Domains of Development: Socio-Emotional Development at Different Stages

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Development of children is a complex and a continuous process. It takes place in many areas or domains which together influences their holistic development.

Domains of Development

Domains of development refer to different areas or aspects in which children’s development takes place.

Physical and Motor Development

  • Physical growth and development includes increase in height, weight and changes in the proportions of the body structure. It includes the development of bones. The entire structure of the body depends on the bones, i.e. on their size, proportion and density. They give an overall configuration and look to the body.

  • Physical development includes not only changes happening externally but also what happens internally in the body. It also includes changes and maturation of internal organs.

  • Physical development can be understood better in terms of fine and gross motor skills. Motor skills are physical abilities that children develop, which help them control the movements of their bodies. In a relatively short period of time, they begin to develop simple motor skills.

  • Children develop two broad kinds of motor skills–gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills involve large muscles and help control actions of children such as crawling, standing, walking, climbing, running and so forth. Fine motor skills involves mall muscles and affects the ability to use hands and fingers effectively. Fine-motor skill development usually involves eye-hand coordination, which is the ability to match the movements of the hands with what the eyes see.

  • Physical development takes place continuously throughout our entire life. However, the nature and rate of growth may vary depending upon the stage of development. Every child develops at her/ his own pace. Some children grow faster while some are not that fast, but it does not mean that they are physically immature or less developed. Every child is different; therefore, individual differences can be seen among children sharing similar genomes and environmental conditions.

Socio-Emotional Development

  • When children enter this complex world, they do not know any rules and regulations of society. They gradually learn to interact with others, relate with others and obey social rules. How we relate to others in different social situations and learn to act according to the established social rules and regulations of society comes under social development.

  • It also includes participation and involvement in social activities and understanding the meaning of being part of social groups. A child is a social being and needs to connect with people around for a fulfilling life.

  • Emotional development refers to the development of emotions and feelings in children. Some emotions such as happiness, fear and anger can be termed as basic emotions as they can be inferred directly from a person’s facial expressions.

  • Certain emotions such as shame, guilt and envy can be classified as complex emotions as they cannot be simply inferred from facial expressions. Children are born with basic emotions and they develop complex emotions overtime.

  • Expression of emotions and behaviors related to them evolve over time. Some of these changes may be a result of our own emotional maturity and exposure to the surroundings.

  • Cultural differences in the expression of emotions may also exist as each culture teaches its children to show their emotions in a different manner. Gender differences in expression of different emotions might also vary.

Socio-Emotional Development at Different Stages

Socio-emotional development

Socio-Emotional Development

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  • Infants interact with people around them by smiling, crying, babbling and cooing. All these initiate and sustain the infant’s interaction with others. When an infant receives positive response and stimulation from others in the environment, s/he is encouraged to develop socially. By the age of six to eight months, infants learn to develop a sense of belongingness and begin to develop attachment with parents and other familiar persons in their world.

  • It is seen that infants feel stranger anxiety, i.e., fear of being separated from their primary caregiver when they complete the first year of their life. This anxiety decreases gradually, and children develop special attachments. By the age of two years, children begin to detach a little from their parents and learn to show autonomy by saying ‘no’ to what they do not want to do.

Early Childhood

  • Children develop self-awareness by the age of two to five years. They develop attitudes, likes and dislikes and ways of acting. Socialization is the process by which children acquire skills to become responsible adults in their society.

  • Children are socialized primarily by parents who make children understand and realize the difference between right and wrong and help in developing a code of conduct in them. A strong identification process helps in socialization as children observe and imitate their parents who become role models for their children. The social world of preschool children expands and includes their peer group in school and in the neighborhood.

Moral Development

The word moral has been taken from the word mores which means manners and customs. In the simplest terms, it is a sense of right and wrong. It includes moral behavior, moral reasoning and judgment. Moral behavior entails acting in a morally right manner. Moral reasoning refers to weighing options as right or wrong.