Odisha State Board CHSE Odisha Class 12 Psychology Solutions Unit 1 Long Answer Questions Part-2.
CHSE Odisha 12th Class Psychology Unit 1 Long Answer Questions Part-2
Long Questions With Answers
Describe the period of infancy.
Infancy, or the period of the newborn, is, according to standard dictionaries, the beginning or the early period of existence as an individual rather than as a parasite in the mother’s body. Dictionaries also define an infant as a child in the first period of life.
According to Legal, standards, an infant is an individual who is a minor until reaching the age of legal maturity, which, in America today, is eighteen years. According to medical terminology, an infant is a young child, but no specific age limits are placed on when the individual ceases to be an infant and becomes a child.Many psychologists use the word infant in much the same way. as members of the medical profession do and, like them, fail to set an age limit on infancy.
This gives the period an ambiguous status in its lifespan. The word infant suggests extreme helplessness, and it will be limited to the first few weeks of life. During this period, the newborn’s complete helplessness gradually gives way to increasing independence. Further toddlerhood occupies the first two years of life following the brief two-week period of infancy. During the toddlerhood months, there is a gradual but pronounced decrease in helplessness. This does not mean that helplessness quickly disappears and is replaced by independence.
Instead, it means that every day, week and month the individual becomes more independent so that, when toddlerhood ends with the second birthday, the individual is a quite different person than when toddlerhood began. Because “baby” suggests too many people a helpless individual, it is becoming increasingly common to apply the label toddler to the individual during the second year of toddlerhood. A toddler is a baby who has achieved enough body control to be relatively independent.
Characteristics Of Infancy:
Each period in the life span is characterized by certain developmental phenomena that distinguish it from the periods that precede and follow it. While some of these phenomena may be associated with other periods, they appear in a distinctive form during infancy. Following are the five most important characteristics of this period.
Infancy Is the Shortest of All Developmental Periods:
Infancy begins with birth and ends when the infant is approximately two weeks old, by far the shortest of all developmental periods. It is the time when the fetus must adjust to life outside the uterine walls of the mother where it has lived for approximately nine months. According to medical criteria, the adjustment is completed with the fall of the umbilical cord from the navel; according to physiological criteria, it is completed when the infant has regained the weight lost after birth and according to psychological criteria.It is completed when the infant begins to show signs of developmental progress in behavior. Although most infants complete this adjustment in two weeks or slightly less, those whose birth has been difficult or premature require more time.
In spite of its shortness, infancy is generally subdivided into two periods: the period of the Partunate and the period of the neonate.
Period of the Partunate :
(from birth to fifteen to thirty minutes after birth): This period begins when the fetal body has emerged from the mother’s body and lasts until the umbilical cord has been cut and tied. Until this is done, the infant continues to be a parasite and makes no adjustments to the postnatal environment the environment outside the mother’s body.
Period of the Neonate :
(from the cutting and tying of the umbilical cord to approximately the end of the second week of postnatal life): The infant is now a separate, independent individual and is no longer a parasite. During this period, the infant must make adjustments to the new environment outside the mother’s body. Even in difficult births, it seldom takes more than forty-eight hours for the fetus to emerge from the mother’s body. By contrast, it requires approximately two weeks adjusting to the new environment outside the mother’s body.
Infancy Is a Time of Radical Adjustments :
Although the human life span legally begins at the moment of birth, birth is merely an interruption of the developmental pattern that started at the moment of conception. It is the graduation from an internal to an external environment. Like all graduations, it requires adjustments on the individual’s part. It may be easy for some infants to make these adjustments but so difficult for others that they will fail to do so. Miller has commented, “In all the rest of his life, there will never be such a sudden and Complete change of locale”.
Infancy Is a Plateau in Development:
The rapid growth and development which took place during the prenatal period suddenly come to a stop with birth. In fact, there is often a slight regression, such as loss of weight and a tendency to be less strong and healthy than at birth. Normally this slight regression lasts for several days to a week, after which the infant begins to improve. By the end of the infancy period, the infant’s state of development is usually back to where it was at the time of birth. The halt in growth and development, characteristic of this plateau, is due to the necessity for making radical adjustments to the postnatal environment.
