8 Characteristics of the Stages of Human Development

The field of human development focuses on the scientific study of the systematic processes of change and stability that occur in people. Every living being goes through some phases of life and these vary greatly depending on each species and some other factors.

What we can affirm regarding all living beings is that they go through two stages, the first is birth and the second is death. Below we will show how the life cycle occurs and what are the phases that, generally, the human being must go through until death.

Human Development

Characteristics Stages of Human Development

Prenatal period

It is common to think that life begins with birth. However, the nine months (on average) that precede it are responsible for complex intrauterine development. Genetic characteristics are already beginning to interact with the environment in which the baby finds itself. The mother’s diet contributes directly to growth and the baby begins to respond to the mother’s voice, distinguish it from the others, and have a preference for it.

Early childhood period

Early childhood begins at birth and extends until 3 years of age. In the first months, the five senses begin to develop. In the cognitive part, the abilities to learn and remember are present even in the first weeks. The use of symbols and the ability to solve problems develop around the end of the second year of life.

During this period, the child begins to form strong bonds with parents or caregivers. The beginning of self-perception (self-awareness) and interest in other children begins .

Second childhood period

According to developmental scientists, second childhood runs from 3 to 6 years of age. The body tends to become wider and the body parts begin to resemble, in terms of proportions, those of an adult. Appetite tends to decrease and sleep disturbances, such as insomnia, may appear.

The thinking is somewhat egocentric, but it increases understanding from the point of view of others. Cognitive immaturity results in some illogical ideas about the world. Gender identity develops. It is curious that we normally think that the brain is growing, that the cortex, the gray matter, is expanding, so a child would have less logical or abstract thoughts than an adult.

However, as we know from neuroscience, gray matter decreases inversely as the brain matures and neural connections deactivate, that is, over time there is a loss in gray matter density, which generates, Paradoxically, greater maturation and more efficient operation.

Third childhood period

In this phase, there is a decrease in physical growth. There is a tendency for respiratory problems to appear, however, it is one of the phases in which, on average, the presence of good health is noted. Between 6 and 11 years old, there is a decrease in egocentrism, that is, the child no longer focuses on himself. Schooling helps in this process and also in the stimulation of memory and language (which improve it independently of school).

Some children may have special educational needs or, at the opposite extreme, talents that require certain care as well. The concept of oneself (self-concept) is more complex, which can also generate changes in self-esteem. Living with peers who are close in age is a factor to take into account during this period.

Adolescence period

As we have seen, the division of life into stages is arbitrary. The concept of adolescence is recent. According to the etymological dictionary: The word adolescent comes from the present participle of the Latin verb adolescere , which means to grow up. On the other hand, the past participle adultus gave rise to the word “adult.”

Many cultures do not have this idea that we have of adolescence, as a period between childhood and adulthood.

As we know, in this phase reproductive maturity takes place, when we can already be fathers or mothers. Health is generally affected by behavior, such as eating disorders or drug use.

Cognition develops the ability to think in abstract terms and use scientific reasoning. Immature thinking persists in some attitudes and behaviors. The search for identity, including sexual identity, becomes central and determining in this phase.

Beginning period of adult life

Developmental scientists demarcate the beginning of adult life from age 20 to age 40. Physical fitness peaks, then declines slightly. Moral thinking and judgments become more complex. Vocational and educational choices are made, after an exploratory period.

Personality traits and styles become relatively stable, but changes in personality can be influenced by life phases and events. Decisions are made about personal lifestyles and intimate relationships, but they may not last. Most people get married and have children.

Here we see that the previous phase, adolescence, can be prolonged and there may even be a certain intersection between the phases. After all, it cannot be precisely established when adulthood begins. Some argue that this begins with the first job and self-support, others with the start of college or with the creation of a new family.

Middle adult life period

This phase goes from 40 to 65 years of age. There are significant changes in physical conditions (health, vigor), but with great differences from one person to another. Women enter menopause. Mental capacities reach the peak, specialization and skills related to solving practical problems are accentuated.

Creative production may decline, but it improves in quality. For some, career success and financial success peak, for others, there may be burnout or career change. The double responsibility for caring for children and elderly parents can cause stress. The independence of children leaves the nest empty.

Period of late adult life or old age

This period begins at 65 years of age. Most people are healthy and active, although there is usually a decline in health and physical abilities.

The slower reaction time affects some functional aspects. Most people are mentally alert. Although memory and intelligence may deteriorate in some areas, most people find ways to compensate.

Retirement can offer new options for making the most of your time. People develop more flexible strategies to cope with loss of life and imminent death. Relationships with family and close friends can provide important support. The search for the meaning of life assumes fundamental importance.