HSC CM2: Human growth and development

Level: Level 3 Diploma

1.1. Identify the life stages of human development.

The developmental pattern enables us to simplify each period into distinct stages, which are Infancy, Childhood, Adolescence, Early Adulthood, Middle Adulthood, and Late Adulthood.

Infancy: This is the first two years of life; it is the initial phase of human development. Several concrete achievements happen during this phase as an infant gets to be in charge of itself. Nevertheless, an infant still needs to depend on others to meet up these needs; they grow to have confidence in others around them as they help them meet their needs. Confidence, affection and support are needed to grow emotionally and physically.

Childhood: This is the second phase of human development. At this phase, the child starts to discover autonomy; they realise that there is a reaction to every action and learn to make their own choice. As they discover different things during this phase, they establish their individuality. They must be raised to develop confidence in themselves; this helps them to stay driven to accomplish whatever they put their mind to. Guidance is a vital tool at this point because they tend to try out new abilities and gain more assurance in the choice they make.

Adolescence: Children acquire individuality and autonomy in childhood, extending into adulthood. Adolescents are focused on finding their individuality and making their personalities known. Teens must adjust to their growing bodies during puberty. These changes make adolescence complicated and unpleasant. As teens discover their position, they may try on numerous roles and distance themselves from authoritative adults. They are adjusting to their bodies and finding their place.

Early Adulthood: During this period, young adults want to identify themselves as liberated individual in their own life; they seek to discover their own identity, beginning to discover likes and dislikes, ideologies, and preferences. They are gaining emotional stability, which is regarded as a sign of maturity. At this point, the decision to pursue a career is made, building a relationship and connection that may be short or long-term.

Middle Adulthood: This is usually the most satisfying stage of a person’s life; a mid-life crisis frequently happens around this phase. People question what people think of them, their accomplishments, what they have earned so far, what was important to them when they were younger and what they can do with the rest of their lives. This is complemented mainly by changes in their ways of life which includes what career to pursue, what relationship to go into, or what activities to be engaged with.

Late Adulthood: This is where people retire, and a lot of changes happen here. This stage can be a terrific adventure with no duties and the opportunity to simply enjoy the benefits of one’s life’s labour. Hobbies and pastimes can be developed, and the late adult may experience physical and mental decline, as well as economic or social changes. At this stage, people are dealing with losing additional relatives or acquaintances their age, including their partner. Their life quality is determined by how successfully they adjusted to changes in their earlier phases. With age, the likelihood of developing a mental or chronic physical condition increases. However, ageing does not imply that they will always be in poor health. Retirement may be a rewarding and enjoyable time. Those without proper support systems or who are not financially well off may struggle harder during this stage of life.

1.2. Describe social, emotional, cognitive and physical developments within each life stage.


Infants develop slowly; they would have grown to roughly 10 inches taller and tripled in weight before their first birthday. Baby begins to smile, grab toys, pay attention, and make babbling sounds. The baby begins to pronounce a few words like ‘dada’ by the end of the first year.

The infant begins to express their feelings with widened eyes and rounded mouths; they strengthen the bond between their parents. They start smiling, moving arms and making eye contact at about 2 months which is a way of interacting. They grow attached to whom they are familiar. While the baby’s mental ability and senses develop, their ability to interact with the environment and people around them increases. Around one or two months old, babies turn their heads and pick an interest in people and objects. They notice familiar things and respond to them. Their sight improves, and they can connect their five senses together to form a unique feature of a person or an object (Sensory Integration).


The toddler phase is the early childhood stage; growth is rapid, and they learn new words and begin putting words together to form rudimentary phrases. They can now run and climb without assistance, hold things securely, feed themselves, and use the toilet, among other things. From the age of three through adolescence, growth is relatively moderate, and their body form changes—they lose their milk teeth, and permanent teeth begin to replace them.

Children at this phase will better remember recent experiences after learning to distinguish known people and items. They will copy others and develop a lot more imagination at this age, especially when playing. As they study letters, numbers, symbols, and colours between the ages of two and five, their capacity for thought and understanding significantly increases. They start to comprehend how actions and ] implications will affect their own life; they will also develop a more profound knowledge of their repercussions. Children begin to form friendships with individuals their own age between the ages of two and five as they get more understanding of their emotions. At this age, kids start to comprehend the distinction between good and wrong. They will frequently push the boundaries set by their parents while simultaneously looking to them for guidance and guidelines.


