Human development is the continuous change in humans over their lifespan from birth to death in psychological, cognitive, and physical aspects. The psychological part of human development comprises social relationships, personality, and emotions. Physical development entails growth and changes in the brain and body, health and wellness, the senses, and motor skills. Lastly, the cognitive domain consists of learning, language, creativity, reasoning, thinking, memory, and attention development. The lifespan of human beings is categorized into infancy and toddlerhood, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Human services is a knowledge discipline aimed at satisfying human needs over an applied information base, concentrating on problem remediation and prevention and upholding a commitment to enhancing the quality of life of individuals. A direct human services employee works in families with infants, adolescents, children, and adults still living at home. Knowledge of human development is important in enabling human services to identify ways to provide appropriate support.
Infancy and Toddlerhood
This stage occurs in the first two years after birth and is responsible for significant change and growth in the body and brain function. At this stage, a newborn with poor vision yet acute hearing learns how to talk and walk within a short period. Infants mostly communicate by crying when they are hungry or uncomfortable (Berk, 2017). Moreover, the caregiver’s role changes from managing sleep schedules and feeding to consistently guiding and ensuring safety for a very energetic, active, mobile child. Additionally, an infant is completely reliant on their caregiver to satisfy their needs, including safety, food, love, nurturing, and warmth. Therefore, the quality of care provided by the caregiver influences the development of trust between the infant and the caregiver (Berk, 2017). Thus, gaining accurate information on the infancy and toddlerhood stages enables the social worker to understand the appropriate support they can provide to care for the baby. Thus, babies at this stage are entirely dependent on their caregivers. Thus, a social worker will know that a child is not supposed to be left near water, stairs, electric outlets, or in a vehicle alone.
Early Childhood (2-5 Years)
In early childhood, the child is occupied with language learning, starting to understand the physical world’s workings, and acquiring a sense of self and independence. Children start by undertaking primary actions such as potty training on their own and making easy choices on what satisfies them (Sanders & Morawska, 2019). Being allowed to decide on what they prefer in clothing selection and food enables a child to gain a sense of autonomy.
Moreover, they ask a lot of questions, their imagination is heightened, and they can distinguish between fiction and fact. As much as knowledge at this age does not come easily, a child at this stage will portray an interesting understanding of space, distance, size, and time (Sanders & Morawska, 2019). Accurate knowledge at this level of development allows the human services to understand that the child has begun to understand the world, engage in social interactions, and seek independence. As a result, the social worker can encourage the child to play with others, enabling them to make their own choices, engage in problem-solving, cooperate and build on their skills. Moreover, the social workers can encourage the children to try and participate in new things as this will help problem-solving skills, which will develop the child’s confidence.
The middle childhood stage is comprised of children from 6-11 years. A majority of the experiences that children undergo at this stage are strongly associated with their engagement in the early school grades. Children start developing social interaction skills and take pride in their achievements and abilities. This results from the fact that the children now recognize and learn their abilities by comparing themselves to the accomplishments of others and gaining competence (Harms, 2020). Therefore, school becomes the most crucial part of a child’s development in this period by making comparisons in test scores, sports, or any other form of identification. A social worker can encourage a child to be friendly to others and invite others to their home to provide their child with playmates, enhancing social interaction skills. Moreover, children can be supported to get involved or participate in challenging activities. This can be done by introducing them to activities such as sports, quiz tests, and community activities that would provide the opportunity to expand the development of new friendships and accomplishments.
The adolescence stage is accompanied by remarkable physical change and sexual maturation. Cognitive change also occurs at this stage since the adolescents start to reason, think or come up with new possibilities and recognize speculative ideas like freedom, love, and fear (Berk, 2018). However, adolescents feel like they are invincible and unbeatable, which increases the risk of getting or acquiring sexually transmitted diseases like HIV & AIDs, which can have adverse and lifelong effects, and dying from reckless accidents. The main development in puberty is adolescents identifying their own identity by fighting to acquire more independence from their guardians. As a result, understanding what young adults need or experience will enable human services to provide the appropriate support in ensuring that they introduce or involve teens in activities that foster independence. Moreover, human services learn that teens think themselves invincible, which can lead to poor life choices. Thus, they can guide these individuals into engaging in safe sex and give them information on the effects of drug and alcohol abuse and carelessness in vehicles. Additionally, human services give adolescents the freedom and support needed to explore their world.
