The stage of infancy covers the period from birth up to 5 years of age. In a more technical sense, it covers the pre-natal and post-natal growth and development of the baby.
Prenatal growth begins at the mother’s womb after fertilization of the egg-cell. Also, it covers the prenatal growth and development of the fetus for a period of nine months and ten days till the time of birth.
Whereas, postnatal development may be sub-divided into neonatal, infancy, childhood on consideration of their nature and state development.
The neonatal stage covers the period from birth to one month. The major behavioral significance of this stage is his physical nature of responses or reactions called reflex action. The mental function remains dormant and inactive at this stage.
After completion of the neonatal stage, there comes the stage of infancy that continues from one month to two years of age. Mental characteristics of a child’s behavior may be observed at this stage.
After infancy, the stage of childhood begins. It covers the period from two years to the puberty stage. During this period, the child’s physical environment widens and his psycho-physical abilities and their reactions substantially developed. His playful nature helps in his psycho-motor development at this stage.
- Psycho physical Characteristics of Infancy
- The Needs of the Infants
- Influence of Home on the Infants
- Role of the Parents for Infants Education and development
Psycho physical Characteristics of Infancy
The characteristics of Infancy are marked by sensitive psycho-motor developmental characteristics of its own. So, it is necessary to identify them in order to have a clear picture of the child’s nature and his needs. These characteristics may be identified in four major areas of his physical, mental, emotional, and social development. They lay the foundation of a child’s psycho-physical build-up of his early personality. Therefore, it is worth mentioning the characteristics of infancy:
Quick physical growth
The rate of physical growth is the highest in the very first year of life. Normal birth weight of the baby increase to double within five months and to triple within one year. Nevertheless, the baby is physically helpless and dependent upon the elders. He needs all physical care and attention of the mother and the physical closeness at this stage. As a result, the absence of the mother in the early years for any reason may cause much harm.
Motor ability is acquired by the baby even in the pre-natal stage. Its further development into different forms of motor activity and motor skills takes place during the post-natal period. Therefore, at the initial stage, he does not have control of his motor movement, coordination, and control. Gradually the fundamental motor ability of sitting, crawling, standing, walking, running, and jumping are acquired by him within three years.
The development of motor ability naturally makes the child playful. He uses to discharge all his physical energy through play. Play tendency provides a healthy outlet to discharge his animal instinct at this stage. Further, the playful nature of the child further helps him acquire motor skills and efficiency. It is also an aid to the effective physical adjustment of the child with his environment.
The newborn baby cannot make an adequate response to his physical situation. Within a few days of birth, he shows gradual awareness and sensitivity to experiences more particularly to visual, auditory, and tactual senses. Within three months of birth, his physical reactions appear to be more meaningful. This marks the beginning of his mental life. He can give simple meaning to his sense experiences and thereby grow his perception.
Infancy is the stage of language development that shows a clear sign of mental life. The child produces the babbling sound in the mouth at about 6 months which gradually takes the form of spoken words. Usually, he can use a single word in one year and can understand it in association with its activity. Gradually the number of vocabulary increases and he is in a position to speak his mother tongue at the age of three years.
Development of curiosity
Native sense of curiosity of the child finds expression through many and varied questions asked by him to the elders at this stage. Owing to this nature infancy is known as the ‘question age’. Therefore, the infancy shows eagerness to know the immediate physical environment that stimulates him.
Exuberance of imagination
The child lives in the world of fantasy and imagination, the hero of the fantasy being the child himself. Limited knowledge of reality naturally makes him display the imagination. It gives him joy and delight and spontaneity of self-expression through play. Too much of imagination also makes the child confused about reality and imagination. It stands in the way to his proper perception of reality.
Sense of Animism
The typical nature of a child’s mental life identifies itself with a sense of animism. Therefore, he thinks of everything as an animate object that possesses life like him. He has the idea that every object can feel a sense of pleasure and pain, joy, and sorrow like him. He gives life to his dolls and playthings out of this sense of animism.
Inadequacy of his knowledge and perception that leads to the sense of dependability on the elders naturally makes the child more imitative. He develops an indiscriminate tendency to imitate the activity and behavior of others good or bad. Also, it helps him to learn and acquire experiences of day to day life. Such tendency gradually declines on way to his mental maturity.
A child’s behavior may be called as an instinctive that lacks stability and reason. His instincts and emotions are quite natural and need-based. He gives a clear expression of his basic emotion of fear, anger, and love within six months of birth. Such early emotions are by nature temporary and short-lived that could not make any impression in mind for long. They are also frequently changing.
Sexual life of infancy has been described as narcissism, auto-erotism, or self-love. Freud, the psychoanalysis’s has pointed out that the infant has his own sexual life. He derives sexual satisfaction out of the pleasurable excitation of his own body. This body sentiment or sex-pleasure at this stage has been derived from oral, anal, and skin sensation.
A child’s instinctive behavior may find expression through his ego-centric nature. So, he judges everything in terms of his own self. Every attractive object in his hand and every beautiful picture is none but himself. This ego-centric nature and tendency often lead him to quarrel with others on petty things.
The Needs of the Infants
Effective satisfaction of the needs is the essential precondition for the psycho-physical development of the child. Failure to satisfy the needs may give rise to all sorts of complexity in behavior. The study of the needs is, therefore, of utmost importance in education. Here are some of the infant needs.