The different parts of adolescence development are all connected and strongly affected by their experiences and environments. During early adolescence, the body undergoes several growth-related changes than any other stage; the growth rate is fast and imbalanced with a diverse stride and the rate at which each individual changes. This includes increased weight, height, internal and external organ size, and changes in muscular and skeletal systems. Hormone production impacts skeletal growth, hair growth, and skin changes. Physical changes highlight change’s range and pace. This can make teens feel more or less adult. Girls grow two years faster than boys. Most of the physical changes here are as a result of puberty.

Social development in teens is figuring out who they are and what their roles and purpose are. Body image is an integral part of developing a sense of self and identity. Family and peers play an important role in helping and supporting the adolescent to take on adult roles. The way adolescents think and feel about their selves drives their emotional development. Rapid adolescent changes increase the need for emotional assets, including resilience, self-esteem, and coping abilities. These changes in the brain make it easier to remember and understand things, but they may also make people more vulnerable to things like taking risks and being more sensitive to mental illness.

Early Adulthood

Individuals in this phase of life, known as early adulthood, are frequently energetic, lively, and healthy, and they are concentrating on improving their friendships, romantic relationships, having children, and careers. Both males and females continue to develop body fat, and muscles continue to bulk up, notably in men.

Critical brain development has already occurred in adults, and they are currently using their comprehension and critical thinking skills. Ongoing improvements, such as those shown in the frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex, are concentrated in the brain regions responsible for reasoning, organising, speaking, and using muscles. This portion of the brain does not fully develop until the early twenties. Adults’ brain functions are more adaptive because they are aware of multiple points of view on issues and approaches to challenges.

People go through psychological phases of development, and early adulthood is when people start looking for close connections. Close friendships, love connections, having a child, or all three can lead to intimacy. Additionally, depression is a significant issue for persons in their 20s to mid-thirties because this is the age range during which the majority of people with serious depression are identified. Violence, including suicide and eating disorders, are all related to depression.

Middle Adulthood

Middle-aged people must accept that ageing is a given. By now, noticeable indicators have already begun to appear, including wrinkles, grey or thinning hair, the need for reading or bifocal eyeglasses, and some hearing loss. Additionally, women experience menopause between the ages of 42 and 51. Internally, changes are also occurring, with some decrease in the major organs, such as the lungs, heart, and digestive system. However, harmful habits, including smoking, abusing drugs, eating poorly, drinking excessively, being obese, and not exercising, cause secondary ageing. Although heart disease and cancer are the two major diseases that do have an impact on this age group’s health and mortality, death rates for this group are still relatively low.

Many people gain vocational competence in middle age, making them more competent and capable than younger folks. Many in midlife are at the height of their professions, which brings more obligations. Career constraints and life transitions involve balancing work and life commitments. This age group must handle children at different stages of growth, ageing, ailing parents, and financial difficulties. By middle age, many can handle life’s challenges better. Through experience, fluid thinking, increased instinct and flexibility, and the assistance of long-standing friendships, this age group usually masters these problems. Many people develop empowerment and confidence by managing enormous pressures.

This is a period of intense emotional turmoil, worry, and significant behavioural changes. What many consider a “crisis” may result from a psychological feature that makes managing life’s challenges tough. This is where many people think midlife crises occur.

Late adulthood

As we age, we typically become weaker and our senses dull. Our bodies also go through a variety of changes, including some degree of atrophy of the brain and decreased efficiency in the respiratory and circulatory systems. We may also experience changes in the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to constipation. Additionally, bone mass diminishes, especially in women, and this can cause problems like osteoporosis. Finally, hair loss is common in both sexes.

There’s a drop in the rate at which they respond; working or short-term memory also decreases. The change in their intellect does not necessarily mean a reduced ability; the ability to use accumulated information to make decisions and solve problems will rise at this phase and the entire life span. The possibility of storing multiple pieces of information is very low; they do well in the activities they used to do often in their early adulthood. Dementia, which covers a variety of illnesses and syndromes, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, multiple sclerosis, and vascular dementia, which is brought on by strokes, is one of the main worries as individuals age. Individuals experience memory or cognitive problems but are nonetheless cognizant and responsive. Memory loss, trouble comprehending or utilising words, confusion, the inability to do physical tasks while having a normal motor function, and the inability to distinguish things are all possible effects of the impairment.

This is the stage of life where the tension between their uprightness and despair. At this phase, individuals either come to admit whether their lives have value and integrity or life is unsatisfactory and fruitless. Some of them might not have access to proper healthcare, care home, or other social services.

