Child Development

A local social service agency has asked you to create a pamphlet or PowerPoint Presentation to educate the community about an issue related to Child Development. Using research in the lesson material as your main source, plus at least two additional resources, put together an informational guide about any issue from the lesson material that has to do with Child Development. Some examples are teen pregnancy, challenges and tips for parents during a stage of development, (prenatal, infancy and toddlerhood, early childhood, middle childhood, or adolescence), peer pressure, kids and social media, children with special needs, etc.

Prepare a pamphlet or PowerPoint that covers the following:

Start off by introducing the issue. Give a brief summary about it that includes facts, statistics, etc.

Who is affected by the issue and how?

What theories/concepts from the lesson material can help parents, caregivers, and/or professionals better understand the issue?

What can parents, peers, and/or professionals do to help with this issue?

What resources are available in your community to assist with this issue? If you can’t find anything locally, broaden your search to state and national services. Share at least 2 resources that offer help for the issue. Make sure to include the name of the agency, a summary of the services they provide, and contact information.

Provide a brief conclusion of your presentation or informational pamphlet.

Provide a summary for your instructor. You may share what you learned by completing this assignment, any challenges you faced, any information you didn’t agree with, and/or any other relevant information you’d like to share.

If you make a pamphlet it should be 1-2 pages in length. While graphics are appreciated, they shouldn’t be your focus. Your pamphlet needs to clearly cover the required material.

If you make a PowerPoint it should be 10 slides minimum (not including a Title and Reference slide) and include notes at the bottom to clearly explain the bullet points.

Do NOT copy the information from your sources. You must summarize the information and provide citations in the body of your presentation/pamphlet in APA format. Your project will automatically be submitted to You and your instructor will receive the results. If you need help with please see the information posted in the Announcements.

Child Development in the Broader Context of Developmental Science

Child development is one aspect of the broader, interdisciplinary field of developmental science, which includes the entire lifespan. Researchers in the area of child development typically divide these initial years into five age periods encompassing conception through adolescence.






Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory

Does society or culture have an impact on child development? Of course! Each individual has a different religious, ethnic, and economic background. Since all of those factors influence our development, there has been a rise in research studies that address the cultural context of children’s lives. Researchers are examining the effect of culturally specific beliefs and practices on development.

Sociocultural theory, developed by Lev Vygotsky, focuses on how culture is transmitted to the next generation. Vygotsky believed that social interaction with more knowledgeable members of society is necessary for children to develop the ways of thinking and behaving that comprise a community’s culture. He saw cognitive development as a socially mediated process in which children depend on assistance from peers and adults as they take on new challenges. One additional discovery of cross-cultural research is that each individual culture may emphasize different tasks for childr

Ecological Systems Theory

Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917–2005) posited that our environment, consisting of our home, school, neighborhood, and beyond, is a series of structures that form a system. Each layer of that system interacts with the others and has a powerful impact on development. According to Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, children develop within this complex system of relationships and are affected by multiple levels of the surrounding environment.






An Illustration of Ecological Systems Theory: The Transition to Siblinghood

The early weeks after a new baby enters the family are full of profound changes. While the arrival of a newborn sibling is a normative life event for many children, the transition to siblinghood can result in a mixture of positive and negative emotions. Some children welcome the new arrival, while others experience a developmental setback in a specific area like toilet training. Volling (2005) provides a developmental ecological systems approach to examine changes in both child and family functioning that occur with the birth of a new baby.

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Significant changes occur within the immediate family (microsystem). Because the mother may spend most of the early weeks after the birth caring for the newborn, the quality of the father–child relationship may be particularly important for sibling adjustment.

Development as a Dynamic System

According to a theory known as dynamic systems perspective, a child’s mind, body, and physical and social worlds form an integrated, dynamic system that guides mastery of new skills. Like tossing a pebble into a pond, any introduced changes cause reactions within the entire system. This prompts the child to actively adjust his or her behavior so that the system works together again, but with more complexity and efficiency. While these theories support that human genetic heritage and common occurrences within the world of children lead to universal elements of development, a child’s individual genetics, daily experiences, and familial support systems lead to vast differences in how each child acquires skills.

Public Policy

Laws and government programs aimed at improving current conditions for children are essential for protecting children’s development. The study of childhood development directly impacts these public policy decisions. One of the current trends in child development is to apply knowledge gained from research to solve critical societal problems through social and public policies. Social policy is any planned set of actions by a group, institution, or governing body directed at attaining a social goal. Public policy includes laws and government programs designed to improve current conditions. One cultural value debate which heavily influences public policy is individualism versus collectivism. Should cultures emphasize individual well-being or the needs of an entire group? A nation’s economic resources, as well as the role of organizations and individuals that advocate for children’s needs, also impact public policy.

