Individual Development Narrative
We, as humans, go through different phases in our lives that actually mould who we are. What we are is not a product of pure coincidence; we are who we are because of what we have gone through in life. There are numerous factors that influence us on this wonderful journey that is life. We all go through four domains of development, namely physical, emotional, cognitive and social or moral domains of development.
All these happen at some stage during our lifetime, and they all begin right from the first year of life. We then go through developmental stages until we get old and our time runs out. I will use my niece Hailey in this study. I have used a pseudonym in this case to protect her identity. I have decided to use Hailey because I have been with her from the day she was born and have been around her long enough to have taken note of the changes that took place in her life until maturity. In order to efficiently describe an individual development narrative of Hailey, I will divide the human developmental stages.
Stage 1 (1 year)
This is the first stage of human development. This is a stage that is characterised by great physical development of a baby. An infant is totally dependent on mother or caretaker for its nourishment, and thus if child`s needs are effectively met, the child develops some trust in himself or herself. This is a theory known as an attachment theory, as stipulated by John Bowbly, which focuses on emotional relationship an infant will create with people around him or her. This biological attachment is an impulse that baby develops to safeguard its own existence. Hailey had this strong bond with her nanny, Grace. This bond was so strong that the nanny took care of Hailey like of her own daughter.
This also brings to light the emotional development of a baby. The baby is in a position to conceive and deal with emotions, and this is how identity develops. This stage is characterised with an increase in motional ability of a baby when child tries to creep up the stairs, walk for a couple of minutes but when supported and baby can even create some rough sketches on a piece of paper. This then brings about the domain of physical development. During Hailey’s childhood, I could see her make her first baby steps in not so straight lines, she could stand and walk down the stairs as well as performing a couple of somersaults. This is typical for one year olds. The physical domain of development continues up until teenagehood.
Stage 2 (2-3 years)
This stage is characterised with increased playfulness of a baby. The baby learns more physical activity like kicking a ball, building towers with cubes and the baby can even speak up to two hundred words. At this particular stage, there is cognitive development. The theory of cognitive development, which forms part of the second domain of development, was coined by Jean Piaget. He suggested that it is the responsibility of parents to help children learn what is appropriate and leave out what is not relevant.
Thus, it is the hands-on experience that moulds the child. I was always there to play with my niece, and could help her make her playing time enjoyable. I could ask her questions and see whether she was aware of what she was doing. Thus, this brings out the cognitive development at this stage. The kid is given a chance to explore the world to enhance the development of feeling independent, and do away with dependency. There is increased mobility because the child can now jump off a step, ride a tricycle and explore the usage of words in speaking. At this stage, Hailey became stubborn and had a lot of demands.
Stage 3 (3-6 years)
This stage is characterised with a child showing some form of initiative and even goes to an extent of imitating adults. I could see her wash her clothes with Gracie whenever she was doing family laundry. She could also be seen carrying her toys at her back, just how she saw other kids being carried. This stage is characterised with romantic attachment to a parent of opposite sex and the kid even finds some pleasure in genital manipulation. It is at this age that the psychosexual development kicks in.
This theory was put forth by Sigmund Feud, who postulated that the phallic stage of psychosexual development actually happens during these years. He went on and said that it is here that a person’s personality is created. This is the pre-school age and it is also known as the Initiative versus Guilt stage. Hailey could be proud of everything she could do when she was five. This helped in creating her personality. She also loved to play with other kids and she became very outgoing. It is at this stage that the social domain of development comes out.
The child is in a position to choose friends and he/she demands a lot of attention as well. It is at this particular stage that the child learns to cooperate with others after making and maintaining the relationships. The child develops conflict resolution skills. Hailey could enjoy playing with other children and could tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Hailey also had an imaginative friend at some point and I really had fun playing with her.
Stage Four (6-12 years)
This is the age at which children begin to go to school. Their cognitive abilities develop owed to the fact that they are taking on new concepts and challenges in life. Parents have a crucial role to play at this stage. They should learn to reward their kids and appreciate their efforts made in class. Assuming such efforts can bring about detrimental results like making the kid feel inferior. It shouldn’t be this way. This can be achieved by pampering the child if he or she gets to know a new thing at school. This gives the child morale and provides with the fuel that keeps the hard work fire burning in the child.
