A human being just like any other member of the animal kingdom is subject to growth and development. As the human body grows, it also undergoes the various form of development. Human development is considered a lifelong process which involves behavioral, emotional, cognitive and physical growth. Development of the human body is characterized by an increase in functionality and capability of various organs. As a result of this, a developed body is characterized by increased complexity. All these processes depend on the environmental conditions, genetic and nutritional conditions. As the children grow emotionally and physiologically, it is important to define this growth based on age group. This is because different age group of children growth phase requires different needs. The growth of children is usually specified according to development milestone. According to Jones and Vaterlaus (2014), a development milestone is defined as physical skills and behaviors visible in an infant or a child as they grow. The child’s development milestone involves activities such as rolling over, crawling and talking. In every milestone activity, there is a range of period that this process is expected to be visible. If the growth or development is not experienced at the specified range of period, then the growth may be considered as abnormal. In this study, I have discussed normal growth behaviors that are visible in the growth of a child from grade 1 to 12. Additionally, I have discussed why children growing in residential care need special attention during their stay in residential care.
Normal Development Milestone
The first development milestone of child growth is called trust vs. mistrust. According to Erik’s theory, this phase is experienced between the age of 18 and 36 months (McLeod, 2018). During this phase, a child performs different activities that define his or her normalcy. This includes enjoyment of physical activities such as running, climbing and jumping. At this stage, they are also able to manipulate and use small objects within their reach.
During this stage, the child also undergoes some set of intellectual and cognitive growths which allows him to communicate in the form of short sentences. As a result, he can count and perform some simple works based on memory without necessarily understanding deeply. This stage is also characterized by emotional and social development. These activities include establishing a positive and selective sense of self-realization through exploration. Additionally, the child at this stage can make a choice based on his wish which may include choosing what to eat, what activity to do and what clothing to wear.
The second phase of a child’s growth is autonomy versus shame and doubt. This stage is categorized under grade 3 and 4 and is made up of children between the age of 3 and six years old (McLeod, 2018). The child at this stage can dress and undress comfortably. At this stage, the child should have attained at least half of its normal adult body.
During this phase, a normal child can play and interact cooperatively with peers. The child’s interactive abilities are also portrayed by the way it can handle some decision-making process regarding self-resilience and gender identities (McLeod, 2018). The child can also communicate efficiently using its voluntary list that is expected to be between 8000 and 14000 words. Additionally, the child can use most of the common prepositions making it construct some sentences that conform to grammatical rules.
Grade 3 and 4 of the child development milestone is usually called the initiative versus guilt. At this stage, the normal child has increased in the strength and can use new skills learned. The child at this stage is also characterized by an increase in weight and height at a steady rate (Jones & Vaterlaus, 2018). Socially, the child can interact well with its peers with most of them being of the same sex. Furthermore, the child can logically think to enable it to apply their skills and experience to a particular situation with the aim of determining whether they make sense.
Children at the age of 10 to 14 are categorized under grade 5 -9. At this stage, the normal child should be in secondary school (McLeod, 2018). The child at this stage has physically grown and is expected to experience puberty. As a result of puberty, the child develops concrete thinking which gradually advances to abstract thinking. A normal child also starts associating mostly with a group of peers and sometimes they spark conflict among themselves.
The other phase in the growth of a child in grade 10-12. The phase consists of children at the age of 15-18 years at the secondary school II level (McLeod, 2018). Children at this stage have fully grown and had a high ability to think abstractly. The child at this stage prefers spending time with its age mates who may cause conflict with their parents. Normally, the child can get involved in a romantic relationship which may prompt him or her to experiment with some facts.
Children’s Mental Health
As children grow, they often experience emotional and psychological difficulties that vary from one child to another. These challenges range from serious depression to fears and anxieties. Other causes of emotional challenges can either be aggressive behaviors and noncompliant behaviors (Kostouros & Thompson, 2018). These problems if not solved may lead to suicide, harm to others and poor interaction with others. In some extreme situations, mental sickness may be experienced. For this reason, it is important to ensure that children are well attended to.
It has also been proven that residential placement for mental health disorders affects the growth of the children. Various scientists in the field of epidemiology and molecular biology have proven that cases of mental disorders are usually caused by environmental placement and not genetic as it is commonly claimed. Schmidt (2007) claims that “the role of the environment in the etiology of mental illness has become clearer.” This is because of several studies that were undertaken by the Treatment Advocacy Center. The study showed that physical environment factors have a high ability to affect a person’s neurochemistry which increases chances of developing mental disorders.
As children grow, they should have access to healthy food. Poor nutrition has been proven to be one of the leading causes of mental disorder among environmental factors. Nutritious food is known to facilitate the growth and development of brain cells (Afifi, MacMillan, Boyle, Taillieu, Cheung, & Sareen, 2014). Contrary to this, children who do not have access to nutritious food are more prone to mental disorders. When a child does not get nutritious food and encounters some stressors, there would be high chances that the child may develop certain mental disorders.
Children within different geographical location undergo different challenges as a result of residential placement. As children grow, they may be subjected to some forms of challenges such as racial and ethnic discrimination. In this case, children are discrimination because of belonging to a given race or ethnic origin (Afifi et al., 2014). As such discrimination, children may feel victimized and hence affect their mental growth. Children that are undergoing this situation should get a strong social support system.
Youth with Special Needs
The needs for youth are so divergent. In almost every society, there are different kinds of youths with different kinds of belief needs. The needs and beliefs can range from sexuality concerns such as gays, lesbianism and other factors defined by the LGBTQ (Morris & Hawkins, 2016). This group of people has been subjected to various forms of discrimination such as denial of medical care. The most vulnerable group of people is the youths who are residing in various residential cares such as treatment centers and a group of homes.
The other reason why this group of people in residential care wants special need is that they have been in through various forms of hardship. Majority of them if not all have been the victims of various forms of challenges. According to Morris and Hawkins (2016), these challenges may include mental disorders or even loss of parents making them seek support from residential care. It is also important to note that children and youth are admitted to residential cares at different ages. Therefore, it is important for people in charge of the care unit to take special attention to their children’s growth and monitor whether those children are developing normally.
As seen from the above study, it is important to ensure that the development and growth of children are monitored. This will enable the child to undergo a normal phase of life growth. Monitoring of children’s behavior is also important since it allows the concerned parties to identify any problem at an early stage. If cases of abnormalities are identified early enough, it will be easier to correct the problem. It is a known fact that problems identified at an early stage can be easily corrected. In some cases, if the problem is identified late, it may become difficult or impossible to address it. It is, therefore, important for the guardians, parents, and teachers to join hands in ensuring that the development of a child is normal. Children with special need especially those in residential care should be offered special attention. This is because they are more vulnerable to different forms of depression, anxiety and eventually suicidal thoughts.