Human development is the process of how people grow and change psychologically over the complete span of the human life; from birth to old age/death. In the past years many theorists have studied human development in five different areas such as physical, cognitive, emotional and social spiritual development. Erik Erikson is one of the most prominent theorists who identified eight stages of human development. One of the stages are identity versus role confusion; which is highlighted in the year of adolescence. Erikson also believed that every human being goes through a certain number of stages to reach his/her full development.
Therefore, this essay will examine the five domains in human development namely physical, cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual development within the child hood to early adulthood process. It also demonstrates the biological and environmental influences in human development. I will use my own development narrative as my case study to provide examples of these domains varying from childhood to early adulthood. I was born and grew up in Ethiopia, a capital called Addis Ababa. On turning seven, I started attending school. My parents were not educated.
However, I was very lucky because they always encouraged me to take the opportunities that they themselves did not have. The school I attended was a government school and therefore free of all expenses. On the other hand, my family paid for all my personal expenditures excepting transportation. My class consisted of a mixture of males and females. Some of my teachers were men and some were women. I started learning the English alphabets as well as my Amharic language. The teachers used both songs and games to teach our lessons. I lived nearby and could go home during the lunch-breaks.
I enjoyed very much going to school and my favourite subject was drawing and music lessons. According to Berger (1988), human development is usually divided into three domains: the physical domain; which included brain and body changes; the social influences that guide them; the cognitive domain, including thought processes, perceptual abilities and language mastery (skill) as well as the educational institutions that encourage them; and the emotional/social domain, including emotions, personality and interpersonal relationships and the complex social contexts in which they occur.
Spirituality is an inspirational sense of life, including beliefs, symbols, value and norms. Infancy is the initial years of one’s life after birth. During this period, the body growth is dramatic; especially the brain more than any other organ (Berk, 2007). Infants use their senses to both learn and to interact with the environment around them as their bodies grow stronger and more mature (Feldman, 2006). He also suggests that one way of infants learning to use their bodies is by learning to accomplish large physical tasks; which is gross motor skills such as crawling and walking.
According to the theory of motor development, however, the specific timing at exactly which each skill appears varies between different developing children (Smith, 2003). This typical motor growth variation can be seen in my own first two years of development, in contrast to my brother’s developmental processes. My mum had claimed that I had started crawling properly up on hands and knees at seven months but my youngest brother began crawling only at nine months of age. I also started walking by holding onto a hand and a piece of furniture within a week of my first birthday.
Therefore, it can be seen that this form of motor development not only enhances my physical development, but it also improves my cognitive development such as thinking, attention, memory, and simple problem solving (Smith, 2003). Further more, Erikson describes the first developmental task of the infant lies within the achievement of basic trust in the caregivers. He suggests that basic trust provides the foundation for all future interpersonal relationships (Zanden et. al. , 2007). In Erikson’s viewpoint; trust has been considered as an attachment.
Attachment is the positive emotional bond that develops between parent and children (Feldman, 2006). In addition, a secure attachment in infancy is crucial since it launches the parent and child relationship in a positive way. This early strong family tie also assists a child to explore his/her environment and is able to develop social and emotional skills as well as a sense of trust (Barnes, 1995). Family means a lot to me and I was brought up in a loving, supportive and secure family. My mum stayed at home with me while I was growing up.
She never hesitated to show her love for me with lots of hugs and kisses. Therefore, this early strong attachment and family warmth enabled me to establish and maintain a number of close friendships with others. The preschool period is a time of enormous growth and change in the areas of physical, cognitive and social / emotional development. During these years, children continue to integrate previously acquired skills into more complex and dynamic states (Berk, 2007). Like every living thing, I was growing and expanding physically.
This physical development was remarkable in this stage due to the fact the brain functions such as neural pathways and activities of frontal lobe developing rapidly (Berk, 2007). Therefore, this normative brain development may have allowed me to improve motor skills such as running, skipping, throwing, kicking, jumping and balancing (Smith, 2003). In addition, my cognition abilities increased day by day. I developed language through my conversation with family and at school. I also developed the ability to read, write and draw efficiently.
Perhaps each day from home to school, going to the shops, observing road signs, and reading advertisements have vastly contributed to my writing and drawing ability. Due to these improvements, I may have been able to manage my social behaviour through playing and interaction with other children. I also learned the ability of showing consideration for others, as well as respect. Hence, my cognition, emotion and social development has been largely influenced from within my environment of school. Middle child hood is a time children develop in many ways physically, mentally, socially and emotionally (Zanden et.al. , 2007).
During this time the brain has reached ninety percent of its adult size and the body continues to grow slowly. In this way, nature provides school aged children the mental ability to master challenging tasks and to learn the essential knowledge and skills vital for one’s life (Goswami, 2008). When I was in elementary school, my teacher always encouraged me to read books; and my parents bought me many books including traditional tales book. It supported me to improve my reading and language ability; as well as to think and to use words more precisely at the very young age.
Moreover, playing games and sports support many aspects of children’s development, health, sense of self worth, and social skills (Fromberg & Bergen, 1998). During my school year, I usually played our traditional game called Handaie with my brother, sister and other children in my local playground. This game is a number computation game and has rules like any other games. It became a very important game to me. In the process of playing this game, I acquired the skill to count in numbers, self- discipline, and self-control.
