A child’s development is the process of growth of a child to teenage years, from being helpless and completely dependent on developing independence. The early years of a child’s life are vital for their cognitive, social and emotional developments (Honzik 1957). During child development, young children develop physical skills, social skills, and communication skills. Social interactions are essential in the process of child development. Social interactions permit young children to engage in activities such as play which enhances their fine and gross motor skills and develops their self-regulation. Playing is a crucial part of healthy child development. It affects children’s creativity, their social skills, and even their brain development. The lack of play time, exercise, and free-form social interaction take a serious toll on a child’s development. It can also have significant health implications as is evidenced by our current epidemic of childhood obesity, sleep deprivation, low self- esteem, and depression. Therefore, it is important that parents take every step necessary to ensure that children grow up in environments where their social, emotional and educational needs are met.
The first two years of a child’s life are very critical for their brain development this is the time when they learn social, language and motor skills. A child’s brain develops fully when they interact with others, not bu watching TV. According to the pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatrics watching TV has no benefits for children younger than 3 years old, it can actually be very harmful to the child’s development.
A better understanding of child development and the stages that underpin such knowledge is important because it allows us to understand the idea of child growth, so possibilities of child development. Likewise, knowing theories of language development will help us determine how children develop and improve their own language and communication skills. (Doherty and Hughes, 2009: 5).
To everyone around early childhood seems hectic, and parents are driving their children to be the best. These improvements in development, a tight family schedule, and parents’ impetus for a successful child are all increasing trends of today’s society and generations.
The early development of physical development in children can be broken into two categories: early advancement of motor skills and precocious puberty. A child’s fine and gross motor skills can become fine-tuned because of the growing popularity of youth athletics and physical health programs. The United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals states that “sport has the natural ability to draw on, develop, and showcase individual strengths and capacities.” It also mentions that sports enhance physical growth and development while simultaneously enhancing psychosocial health and development (“Sport for Development”). Programs like S.M.A.R.T., Sports Management, Academics, and Recreational Training, use physical activity to enhance the physical, academic, and mental well being of children through after-school activities (“Welcome to S.M.A.R.T.). The benefits of physical activity are encouraging adults to create more physical activity amongst children which will better develop their motor skills, making them more physically advanced than other less active generations.
Precocious puberty is often a result of genetics, but can also be a factor of food hormones, pollutants, and obesity. There have always been exceptions of children who enter puberty early because of family heredity but not because of the latter three factors. As obesity continues to rise, early puberty continues to be linked to excess body fat. Obesity altars hormones responsible for puberty and triggers brain signals for the development of puberty. This is the negative manner in which early physical development cannot always be positive.
Early social maturity has been an effect of factors like the emphasis of cooperativeness, the rise of the known benefits of play, and many cultural factors. Schools accentuate cooperativeness between peers in the classroom by using group methods of teaching, projects, tests, or studies. Working together in the classroom will follow the children to the playground where they use their cooperativeness skills in play. Cooperative play is the most social type of play and encourages children to interact and play to achieve a common goal. While engaged in cooperative play, children will form friendships among their peers. These friendships are the foundation and structure of a child’s social association; as cooperativeness becomes more eminent in an early grade, these friendships will develop earlier in childhood.
Fifty years ago, play outside of school and the playground was less common, and in the nineteenth-century play was considered “a frivolous waste of time”. Today it is known that play triggers important features of childhood development. According to Life-Span Human Development, “play fosters cognitive, motor, and social skills and helps children cope with emotional problems” (Sigelman et. al. 424). playing is also known to aid in neural development; improved test scores, creativity, and language skills; construction of the theory of mind; and healthy emotional development. Professionals, teachers, and parents encourage this social activity for children because of the benefits. Since this behavior is being promoted, children will be more social, especially if this concept is taught to younger children.
Social maturity, additionally, has precipitated because of cultural influences. Today, children have access and have become victims of social media. Television, movies, books, magazines, and songs all create the image of an “adult” child. All these media forms portray children as adult-like figures; shopping, talking and acting like their older selves. This is the downfall for having a socially advanced generation. Children model what they are exposed to. For example, being exposed to MTV music videos provides dancing children can mimic which is usually inappropriate and provocative. Although not all, much of media portrays behaviors that children should not imitate. Adult-like children are one effect of a more social generation because children are exposed to media and then model the behaviors of older teens or young adults.