Once these adjustments have been made, infants resume their growth and development. While a plateau in development during infancy is normal, many parents, especially those of firstborn children, become concerned about it and fear that something is wrong with their child. Consequently, the infancy plateau may become a psychological hazard, just as it is a potential physical hazard.
Infancy Is a Preview of Later Development :
It is not possible to predict with even reasonable accuracy what the individual’s future development will be on the basis of the development apparent at birth. However, the newborn’s development provides a clue as to what to expect later on.
Infancy Is a Hazardous Period :
Infancy is a hazardous period, both physically and psychologically. Physically, it is hazardous because of the difficulties of making the necessary radical adjustments to the totally new and different environment. The high infant mortality rate is evidence of this. Psychologically, infancy is hazardous because it is the time when the attitudes of significant people toward the infant are crystallized. Many of these attitudes were established during the prenatal period and may change radically after the infant is born, but some remain relatively unchanged or are strengthened, depending on conditions at birth and on the ease or difficulty with which the infant and the parents adjust.
How to do adjustments of infancy?
Infants must make four major adjustments before they can resume their developmental progress. If they do not make them quickly, their lives will be threatened. While these adjustments are being made, there is no developmental progress. Instead, the infant remains on a plateau or may even regress to a lower stage of development, These adjustments are:
There is a constant temperature of 100°F in the uterine sac, while temperatures in the hospital or home may vary from 60 to 70°F.
When the umbilical cord is cut, infants must begin to breathe on their own.
Sucking and Swallowing:
The infant must now get nourishment by sucking and swallowing, instead of receiving it through the umbilical cord. These reflexes are imperfectly developed at birth and the infant often gets less nourishment than is needed and thus loses weight.
The infant’s organs of elimination begin to work soon after birth; formerly, waste products were eliminated through the umbilical cord. Every newborn infant finds adjustment to postnatal life difficult at first. Some have trouble adjusting to temperature changes and develop colds, which may turn into pneumonia. Others find breathing difficult and must be given oxygen. Most choke when they attempt to suck and swallow and many regurgitate more than they are able to retain, in which case they get less nourishment than they need to grow or even to retain their birth weight. Few have any real trouble eliminating urine, but many have difficulties with fecal elimination.
What is Length of Gestation Period?
The fourth condition that influences infants’ adjustments to postnatal life is the length of the gestation period. Very few infants are born exactly 280 days after conception. Those who arrive ahead of time are known as premature -often referred to in hospitals as “preemies”- while those who arrive late are known as postmature, or post-term babies.
Postmaturity occurs less often than in the past because it is now possible to induce labor when x-rays/scanning show that the fetus is large enough and well enough developed to adjust successfully to postnatal life. Induced labor is also used as a means of preventing possible birth complications and birth injuries, especially brain damage, which can result if the fetal head is allowed to grow too large.
It is now recognized that birth weight alone is not enough to determine prematurity. Instead, gestation age, body length, bone ossification, head circumference, irritability, reflex, nutritional state and neurological assessment are also used. When infants are 20 or more inches long and weigh 8 or more pounds, they are considered postmature. It they are less than 19 inches long and weigh 5 pounds 8 ounces or less, they are regarded as premature.
The more they deviate from the norm for their sex and racial group on the minus side, the more premature they are considered to be. On the other hand, the more they deviate on the plus side, the more postmature they are considered to be. Unless damaged at birth, the postmature infant usually adjusts more quickly and more successfully to the postnatal environment than the infant born at full term.
However, because the chances of birth damage increase as Postmaturity increases, the advantages that come from the speed and ease of adjustment are far outweighed by the possibilities of birth damage. Prematurely born babies usually experience complications in adjusting to the postnatal environment and these may have a serious effect on future adjustment. Furthermore, every difficulty that the normal, full-term infant faces in adjusting to the new environment is magnified in the case of the premature baby.
How the Toddlerhood is the True Foundation Age?
