Characteristics of Physical Development
During childhood there are changes in a child’s height, weight and body proportion.
The pace of this growth is more in later childhood (7-12 years) than in early childhood stage (3-6 years). Legs lengthen rapidly and there is increase in height. A gradual improvement in speed, steadiness of movement and accuracy also form significant features of physical development in early childhood while at a later stage they get weary after physical activity, but also show a great interest in competitive games which require skill. This stage of childhood is now going to be transformed into the blossoming period of child development, which is known as adolescence. Let us now try to explore the characteristics of adolescence stage. As we all know, at the adolescent stage (13-18 years), noticeable changes take place in many domains like height and weight, bodily proportions, change in voice, increase in motor performance and sexual changes. Both boys and girls have a growth spurt caused by the production of hormones. A boy’s growth spurt is usually later than the girls. The most important physical development in adolescence is puberty, when they become sexually mature.
Girls can experience puberty from around the age of 11 years, for boys this is slightly later. Girls at this stage show a continuous growth in height, but at a slower pace than earlier. Prominent changes can be seen in bodily proportions with the broadening of pelvic bone, circular wrist, while the arms and legs grow in length and become finer. The voice becomes sweet and shrill. In terms of secondary sex characteristics, the sex organs in girls acquire maturity. The growth in breast, hair growth at pubic and armpits, and change in gait are some significant features of adolescence in girls. Apart from this, the girls start going through menstruation cycle (average age varies from 12 to 16 years). Researches show that the girls seem to mature earlier than boys do in physical aspects.
If we look into the distinguished characteristics of adolescent stage among boys, these include rapid growth in height and weight (continues until age 18 or 19), development of muscles and increase in strength. The changes in bodily proportions can be seen in the form of rounded shoulders, broadened chest and developed muscles. The maturity of the larynx can be noticed with broken and deepened voice. Besides, genital organs in boys grow in size. Other significant features of adolescent boys include hair growth in pubic, armpits and facial areas.
The physiological changes occurring commonly in both boys and girls include full growth of all internal systems, pulse rate, and complete brain development. The skin becomes oily and acne and sweating may be problematic. Rapid growth may cause clumsiness and lack of coordination. They always feel hungry and their appetites seem to be great. Sexual desires and fantasies also increase in both boys and girls. However, these changes occurring in the body of a child are influenced by some factors which may be hereditary or environmental.