Along with physical and social advancements in today’s generation, children are also showing signs of intellectual advancement. Experts and teachers have discovered efficient teaching techniques that are designed to enhance the learning abilities of children. These techniques are also being continually modified to ensure children are receiving premier educations. Throughout the past fifty years, we have acquired a plethora of resources in education, especially with technology, that is available to improve classroom lessons. The article, The Impact of Technological Advancement on Child Development, states that using multimedia technology in classrooms allows materials to be presented with both visual and auditory components. This combines written text with oral readings, videos with subtitles, pictures with sounds, and other similar combinations. This is not only a more effective way of teaching lessons but also makes learning more enjoyable for students. The more effective we can teach children, the better children learn, the more intelligent they will become. (Yadav 2011)
Although children are more advanced physically, socially, and intelligently, they have remained consistent in their development of emotions and motives. A child’s emotions and motives are mainly controlled by biological age. As a child ages, his brain will develop as well. An eight-year-old who has already hit puberty will still describe a person “below the surface” and use psychological traits like saying: “He’s a good athlete because he is strong and fit, even if he is mean sometimes.” A seven-year-old child in the preoperational stage with a mental age of eleven could still event imaginary friends, which is a trait of two to seven-year-olds, not usually eleven-year-olds. In addition, if a child at age nine socially interacts like a fourteen-year-old child, they will still be egocentric. No matter how intelligent, social, or athletic a ten-year-old might be, he will still have the mind and emotions of a ten-year-old.
Many would say that these advancements in child development are partially to blame for pushing parents. However, I do not believe that this is entirely true. According to the Life-Span Human Development, all Big Five Personality traits are genetically influenced. If a parent were to score high in conscientiousness, then they are likely to pass it on to their child. If a person has the traits of the conscientiousness dimension of the Big Five Personality Trait, they show competence, order, dutifulness, striving for achievement, self-discipline, and deliberation (Sigelman et. al.). Therefore, if a parent and child have these characteristics, both will be pushing for success although it may seem as if it is only the parents.
Many parents just want the best for their children, want their children to have more than they had, or want their children to reach their full potential. Parents give their children opportunities to have the privilege to participate in desirable activities. These activities can accumulate and are the cause of full, hectic schedules. However, this is not always positive; some parents may go over an appropriate amount of goad. This becomes a problem when children are being pushed beyond their limits and the children are participating in unwanted circumstances. These are instances in which it is appropriate to say some parents live vicariously through their children. When the activities become unpleasant for the children, the parents are gruelingly pushing, or standards are set far above a child’s competence, it becomes unhealthy for the child.
I can relate to both myself and my parents pushing me to be the best and having a tight schedule because of my activities. It may have seemed as if my parents were the driving force behind my accomplishments in sports and school, but I was really the conductor of this force. Determination and passion pushed me to work vigorously to be the best while my parents pushed me with words of encouragement, advice, and constructive criticism. Many times, I believe I would not have accomplished all the feats I have achieved without their vigor.
As well, I have never had a stacked schedule. I was the child who was in soccer, basketball, softball, junior golf, piano, band, youth group, school clubs, and was academically well-rounded. Usually, when I was not participating in one of my many activities, I was working on school work. This may seem like I never spent time with my family, but it was actually the opposite. My family would spend hours in the car traveling from all the events, and this was our time to talk and share together. Even though I did not have a common family time at dinner time every night, we spent more time together than those families, usually in the car or watching each other’s activities. Because I was able to earn the privilege to partake in all those activities and spend countless hours creating memories with my family, I can say I normally and healthfully developed into adulthood.
The advancements of intellectual, social, and physical advancements in today’s youth, as well as children’s busier schedules and relentless parents, are all a sign of a changing society and a novel generation. Obtained knowledge and resources of the positive impacts of participating in athletics, being socially active, and better education are contributing to the advancements in these areas for children. When a parent makes a statement about their child growing up too fast, it may be the case, but it is neither bad nor uncommon for today’s generation.