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Physical Developmental Psychology

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    Physical development
    Young people will also see many physical developments changing the appearance of their bodies. Everyone’s rate of growth is different. During adolescence, coordination and strength increase greatly and by age 19 or 20 the adolescent has full adult motor capacities. Social and emotional development

    The teenager may become self-conscious as changes in their body shape take place, odour occurs and possibly acne develops as a result of oilier skin. So, more than anything, they need reassurance. Emotional maturity is constantly shifting, moving them between childish needs and adult desires. They aren’t just being awkward for the sake of it. Their bodies and emotions are experiencing drastic changes. Intellectual development

    This is a time of maturing of the mind and behaviours as young people develop more responsibility for their thoughts, words and actions and start to think ahead to future occupations, marrying, and having children of their own. During adolescence, young people increasingly take personal responsibility for finances, accommodation, employment and interpersonal relationships. The process of transferring responsibility from parental shoulders to the maturing adolescent should reach completion at adulthood.


    The main difference between the sequence and rate of development is that the sequence is the order in which development takes place, for example a baby has to hold its head up first before it can learn to sit up unaided. Some parts of the sequence may be missed not all children crawl and may roll instead to move before they learn to walk and learn to crawl later on. The rate of development is the time frame given for the average development of a child expected at a certain age, i.e. at one has started to walk. All children are unique individuals and will develop at their own rate, so the rate of development is just a guideline. However it is important to understand that although the sequence remains generally the same, the development rate can change considerably and many other factors such as individual growth patterns, social background, health and nutrition, disability and learning difficulties can have an effect on the rate of development.


    If a child is in poor health then this will have an impact on their development. For example, a child with uncontrolled asthma or cystic fibrosis may not be able to run around and be as active as their peers. Therefore, this would mean that his physical development might not be the same. Not being able to play outside would almost certainly affect the social development, as children make many friendships on the playground and at after school clubs. Disability

    A child in a wheelchair or with a serious physical impairment would find it hard to do many activities, particularity those that are physically demanding. Gross motor skills would be at a less developed rate than peers and fine motor skills may be affected if the child had little or no control over their limbs. Learning Difficulties

    A child with learning problems may be many developmental years behind their peers; this will have a big impact on what they can do in all areas of development including physical skills, social skills and intellectual skills. They may find it especially hard to interact with children of the same age or stay interested in conversation. They may also need to have one-to-one lessons at school to help educate them as they may not be at the same cognitive stage as peers. This may leave them feeling left out, however, some children may have a learning disability that is severe enough for them not to realise they are different.


    External factors again can really effect a child’s learning, some of these could be:-

    • Poverty and deprivation. Hopefully not one of our own major influences, whereas in other, not so well off countries, this is a major fact as these children cannot have any education as there is not any available.

    • Family environment and background. In some homes education is not at the front of their things to do list. We can often see this where the parents/ carers are of a lower educational development. This could also show that there is no support at home as the parents do not understand the required educational elements needed to complete the work.

    • Personal choices. If a child or young person as decided for what ever reason they do not want to be educated or leave school before they finish their education, this is their choice and we cannot always show them alternative choices for staying at school.

    • Looked after/ care status. This again could have a huge influence as a lot of looked after children are moved around regularly. This will effect their education enormously. Separation and attachment issues are quite often the cause of many reasons not to want to be in school. This is constantly worked on by schools to find the best way to include these children in school and to be able to give them a good standard of education.

    • Education. If for example a child has not attended a nursery or play group in their early years this can often set them back from what development stage they should be at when attending school. This could be the lack of nursery places, not good enough teachers to the child having a learning disability that has not been identified yet.


    Theories of development can influence current practice into childcare as they show us how to understand a child’s developmental processes. It can help us to identify any problems that might arise, whether it is in physical, social, emotional, language or intellectual development. It also displays a reason into the way that children behave, and how not only internal, but external factors can effect development. Knowing that everyone exhibits the same stages, we do not have to concur with the norm, as they can happen at any time. Everyone should be looked at differently as we all learn at our own rate.


    Monitoring development through observations, making assessments and targeting interventions can help lessen the likelihood of delays for children who are already at risk and can also prevent children who are not at risk from becoming at risk.

