causing difficulty with stairs and hills. Focusing power of the eye weakens from 45 years by the age of 65 there is little focus left in eye. A number of nerve cells in the Central Nervous System gradually decreases (these are irreplaceable). This results to loss of memory, difficulty in learning new skills and their senses become less acute. Presbyocusis is known as the progressive loss of hearing which comes with aging.

Social Development

Early Childhood – Babies

Babies have an innate desire to build an emotional bond with their caregiver which later helps them process in life socially and intellectually. Many psychologists believe that bonding is vital for the child’s well – being and any child that rejects to build that mutual bond will ding a lot of difficulties in relationships later on in life. At two months a baby are able to recognise their caregivers smell voice and face. They are able to respond to what the caregiver says or their caregivers’ facial expressions. Babies also learn how to attract attention by smiling or making noises.

Later Childhood – Infants

This social development is known the primary socialisation. Attachments between a child and his/her caregivers are just as strong in infancy but children don’t need to cling to them as much. As they grow up they start to make relationships with children and learn to become more independent. Although they still depend on their carers they need emotional bonds with their family. These emotional bonds provide the foundation for exploring in relationships with others. Children learn attitudes and beliefs by watching the behaviours of parents, brothers or sisters. Children who grow up within a family group usually learn a wide range of ideas about how to behave. At the age of 2 children understand that they’re gender and also learn how to act in their masculine or feminine ways. For examples girls play with Barbie while boys play with Action Man. From the ages of 3 children often show a need to be with a caregiver to act as a ‘safe base’. This is a phase the children go through when they tend to seek affection and assurance more than usual.

Adolescents

This social development is known as the secondary socialisation. Teenagers become more independent from their family and they become very involved in their groups of friends. From 13 between 18 years teenagers are usually involved in major changes in social behaviour as they learn to take on adult roles and independence. They also begin to explore relationships with potential sexual partners.

Early Adulthood & Middle Age

Early Adulthood is usually known to be the time where people continue to develop more friendships, sexual relationships and partnerships. Major social issues that are often associated with early adulthood are marriage, parenthood and maintaining a job. Stress starts to play its part because of the demands of being a parent and a worker. Many adults now are balancing more than on job to maintain the amount of money that comes home and as well of trying to cope looking after your spouse and children it creates a lot of emotional and social problems. When their children then grow and leave the family home to start an independent life of their own. The parent will feel sort of relieved because some of the pressure of, for example feeding for four mouths has been reduced to two mouths. But then they will also feel that they are losing touch with their social purpose because their children no longer need their support.

Later Adulthood

Many retired people have more opportunity to go out and explore the world than they did when they were working. They try to keep close with family and friends should that they can rely on them to provide emotional and practical support. But some retired people become socially isolated because of close friends or their spouses have died. They may have physical illnesses like arthritis that limits them from exploring as much.

Intellectual Development

Early Childhood – Babies

To begin with babies rely on inbuilt patterns for behaviour in order to explore different objects. For example their sucking toys, clothes and fingers. In this way they develop an understanding of the objects. A Psychologist called Jean Piagent suggested that babies think that once an object is out o their reach and sight the object does not exist anymore. For example when the baby’s caregiver leaves the room they become distressed because they believed that they are gone forever. Unfortunately modern research has contradicted this theory proving it wrong because babies at the age of 8 months were observed when their caregiver left the room and they did not show any sign of being distressed.

Later Childhood – Infancy

Children start to speak at the age of 2 years and by the age of 6 children can speak fluently. Between the ages of 2 and 7 years children learn how to count and recite their alphabets. From the ages of 7 to 10 children can only understand logic when they can see what is involved, (for example if Sophie has 20 sweet and Tanya has 10 sweets less how much does Tanya have?) rather than younger children who look at what looks alike rather than the logic. For example they will say that there are more toys that are in a line rather than the toys in a heap.

Adolescents

Teenagers are able to imagine their future and how they wish to achieve it. Teenagers are able to reason in an adult way but they don’t have enough experience to always make the right decisions. They also continue to develop their problem – solving skills during adulthood.

Early Adulthood & Middle Age

Practical skills and abilities maybe increased during adulthood if they are exercised. Reactions start to decrease in older adults but knowledge can balance out the reaction decrease because they can use their knowledge in different aspects in their work. Older adults are also better at problem – solving than the young ones. Older adults are also considered as wise.

Later Adulthood

In later life some older people who have lived a good life and have exercised their minds don’t find difficulty in solving problems and coping with intellectual challenges and continuing learning new things. But with older people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease experience difficulty in learning new things, remembering things and even with every day necessities like getting dressed.

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