2.1. Describe theories of human growth and development.

The developmental theory proposes several ideas about how people develop from early childhood through late adulthood based on physiological and psychological factors. Theorists examine all facets of human interactions, focusing on identifying patterns that result in sickness and developing preventative measures. There are five major developmental theories, they are:

Psychoanalytical Theory:
 Freud’s Psychosexual Development Theory
 Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

Cognitive Development Theories:
 Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development
 Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development
 Vygotsky’s Cultural-Historical Theory

Social Learning Theories
 Bandura’s Theory

Learning/Conditioning Theories
 Skinner’s theory

Humanist Theories
 Maslow’s Theory

Some of these theories are explained in detail below:

Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

Erik Erikson examined the effect of social encounters during the human life and conceived that psychosocial development occurs in eight sequential stages and they are:

Stage1 Infancy-Trust and Mistrust
Infants learn to trust based on how successfully their primary need is met and how quickly their cries are attended to throughout this period of human development. When a baby screams out to be fed or cared for, the parent may respond by meeting their needs or not. When their needs are frequently met, they discover that reliance on others is safe; when those requirements are not supplied, they develop scepticism as they age.

Stage 2 Toddlerhood–Independence against Shame and Doubt
At this stage, toddlers go through responding to their parents. If they are encouraged by the carers to discover life independently and be free–they will grow up with a sense of reliability. If the parent doesn’t teach independence, those toddlers grow up less confident about what they can do.

Stage 3 Preschool Years–Initiative against Guilt
Children learn how to defend themselves and express their needs during preschool. They will learn that speaking up is advantageous if their confidence is supported by positive reviews. However, if they are made to feel embarrassed of their confidence, they might become shy as adults and be less likely to take the initiative.

Stage 4 Early School Years–Industry against Inferiority
When children start school, they start comparing themselves to their peers. When they feel they have accomplished more than their friends, their confidence grows significantly. When they observe their peers reaching a goal they have not yet attained, they experience confidence issues.

Stage 5 Adolescence–Identity against Role Confusion
This is the stage where an identity crisis is initiated. Adolescence is about improving a sense of personality. Adolescents who can identify their own goals and interests are more likely to have a clear sense of self than those who are influenced by their parents or friends. Those who are dependent on their parents for social interaction and guidance may experience more role confusion during this time.

Stage 6 Young Adulthood–Intimacy against Isolation
The ability to form solid and lasting relationships is essential for young adults. Those who can create and maintain these relationships reap the emotional benefits, while those who struggle to maintain relationships may suffer from isolation. A young adult who develops strong friendships in college may feel more intimacy than one who struggles to form and maintain close friendships.

Stage 7 Middle Adulthood–Generativity against Stagnation
People may experience a sense of generativity in middle age if they believe they are making a positive impact on society. They may feel stagnant if they don’t believe that their lives or work matter.

Stage 8 Late Adulthood–Integrity against Despair
As they get older, individuals frequently look back on their lives and contemplate their accomplishments. Ego integrity is exhibited by those who believe they have lived fulfilling lives, whether as a result of happy families or promising careers. They can now age and die in peace thanks to this. Conversely, individuals who don’t believe they’ve had beautiful lives may become hopeless.

Cognitive Theory of development

Lev Vygotsky’s theory
Lev Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory of cognitive development examines how culture affects children’s speech and reasoning. His sociocultural perspective emphasises the role of society and culture in cognitive development. Vygotsky argued that adults intentionally and systematically engage children in demanding and meaningful tasks to encourage their cognitive development.

Kohlberg’s theory
The moral growth of children is the subject of Kohlberg’s theory, which focuses on this process. According to Kohlberg’s view, moral growth takes place over the course of six phases, categorised into three, namely:
• Preconventional Morality– (Obedience and Punishment, Individualism and Exchange),
• Conventional Morality– (Maintaining Social Order, Developing Good Interpersonal Relationships)
• Postconventional Morality– (Social Contract and Individual Rights, Universal Principles)
The approach contends that promoting and upholding fairness should be the major goal of moral reasoning.

Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development
According to Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, learning occurs in four phases for children. His idea focuses on comprehending the nature of intellectual ability as well as how children gain information.
• Sensorimotor stage: During the sensorimotor stage, which lasts from birth until around age 2, babies and toddlers learn about the world mostly through their senses and physical movement.
• Preoperational Stage: The second stage of development, from ages two to seven, is when children start to use symbols in play and develop language skills.
• Concrete operational stage: The concrete operational stage is when a person starts to be able to think logically. This happens around age 7, but they still can’t think abstractly or theoretically.
• Formal operational stage: During this stage, children become much more skilled at abstract thought and logical reasoning. This stage lasts from the age of 12 to adulthood.