Also interacting with other children assisted me to learn good social relationships, and social norms. (Fletcher et. al. , as cited in Berk, 2007). Adolescence is moving from childhood to adult. This adolescent year brings many changes, not only physically but also mentally, emotionally and socially (Feldman, 2006). My adolescence was a period in which I gained maturity due to the biological changes associated with puberty. I became independent from my family and developed more perspective since then. I started thinking more about my future goals. I was also trying to understand more of who I was as an adult.
In Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory young people start to think abstractly and hypothetically in the formal operation stage (Berk, 2007). Therefore, this major cognitive development may have contributed to the exploration or search for my individual identity. With respect to Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development, the adolescence is the stage of identity versus role confusion. He also believes that identity as the significant personality achievement of adolescence is an essential step toward becoming a productive happy adult (Feldman, 2006).
I remember so vividly my high school experience; especially my anxiety during the school examinations. I struggled in defining my personal and career strengths, weakness and in making the most of these characteristics to accomplish my occupational goals. I have managed to successfully complete my high school studies due to the unconditional support of my family, friends and my teachers; who have always encouraged me to persevere and overcome any obstacles or hardships in life. “Early adult hood is a period that many of us reach or have reached our peak in physical capability” (Feldman, 2006, p. 459).
Likewise, for many of us, the early adulthood stage is a time of developing a sense of self identity, learning to become independent of our parents, choosing a career and having a family (Zanden et. al. , 2007). My early adulthood was a period in which my responsibilities have grown as a member of society. After completing high school, I desired to become a beautician and trained for one year. A few days later I was fortunate to be employed by my local beauty salon. I occasionally struggled to understand some customer’s situations so I was encouraged by colleagues to approach each client with a broader and more comprehensive view.
Sinnott suggest that young adult internalise ways of thinking with realistic views reflecting multiple perspectives such as different cultures and values (as cited in Feldman, 2006). So, I may have been able to understand the world more clearly. A part from my choice of profession, I sometimes attended match-making parties with friends seeing as though I may have felt loneliness and social pressure. In Erikson’s view young adults who have difficulties to form intimate relationship with others may often feel loneliness and isolation in the stage of intimacy versus isolation (Berk, 2007).
I may have experienced this circumstance; however it also allowed me the opportunity to develop rich social relationships. A few years later I resigned from my position and immigrated to New Zealand. Nevertheless, living in a new environment can impact on our emotions, exciting but frustrating at the same time, it provided many opportunities and many challenges. I sometimes had difficulties due to language so I decided to enrol into AUT University School of languages. Three years later, I successfully graduated with a Diploma in English language. I feel confident that I am able to study at a tertiary level of education, contribute to New Zealand society and have felt a great sensation of my physical, psychological and spiritual well being improve due to this.
All humans have features in common however; each of us is also unique because nature has prepared us for survival (Berk, 2007). Our genetics or nature plays a crucial role in our personal development. One example of this is the similarities between both my biological parents. I have brown eyes because I inherited a brown eye allele from my father who also had brown eyes, but I have also inherited dark eye allele from my mother who has dark eyes.
Since the brown eye allele is dominant my eyes are brown (Berk,2007). In terms of environment or nurture appears to play an important role in influencing our personality. For instance, my family environment influenced my personality by providing me with the confidence to succeed in a challenging environment. I have a younger sister and brother that assisted me in maturing and understanding that my attitude and actions outside of school are essential too I have learned to look at myself from the people’s perspective and to change my behaviour accordingly.
My mum was the most influential factor in creating the person I am today. She taught me my religion and made me believe in god and taught me how to pray. She made me enjoy and understand the importance of appreciating other cultures’ as well as my own. Therefore, the family is generally the environment in which the individual can mature personally and socially. In conclusion, human development includes physical, cognitive, emotional, social and cultural/spiritual domains which are vital at every age stage. All these domains inter-relate which can be seen in many daily activities.
A well known human development theorist Erik Erikson, labels the eight stages and he also suggested that every individual will go through, throughout their life. I am in the seventh stage which is known as the intimacy versus isolation. I have accomplished intimacy by forming strong bonds with my family and forming a close friendship with others. In addition, environmental or nurture influence such as character, culture and religion, my family has taken a big part in my life by teaching me a lot of different things that made me the person that I am today.
For example, they taught me all the good manners need in the society, religion and culture. It is obvious that, all the five domains and environmental factors are extremely essential in shaping every individual throughout his/her lifespan. References Berk, L. (2007). Development through the lifespan (4th ed. ). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Berger, S. (1988). The developing person through the lifespan (2nd ed. ). New York: Worth. Barnes, P. (1995). Personal, social and emotional development of children. Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell. Fromberg, P.D. , & Bergen, D. (1998).
Play from birth to twelve and beyond. New York: Garland. Feldman, S. R. (2006). Development across the lifespan (4th ed. ). Upper Saddle River: Prentice hall. Goswami, U. (2008). Cognitive development: The learning brain. East Sussex, New York: Psychology press. Smith, T. J. (2003). Early childhood development: A multicultural perspective (3rd ed. ). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice hall. Zanden, V. , Crandall, L. T. , & Grandell, H. C. (2007). Human development (8th ed. ). Boston: McGraw hill.