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Childhood begins at the conclusion of babyhood and extends to the time when the child becomes sexually mature at thir-teen years for girls and fourteen for boys. Childhood period is now divided into – early and late childhood.
Growth during early childhood proceeds at a slow rate when compared with the rapid rate of growth in babyhood.
The average annual increase in height is 2.5 inches. By the age of six, the average child measures 46.6 inches (118.36 centimeters).
The average annual increase in weight is around 1.6-2.3 kilograms. At age six, children should weigh approximately 7 times as much as they did at birth. An average girl weighs 25-30 kilograms and boy weighs 30-32 kilograms.
Body proportions change markedly and the baby look disappears. Facial features look small but chin becomes more pro-nounced and neck elongates. The stock-iness of the trunk is decreased and the abdomen appears flat. Chest and shoul-der become broader and flatter. Muscle begins to form and growth of the head slows down. Arms and legs lengthen and hands and feet grow bigger.
Children have an endomorphic or mesomorphic or ectomorphic type of body build based on their gene make up, diet and physical activities.
Bone development consist of growth in bone size, change in the number of bones and composition. The bones calcify at different rates in differ-ent parts of the body. Bones become harder and stronger, giving the child a firmer shape and protecting internal organs.
At the beginning of early childhood the baby has all of their milk teeth. In the last year of early childhood the baby loses its milk teeth which are replaced by permanent teeth. The permanent teeth to appear first are the front cen-tral incisors. When early childhood ends the child has one or two per-manent teeth in front and some gaps where permanent teeth will eventually erupt.
The growth of the nervous system is very rapid during babyhood and slows down at 3-4 years. Development of immature to mature cells occurs at this stage. These changes are coordi-nated by the maturing brain and the nervous system promotes the devel-opment of a wide range of motor skills. The brain is about 75 percent-age of its adult weight at five years and is 90 percentage of adult weight at eight years.
The growth of the eyeball is not com-plete until puberty so young children tend to be far sighted. Vision and focusing ability improves consider-ably as children grow through these years. The need for corrective lenses becomes more noticeable in early childhood.
During the first four or five years, the child gains control over gross and fine movement. Table 3 summarizes the devel-opment of motor skill.
Artistic expression seems to peak by the end of the early childhood period. During these years, children begin to paint and hold the brush with thumb and fingers. They give names to their drawings and begin to represent things.
This age is characterized by the widely expanding world and awareness of people and things.
They learn how to make social con-tact and get along with people outside the family, especially with peer group (chil-dren of their own age). Play is an important part of social development. By the age of 3-4 years they learn to adapt and cooper-ate in group play activities. This increases his/her social contact which increases the chances for social behaviour of others.
Imitation- Children imitate the atti-tudes and behaviour of a person whom they especially admire and want to be like.
Early childhood may be regarded as a critical period in the establishment of handedness. During this period, chil-dren shift from the use of one hand to the other and are asked to concentrate on learning skills with one dominant hand and other as the auxiliary or helping hand. For example in case of colouring, the dominant hand is used for colouring and the auxiliary to hold the paper.
Rivalry- Children feel an urge to out-do others at home and outside.
Co-operation- Children at the end of the third year learn to socialize and co-operate with their peer group. Their inclination to play with other children increases.
Sympathy- Play contacts develop sym-pathetic attitudes in children. This helps in understanding feelings and emotions of others.
Sharing- Sharing and caring will win social approval. Children learn this while playing with friends.
Negativism- The habit of contradict-ing elders starts between 3 and 4 years and then it declines.
Aggressiveness- The physically aggres-sive behaviour that begins by the age of 2, normally declines by the age of 4 giving way to verbal attacks like name calling or blaming others.
Bossiness- Children become more authoritative at the age of 3.
Destruction- The children display their temper by destroying anything within their reach.
The emotional expressions of children differ from those of adults. Emotions can be broadly classified as positive emotions (integrative) and negative emotions (dis-integrative). Such emotions are joy, affec-tion, curiosity and sympathy. Negative emotions on the other hand give an unpleasant feeling and disliked by others. The examples of such negative emotions are anger, fear, jealousy, envy, grief and anxiety.
The mental development that occurs in early childhood is exciting and dynamic as children explore their environment, develop ideas, learn solutions to prob-lems, participate in imaginary play, and gain a unique understanding of the world and how it operates. Children make judg-ments based on a limited understanding of operations and rules and with minimal cues and information. Young children may have trouble telling the difference between what is real and what is fantasy. With increased ability to ask questions in words, they understand people, objects and situation rapidly. After this, the child obeys commands but does not under-stand why things are right or wrong.
Early childhood is known as “the chat-ter box age” because children are able to speak with ease. They may use gestures but mainly as supplements to speech. During early childhood, there is a strong motiva-tion to learn to speak. At approximately 2 years of age, their ability to use language suddenly increases rapidly. The formation of sentences follows a fairly definite and predictable pattern in early childhood. Two to three year old children usually use short sentences of three or four words. Many of the sentences are incomplete.
