Before coming to the stages of development it is better to know what the physical, intellectual, emotional and social development are:

1. Physical development :

Important characteristics of physical growth and development are given below:

Physical growth is curvilinear not steady or regular. Rapid growth is followed by slow growth and then again rapid growth may be there.

Different parts (organs) of the body have its own unique way of development. Whatever changes we see in hands and legs cannot be seen in heart or lung.

Physical growth and development is affected by climatic conditions. For example, cold countries have more favourable conditions of growth and development than hot or humid countries.

Heredity fixes a limit of physical growth and development. The descendents of five feeted man is not supposed to have a height of more than 6 feet or 5 1 half feet.

Physical growth is very rapid in the infancy and in the later childhood. It is again fast in the start of adolescence.

Dimensions of Physical Growth : 

(i) Height: A new born baby is 19-20 inches in length at the time of birth. As soon as the baby grows, his height also increases.

(ii) Weight : Human baby has a weight of 2.5 kg. -3.5 kg. at the time of birth. Girl babies are generally lighter than male babies here. When a baby becomes an adult he acquires a weight of 55 kg, at the height 5.5 feet. The weight of boys are generally higher than girls due to increased height. If height is more, weight will also be high.

(iii) Body proportion : Some organs of the body are more developed at the time of birth than others. But as soon as the baby grows and reaches to the period of adulthood, proportionate change and growth are seen. For example, head is already somewhat developed at the time of birth but it grows less proportionately than other parts of body.

(iv) Internal organs : Internal organs of the body also develop with age. As the child grows. the heart beat which is 100-120 per minute in infancy, becomes regular and normal, i.e., 72 times per minute. Respiration also becomes slower deeper and regular, food takes lonser time to pass the digestive tract, the body temperature becomes stable and so on and all this happens due to growth and development of the internal organs of the body. This increase in efficiency enables the older children and adults to adapt to the environmental changes. It is pitutory gland which is responsible for growth in the early years of life. Sex gland is also activated under the influence of this gland, and influence the pitutory gland as well. If sex hormones did not restrain the function of pitutory gland the human being would become a giant.

2. Motor development : Motor development includes movement of hands, lags, mouth and other related muscles of the body. Important features of motor development are as follows:

Motor development occurs in those structures which lie nearest to the main axis especially near the waist, thighs, legs etc. The child learns to control the muscles of his arms earlier than those of fingers.

Bilateral to unilateral trend in the coordination and control of muscles is seen. The child first uses both of his hands then he gradually learns to use only one hand in specialized manner.

From general to specific trend in motor development is seen.

An orderly sequence of motor development is also seen. Hurlock found that motor development in the head region takes place first, followed by the motor development of arms, hands, legs, etc. This trend is not reversed any how.

If motor development of the child is delayed by any reason, his emotional and social development will also be delayed or disturbed.

3. Intellectual development : Intellectual development includes attending, perceiving. observing, thinking, recalling analyzing, evaluating problem solving and the development of language and concepts. These aspects of mind grow and change with age. Generally these activities of mind are inter related. Important features of intellectual development are as follows:

Mental development is a continuous but steady process and all activities of mind are inter-related also.

As long as the experiences of the child increase, his mental horizon expands. He learns not only to differentiate but to integrate different elements of the physical as well as meta-physical world.

Factors affecting mental development are maturation and learning.

Mental activities are guided and controlled by nervous system. Brain which is an important part of nervous system plays the key role in the mental development of the child.

Sensation and perception are the primary aspects of mental activities. In fact, mental activities start from these two aspects. Sensation is the first step to knowledge which is accompanied by perception.

Perceptual experience leads to concept formation. Concept formation takes place on the basis of general and common qualities of an object, e.g., concept of book is developed after seeing so many things like books and then we say that books are for reading. Thus, concept developed on the basis of common qualities of an object. It involves discrimination and generalization both.

Concept of an object or idea changes with the change in experiences for example, cold season of December may have different meaning for the people of Kolkata and Srinagar due to difference of experiences.

Child’s concepts change with the increase in his age. For example, a small child may develop a unique concept of ghost. But when he becomes an adult, his concept of ghost changes.

4. Language development : Language development is actually the verbalization of concepts which is learnt by imitation (hearing). If child is deaf, his language development will be zero. Important features of language development are given below.

Language is a tool to be used for all types of communication. Without proper language development, no communication from one person to the other is possible

Language is used as a tool in acquiring knowledge. When knowledge increases, vocabulary also increases.

Language development starts with mere names of objects or events and when it reaches at its peak it develops ideas into universal concepts.

Growth and maturity of speech is an important aspect of language development. Four needs of the child motivates him to learn speech.

Desire to secure information more and more (Interrogative sentences).

(a) Desire to give commands or to do requests (Imperative sentences).

(b) Desire to come into social relationship with others.

(c) Desire to express feelings and thoughts (Exclamatory and Assertive sentences)

There are spurts or rest in the speech development. It is not constant throughout life. Sometimes it is very rapid and sometimes very slow.

The development of thinking moves from simple to complex and from the concrete to the abstract.

An individual stops growing intellectually up to the age of 20 years in general.

5. Emotional development : Emotion is a strong feeling that is so strong that it can be observed overtly. There are four qualities of emotional experiences:

Every emotional experience involves feeling.

Every emotional experience is accompanied by marked physiological changes

An emotional experience includes an impulse towards some kind of action, ie, overt response is seen

Emotion involves awareness or perception of what it is or what it might be that causes these impulses and feelings

Important features of emotional development :

(a) Emotions start immediately after birth. For example, an infant shows fear, anger, love etc, though his emotions are not clear at this age, according to Sherman.

(b) Children’s emotions are very intense as compared to adults. As they grow they begin to exercise restraint over their emotions. They learn to modify and hide their emotions also.

(c) Child’s emotions last only for a few minutes and then it ends all of a sudden. The transitory nature of the child’s emotions lies in a rapid shift from one emotion to another. When he shows anger, he at the next moment smiles.

(d) In the beginning, the emotional expression is diffused and generalized. It becomes stable, differentiated, selective, moderate and graded as the child grows older.

(e) Emotional development is also determined by the socio-economic background of the child. If a child belongs to a cultured family, he will show more emotional maturity.

(f) Emotional development is affected by the physical development of the child also. For example, if a child is physically weak due to malnutrition or diseases, his emotions will be less stable and less subtle.

6. Social development : Human baby is the only organism in the world that takes maximum and longer time to be socially and economically self dependent. He needs help from others more than any other creature. This dependence of the child on others helps him to learn how to interact with others in diverse situations. The more a person is healthy in his social interactions, the more he is said to be socially developed. Important features of social development are as follows:

Social development starts with the process of socialization, a process which enables a child to acquire his social status according to his age. It is the process of socialization that helps the child to learn social traditions, customs and culture.

The child increases his social circles gradually. These circles increase further when the child grows with age. It makes very difficult for the child to adjust with different types of people in the society. Thus, social development is actually an adjustment training.

Social development means to share joy and sorrows with others, to work as a member of a group, to cooperate with others and to develop social perception for the purpose of developing belongingness with the rest of the society.

The end points of social development is social maturity, ie, to adapt successfully to the social environment without frustration. A socially matured person is one who is fair in his dealing, courteous in his behaviour and honest in his character. His sense of responsibility, his self confidence. and his leadership quality make him distinct from others. He confirms what is acceptable to others and denies what is antagonistic to him.