The early adulthood stage comprises or includes the late teens, twenties, and thirties. At this stage, individuals are at a high risk of involving themselves in substance abuse as well as violent crimes. Moreover, individuals in this period put their focus on work and love (Osher et al., 2018). As a result, they use most of their time and energy in making decisions that will enable them to gain full adult status in others’ views. Additionally, young adults direct their attention to forming intimate solid relationships with other individuals as they try to avoid isolation and loneliness. Thus, understanding young adults enables human services to develop ways to ensure that they can efficiently participate in making decisions on all their life aspects. Additionally, a social worker would be able to ensure that the set expectations are directed toward self-esteem and competence improvement. Finally, human services will be able to identify ways to make young adults encounter diverse opportunities essential to their career development.
Middle Adulthood (The Late Thirties to Mid-Sixties)
At this stage, physiological aging is more evident, and many individuals are at their highest productivity in work and love. Adults period work to gain skills or expertise in diverse fields to understand and identify problems and generate solutions more efficiently than the other stages. Moreover, they find themselves in a position where they are required to be caring for their children and their aging guardians or parents while reviewing their commitments, goals, or even mortality (Shaffer et al., 2019). Additionally, middle adults try to establish and create things that will be able to outlive them, such as having children or developing situations that can be advantageous to other individuals. Appropriate information on the middle or mature adults allows the human services to provide the necessary support for the individuals in ensuring that they are able to, have careers and create strong relationships. As a result, social workers can generate means to support and help mature adults have fulfilling lives by ensuring that adults can engage in their interests and have optimum control of their lives.
This stage of development consists of adults 65 years and above. Adults between 65-74 years also identified may still be active, married, and healthy. Those between 75-84 years start to experience health problems and challenges in undertaking their daily activities, while adults over 85 years become weak and require long-term care (Berk, 2018). Furthermore, the best way to acknowledge these adults’ differences lies in going past chronological age and assessing if an individual is undergoing optimal, normal, or impaired aging. Moreover, adults at this age tend to look back on their lives to establish if they are contented with or regret how they led their lives. Therefore, being informed on the happenings of late adulthood, such as retiring, and reflecting on past achievements, enables a social worker from human services to know how to best support the aging adult. With this information, human services can ensure that adults understand that retirement should be an opportunity to develop new activities such as relations and hobbies instead of isolating themselves in loneliness.
In conclusion, the paper has portrayed the importance of acquiring knowledge on human development in enabling human services to identify ways to provide the appropriate support. To begin with, infants and toddlers depend on their caregivers and thus cannot be left alone in dangerous places. Secondly, in childhood, children focus more on gaining independence, developing social interaction skills, and taking pride in their accomplishments. As a result, human services will need to encourage the children to be friendly with others and engage in sports, quiz tests, and community activities to increase their achievements and make more friends.
Thirdly, adolescents start to anticipate freedom and independence but are reckless with their decisions. With this information, human services will have to engage the teens in activities that encourage independence and provide them with information on the consequences of poor choices. Lastly, adults spend most of their energy and time in love and improving their careers. Moreover, in late adulthood, individuals try to mirror their life’s course to determine whether they are contented with it or regret it. This makes human services ensure that they can support adults to effectively participate in making decisions on all their life aspects and establish new relationships.
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Harms, L. (2020). Understanding human development (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press, USA.
Osher, D., Cantor, P., Berg, J., Steyer, L., & Rose, T. (2018). Drivers of human development: How relationships and context shape learning and development1. Applied Developmental Science, 24(1), 6-36.
Sanders, M., & Morawska, A. (2019). Handbook of parenting and child development across the lifespan. Springer.
Shaffer, D., Kipp, K., Wood, E., Willoughby, T., Roberts, K., Krettenauer, T., & Lee, J. (2019). Developmental psychology (5th ed.). Nelson Cengage Adapted.