Late childhood extends from the age of six years to the time the individual becomes sexually mature. This period is marked by conditions that profoundly affect a child’s personal and social adjustment. The child enters school and experiences a major change in the life pattern.
Late childhood is a period of slow and uni-form growth until the changes of puberty begins.
Height and Weight- The child’s height and weight approximately reaches 2/3rd of adult height. Both boys and girls can be expected to grow about two to three inches each year. The average height for boys is slightly greater than that of girls throughout this period. However a girl’s average height between ten and twelve years exceeds that of boys. At the onset of puberty, an average 11 years old girl has a height of 58 inches while an average boy of the same age has little lesser than that.
By 6 years of age, most children are about seven times their birth weight. Weight increase is at the rate of 1.3 to 2.3 kg. The average 11 year old girl weighs 40.1 kg and an average boy of the same age weighs 38.7 kg.
Body proportions- Body shapes of indi-viduals are characterized by a greater proportion of body fat to muscle among females, while the opposite is true for males. Facial disproportions disappear as the mouth and jaw become larger, the forehead broadens and becomes slimmer, the neck becomes longer, the chest broad-ens, the abdomen flattens, the arms and legs lengthen and hands and feet grow larger but at a slow rate.
Muscle development- The increasing level and desire for physical activity in mid-dle childhood reflects the increasing size and strength of a child’s muscle. Gain in weight is due to increase in size of skeletal, muscular systems and some organs. Muscle mass and strength gradually increases as “baby fat” decrease in middle and late childhood. Throughout the middle years muscle growth tends to be extremely rapid, and they are firmly attached to the bones. Eye-hand coordination also improves and by twelve years of age, most children have highly coordinated muscles.
Bone development- As the child approaches sexual maturity, the rate of bone development will quicken in response to stimulation due to sex hor-mones that are produced in large quan-tities. The length and width of the bones increase. In late childhood, bones are hardened and reach a final mature shape.
Development of Teeth- The primary teeth that erupted during infancy and early child-hood are lost from the age of six up to thir-teen years. All milk teeth are replaced with primary teeth. Girls are found to have per-manent teeth earlier than boys.
Brain Development- About 90% of adult brain size is achieved by age six. During late childhood, brain development includes the organization of brain func-tioning and myelination. Functions of the right and left hemisphere become well established during this age group.
Children are eager to participate in activities that require large muscle movements.
They spend more time in free, unstruc-tured activities, rough games and vigorous play such as wrestling, kicking and chas-ing. By 6 years, most children can skip rope and begin to ride a bicycle and by 7 years most begin to perfect the movement nec-essary for catching, throwing, swimming and hitting ball. They develop flexibility in different parts like wrists and legs.
A number of changes in social develop-ment occur in the late childhood years. Besides the parents and the family mem-bers, the peer group comes to take an important place in the child’s life.
Creation of childhood gangs- Upon beginning schooling, children enter the “gang age” when social conscious-ness develops rapidly. It is character-ized by interest in peer activities and an increasingly strong desire to be an accepted member of a gang.
Over sensitiveness- A common out-growth of susceptibility to social approval and disapproval is over sensitiveness. The tendency to be eas-ily hurt by peers or siblings or parents and to interpret what others say and do as hostile, is a measure of the children’s desire for social acceptance.
Responsibility- Children who learn to assume responsibility at home not only make better adjustment with their peer group but also are likely to be selected for leadership roles.
Tantrum or temper tantrum is an emo-tional outburst of children. It is typically characterized by crying and screaming.
Anger is expressed when needs are not ful-filled. It is expressed through screaming, withdrawal, destructive and disrespectful behaviour.
Fear is still found in late childhood. A large proportion of the fears shown in childhood persist into the adulthood.
Children’s anxiety increases somewhat with maturity. This anxiety makes chil-dren bored, restless and disturbed and they cannot concentrate. They feel inse-cure and show their anxiety by nervous mannerism and speech problems.
As a child develops there are considerable changes in his mental abilities which include imagination, memory, creativity, question-ing and perception. They can also develop a plan to meet desired goal. They have a better understanding of spatial concepts of causal-ity of categorization of inductive reasoning. Children begin to read and write and start gaining skills in reading and writing.
Linguistic skills are improved or acquired by an individual with the help of parents and from the world outside the family such as television, radio, books and peers.
Children in the first grade, on average know about 20,000 to 24,000 words. By the sixth grade they will know about 50,000 words. Not only do older children learn new words, they also tend to learn new meanings for old words. The length of sentences increases from 6 years. The characteristic chatterbox stage of early childhood is replaces by more controlled and selective speech.
Harish has difficulty to do home work, cannot do quiet tasks or activ-ities. He dashes around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight and is very impatient. He also blurts out inappropriate com-ments, shows his emotions without restraint, and acts without regard for consequences.
From above case study what are your inferences about his condi-tion? What is the specific name given to this condition?
Answer: Harish is hyper active and his condition is called as “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”.
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