A child is by nature physically dependent upon the elders for his food and cloth. The satisfaction of his need for food and cloth, physical care, rest, and sleep may ensure his normal physical growth and development. Further, the child is very prone to physical ailments and must be well protected from all sorts of physical disease and malnutrition.
Need to play
Play is the vital physical and psychological need of the child. He discharges his excess physical energy through various forms of playful activities. Play makes his respiratory, circulatory, muscular, and digestive system normal. Also, it can bring about a child’s emotional maturity, social adjustment, and language development. The spontaneous nature of the child finds expression through play.
Need for knowledge
A strong sense of native curiosity makes the child quite sensitive and restless. He wants to be acquainted with his immediate nature, men, and things. He is in the process of asking endless questions to the elders. His sense of native curiosity must be satisfied in a simplified form to ensure mental and intellectual development
Need of love
The need for love and affection for the child needs no elaboration. Young child passionately wants to be loved by the elders. Further, the accord of love and affection may make his development of early personality spontaneous. It may grow self-confidence in him. Also, it saves him from the harmful effects of repression and delinquency.
The need for emotional security
Emotional security is a delicate need for a child’s mental life and development. Therefore, he must feel emotionally safe and secure under the loving care of his parents. As a result, it may give new vitality and strength to his thought, feeling, and activity. Also, it may develop a healthy positive attitude towards anything in mind. In its absence, a child’s emotional life is bound to be crippled.
The need for recognition and status
The child is quite self-conscious of his own status, honor, and social recognition accorded in the family. He wants the elder members to give a due share of his rights and duties to be performed. He also makes his own personal effort to draw the attention of the elders to this effect. Failure to get recognition may lead to frustration that may be more damaging to the formation of his social personality.
Need for freedom
Freedom is the essence of a child’s spontaneous development. There is a sense of native freedom in his thought, feeling, and activity, unlike the adults. He knows no rules laws and discipline to have been imposed on him. A state of natural freedom is, therefore, an essential condition for his self-expression and development. Play is the most suitable means for the utilization of a child’s freedom.
Thus, from the above discussion makes it clear that needs are the vital factors for healthy adjustment and early personality development of the child. His innate nature may find suitable expression if these basic needs are reasonably satisfied. In case they are deprived or thwarted, personality disorder and maladjustment are bound to crop up.
Influence of Home on the Infants
Home is primarily responsible for the education and development of infancy. The totality of influence on his development comes from a home in the early impressionable years. It forms the basis of his superstructure of growing personality. In regard to the influence of home, our specific attention may be drawn to the following points.
After birth, the child comes under the physical influence of the home. He is physically helpless for which home is to give all sorts of physical help and protection. He solely depends upon the mother for his health, nutrition, and hygienic condition. It may be recalled that child mortality is considerably high in countries where such physical care is absent.
Influence of material condition
Material conditions or physical situations of a home may have a positive or negative effect on a child’s mental development. The improved material condition may result in improved reaction to a situation that appears to be a favorable factor for intellectual development. The poorer material condition has ag negative and harmful effect on the child.
A child’s delicate emotional life is shaped and molded at home. An atmosphere of love and affection and a close understanding of the members of the family may give emotional security and spontaneity to the child. This is an essential condition for the healthy growth of his personality. The state of emotional frustration and repression may lead to all sorts of complexities in the later years.
The cultural and social influence of home on the child is quite obvious. He acquires all the social customs, traditions, faith, belief, language, and religion from home and identifies himself with them. They go to build up his social personality as an effective member of his community to which he belongs. Communal characteristics in men are formed through such influences.
The development of moral senses and the formation of moral sentiment in a child’s mind depends on home life. The moral way of life and standard maintained by the elder members at home may have their relative impact on the child. Moral values and aesthetic senses of right and wrong, fairness, and ugliness may develop a moral attitude in him.
Influence of discipline
The disciplinary life and standard of the child are built at home. Good discipline at home develops a sense of subordination, punctuality, regularity, and sincerity in his mind and behavior. A sense of decency in the simple day to day activities like neatness and cleanliness are learned by him at home life. The democratic nature of freedom enjoyed at home may develop a sense of self-responsibility and self-discipline in the child.
Thus, from the above analysis, it may be said that home is the chief architect for building up the superstructure of a man’s person
Role of the Parents for Infants Education and development
Modern society is more conscious and responsive to infant education and development. A gradual increase in the complexity of modern society has urged upon the parents to be more conscious, judicious, and duty-bound for that. So without going for elaborate discussion on the issue, the major role and responsibility of parents in this regard are as follows:
- Parents must create an ideal environment at home with love, affection, and understanding.
- The parents should reasonably satisfy the psycho-physical needs of the infants.
- They should create an environment of freedom and spontaneity at home for their self-expression and development.
- Children should be acquainted with the cultural qualities, rules, norms, and habits that are ideal to be obeyed and followed.
- Parents should ensure emotional security to infants in family life.
- They should be given desirable status, position, honor, and recognition in the family.
- The disciplinary standard of the family should be based on democratic principles.
- Parents should give their company to infants in the family for a maximum limit of time.
- Infants should be kept away, as far as possible, from the evil influences of society.
Higher Secondary Education for HS 1st Year
By: Jatin Borua
Note: There are some changes in the Length and Text of the Article.
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