3.1. Explain significant life events that can occur within each stage of human development.

During each stage of human development, there are several significant life events that can occur.

Infancy: Beginning to crawl, learning to walk, teething, first solid food, and the first word are all critical life events that occur throughout infancy. The events are critical to the infant’s growth and development; when they begin to crawl, it is the first form of movement they engage in, providing them with the freedom to go from one location to another and preparing them for the walking phase. Teething is important because it adds beauty to the face and aids in chewing.

Childhood: Starting school, establishing friends, and going through puberty are all crucial life events that can occur during youth. The child begins school at this moment and encounters new children of the same age group, and they feel distanced from their parents for the duration of their school experience. They form new relationships and engage with their teachers (adults) and other children, which aids in developing their social skills.

Adolescence: Some of the significant life events that can occur include experiencing first love, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and going through puberty. Adolescence is widely acknowledged as a vital phase in the life course, a time when the rapid growth of the brain, body, and behaviours creates a moment of chance for interventions that may have long-term effects.

Adulthood: (comprises of early and mid-adulthood), some of the significant life events that can occur include getting married, having children, and getting a job. Moving out of the family home, leaving college, commencing a job, cohabiting with a significant partner, getting married or divorced, and becoming a parent are significant life changes that are likely to occur in early adulthood. The changes in this phase might lead to a life-changing crisis, which might make or break the individual in this stage. If the event turns out well, this is a point where one is at the peak of their happiness.

Late Adulthood: Some of the significant life events that can occur include retirement and becoming a grandparent, and bereavement. Many changes occur in an individual’s life during late adulthood, which is the retiring phase of their life. Welcoming new family members or watching others leave the family is generally a big part of this period, as their children marry or divorce, or they become grandparents, which is a thing of joy to them.

3.2. Analyse the impact that significant life events have on individuals.

Looking at the impacts that significant life events have on individuals at each stage.


Life Event Impact
• Walking is a form of movement from one place to another
• Communication is established
• Toilet training
• Introduction to family food
• Teething • Their parents/caregivers have to be on their toes to make sure they are safe
• Parents might be overwhelmed by the new developments
• When crawling, infants might pick up dirt and put it in the mouth
• Parents will have to face the problem of food allergy, intolerance and so on
• When they are introduced to solid foods, it leads to trying out varieties of nutritious food which helps in growth and build the immune system
• The infant gains a bit of freedom
• Teething gives aesthetic appeal and aids in chewing
• Moving from one point to the other give the child a sense of freedom


Life Event Impact
• Starting school
• Puberty sets in at the end of this phase
• Losing a tooth
• They feel isolated from their parent when they are in school
• They might experience bullying or exclusion
• If care is not taken, their self-esteem can be tampered with at this point
• They will have to adapt to new environment, people and will learn to live with them
• They are open to social interaction
• They experience relationship with adults and other children
• Children are learning skills such as classification and forming hypotheses
• It is a time when children can gain enthusiasm for learning and work for achievement, which can become a motivating factor as children work toward building competence and self-esteem


Life Event Impact
Changing school
Meeting new friends
Noticing member of the opposite sex • It is a tough and rough time for parents
• Peer pressure is usually much at this time
• Too much dependency at previous stage may lead to inability to make decisions independently
• Adolescents are exploring their identities and discovering who they are.
• Adolescents think in more sophisticated, efficient, abstract, and hypothetical ways than children.
• This is the phase where they might want to try out smoking or alcohol

Adulthood: Early and Middle Adulthood

Life Event Impact
• Getting married
• Having children
• Attaining the peak of career
• Financial breakthrough (maybe, maybe not)
• Living alone
• Moving to a new home
• Losing a job
• Going through a divorce
• Empty nest They may experience divorce if the marriage does not work out
They will be overwhelmed with childbearing and raising
This is where mid-life crisis occurs, and this might make or break them
More responsibilities
They have to find a way to balance work and life

Late Adulthood

  • Life Event Impact
  • Retirement
  • Terminal or chronic illness
  • Bereavement
  • Becoming a grandparent or great grand parent
  • Taking on different roles in one’s family and community.
  • Being there for their grown children and other relatives emotionally.
  • Preparing for their own mortality while also dealing with the death of a spouse, siblings, and other friends.
  • Reviewing their life and thinking back on the lessons and experiences gained throughout the course of their existence.


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