    Observation involves watching and listening to a child or young person in order to gather information about their behaviour and their stage of development. Methods of observing children and young people

    Checklist – the child’s development is checked against a list of specific ‘milestones’ that should be reached at a certain stage Graphs and charts – these are quick and easy to collate, but they can only provide general information

    Naturalistic – a factual description of what the observer sees and hears during the normal course of naturally occurring events Structured – a factual account that describes how a child tackles a pre-set activity

    Focus child – the focus is on one child for a specific amount of time. Events are recorded using pre-coded categories
    Time sample – the recording of information at regular intervals throughout a session
    Event sample – a description of specific types of behaviour or events over a period of time
    Diary/longitudinal study – these are separate observations done over a period of weeks or months
    There are many reasons and factors why a child is not following the expected pattern of development. For example the child may be emotionally unsettled due to a number of reasons. Family life plays a significant part in a child’s development. If for instance the child is living with parents who constantly argue and fight this will have an effect on the child and cause stress. Also if the child is from a one parent family there may be difficulties as a parent trying to juggle everything on their own may not have as much time to spend nurturing and boosting a child’s development. 3.3

    Disability can affect several areas of development at the same time but early support might help minimise the effects of the disability. If a child suffers from health issues such as asthma, it may make them unable to take part in activities and then lessen the understanding of being able to be part of a team. Learning difficulties, physical disabilities and sensory impairments like blindness and deafness can again make them unable to socialise and work with other children which is a major part in helping and assisting their development, also they could be withdrawn and make them feel like they don’t belong. 3.4

    If a child’s development is not following the expected patterns it is important to implement early intervention to maximize development. There are several types of intervention which can come from professionals, adaptions, technology or equipment. Intervention can come from –

    Social workers – can offer information, counseling and support. Can also organize and manage care plans and support packages. Can link to further sources of help. Speech and language therapists – can work 1 on 1 with children to accelerate learning and development in communication. Can also provide training and support to parents and carers Learning Support – work closely with individual children at school. Give assistance in lessons, help with educational delay, behaviour problems and lack of concentration. Can also offer additional lessons or home tutoring if needed. G.P. / Nurse – help children with medical conditions, monitor growth and development and deliver care and support. SENCO (Special Education Needs Co-Ordinator) – a key person within a childcare or school setting who can identify children with learning difficulties and know how to best support them. They work closely with outside agencies to deliver a full care plan. 4.1

    The early years are a critical period for children’s development as their brains are still growing therefore early identification of speech and language difficulties is absolutely essential. The sooner a child’s needs can be identified the greater chance there is to make sure they have the correct support so they don’t get left behind. Most importantly for children’s speech, language and communication which in turn underpin so many other areas of children’s development. They may find it hard to control their behaviour and play with other children this will result in them feeling isolated and frustrated. Language is linked to the development of literacy. Children who have poor speech will find it difficult to understand the link between sounds and letter shapes so reading could be delayed. Writing will also be affected. Finding ways to help the child communicate will help their self esteem and help prevent them from antisocial behaviours. 4.2

    Multi-agency teams work together: Once the parent/carer has visited the GP or health visitor a referral will be made initially to check vision and hearing to see if there is a problem there. In other cases a referral may be made directly to speech and language services. For some children if communication difficulties are linked to other learning difficulties an assessment by an educational psychologist may be required. Speech therapy may be required by a speech therapist at regular intervals. Once established what type of support is needed then all professionals, parents and carers need to work together. 4.3

    • The use of puppets, dolls, cuddly toys – when a child first starts getting interested in talking they begin to role play e.g. giving a doll a cup of tea. This is an indication that they are ready to use new words, so encourage this by saying the word e.g. “cup” or “doll”. This can only be done if you follow the child’s interests. • Role play and dressing up is another way of encourage speech and communication. Adults can play alongside them to encourage them with their speech and communication skills. • Nursery rhymes, songs and musical instruments are also good for communication skills. This encourages children to listen, sing and communicate, this can be through using their hands to start off with and eventually hands and singing. Musical instruments can be good for the children to practice repeating different sounds that are made or making the sounds louder or quieter. 5.1

    As children and young people move from one class to the next, one key stage to the next or move from one school to another, it is highly likely that their existing level of learning will decline for a while. Children and young people need time to learn to adjust to a new style of teaching, a different approach, or a new group of children, and as a consequence, their learning may suffer. Some children may have to face very particular and personal transitions not necessarily shared or understood by all their peers such as loss of a loved one or family pet. Emotional

    Affected by personal experiences or change of family structure, for example bereavement or the divorce of separation of parents, step parent, new parent, a new baby, a serious illness, accident, death in the family, violence/abuse. Physical

    Moving to a new country, a new home, class or school or moving up a year group, a new teacher or change of classroom setting, new resources or a new way of working in the classroom, children moving from home into care. 5.2

    In times of transition children and young people will require those who support them to provide information, emotional support, practical help and resources. Staff can build up and share their skills in supporting children through the transitions that occur as part of normal school life. The learning support practitioner’s role will vary, depending on circumstances, the nature of the transition and the pupil’s individual needs.

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    Physical Developmental Psychology. (2017, Feb 07). Retrieved from

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