Psychological Development in Infancy

Psychomotor development

Children’s physical development consists of more than just learning to walk. There are two fundamental divisions of motor development: coarse and fine. Gross motor development refers to the actions of the body’s largest muscles, those that control major trunk and limb movements. Fine motor development refers to the actions of the muscles that control minor and more localized movements, especially those of the hands and fingers.

A newborn has a limited repertoire of motor skills, many of which are not voluntary, but reflexive. It turns the head, but it does not raise it, it waves the arms, but without purpose and never below the central line of the chest; he kicks, but the limbs don’t support his weight.

The newborn does not maintain balance when sitting or hold the trunk against gravity. Because it lacks voluntary control of the bladder and bowel sphincters, it urinates and defecates voluntarily when these organs are full.

Psychomotor development occurs driven by the biological maturation of the growth process and by the social stimulation that the child receives. Without physical maturation, there is no progress, but without external stimulation that favors learning, such progress is not possible either.

The control of the numerous muscles of the body is established gradually according to a progression that depends on the maturation of the nerve fibers, which from the brain go to the different muscles. In the first trimester, the muscles of the mouth and eyes reach maturity; in the second they will be those of the head, neck, and back; in the third, those of the trunk, arms, and hands; in the room those of the legs, feet, and fingers.

The child’s first motor skills are not, technically speaking, abilities but reflexes, that is, involuntary responses to specific stimuli. The newborn has many reflexes. Some are essential for maintaining life, others disappear completely in the months after birth, and others are the basis for motor skills later on.

Intellectual development

The rate of intellectual development in childhood is very high. A child begins to live being able to learn about the world only thanks to basic activities such as sucking, grasping, looking and listening, and yet, at two years of age, he is already able to anticipate future events, deduce the causes of events, experiment with objects and simulate. Language development is also extraordinary: for a young child, the main forms of expression are crying and smiles. However, at two years the average child will be able to converse simply, but effectively, with others.

Intelligence is not a closed value, it develops from birth and, in its fundamental aspects, is linked to the biopsychosocial evolution of the baby from the moment of birth until after adolescence. A long psychophysical maturation in which affective relationships with the family and social environment will define her ability to learn, integrate, and change the world around her, that is her intelligence.

Intelligence is an abstract concept very difficult to define. It can be said that intelligence is the capacity for abstraction and reasoning; both with characteristics characteristic of the human being, determined by inheritance and by the environment.

The term cognition (or knowledge) refers to all higher-order mental processes, through which human beings try to understand, adapt, and solve problems in their environment. There are theoretical models of the child’s intellectual development, such as Piaget’s or the theory of “information processing”, but there is still no global model that allows establishing consistent patterns of information.

Linguistic development

Babies are born pre-equipped to learn a language. Newborns demonstrate a preference for hearing spoken sounds rather than other sounds. Also, young babies can distinguish between many different sounds of speech, and can even distinguish sounds that people who speak their mother tongue cannot distinguish.

Language learning is, in part, the result of the interaction between fathers, mothers, and the child. The child is innately predisposed to learn the language.

Language skills begin to develop in babies when they communicate with noises and gestures and then when they babble. Babies say a few words at the end of the first year of age and understand more words than they use. By the age of two, most children can combine two words to build a simple sentence.

From birth to 2 years, the baby communicates basically through gestures. The transition from gesture to a word is made as the verbal language is perfected. The first words are usually accompanied by gestures, and gestures continue to be an important part of the children’s communication system for a time.

Before babies start talking, they communicate many things. They assimilate information from the environment and express their needs and pleasure to the best of their knowledge. They act to fix the attention of adults and provoke positive responses, which have the objective of attracting the attention of adults, maintaining a social relationship, and causing them to take care of them. All this contributes to their survival.

When the child begins to label reality with words, gestures begin to be substituted, and, without disappearing, they tend to occupy the function of supporting verbal language. It is essential that mothers and fathers stimulate the development of oral language and not of gesture. Otherwise, the baby delays her verbalizations.

The language that the child can understand up to 2 years of age is always richer than the one they are able to use. In the same way that you understand gestures before you can imitate them, you know the meaning of words and grammatical constructions long before using them correctly.

Parents should not make the mistake of addressing the child using the limited expressions that he/she uses, but speaking to him/her in a rich language, with well-constructed sentences and pronouncing correctly. If the child says “Aita / ama ame ate”, you should answer “now I give you chocolate”.

Socio-emotional development

In most cultures, fathers, mothers, and babies are involved for a time in a close symbiotic relationship in which the baby is almost an extension of the existence of her father and mother.

Newborn emotions are rooted in basic bodily sensations. Happiness is being warm, satiated, and alert, being picked up and hearing a soothing melody sung to you. On the contrary, unhappiness has to do with being hungry, being tired, being cold, being uncomfortable, being startled by a loud noise, or being alone and no one responding. The emotions of a very young child acquire meaning from such physical experiences and from the responses of the father or mother.

Over time, when holding him, the baby smiles, an expression that is an attempt at a social response. When we respond to one smile with another, the experience is totally pleasant. After numerous similar moments of exchanging smiles, the baby draws her own meaning from the experience.

All kinds of social interaction (feeding, diaper change, hugging …) lead the child to bond emotionally with the adults in their life. At about three months of age, the baby distinguishes those who are special from the rest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *