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Child development which consequently means early human development is one of the biggest debates in psychological research, around which many theories have been developed explaining all aspects of it.
The Nature versus Nurture debate which argues weather heritage or environment effects the way we mentally develop heavily studies this subject, presenting supportive fact about both sides.
Through the first three years of a child’s life they slowly develop basic needs like sight, hearing, and walking. By age three a child should become familiar with their identity and slowly start recognizing their own self own self in the mirror as opposed to regarding the reflection in the mirror as another person, and they begin acting intentionally to test things around them, like pressing a button on a toy to make sound.
At age three more specific developments start taking place and this year is characterized by an increase of independence from the child. These developments come in the form of five categories:
The physical activities of a child between the age of 3 and 4 tend to be on the increase. Their walking abilities boost drastically, therefore they tend to be more active, with a newfound freedom to do things like jumping, running, climbing, and their control allows them to use toys which require control like peddling a tricycle. Their whole upper body movement stabilizes and becomes more controlled, allowing them to join in sports activities and games (for kids), they can perform things previously limited by their weaker bodies, like hitting a ball with a bat, or kicking larger balls with a more accurate sense of direction.
This is also the age where kids start wandering away more independently without the constant need of being attended by a parent. They start learning small things like climbing up the stairs, with the aid of adults, although they perform this with their own method of placing both feet together on one step before proceeding to the next, opposed to the adults’ method of placing one foot on each step in sequence.
Their attempts at dressing themselves start between ages 3-4 too, they learn how to put on simple pieces of clothing like T-shirts, and attempt tying their shoe laces, and slowly learn how to feed themselves with a spoon.
Last but not least they become more independent in taking care of their toilet needs, at least during the day time.
Intellectual DevelopmentTheir imagination opens up and expands resulting in the children’s’ ability to start dramatic play and role playing. They pretend to be someone they are not usually taking up grown up roles, like ‘Mommy’ ‘Daddy’ or superheroes like ‘Wonderwoman’. They are able to assist that imagination with the use of props like clothes and make up. Often children may confuse the fine line between reality and imagination which may lead to fear of certain imaginary characters like the boogeyman.
They become curious and inquisitive, they continually ask questions about what is happening around them, and start recognizing the cause and effect concept which means they need explanations to keep enhancing their knowledge and understanding of the world.
Children start expressing a wide range of emotions and become more in touch with their ‘adult’ feelings. That is they start developing an emotional awareness to the people surrounding them. They become more sensitive towards the feelings of other people towards them, and need to feel love in order to develop confidence.
In their attempt to receive emotional attention they will do their best to please adults, and depends on their approval, which can be given through positive facial gestures and verbal responses, praise helps boost their confidence a lot.
This is also the age where they start throwing emotional ‘fits’ , which are exaggerated displays of emotion like loud crying kicking and biting, and they are usually triggered by troublesome feelings towards situations or persons. They also become ritualistic and start recognizing their routine and can object to major changes in it.
Their social development becomes more prominent as they learn how to ‘socialize’ and interact with other kids as they seek what we know as social acceptance. They become more interested in others, apart from parents and people in their close environment; they start liking company and begin group play.
As their relationship with others begins to increase, they become more independent of parents even though they (especially the mother) remain extremely important. During this year they develop their understanding of authority and its effect on them.
They notice social interactions like the differences between the ways men and women act, and they will model their parents behavior towards such subject with worship. This makes it a highly important job for parents to display the right behaviors to be modeled.
As mentioned before, in this age children learn figures of authority and their effect. Through that they start learning the concept of right from wrong, and need limits to help enforce ideas and beliefs about that concept.
They will find other people’s opinions important and wish to please them, therefore follow the beliefs taught by people who have an influence on them.
This is also the age where they may learn immoral phrases and terms, like swear words or “I’ll kill you” and without knowing the implication of such expressions, they will use them against others when angry.
Conclusively this stage is a fragile one in a child’s life, which can help determine the level of their self esteem and how they view themselves, as well as built their basic belief system and their moral values. What’s really important for all aspect of it is for parents to be patient and recognize their child’s needs. It is the age through which they need to give their children praise and show them love and help aid their process of independence, without disturbing it due to overprotection or lack of confidence in the child’s ability to single handedly start doing things, and explore the world.