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Chapter 2: Physical and Motor Development of Children and Adolescents

Whoever touches the life of the child touches the most sensitive point of a whole which has roots in the
most distant past and climbs toward the infinite future.--Maria Montessori

At the end of this chapter, the students are expected to:

1. Identify the physical and motor development in childhood and adolescents.
2. Describe brain development during childhood and adolescence
3. Give the factors affecting development
4. Differentiate exceptional development in terms of:
 Physical and sensory disabilities
 Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders

 Growth is generally used to denote an increase in physical size or a quantitative change.

 Growth in weight is measured in pounds or kilograms; growth in height is measured in inches or
• Development is used to indicate an increase in skill or the ability to function (a qualitative change).
• Development can be measured by observing a child’s ability to perform specific tasks such as how
well a child picks up small objects

o Overall growth is clearly in height and weight measures.
o Alongside with the physical changes are the changes in motor development.
o Motor development improves with age.
o More than the ability to walk the child is also able to acquire skills and begin to explore as part
of his acquired independence.

I. Physical and Motor Development

A. Early Childhood – The Preschooler
“A child reminds us that playtime is an essential part of our daily routine.”
Initiative vs. Guilt (3-5 years):
The preschooler needs to rely on active, purposeful behavior more and more as their
environment presents new challenges and demands more responsibility.
Successfully coping with new challenges leads to a sense of accomplishment. Children may
develop guilt if they are too assertive, irresponsible, or made to feel too anxious.
1. Physical changes in height and weight happen at a comparatively slower rate in the
preschool years than in infancy.
 In general, a baby’s weight usually doubles during the first 6 months of life and
triples during the first but slows down in the second year of life.
2. Growth is manifested at the earliest stage
 Cephalocaudal-proximodistal pattern(head to toe, center outward)
o lengthening of the neck and torso, followed by legs
o brain and neck development is earlier than legs and trunks
o proximodistal pattern example-internal organs develop earlier than the
arms and hands
o At around 3 years of age, preschoolers move, from the remaining baby-like
features of the toddler, toward a more slender appearance of a child. The
trunk, arms and legs become longer.
3. Genetic factors strongly influence physical characteristics (Tanner, 1990 as cited by
Hetherington, et al., 2006).
 Not also by genetic factors but also by nutrition, physical and psychological
disorders and even climate
 Same environmental condition – individual growth curves tend to assume
 Unfavorable condition (inadequate nutrition) – growth rates become depressed
seriously(Pollit, 1994 as cited by Hetherington et al., 2006)

4. Motor development:
 Large muscles are coordinated
 Large muscles movements along with fine motor skills controlled by small
muscles. Examples are in-hand manipulation and bi-manual coordination
o In-hand manipulation is the ability to move objects around in your hand
o Bi-manual coordination is the coordination observed between the
movements of the left and right hand.
 (The preschoolers’ physical development is marked by the acquisition of gross
and fine motor skills)
 Gross motor development – refers to the acquiring skills that involve the large
o Locomotor skills – walking, running, climbing, skipping, hopping, creeping,
galloping, and dodging
o Non-locomotor skills – bending, stretching, turning and swaying
o Manipulative skills-projecting and receiving objects like throwing, striking,
bouncing, catching, and dribbling
 Fine motor development – refers to acquiring the ability to use the smaller
muscles in the arm, hands and fingers purposefully
o Examples are picking, squeezing, pounding, and opening things, holding and
using the writing implement, and self-help skills like using the spoon and fork
when eating, buttoning, zipping, combing and brushing.

B. Middle Childhood
Industry vs. Inferiority (6-12 years):
The school age child must learn to deal with demands to
learn a wide range of new skills, including the tasks of formal schooling. If he or she is unable to
learn these skills, it can lead to feelings of failure and incompetence.
1. Growth spurts occur
 It is between ages 6 and 12 that children grow 2 to 3 inches high and add 6
pounds each year.
 Between the ages of 6 ½, 8 ½, and 10 years in girls and approximately half a year
later at 7, 9, and 10 ½ in boys
 Secular trends in growth – children of present generations are heavier than
before ( number of overweight children has doubled in the last 25 years)
2. Motor development:
 Acquire more skills – engage in activities requiring motor coordination, added
strength and speed like bike riding.
 Acquire hand-eye coordination- engage in activities involving vision with body
movements – basketball or playing the piano or violin
 fine motor coordination(writing, drawing, cutting, and other related school tasks
o The uses of hand is due to maturation of the wrists which is an earlier
occurrence among girls than boys(Tanner, 1990 as cited by Bee and
 Coordination both in fine motor skills and those involving large-muscle improves
 Example: first grade children can print all letters of the alphabet on to cursive
 Gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination are improved with agility and
balance added