While the whole of childhood, but especially the early years, are generally regarded as the foundation age, toddlerhood is the true foundation period of life because, at this time, many behavior patterns, many attitudes and many patterns of emotional expression are being established. Early scientific interest in the importance of these foundations came from the work of Freud, who maintained that personality maladjustments in adulthood had their origins in unfavorable childhood experiences.
Erikson also contended that “childhood is the scene of man’s beginning as man, the place where our particular virtues and vices slowly but clearly develop and make themselves felt.” According to Erickson, how babies are treated will determine whether they will develop “basic trust” or “basic distrust”-viewing the world as safe, reliable and nurturing or as full of threat, unpredictability and treachery. The first two years are critical in setting the pattern for personal and social adjustments. “Providing a rich social life for a twelve- to a fifteen-month-old child is the best thing you can do to guarantee a good mind”.
There are four reasons why foundations laid during the toddlerhood years are important. First, contrary to tradition, children do not outgrow undesirable traits as they grow older. Instead, patterns established early in life persist regardless of whether they are good or bad, harmful or beneficial. Second, if an undesirable pattern of behavior or unfavorable beliefs and attitudes have started to develop, the sooner they can be corrected the easier it will be for the child.
Third, because early foundations quickly develop into habits through repetition, they will have a lifelong influence on a child’s personal and social adjustments. And, fourth, because learning and experience play dominant roles in development, they can be directed and controlled so that the development will be along lines that will make good personal and social adjustments possible.
Notes on: Basic Trust versus Mistrust.
Freud called the first year the oral stage and regarded gratification of the infant’s need for food and oral stimulation vital. Erikson accepted Freud’s emphasis on feeding, but he expanded and enriched Freud’s view. A healthy outcome during infancy, Erikson believed, does not depend on the amount of food or oral stimulation offered but rather on the quality of the caregiver’s behavior. A mother who supports her baby’s development relieves discomfort promptly and sensitively.
For example, she holds the infant gently during feedings, patiently waits until the baby has had enough milk, and weans when the infant shows less interest in the breast or bottle. Erikson recognized that no parent can be perfectly in tune with the baby’s needs. Many factors affect her responsiveness – feelings of personal happiness, current life conditions (for example, additional young children in the family) and culturally valued child-rearing practices.
But when the balance of care is sympathetic and loving, the psychological conflict of the year-basic trust versus mistrust is resolved on the positive side. The trusting infant expects the world to be good and gratifying, so he feels confident about venturing out and exploring it. The mistrustful baby cannot count on the kindness and compassion of others, so she protects herself by withdrawing from people and things around her.
Notes on: Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt.
In the second year, during Freud’s anal stage, instinctual energies shift to the anal region of the body. Freud viewed toilet training, in which children must bring their anal impulses in line with social requirements, as crucial for personality development. Erikson agreed that the parent’s manner of toilet training is essential for psychological health. But he viewed it as only one of many important experiences for newly walking, talking toddlers. Their familiar refrains-” No!” and “Do it Myself’ -reveal that they have entered a period of budding selfhood.
Toddlers want to decide for themselves-not just in toileting but in other situations as well. The great conflict of toddlerhood, autonomy versus shame and doubt, is resolved favorably when parents provide young children with suitable guidance and reasonable choices. A self-confident, secure 2-year-old has been encouraged not just to use the toilet but to eat .with a spoon and to help pick up his toys. His parents do not criticize or attack him when he fails at these new skills. And they meet his assertions of independence with tolerance and understanding.
For example, they grant him an extra 5 minutes to finish his play before leaving for the grocery store and wait patiently while he tries to zip his jacket. According to Erikson, the parent who is over- or under-controlling in toileting is likely to be so in other aspects of the toddler’s life. The outcome is a child who feels forced and ashamed and doubts his ability to control his impulses and act competently on his own. In sum, basic trust and autonomy grow out of warm, sensitive parenting and reasonable expectations for impulse control starting in the second year.
State the Physical Hazards of infancy.
Some of the physical hazards of infancy are of only temporary significance, while others can affect the individual’s entire life pattern. The most serious physical hazards are those relating to an unfavorable prenatal environment, a difficult and complicated birth, a multiple birth, postmaturity and prematurity and conditions leading to infant mortality.
