There are many variations when it comes to the number of stages that a person may undergo throughout the life span. Some experts break down the stages into three: childhood, adulthood, and old age. While others have four: infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
The developmentalists, however, break the stages of growth and development into eight. These stages are the following:
Infancy happens in the first one and a half years where a child undergoes tremendous growth and change. Some of the senses of a new-born are already functional except the vision. The ability of an infant to see is limited. However, in a few weeks or so, the vision will be fully developed.
Most of the time, an infant relies heavily on reflexes. But reflexes slowly disappear as the child grows older. The role of a caregiver is very crucial in this stage. Experts believe that childhood experiences may somehow affect a person’s personality or behavioral development.
2. Early Childhood
During this stage of development, a toddler learns to socialize. The child also learns the language, autonomy, and the ability to adapt to the environment. The child’s thinking pattern also changes making him able to perceive size, space, distance, and volume. A child who enjoys the freedom to choose or exercise autonomy may grow with confidence and a sense of self-reliance.
3. Middle Childhood
The middle childhood happens between six to eleven years old. A child had already experienced and learned many things from his social interactions in school. A child also equipped with new academic skills and social comparisons. In this stage, a child also learns to compare himself with others resulting in self-discoveries. However, a child may also develop a sense of inadequacy when discovered that his peers are better than him.
Unlike the infancy when the growth and development are fast, during the childhood, growth, and development slow down. However, their ability to interact with others becomes better and better.
Right after the middle childhood stage, a child enters the adolescence stage. This stage is characterized by dramatic physical and emotional changes. Intellectual development is also evident in this stage such as the ability to do abstract reasoning, define love, freedom, fear, and other constructs.
Most adolescents develop a belief that nothing could possibly go wrong. It is a strong sense of self-confidence. However, the same belief may potentially lead adolescents to try new things which may result in undesirable consequences.
5. Early Adulthood
This stage of development happens between the twenties to thirties. At this point, a person usually at the peak of his strength. Most early adults pursue their dreams and try many of the things they are interested in. Pursuing a career is a way of preparing for the future. Ultimately, young adults engage in an intimate relationship or marriage.
6. Middle Adulthood
This stage of the development happens between the late thirties to the mid-sixties. In this stage, the aging process becomes more noticeable. People in this stage mostly spend their time rearing and guiding the younger generation. This is also the point where a person begins to look back at the previous stages of growth and development.
7. Late Adulthood
This stage of the development starts from the mid-sixties to the rest of the life span. People at this stage are incapable of performing physically demanding tasks. However, they are rich in wisdom and learning which they could share with the younger ones.
Thus, they can still be important members of society. Aging, therefore, does not totally impair a person’s total functioning. The experiences that a person had yielded throughout the life span make him wiser.
8. Death and Dying
The final stage is death and dying. However, this stage is not usually talked about. This is because dying is a scary topic. No one wants to die. But the fact that no one lives forever, makes it something worth discussing.
The perception of death can be numerous depending on the cultural and religious practices. The cultural orientations could play a role on the perception of death.
These stages of growth and development (infancy to old age) remind us all that we are passing in this life once. We started at the same starting line and finish at the same finish line death.
But understanding these stages of development may also remind us to live our life to the fullest. Time must be maximized.