C. Adolescence
Identity vs. Role Confusion (12-18 years):
The primary task at this developmental stage is the formation of a sense of personal identity
with regard to such things as opinions (e.g., on politics and religion,) sexual roles, and
occupation. Failure to successfully negotiate this stage may result in over identification with
peers’ or parents’ opinions and confusion over goals or sex roles.
1. The early sign of maturation is the adolescent growth spurt.
 Sharp increase in height and weight:
Girls aged 9 ½ and 14 1/2
Boys aged 10 ½ and 16
 Adult height is attained:
Girls aged 14 or 15
Boys aged 18
2. Manifestations of growth differ among boys and girls.
 Boys develop wider shoulder, longer legs relative to trunk and longer forearms
relative to the upper arms and his height
 Girls develop widening of the pelvis to make child bearing easier. There is also
an accumulation of layers of fat under the skin that results to a more rounded
3. Other obvious signs of growth are:
 Eyes grow faster – myopia or nearsightedness results when the eyeball is so
lengthened that it focuses images in front of the retina rather than on it.
 Lower jaw becomes stronger and thicker along with the incisors of both jaws
becoming more upright.
4. Puberty brings about the physical differences that differentiate females and males.
Primary sex characteristics:
o Females-growth of ovaries
o Males – growth of testes
Secondary sex characteristics:
o Females – pubic hair and development of breasts
o Males – pubic hair and facial hair
5. The principal sign of maturation in boys is the sperm in the urine.
o Boys become fertile as soon as sperm is present in the urine
o Spermache is the first ejaculation of semen containing ejaculate for the males
6. Menstruation is the shedding of tissue from the lining of the womb is the most dramatic
sign of sexual maturation for girls.
o Menarche is the beginning of the menstrual cycle for the females

Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy

to govern, but impossible to enslave.—Lord Brougham

Table 1.1. Comparison of Developmental Theorists

Age Sigmund Freud Erik Erikson Jean Piaget
Psychoanalytic drive theory Psychoanalytic theory Cognitive stages of development
Psychosexual stages Psychosocial stages
0–1 Oral Stage (birth to 12–18 Trust vs. Mistrust (birth to Sensorimotor Phase (birth–2
mo) 12–18 mo) yr)
Primary site of gratification and Trust depends on reliability of Modification of reflexes; cross
tension in oral area (mouth, care provided by caretaker modal fluency
lips, tongue) Frustration associated with Association between means and
Sucking and biting weaning ends
Optimism and hope derive Object permanence; objects still
from basic trust exist even if obscured from view
Mastery motivation (10–12
mo); child seeks to master
1–3 Anal Phase (12–18 to 36 mo) Autonomy vs. Shame (12–18 Can infer cause and effect (1–2
Primary site of tension and to 36 mo) yr)
gratification is anal area Increased capacities (motor, Schemas (units or categories of
Toilet training sphincter, language, etc.) cognition)
Need for consistent limits from Assimilation (incorporation of
caretaker new knowledge) and
Shame occurs with lack of self- accommodation (modification of
control schema to adapt to new stimuli)
Self-doubt evolves from
parental shaming
3–5 Phallic-Oedipal Phase (3–5 Initiative vs. Guilt (3–5 yr) Preoperational Phase (2–6 yr)
yr) Initiative, enjoyment of activity Language acquisition and
Primary site of tension and and accomplishments symbolic reasoning
gratification–genitals Guilt over aggressive urges Egocentrism; see world
Castration anxiety, fear of Resolution of oedipal conflict exclusively from own perspective
genital loss or injury (interest via role identification Thinking is transductive (causality
in Band-Aids) Sibling rivalry common inferred from temporal or spatial
Oedipus complex: Child desires proximity)
intimacy with parent of Magic thinking (prelogical)
opposite sex; to be rid of same-
sex parent
6–11Latency Stage (6–11 yr) Industry vs. inferiority (6–11 Concrete Operations (6–11 yr)
Relative quiescence of libidinal yr) Emergence of logical, cause and
drives School is important Child is effect thinking
Sexual drives channeled into busy creating, building, Reversibility of events and ideas
socially appropriate activities accomplishing Switch from egocentric to social
(i.e., school work, sports) Danger of sense of inferiority speech
Further development of ego and inadequacy of child; feels Ability to see another's point of
functions unable to compete with regard view
Formation of superego to skills (e.g., academic, sports) Conservation of volume and
Focus on same-sex and status among peers quantity
relationships Socially decisive age Rigid interpretation of rules
11 + Adolescent Genital Phase (11 Identity vs. Role Confusion Formal Operations (11 yr+)
or 12 yr and beyond) (11–18 yr) Hypothetical/deductive abstract
Final stage of psychosexual Group identity (peers) primary reasoning
development Developing ego identity (sense Elaboration of information
Recapitulates earlier phases of inner sameness) processing
Separation from family Preoccupation with appearance Metacognitive capacity; can think
Identify formation Moodiness and reactivity about thinking
Biological capacity for orgasm Danger of role confusion; Ability to grasp concept of
and psychological capacity for uncertainty about sexual and probabilities
true intimacy develop vocational identity