This helps boost the child’s self worth. Children who turn out to be successful at this stage develop the virtue of confidence. When Hailey was six, she used to come home so excited just to tell me something new she learned in class. I used to pamper her and play a horse riding game with her, which she loved very much by the way. She also used to be so inquisitive, learning the boundaries that exist and consequences of breaking them. Hailey also began to strongly identify herself with her own gender where she learned about personal responsibility. It is also typical for a child to argue with parents and the child is always moody. Psychosexual development occurs at this stage as well, but the latency stage runs through puberty.
Stage 5 (13-19 years)
This is the onset of the teenage life. A teenager now shifts from taking orders to doing what he or she feels like. They make their own rules. They define themselves with what they think and feel is right rather than taking into consideration the opinion of a third party. Teenagers are pre occupied with peers` acceptance; heterosexual interactions begin. Hailey became a stubborn girl when she was fourteen. She became influenced by the world around her. Her physical body started developing in the bosom and thoracic areas. She became self aware of her sex and acknowledged the differences between males and females. Hormones start flowing and sexual development has already begun. Girls normally mature way before their male counterparts, with a difference of up to two years. Peer pressure at this stage is significant. Socially, Hailey had already joined high school and spent most of the time with her friends. She openly admitted the fact that school is a cruel environment since peers` influence made even the most principled of all people corrupt.
The theory of constructivism applies to this particular stage of development. The theory, postulated by Jean Piaglet and Jerome Bruner, holds that individuals often create their value by organising and integrating knowledge and information, often from social interactions. At this age, teenagers pick up certain traits from the immediate environment. This brings out another aspect that affects child`s development. These are biological and environmental influences on development. It is true that all these developmental changes run with chronological age, but the fact is age cannot source development. Thus, there are two factors that affect the whole mechanism of development. They are biological and environmental factors.
Biological factors are basically genetic factors that are responsible for our cellular changes akin to overall growth. It is a genetic code that we are born with and it is passed on to us by our parents. Some of the impacts that nature could have on a child would be behavior, maybe height, IQ just to name but a few. These traits cannot be changed in whatever natural way. A good example of how nature affects us is delving into the case of the Minnesota twins study. In this particular case, identical twins were raised apart. They were commonly referred to as the Jim twins.
The two did not meet until they were forty and what struck most people as a shock is that they shared common interests. They had the same temperament, personality and leisure time interests. And what is the real explanation of this? Nature, of course. Another example that can be used to show that nature has an impact on the development of a child is the Texas project of adoption. This project found out that there was dismal similarity between adopted children and their other siblings and there was much greater similarity between themselves and their biological parents. This then goes to prove that genetics definitely has an effect on the way people behave.
The environment has great influence on a person`s behaviour. This is a widely accepted and acknowledged fact. The question then remains to be, how much of an influence can the environment be to affect the manner in which someone behaves. Some traits like fear have been proven to be learned from previous experiences of children. Some of these behaviors could not be acquired if they were not picked from the environment. Thus, it is clear that the environment has a direct impact on the development of a child. Hence, the environment plays a crucial role.
One aspect of the environment that influences our ability is nutrition. In one particular case, a group of children were given mineral and vitamin supplements for eight consecutive months. They sat for intelligence tests prior to and after the treatment. The results proved that there was an improvement in the scores of children who were given the vitamin and mineral supplements. This is solid proof that the environment has a role to play in the development of human beings.
Another good example is that of an experiment conducted on an eleven month old baby. The baby was exposed and subjected to a horrifying noise whenever he attempted to catch a white mouse. Later on the child displayed aspects of fear whenever he saw a white furry thing, fearing to hear the terrible noise. This is an indication that the environment affects the way we behave. Fear is not in our genetic coding, but predisposal to sources of fear makes someone learn to fear. This is an environmental aspect that affects our behavior.
Another example of nurture comes from France, back in 1799. A boy of about fifteen was found running with wolves. He was brought back to the society but never developed like a normal human being. He had already learned to behave like a wolf even if he was human. He was nurtured as a wolf. No one would say that it is only nature that factors in the development of humans, but nurture as well. These pieces of evidence show that both our genes and the environment act in unison to shape who we are as individuals.
Studies have shown that heredity affects our development. Studies have also shown that nutrition also plays an important role in cognitive development stage. Thus, it would be inappropriate to say that man is a product of genes and not the environment. It would also be outrageous to say that the environment and not our genes affect how we develop. It would be right to say that a child is a product of both nature and nurture.