Unfavorable Prenatal Environment:
As a result of unfavorable conditions in the prenatal environment, the infant may have difficulty adjusting to postnatal life. Excessive smoking on the part of the mother, for example, can affect the development of the fetus. Prolonged and intense maternal stress is another important factor, causing the infant to be tense and nervous.
Difficult and Complicated Birth:
A difficult or complicated birth frequently results in temporary or permanent brain damage. If the birth requires the use of instruments, as in the case where the fetus is so large that it has to be aided in its passage down the birth canal or if the fetus lies in a foot first or a transverse position, the chances of brain damage from the use of instruments to aid delivery are always present. A cesarean section or a precipitate birth, on the other hand, is likely to result in anoxia, a temporary loss of oxygen to the brain. If anoxia is severe, the brain damage will be far greater than if anoxia lasts for only a few seconds.
The more complicated the birth and the more damage there is to the brain tissue, the greater the effect on the infant’s postnatal life and adjustments. Severe and persistent brain damage will have adverse effects on all adjustments during infancy and often into childhood or even throughout life. The effects of brain damage are most frequently shown in uncoordinated behavior, hyperactivity, learning difficulties, and emotional problems. Multiple Birth Children of multiple births are usually smaller and weaker than singletons as a result of crowding during the prenatal period, which inhibits fetal movements. These babies tend to be born prematurely, which adds to their adjustment problems.
It is hazardous only when the fetus becomes so large that the birth requires the use of instruments or surgery, in which case the hazards are due to the conditions associated with birth rather than to postmaturity per se. One study of babies born more than three weeks after term reported that they experienced neonatal adjustment problems and were also socially maladjusted and required special schooling by the age of seven.
Prematurity causes -more neonatal deaths than any other condition. Prematurely born infants are also especially susceptible to brain damage at birth because the skull is not yet developed enough to protect the brain from pressures experienced during birth. Anoxia is another common problem since the premature baby’s respiratory mechanism is not fully developed. The problems of adjustment every newborn infant must face are exaggerated in the premature.For example, they require nearly three times as much oxygen as full-term infants because their breathing is characterized by jerks and gasps.
They often have difficulty in expanding their lungs and muscular weakness makes breathing difficult. Because sucking and swallowing reflexes are underdeveloped, the premature infant will require special feeding with a medicine dropper or tube. The premature’s body temperature is not yet properly, controlled and special equipment is needed to duplicate as nearly as possible the constant temperature of intrauterine life.Infant Mortality UnQably the most serious of the physical hazards of infancy is infant mortality. The most critical times for death during the period of infancy are the day of birth (when two-thirds of all neonatal deaths occur and the second and third days after birth. Neonatal deaths have been reported to be most common during the months of June and July but, to date, no satisfactory explanation for this has been given.
The causes of infant mortality are numerous and varied.Some neonatal deaths are due to conditions that detrimentally affected the prenatal environment and thus impaired normal development. Some are the result of difficult and complicated births, such as those requiring the use of instruments or cesarean section. Some are the result of brain damage, anoxia, or excessive medication of the mother during labor. And some-but fewer than in the past are due to unfavorable conditions in the postnatal environment; a radical temperature change may cause pneumonia, for example, or a substitute for the mother’s milk may cause diarrhea or other digestive disturbances.
State Psychological Hazards of infancy.
Even though psychological hazards tend to have less effect on the infant’s adjustment to postnatal life than physical hazards, they are nonetheless important because of their long-term effects. Psychological scars acquired during infancy can cause the individual lifelong adjustment problems. Relatively few of the potential psychological hazards of infancy have received more attention.
Traditional Beliefs about Birth Difficult births, for example, are believed to result in “difficult children” – those who are hard to handle and whose behavior tends to deviate from that of children born with a minimum of difficulty. For centuries it has been believed that children of multiple births have to be different and inferior to singletons and that premature are doomed to be physical and mental weaklings.
