Journey of lifespan development from preconception to death
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Life span development (LSD) is regarded as a very important aspect of Developmental psychology. It depicts a high concern of the different developmental stages and associated changes in relation to the individual initiating from preconception to death (Berk, 2010). The physical, social and intellectual aspects of human development constitute the major focus of study in LSD. It progresses through the application of a scientific approach examining the growth patterns, transformations and behavioral stability throughout the span of life emphasizing on human development.
This study intends to provide a clear idea about the LSD by going through each of the developmental stages of an individual with a deeper insight on the associated aspects, feelings, experiences and thoughts. As per the view of L Berk (2001), the research enables the connection of learning to personal and professional experiences in real life. It assists in effective interactions with relevant persons as parents, healthcare workers, researchers, educators and social workers.
Considering an individual male at the age of 50 years, at the adult stage as per the LSD concept, it can be idealized that the person has already passed through the former stages of lifespan. These stages include the Pre-natal period, infancy and toddlerhood, preschool, middle childhood, adolescence, young adulthood and currently going through the middle adulthood progressing towards late adulthood and death. The experience of several significant events through this span of life essentially reflects the person’s developmental process and related factors. It also highlights the effective influencing factors on the developmental aspects of the individual.
As per the opinion of RM Díaz and LE Berk (2014), the quality of problems forms the distinctive characteristics of the young individuals and adults. The person in this study depicts the problems of experiencing a lower socio-economic status and lack of adequate familial support in his childhood. It led to the development of a practical attitude with a lesser value towards emotions. It is seen to affect the life of the individual in later stages also. Development transitions often depicts link to growth progression of an individual through certain stages. This movement from birth to adult stage leading to death passes through a series of phases involving physical and intellectual changes. As identified by the researcher, the significant life events holds a vital position to influence the development of an individual through the stages of lifespan. Each developmental transition is associated with a distinct learning character. The changes in the relationship between the individual and external world and individual with oneself are a major characteristic of this journey. It is evident in case of the person considered in this study who reveals an emotionally detrimental effect on his personal relationships, although he depicted a highly positive effect on the professional context. However, as argued by LE Berk and A Winsler (1995), the seemingly positive changes may underpin a big adverse transformation.
Figure 1: Stages of life span
(Source: LE Berk, 2010))
The journey of the LSD initiates from the pre-natal period progressing through the sequential stages and ends with death. As identified in the book Exploring Lifespan development by Laura Berk, the developmental studies on human development focuses on improvement of lives of individuals. The journey of LSD is seen to occur through both continuous and discontinuous movements with a major influence of heredity and environment. It is evident through the studies of Berk (2010), that earlier infancy and childhood bored a consideration of the rapid transformation periods in LSD with adulthood considered as a plateau and aging depicting decline. However, this concept drew argument and finally discarded with the establishment of the perspective that the various events and incidents affect the journey of LSD through physical, emotional and cognitive developmental changes. The major 4 assumptions regarding the LSD of an individual highlighted in the book by Laura constitutes the consideration of the development as a lifelong process, highly plastic, multi-dimensional, multi-directional and highly affected by multi-interacting factors.
As identified by several researchers and asserted in the book of Laura, the developmental processes of a human being is considered either continuous or discontinuous process. Based on the capacities of human at the different stages of life as infant, children, adolescents, adults and elders the development process is identified as continuous or discontinuous. The view considering infants to possess the same capabilities as adults but at a lower efficiency level thereby indicating a gradual development of the skills and talents with age and the different developmental stages is known as continuous process. On the other hand, the view considering the capabilities of a person to be different at each developmental stage refers to the discontinuous process. The occurrence of qualitative changes in terms of feelings, thoughts and behavior are the main characteristics of the developmental periods of an individual.
Some researchers points out the massive influence of the societal environment, cultural perspectives and situations in which a person grows up on the development of the person. The difference is seen to affect the intellectual capacities of the people along with their social skills and perceptions regarding others and self. The heredity and biological make up constitutes a major influence on the development of the persons. Some evidence highlighted the external influencing factors as home, neighborhood, residing communities and school. The book by Laura pinpointed on the universal controversy of nature vs. nurture revealing the concern of whether the genetic or biological factors affect the development more than the environmental factors.