Role of Theories, Hypotheses, and Research Questions in the Research Process

What do you know about research? When you examine the results of a research study, do you take them at face value? Do you ever question the validity of the results or wonder how the results were devised? You should! As a consumer, it is critical that you are equipped to distinguish dependable information from misleading results. If you are working with children, you may have an opportunity to assist researchers and/or collaborate with community agencies to identify child development-related issues. In this way, you will become a vital link between research and practice. Understanding the strengths and limitations of various research strategies can prepare you to interpret research data, as well as design and conduct your own investigations.

Researchers face many challenges as they plan and implement studies of children. Initially, they must develop a researchable idea, such as a hypothesis (a prediction drawn from a theory) or research question. They may explore two opposing theories, test a prediction from a single theory, or investigate a topic on which little or no theory exists. Subsequently, they must develop a research strategy. This involves choosing the methods they will use in their investigations. Common methods include systematic observation, self-reports, psychophysiological measures, clinical or case studies, and ethnography. They must ensure that their procedures are both reliable and valid—two keys to scientifically sound research. Next, the researcher must choose a research design. Two main types of designs, correlational and experimental, are used in all studies of human behavior. Scientists who study child development extend these approaches to special developmental research strategies—longitudinal and cross-sectional designs—that include measurements at different ages. Modified developmental designs, such as the sequential design, build on the strengths of both approaches. The microgenetic design allows researchers to observe change as it occurs in an individual. Now, let us more closely examine these common methods of research.
Physical Growth and Development of Sex Differences and Gender Roles

This week we will cover the development of the brain, factors affecting physical growth, the psychological impact of pubertal events. We will also examine gender stereotypes, influences on gender stereotyping, gender identity, and the extent to which boys and girls differ in gender-stereotyped attributes.
Topics to be covered include:

· Process of Physical Growth

· Factors that affect Physical Growth

· Impact of Puberty on Physical and Psychological Health

· Development of Sex Differences and Gender Roles

· When compared to other animals, humans experience a prolonged period of physical growth. During the first two decades of life, the human body continuously and dramatically changes, a process regulated and controlled by a number of biological and environmental factors. New parents may be surprised to discover that their baby will nearly double in height during the first year and that birth weight will nearly triple. Obviously, we do not continue to grow at such a fast rate throughout our entire lives. While gains in height and weight are rapid during infancy, they slow down during early and middle childhood. However, growth accelerates again when puberty is reached. Average teens will gain 10-11 inches in height and approximately 50-75 pounds in weight during puberty.

· In childhood, physical growth follows cephalocaudal and proximodistal trends. Have you ever noticed how the bodies of young children can seem out of proportion? That is because parts of the body grow at different rates throughout development. During the prenatal period, the head develops first, followed by the lower part of the body. After birth, the head and chest continue to grow, while the trunk and legs gradually begin to catch up. That is known as the cephalocaudal trend, otherwise known as “head to tail.” Alternately, with the proximodistal trend, growth occurs from the center of the body outward, or “near to far.”

During puberty, growth patterns reverse. The hands, legs, and feet grow more rapidly, followed by the torso. This accounts for most of adolescent height gain and explains why many adolescents appear awkward in terms of proportion. In addition, because sex hormones begin to act on the skeleton, differences in the body composition of boys and girls become evident.

Remember, the rate of development is different for every individual. This includes physical growth. Therefore, the best measure of a child’s physical maturity is skeletal age. Skeletal age can be estimated by X-raying the bones to determine the number of epiphyses (special growth centers) and the degree to which they are fused. Skeletal age is slightly more advanced in African American children over Caucasian American children and in girls over boys. The girl-boy gap widens over infancy and childhood. This discrepancy in physical maturity may be a factor in girls having greater resistance to harmful environmental influences and fewer developmental problems.

· Throughout early and middle childhood, a child’s body changes in size, proportion, and muscle strength which leads to the development of a wide variety of gross-motor skills. The body becomes less top-heavy and the center of gravity shifts downward toward the trunk. This enhances balance, which leads to actions such as running, jumping, hopping, and skipping. Strength, agility, and flexibility also improve during the school years, which allows abilities like ball skills to develop. Just as they did during earlier development, children continue to combine previously acquired skills into more complex dynamic systems of action. They improve each skill as their bodies and minds become more developed and are able to participate in organized sports. In childhood, boys’ advantage over girls in gross-motor skill development largely reflects social expectations. However, by adolescence, sex differences in size and strength play a greater role.