Time of birth on the future development of the child, while there is little scientific evidence to substantiate the belief that there is a “best time” to be born, there is evidence that, because the mother’s health plays an extremely important role during the prenatal period, any unfavorable condition during her pregnancy may and often does prove to be hazardous to her unborn child.
A baby who is born within a year after the birth of a sibling is subject to a less favorable prenatal environment than would have been the case had the interval between births been longer. The mother has not had time to recover fully from the previous birth, and such an infant tends to be lethargic at birth which affects postnatal adjustments. Throughout the early years of life, babies born soon after the birth of an older sibling are likely to receive less of their much-needed attention and stimulation because of the other demands on the mother’s time.
Helplessness To some parents the helplessness of the newborn infant is appealing while, to most, it is frightening, So long as the infants are in the hospital and under the care of doctors and nurses, parents are not too concerned about their helplessness. However, when they take them home from the hospital and assume responsibility for their care, infantile helplessness becomes a serious psychological hazard. The reason for this is that parents wonder if they are capable of assuming care of their newborn babies and this, in turn, makes them nervous and anxious.
Anxiety and insecurity are quickly transmitted to the infants through the way mothers handle them and this affects their postnatal adjustments. The helplessness of the newborn is more of a psychological hazard in the case of firstborns than of later-born children. By the time parents have had several children; they accept the helplessness of the newborn in a more relaxed way and are not so likely to be disturbed by it as they are for the firstborn infant.
The individuality of the Infant To most adults, being different is interpreted as being inferior. When parents steep themselves in child-care literature before the arrival of their first child, or when they set up norms of behavior based on what their earlier-born children did at different ages, they tend to judge a newborn infant in. these terms.
Parental concern is then expressed in their treatment of the infant. This, in turn, affects the infant’s adjustments to postnatal life and tends to increase the severity of the problems that concerned the parents. Under such conditions, the infant’s individuality becomes a psychological hazard which, unless parents accept individuality as normal, will play havoc with the adjustments made not only during infancy but also as childhood progresses.
Developmental Lag Some infants lag behind are those born prematurely or those who were injured at birth. Instead of regaining lost birth weight by the end of the first week or sooner, they may continue to lose weight or rest on a plateau with no improvement at all. Even worse, they may show such a pronounced lag that instead of being allowed to go home with their parents three to four days after birth, as is usual, they are kept in the hospital and may even have to have special nursing care.
Even a healthy, full-term infant may show developmental lag should there be some minor and temporary illness or should the mother’s milk be inadequate and the formula substituted is not suited to the infant’s needs. Plateau in Development Even though a plateau in development is normal immediately after birth, many first-time parents are unaware of this. As a result, they are concerned when their baby seems to be making no progress.
However, it often leaves some psychological obstacles, three of which are common and serious. First, it makes parents believe their infant is delicate and, as a result, should have extra care and attention. This encourages over protectiveness which, once developed, often persists as a habit. Second, it weakens parents’ confidence in their ability to assume full care of the infant after leaving the hospital . If by then the infant has not regained lost birth weight, this lack of confidence is greatly increased. And third, parents feel that they must handle the infant as little as possible and with great care to prevent further loss of weight or failure to gain weight. As a result, they deprive the infant of one of the essentials of development, stimulation of the different areas of the body.
Lack of Stimulation There is increasing scientific evidence that newborn infants need the stimulation of different areas of their bodies and of different sense organs if they are to develop as they should. This, of course, is not a “new-fangled idea” because, in the days when babies were born at home, they were picked up, rocked, talked to and sung to as part of their routine care.
Because it is customary today for babies to be born in hospitals, they are often deprived of the stimulation received by babies born at home or even by those whose mothers have them in their hospital rooms under the rooming-in plan. And, until very recently, premature infants were kept in isolettes or incubators where they received only the minimum of stimulation.
New-Parent Blues States of depression often called “new-parent blues,” are almost universal among new parents. These depressive states tend to be more pronounced in mothers than in fathers and in parents of first babies than in those who have already had one or more children. In new mothers, depressive states are partly physical and partly psychological. The glandular changes accompanying pregnancy and childbirth, fatigue from labor and childbirth and the generally weakened condition that persists even after normal childbirth all contribute to maternal states of depression.