Milestones in development
Studying the LSD of the person going through the different identified sequential stages it can be seen that the person reveals several milestones at each stage of development. Bruce, RM Díaz and LE Berk (2014) defined milestone in the developmental process as the achievement of a specific talent/skill or physical trait in between specified timeframes as a part of the LSD process normally occurring for a person. Examples of milestones are the capability of speaking words of a child and attainment of puberty. Deductive reasoning is a major milestone in the life of an individual. It is evident in the life of the individual studied here identified by his behavior in the adolescence stage when he went into depression due to the loss of contacts with friends and issues with his best friend and father whose harsh words led him to believe that he is incapable of doing anything good. It also led him to take the risk of quitting his studies midway and look for earning through job. It indicated a poor decision-making skill with an inclination towards higher risk taking attitude for short-term goals.
The individual in this context the person reveals his milestones as achievement of the trait of confidence that is facilitated through the joining in his job that drove him to readmit to his studies through part time classes beside the job. The development of resilience in the individual is another significant milestone in his life (RM Díaz and LE Berk 2014). It enabled him to adjust and lead a decent and normal life in face of adverse situations.
The events as identified by the individual in this study assert the importance of the various circumstances faced in the life affecting the development of the person. The circumstance of peer pressure and lack of familial support from father seem to result in severe risk taking and detrimental actions by the individual. A strong and efficient support from the community enables a better development of a person. It is evident from the reflections of the individual who identified the presence of convenient and affordable educational service that he accessed for completing his studies. The circumstances as community programs encouraging the adolescents to participate in the community help services enable the development of the capability to overcome adversity by the adolescents (LE Berk and A Winsler, 1995). It is clearly seen in case of the individual identifying the development of the ability to overcome his adverse situation through such community service involvement while working professionally at an organization. The significance of the familial support is also highlighted by the instance depicting detrimental effect on the individual due to the inappropriate circumstance at his home with his father and with his best friend.
Factors influencing lifespan development
As far as the development process is concerned irrespective of the controversy that it progresses through the continuous or discontinuous pattern, it shows remarkable effect on the physical, cognitive and emotional aspects of an individual. The development of the physical aspects of the individual is identified through his reflections from his earlier experiences. LE Berk, A Winsler (1995) opined that the period of optimum physical strength indicates the person to be in adulthood. The person in this study reveals a standard level of physical fitness. He is seen to work in the sales and marketing department of an organization. The revelations he made regarding his physical status induces to consider him as physically fit individual. However, the person indicates the presence of mental issues as depression and negative thinking.
Cognitive development is idealized by moral development as cultural influence and spiritual development. LE Berk and A Winsler (1995) conveyed a sharp maintenance of the cognitive abilities through a continuous cognitive simulation. The individual shows a low level of cognitive development due to the circumstances as lack of familiar support, issues with colleagues in adolescence, and such. The low socio-economic status of the individual in his childhood, restrict the consumption of adequate iron and protein obstructing others or the patient.
Social aspects in LSD are related to the identity quest and intimacy. As stated by LE Berk, A Winsler (1995), the people reveal a high affinity towards the societal perceptions. The individual in question over here seems to be a less sociable person. This trait of the individual can be a result of the negative experiences in earlier times as adolescence. The low socio-economic status of the individual restrained him from visiting places with standard and rich people. Accessing social media as Facebook and Twitter in today’s date is a high craze. However, the individual revealed that he had no experience of social media interactions. As put forward by RM Díaz, LE Berk (2014), the extent and frequency of social interactions depends considerably on the situation at home. The adverse and negative state of the individual’s home atmosphere posed a highly negative effect on his personality driving the development of his character as a less talkative due to his inability to believe easily on anyone.