Hormones, which are produced by the endocrine glands, play an important role in a child’s growth. Hormones are chemical substances secreted by specialized cells in one part of the body that influence cells in another. The pituitary gland is responsible for producing the hormones most vital to human growth. The hypothalamus, which is part of the brain that initiates and regulates pituitary secretions, acts as the control center for the hormones. Growth is carefully managed as the hypothalamus monitors hormone levels and directs the pituitary gland to increase or decrease the amount of each hormone.

· Sexual maturation is controlled by pituitary secretions that stimulate the release of sex hormones. This leads to changes such as muscle growth, body and facial hair, and other male sex characteristics in boys and breast, uterus, and vagina maturation in girls. These changes are the direct result of estrogens and androgens, which are hormones present in each sex, but in different amounts. In both sexes, estrogens increase growth hormone secretion, augmenting the growth spurt.

· As is the case in many types of development, differences in body size and rates of maturation are influenced by both heredity and environment. Body size can be a manifestation of evolutionary adaptations to a climate. For example, it is typical for people in hot, tropical regions to have long, lean bodies, as lean physiques are easier to keep cool. In contrast, those residing in frigid, Arctic climates tend to be short and stocky. Also, it makes sense that taller children usually live in highly developed countries, whereas children from countries with prevalent hunger, disease, and poverty tend to be smaller.

· ndustrialized nations have seen changes in body size from one generation to the next over the past 150 years. These secular trends in physical growth appear early in life, increase over childhood and early adolescence, and then decline as adult body size is reached. Children in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the U.S. and most of the European countries are taller and heavier than their parents and grandparents were as children. These changes are one outcome of increasing emphasis on improved health and nutrition.

Brain Development

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· Even though the brain is our most complex organ, it reaches its adult size earlier than any other organ in the body. Therefore, stimulation of the brain is vital during periods in which it is growing most rapidly. First, let us examine brain growth both at the cellular level and the larger level of the cerebral cortex.
The Cerebral Cortex

Brain plasticity is the capacity of various parts of the cerebral cortex to take over functions of damaged regions and is an intriguing area of study for researchers. When the cerebral cortex is highly plastic, or capable of being molded, many areas have not committed to a specific function, so there is a high capacity for learning. Brain plasticity remains elevated for the first few years. If there is damage to the cortex during this time, other regions can manage the tasks previously controlled by the damaged area. However, once the two hemispheres of the brain lateralize, or take on specific functions, full recovery of skills controlled by damaged areas may not be possible.

Connections in the brain continue to strengthen through childhood and adolescence. There is a great deal of communication happening, and the prefrontal cortex begins to work more efficiently in managing this communication, allowing for more flexible and adaptive thinking and behavior. This leads to significant gain in various cognitive skills, such as attention, memory, and regulation of emotion. However, because this progression occurs progressively in teenagers, they typically do not perform as well on tasks requiring self-control, planning, and future orientation. The adolescent brain is also dealing with changes to the emotional/social network which makes it difficult to maintain emotional balance. All of this is important for parents to keep in mind so that they can best support their teenager.

We have learned that stimulation of the brain is fundamental during periods of rapid growth. Researchers consider two types of brain development in order to determine appropriate stimulation of the brain.

Factors Affecting Physical Growth

Heredity, nutrition, infectious disease, and parental affection all contribute to physical growth and overall health. Given that other factors are stable, height and rate of physical growth are chiefly influenced by heredity. Even weight is affected by genetics, although nutrition and eating habits are, of course, significant factors.






Proper nutrition should be encouraged at every stage of growth. Babies have specific nutritional needs, and breast milk is ideally suited for this crucial time of development. It provides a perfect balance of protein and fat, ensures nutritional completeness and digestibility, and protects against many diseases. It is recommended that this practice is continued throughout the age of two years, with the addition of solid foods at the six month mark. Including all the food groups should begin as early as age one. By the time a child reaches the age of two, growth has slowed, and his or her appetite becomes irregular. Selective eating is not uncommon at this stage. It makes sense that when rapid growth returns during puberty, appetite dramatically increases. Unfortunately, this rise in food intake corresponds with a time when eating habits are the poorest. Establishing routine family mealtimes can lead to a much healthier diet during this time.

Puberty has an extreme impact on physical and psychological health in adolescent development. Puberty is the phase of development in which a boy or girl becomes sexually mature. In this phase, young people grow rapidly, develop full-grown bodies, and become capable of producing children. Primary sexual characteristics, which involve the reproductive organs, and secondary sexual characteristics, which are observable on the outside of the body, begin to take root. Typically, this process takes about four years. However, since we know each child develops at a unique rate, the process can take as little as two years or as long as six years.

