The childhood stage is one of the most beautiful periods in the life of a child and his family. It is the first stage of development, a critical phase in growth and identity formation, laying the foundation for adulthood. However, although it is a precious stage in which we enjoy growing up, it also contains numerous changes that we often go unnoticed and that it is important to know about.
What is meant by childhood stage?
Experts define the childhood stage as the period from a person’s birth to the beginning of puberty. Also known as childhood, it is a fundamental stage in biological and psychosocial development, which lays the foundations for the subsequent formation of our identity as people. In fact, in this period the greatest and most rapid growth of all life takes place with the vertiginous progression of skeletal and muscular structures.
However, perhaps the great milestone of the childhood stage is related to the psychological development that is achieved in this period. Along with brain development, during childhood cognitive functions are consolidated, emotions and feelings take shape and personality is outlined. At this stage, the basic psychological tools for managing emotions, self-control and problem solving are also developed, while social skills are structured.
What are the 3 most important phases of the infant stage?
The childhood stage is a period of many changes, so despite being relatively short compared to other stages of life, it goes through phases that are very different from each other. To facilitate its understanding and study, experts have divided childhood into three main stages: early childhood, preschool stage and school stage.
1. Early childhood
Early childhood takes place from the first to the third year of life, so it usually coincides with the time when children attend nursery school. This is a stage of very important acquisitions in which the little ones acquire many skills. At this age, spoken language develops, first through single words and, later, through simple sentences that gradually gain in complexity.
In this period, concrete thinking predominates and the capacity for analysis is still incipient, but despite this, children are already capable of drawing basic conclusions and noticing the cause-effect in the phenomena that surround them. At this age they are distinguished by having a fundamentally egocentric behavior, which means that they act as authentic protagonists of their lives since they are only capable of conceptually distinguishing their existence.
From a physical point of view, in early childhood the musculoskeletal structure of children develops considerably, the difference in size between the head and the rest of the body is reduced, and the gait gains stability. At this age they also begin to gain control over their sphincters.
2. Preschool stage
The preschool stage extends from 3 to 6 years. At this age, children are gaining more skills and abilities, while showing greater curiosity to discover the world around them. At this stage, abstract thought continues to be structured and egocentrism gives way to the ability to attribute intentions, motivations and beliefs to others. Also, children are already able to identify basic emotions and express their feelings.
Among other factors, this is due to the fact that at this stage the myelination process of the brain gains strength, a phenomenon that improves connectivity between neurons and favors the activation of different brain areas at the same time. This not only lays the foundation for the development of cognitive functions but also facilitates the acquisition of more complex concepts. This explains why at this age children are already capable of understanding simple stories, putting themselves in the place of others and making simple analyses.
Physically, preschool children continue to grow at breakneck speed while developing more complex skills. In fact, by this age most children have mastered the pincer movement and have greater control of their fine manual skills. They also have a much more stable gait and many children have already achieved control of their sphincters, a very important step in their development.
3. School stage
The school stage is the last phase of childhood and includes the period from 6 to 12 years. This is a particularly stimulating stage for child development as abstract thinking is established. This means that children go from thinking in concrete terms to understanding abstract and logical concepts. Among other reasons, it is because myelination continues and the frontal lobes begin to communicate better with other parts of the brain, facilitating the development of attention, conscious decision-making and executive functions.
As this stage usually coincides with the beginning of school, social relationships begin to take on special relevance. Children begin to make their first friends, develop greater social skills and are able to put themselves in the shoes of others in a more empathetic way. However, this also brings more discipline and organization as they will have to adapt to a completely new schedule and certain rules. Also, at this age children tend to have greater self-control, although they are still very prone to impulsivity.
From the physical point of view, in the school stage children add a few sizes and begin to gain greater muscle control. At this age, they are characterized by being very physically active and by having more resistance. It is also the stage in which they usually begin to be interested in gender differences and in discovering their own body.