Middle childhood development takes place between the ages of 6-12 years. This stage is associated with fast cognitive development, and the children develop better social skills as they interact with people in their social circle. The children start developing new friendships in their new environments in school, and they stop being dependent on their families for longer periods of the day. The children also experience fast physical development during this stage. Middle childhood development is affected by various factors, which can be categorized as environmental or hereditary. This paper focuses on highlighting some of the hereditary and environmental factors that affect physical, cognitive, and social development in the middle childhood stage.
Factors That Affect Physical Development
The physical characteristics of a child in the middle childhood development stage are influenced by the dominant genes they have. The physical development of the child depends on the nature of the dominant genes inherited from the parents. For instance, if the dominant genes belong to the mother, the child is likely to develop a similar physical structure with the mother. Physical developments like height and weight gain depend on the dominant genes. Other physical developments, like skin color, are also determined by the hereditary factors of the child. The attainment of various physical, developmental milestones in the middle childhood development stage is a function of the genetic configuration of the child. A gain in height is one of the milestones that children in the middle childhood development stage have to rely on the hereditary factor (Brown & Desforges, 2013).
Hereditary factors play a major role in the physical development of children in the middle childhood development stage, but environmental factors also influence development. One of the environmental determinants of physical growth outcomes in children is the living conditions. Children living in poverty are likely to experience nutrition, and this has a direct influence on their physical growth (Brown & Desforges, 2013). Most children in poverty-stricken neighborhoods portray stunted growth during the middle childhood development stage. It is also apparent that exposing the fetus to chemicals that alter their DNA can interfere with normal physical development in middle childhood development. While undernutrition and malnutrition have a negative effect on physical growth for children, overnutrition can also alter normal physical growth.
Genetic factors of a child influence the healthy development of the brain. Cognitive development is facilitated by a healthy brain; hence, hereditary factors play a major role in determining the speed of cognitive development in children. Genetic factors may cause abnormalities in the cognitive development of a child. Parents with characteristics of high intelligence have a high likelihood of having children with high intelligence because of the genes they pass to their offsprings.
This is not always the case because some parents may have dominant genes of intelligence, but pass genes of abnormalities in cognitive development to their children. The presence of genetic disorders in children may slow down their learning ability significantly in the middle childhood stage of development. This effect is particularly manifested because at this stage; most children stop spending more time with their parents and guardians; thus, learning starts depending on their individual abilities (Brown & Desforges, 2013).
The environment subjected to a child in his or her middle childhood development stage is a major determinant of his or her cognitive development. One of the environmental factors that affect healthy cognitive development is the amount of time the child is exposed to learning. Children who are provided with ample time to learn on a daily basis are likely to attain milestones in cognitive development faster than their counterparts who spend less time learning.
Children in the middle childhood development stage learn many skills through observation; hence, the kind of people around them and their respective actions influence cognitive development. For instance, children who interact more often with other children at schools are likely to portray healthier cognitive learning than their counterparts who learn from home. This is because the school environment fosters the development of the curiosity to learn. Interactions with parents and guardians on a learning perspective are also attributed to positive cognitive development for children. It is important to develop a learning environment at home to trigger curiosity in children. It is important to ensure that the learning environment at home fosters positive cognitive development, and this can be actualized by facilitating educational toys and games (Brown & Desforges, 2013).
Social, Moral, and Personality Development
Personality, moral, and social development are some of the milestones for children in the middle childhood development stage. These factors include the nature of the social environment, level of cognitive development, and genetic elements. Children develop patterns of behaviors based on the social interactions they experience. Children are likely to learn from observation and the guidance of their caregivers at this stage of development; hence, the children reflect the morals of the people around them. According to Piaget’s theory of development, children start developing morals and personalities in the middle childhood development stage (Brown & Desforges, 2013).
This stage falls under the concrete operational stage, whereby children start developing logical thoughts and considering what people think about them. The social interaction between children and their guardians enables them to learn to control their emotions at this stage (Powell & Kalina, 2009). By observing the adults in their lives, children get to learn that people do not always have to share their thoughts and feelings.
According to Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, children in the middle childhood development stage fall under the industry vs. inferiority psychosocial stage (Greene & Kropf, 2011). Social interactions enhance pride in children when their accomplishments are acknowledged with rewards. Parental guidance and appraisals, when the children accomplish simple tasks, motivate the children to keep strengthening their confidence in different social situations.
Positive social and personality development at this stage enhances the confidence of children in becoming independent. Hereditary factors influence the speed of learning in children; hence, genetic disorders can alter the development of social skills and personality (Hedegaard, 2009). Children also develop morals at this stage based on the values promoted by the adults in their social circle. In conclusion, It is important for parents to ensure they offer positive criticism for the accomplishments made by their children in the middle childhood development stage.
Brown, G., & Desforges, C. (2013). Piaget’s Theory. London: Routledge. Web.
Greene, R. R., & Kropf, N. P. (2011). Human behavior theory: A diversity framework. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. Web.
Hedegaard, M. (2009). Children’s development from a cultural–historical approach: Children’s activity in everyday local settings as foundation for their development. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 16(1), 64-82. Web.
Powell, K. C., & Kalina, C. J. (2009). Cognitive and social constructivism: Developing tools for an effective classroom. Education, 130(2), 241. Web.