For most fathers, new-parent blues are more psychological than physiological. They are often concerned about the extra expenses they must meet, especially if the mother must give up her job. Many men also are concerned about how the pattern of their lives will change as a result of parenthood and what effect this will have on their marital relationship. New-parent blues can and often do play havoc with the infant’s adjustments to postnatal life. The new baby senses the tensions of the parents, especially of the mother, and this makes it nervous and prone to crying. Many infants cry more after they get home than they did in the hospital.
Write the characteristics of early childhood.
Just as certain characteristics of toddlerhood make it a distinctive period in the life span, so certain characteristics of early childhood set it apart from other periods. These characteristics are reflected in the names that parents, educators, and psychologists commonly apply to this period.
Names Used by Parents:
Early childhood is considered as a problem age or a troublesome age. While toddlerhood presents problems for parents, most of these centers around the baby’s physical care. With the dawn of childhood, behavior problems become more frequent and more troublesome than the physical-care problems of toddlerhood. As to why behavior problems dominate the early childhood years is that young children are developing distinctive personalities and are demanding independence which, in most cases, they are incapable of handling successfully.
In addition young children are often obstinate, stubborn, disobedient, negativistic, and antagonistic. They have frequent temper tantrums, they are often bothered by bad dreams at night and irrational fears during the day, and they suffer from jealousy. Due to these problems, early childhood seems less appealing age than toddlerhood to many parents. The dependency of the baby, so endearing to parents as well as to older siblings, is now replaced by resistance on the child’s part to their help and a tendency to reject demonstrations of their affection.
Furthermore, few young children are as cute as babies, which also make them less appealing. Early childhood is referred to the toy age because young children spend much of their waking time playing with toys. Studies of children’s play have revealed that toy play reaches its peak during the early childhood years and then begins to decrease when children reach school age. This, of course, does not mean that interest in playing with toys ends abruptly when the child enters school. Instead, with entrance into first grade, children are encouraged to engage in games and modified forms of sports, none of which require the use of toys. When alone, however, children continue to play with their toys well into the third or even fourth standard.
Names Used by Educators:
The early childhood years is referred as preschool age to distinguish it from the time when children are considered old enough, both physically and mentally, to cope with the work they will be expected to do when they begin their formal schooling Even when children go to nursery school or kindergarten, they are labeled preschoolers rather than school children. In the home, daycare center, nursery school, or kindergarten, the pressures and expectations young children are subjected to are very different from those they will experience when they begin their formal education in the first standard. The early childhood years, either in the home or in a, preschool, are a time of preparation.
Names Used by Psychologists:
A number of different names are used to describe the outstanding characteristics of the psychological development of children during the early years of childhood. One of the most commonly applied names is the pregang age, the time when children are learning the foundations of social behavior as a preparation for the more highly organized social life they will be required to adjust to when they enter first standard. Since the major development that occurs during early childhood centers around gaining control over the environment, many psychologists refer to early childhood as the exploratory age, a label that implies that children want to know what their environment is, how it works, how it feels and how they can be a part of it.
This includes people as well as inanimate objects. One common way of exploring in early childhood is by asking Qs: thus this period is often referred to as the Qing age. Imitation of the speech and actions of others are more pronounced during early childhood. For this reason, it is also known as the imitative age. However, in spite of this tendency, most children show more creativity in their play during early childhood than at any other time in their lives. For that reason, psychologists also regard it as the creative age.
State the developmental tasks of early childhood.
Although the foundations of some of the developmental tasks young children are expected to master before they enter school are laid in toddlerhood, much remains to be learned in the relatively short four-year span of early childhood. When toddlerhood ends, all normal babies have learned to walk, though with varying degrees of proficiency; have learned to take solid foods and have achieved a reasonable degree of physiological stability.
The major task of learning to control the elimination of body wastes has been almost completed and will be fully mastered within another year or two. While most babies have built up a useful vocabulary, have reasonably correct pronunciation of the words they use, can comprehend the meaning of simple statements and commands, and can put together several words into meaningful Sentences, their ability to communicate with others and to comprehend what others say to them is still on a low level.