Here is a brief overview of how females and males experience puberty:

Heredity is a significant factor in the onset of puberty for each individual. However, nutrition and exercise also play a role. Significant weight gain in girls, for example, may trigger this process earlier than in their average-weight peers. Girls who are highly athletic or who eat modest amounts of food usually experience a slightly delay in puberty. Note that this link is not common in boys. When we examine countries where malnutrition and infectious diseases are common, we learn that physical health plays a major role in puberty. Menarche, for instance, can be greatly delayed in these regions. Additionally, family dynamics may affect pubertal timing. It has been suggested that, when a child does not feel safe and secure in his or her environment, his or her body begins the process of puberty earlier to allow for reproduction. Research has shown that girls and boys with a history of family tension, overly strict parenting, or parental separation have a propensity to reach puberty at earlier ages.

As puberty arrives, it brings with it an increased sex drive for teenagers. In turn, they begin to fret about how to deal with sexuality within social settings. Their level of education about sex becomes a factor in how they approach sexual situations. Sex-related education practices can vary widely across cultures. Surprisingly, sexual attitudes in North America are somewhat restrictive. While young people are now more liberal in regards to sexual behavior, parents often provide little or no information about sex with their adolescents. Though there are other ways teenagers can obtain information regarding sex, other sources (friends, internet, movies, etc.) do not have the same positive impact as meaningful discussions with caring family members.
Gender Stereotyping and Gender Roles

Children naturally adopt many gender-linked standards that are reflected in their cultures. Current research reveals how biological, cognitive, and social factors influence development of gender stereotypes, gender roles, and gender identity, and provides insight on how to release children from gender-based societal expectations.

Gender stereotypes, or widely held beliefs about characteristics deemed appropriate for males and females, are not a new concept. They have existed in religious, philosophical, and literary works for centuries. It was once believed that healthy development was due, in part, to the acceptance of gender-specific beliefs and behaviors. However, as women’s rights came to the forefront of society, this view has been adjusted, and the study of gender typing has undergone theoretical revision in response to this societal change. Even with this renewed awareness, many individuals still recognize and respond to ideas about differences between genders.

Strong beliefs still persist about sex differences in personality. Two different kinds of traits – instrumental (competence, rationality, and assertiveness) and expressive (warmth, caring, and sensitivity) – were identified when asking people about personality characteristics typically associated with males and females. It may not surprise you to learn that instrumental traits are widely regarded as masculine, while expressive traits are considered feminine. In addition to personality, gender stereotypes for physical characteristics, occupations, and activities also persist. These characteristics tend to elevate men over women.

nfluences on Gender Stereotyping and Gender Role Identification





While many believe that gender-stereotyped information is communicated to children through instruction, others believe that our biology causes males or females to be better suited for certain roles.

From an evolutionary perspective, males were typically the competitive hunters, and females the gatherers who stayed near the camp to raise children. To some, this means males are genetically groomed for dominance and females for affection and support roles. Think back to our learning about genetics and hormones. We know that hormones regulate sexual development and body growth and even affect brain development. According to research, hormones even affect how young children play, as boys tend to be more rough and noisy, while girls are generally calm and gentle. This causes boys to want to play with boys and girls to want to play with girls. While these differences in play styles may be due, in part, to social pressure, hormones do play a role. Studies have shown that prenatal androgen (male sex hormones) levels contribute to these behavioral outcomes. These findings are supported by cross-cultural similarities in gender stereotypes and gender-role adoption.

Although hormones are a clear factor in gender-role adoption, environmental influences are compelling forces for gender-role adoption. If girls and boys are treated differently, they will likely act differently. A child’s home, school, and community provide many opportunities for children to observe this occurrence.
Gender Identity

Gender identity is a person’s self-perception as masculine or feminine. It influences gender stereotyping and gender-role behavior and is a good predictor of psychological adjustment. Researchers can actually measure gender identity by asking individuals to evaluate themselves based on a list of personality traits. Those who viewed themselves as masculine rated themselves highly on traits that are traditionally considered masculine, such as competitiveness, independence, and ambition. In contrast, those who viewed themselves as feminine showed an inclination to associate with traditional feminine traits, like affection or gentleness. The majority of people fit into either masculine or feminine categories. However, some possess an identity known as androgyny, scoring high on both masculine and feminine traits. This means they are adaptable to many types of situations. Those who identify as masculine or androgynous typically have higher self-esteem than those who identify as feminine, as feminine characteristics are not often highly esteemed by society.
Gender Identity Process

You may be wondering about the process that children go through to establish a gender identity. Two theories have contrasting views on this progression. Social learning theory suggests that behavior precedes self-perception. In other words, young children learn how to act according to their sex through modeling and reinforcement and then later apply these behaviors to ideas about their own gender. Cognitive-developmental theory, however, suggests that self-perceptions pave the way for behavior. These include:

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