The birth of a baby is the most significant and eventful occasion in a person’s life. This stage is characterized by very few incidents, as the individual is not being able to act remarkably. Producing sounds of different kinds, recognizing own familiar persons’ faces as mother, father and siblings are the main actions occurring at this stage.
The events occurring in infancy include movements of hands, legs and body, trying to speak with the people surrounding. Growing teeth, developing the ability to walk and speak and recognizing people by their name and relations are the vital events taking place in this stage. A major number of events are seen to happen at this stage.
Enrolling into a new environment of school is a very important event that directs the further development of the child both cognitively and socially (RM Díaz and LE Berk, 2014). The individual stated that he had visited a doctor regarding his depression. After hearing everything about his life’s experiences, the doctor proposed him to practice meditation and joining a laughing class. The early exposure to inappropriate situations as bullying from classmates and facing further unsuitable behaviors seems to have a remarkable effect on the psychological development of the individual. He developed a negative attitude towards people. Stein, RM Díaz and LE Berk , 2014 believed that the trait can be changed through practice of relevant improvement training and programs yet the individual here underwent no such training due to economical concerns and lack of guidance. It indicates the importance of schooling event in the life of an individual. Not only does it associates with the educational development of an individual but also in the overall personality development in terms of conceptual and behavioral aspects majorly.
The social relations of the individual are seen to be not very well intertwined. The early encountering of parental problems led the person to recluse, losing interest in social activities. However, the interaction of the person with some of his office colleagues and his wife prior to their marriage proved supportive and productive to redirect him towards the development of a trusting and positive attitude towards people and relationships. Therefore as opined by RM Díaz and LE Berk (2014, the social relations as marriage and friendships play vital role in development of the emotional and cognitive development of an individual.
Employment emerges as a very essential event in the life of an individual. It was only after the employment that the person in this case developed the sense of right and wrong as well as the importance of long-term plans. Another major event is the loss of any close person. Coping up with such, a loss in life and preparing for the next stage of LSD death is a significant phenomenon needed to undergo an efficient LSD (Berger, 2010).
Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory-
This theory highlights the occurrence of the cognitive development in an individual through stages, which are considered universal in nature. The stages occur sequentially in the life of a person. LE Berk and A Winsler (1995) identified the deduction of this theory to exert that knowledge construction by children is an active process that takes place through manipulation and their experience of exploring the world. Adaptation is the major centre of this theory. The 4 stages of this theory include Sensorimotor (0-2 years), Preoperational (2-7 years), Concrete operational (7-11 years) and Formal operational (11 years onwards). The theory is efficient in educational philosophies and programs emphasizing environmental contact and active learning. However, there are limitations to this theory as under estimation of the infants and preschoolers’ competencies. Lack of considering socio-cultural effects on LSD is a major drawback (LE Berk and A Winsler, 1995).
This theory mainly focuses on the socio-cultural aspects and the belief that interacting with knowledgeable people in society enables children to develop inventory and creative thinking ability. It highlights cognitive development as a socially mediated process of LSD. Behavioural/social learning theory-
This theory asserts the belief over continuous development process through several courses of reinforcing behaviors that varies person specifically. LE Berk and A Winsler (1995) stated the main emphasis of this theory on the nurturing aspect asserting that development results from modeling and conditioning. It puts equal importance to both early and later experiences.
The book about LSD by Laura depicts a strong emphasis on the application of the concepts of human development to enable a clear and in-depth understanding of the aspects of developmental stages in a sequential manner through the story-telling process of progress in the book. Going through the study it can be concluded that the factors as significant events, circumstances and biological factors together influence the LSD of an individual. The development process immensely affects the physical, emotional and cognitive aspects of an individual on an overall basis.
Berk, L. E., & Winsler, A. (1995). Scaffolding Children's Learning: Vygotsky and Early Childhood Education. NAEYC Research into Practice Series. Volume 7. National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1509 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036-1426 (NAEYC catalog# 146).Berk, L. (2001). Development through the lifespan. Pearson Education India.
Díaz, R. M., & Berk, L. E. (2014). Private speech: From social interaction to self-regulation. Psychology Press.
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