Much remains to be mastered before they enter school. Similarly, they have some simple concepts of social and physical realities, but far too few to meet their needs as their social horizons broaden and as their physical environment expands. Few babies know more than the most elementary facts about sex differences and even fewer understand the meaning of sexual modesty. It is questionable whether any babies, as they enter early childhood, actually know what is sex-appropriate in appearance and they have only the most rudimentary understanding of sex-appropriate behavior.
This is equally true of concepts of right and wrong. What knowledge they have is limited to home situations and must be broadened to include concepts of right and wrong in their relationships with people outside the home, especially in the neighborhood, in school, and on the playground. One of the most important and, for many young children, one of the most difficult of developmental tasks of early childhood, is learning to relate emotionally to parents, siblings, and other people.
The emotional relationships that existed during toddlerhood must be replaced by more mature ones. The reason for this is that relationships to others in . toddlerhood are based on babyish dependence on others to meet their emotional needs, especially their need for affection. Young children, however, must learn to give as well as to receive affection. In short, they must learn to be outer-bound instead of self-bound.
What are the influences on physical growth and health during childhood?
While discussing growth and health in early childhood, heredity remains important, environmental factors continue to play crucial roles. Emotional well-being, good nutrition, relative freedom from disease and physical safety are essential.
Heredity and Hormones:
The impact of heredity on physical growth is evident throughout childhood. Children’s physical size and rate of growth are related to those of their parents. Genes influence growth by controlling the body’s production of hormones. The pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, plays a critical role by releasing two hormones that induce growth. The first is growth hormone (GH), which from birth on is necessary for development of all body tissues except the central nervous system and genitals. Children who lack GH reach an average mature height of only 4 feet, 4 inches. When treated with injections of GH starting at an early age, these GH-deficient children show catch-up growth and then grow at a normal rate, reaching a height much greater than they would have without treatment.
The second pituitary hormone affecting children’s growth, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), stimulates the thyroid gland (located in the neck) to release thyroxine, which is necessary for normal development of the nerve cells of the brain and for GH to have its full impact on body size. Infants born with a deficiency of thyroxine must receive it at once or they will be mentally retarded. At later ages, children with too little thyroxine grow at a below-average rate. By then, the central nervous system is no longer affected because the most rapid period of brain development is complete. With prompt treatment, such children catch up in body growth and eventually reach normal size.
In childhood as in infancy, emotional well-being can have a profound effect on growth and health. Preschoolers with very stressful home lives (due to divorce, financial difficulties, or a change in their parents’ employment status) suffer more respiratory and intestinal illnesses and more unintentional injuries than others.
Extreme emotional deprivation can interfere with the production of GH and lead to psychosocial dwarfism, a growth disorder that appears between 2 and 15 years of age.
Typical characteristics include very short stature, decreased GH secretion, immature skeletal age and serious adjustment problems, which help distinguish psychosocial dwarfism from normal shortness. When such children are removed from their emotionally inadequate environments, their GH levels quickly return to normal and they grow rapidly. But if treatment is delayed, the dwarfism can be permanent.
With the transition to early childhood, many children become unpredictable and choosy eaters. This decline in appetite is normal. It occurs because growth has slowed. Furthermore, preschoolers’ wariness of new foods may be adaptive. By sticking to “familiar foods, they are less likely to swallow dangerous substances when adults are not around to protect them. Parents need not worry about variations in amount eaten from meal to meal. Preschoolers compensate for a meal in which they ate little with a later one in which they eat more.
Even though they eat less, preschoolers need a high-quality diet. They require the same foods adults do-only smaller amounts. Fats, oils and salt should be kept to a minimum because of their link to high blood pressure and heart disease in adulthood. Foods high in sugar should also be avoided. In addition to causing tooth decay, they lessen young children’s appetite for healthy foods and increase their risk of being overweight and obese.
The social environment powerfully influences young children’s food preferences. Children tend to imitate the food choices of people they admire-adults as well as peers. A pleasant mealtime climate also encourages healthy eating. Repeated exposure to a new food (without any direct pressure to eat it) increases children’s acceptance. Sometimes parents bribe their children, saying, “Finish your vegetables and you can have an extra cookie.” This practice causes children to like the healthy food less and treat more. Too much parental control over children’s eating limits their opportunities to develop self-control.
In well-nourished children, ordinary childhood illnesses have no effect on physical growth. But when children are undernourished, disease interacts with malnutrition in a vicious spiral, and the consequences for physical growth can be severe. Infectious Disease and Malnutrition. Illnesses such as measles and chicken pox, which typically do not appear until after age 3 in industrialized nations, occur much earlier. Poor diet depresses the body’s immune system, making children far more susceptible to disease. Of the 10 million annual worldwide deaths in children under age 5, 99 percent are in developing countries and 70 percent are due to infectious diseases. Disease, in turn, is a major cause of malnutrition and through it, hinders physical growth. Illness reduces appetite and limits the body’s ability to absorb foods. These outcomes are especially severe in children with intestinal infections.
In developing countries, diarrhea is widespread and increases in early childhood because of unsafe water and contaminated foods, leading to growth stunting and several million childhood deaths each year. Most growth retardation and deaths due to diarrhea can be prevented with nearly cost-free oral rehydration therapy (ORT), in which sick children are given glucose, salt, and water. Immunization In industrialized nations, childhood diseases have declined dramatically during the past half-century, largely due to the widespread immunization of infants and young children. All children were guaranteed free immunizations, a program that has led to a steady improvement in early childhood immunization rates. The inability to pay for vaccines, however, is only one cause of inadequate immunization.
Misconceptions also contribute for example, the notion that vaccines do not work or that they weaken the immune system. Furthermore, some parents have been influenced by media reports suggesting that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine has contributed to a rise in a number of children diagnosed with autism. Yet large-scale studies show no association between immunization and autism. Public education programs directed at increasing parental knowledge about the importance and safety of timely immunizations are badly needed. Diseases that spread most rapidly are diarrhea and respiratory infections the illnesses most frequently suffered by young children. The risk that a respiratory infection will result in otitis media, or middle ear infection, is almost double that of children remaining at home.
Unintentional injuries – auto collisions, pedestrian accidents, drownings, poisonings, firearm wounds, bums, falls, and swallowing of foreign objects-are the leading cause of childhood mortality in industrialized countries. Among injured children and youths who survive, thousands suffer pain, brain damage, and permanent physical disabilities. Auto and traffic accidents, drownings, and bums are the most common injuries during early childhood. Motor vehicle collisions are by far the most frequent source of injury at all ages, ranking as the leading cause of death among children more than 1-year-old.
Notes on Factors Related to Childhood Injuries.
We are used to thinking of childhood injuries as “accidental.” But a close look reveals that meaningful causes underlie them and we can, indeed, do something about them. Individual differences exist in the safety of children’s behaviors. Because of their higher activity level and a greater willingness to take risks during play, boys are more likely to be injured than girls. Temperamental characteristics-irritability, inattentiveness, and negative mood are also related to childhood injuries. Children with these traits present special childrearing challenges. They are likely to protest when placed in auto seat restraints, to refuse to take a companion hand when crossing the street, and to disobey even after repeated adult instruction and discipline.
Poverty, low parental education, and more children in the home are also strongly associated with injury. Parents who must cope with many daily stresses often have little time and energy to monitor the safety of their youngsters. And their homes and neighborhoods pose further risks. Noise, crowding, and confusion characterize run-down, inner-city neighborhoods with few safe places to play. Poverty, rapid population growth, overcrowding in cities and heavy road traffic combined with weak safety measures are major causes. Safety devices, such as car safety seats and bicycle helmets, are neither readily available nor affordable in most developing countries. This indicates that besides reducing poverty and teenage pregnancy and upgrading the status of child care, additional steps must be taken to ensure children’s safety.
Preventing Childhood Injuries. Childhood injuries have many causes, so a variety of approaches are needed to control them. Laws prevent many injuries by requiring car safety seats, child-resistant caps on medicine bottles, flameproof clothing, and fenced-in backyard swimming pools.