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Essay on Moral and Physical Development of Children

7 pages
1855 words
Harvey Mudd College
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Morality can be described as the human ability to learn the difference between what can be assumed to be right and that which is wrong. It also encompasses the ability to make the right choices when faced with situations that require decision making between good and bad alternatives. Killen and Smetana (2014) suggest that just like other facets of lifespan development, morality is not an independent element but rather a combination of various components all of which make up the core of morality. It is instilled in peoples character from a young age, and they grow up to be guided by these morals. Childrens experiences at home, their surroundings as they grow up, the physical, perceptive, emotional, and social skills impact their understanding of what is right and wrong in their lives.

Between the ages of 2 and 5, many kids begin to display the understanding of morally founded manners and views. Lemerise and Arsenio (2011) mention that at this level in their childhood, many kids will also begin to display empathy based responsibility when they do not follow the set rules. For example, if one child lets's say John sees that Mary is crying because he took her doll, he might start to feel somehow guilty that he hurt Marys feelings. As a younger child, however, John would only feel bad if he was punished for taking Marys doll rather than making someone else sad. This shows just how much Johns morality has developed which at this age he can be able to know that making others feel sad is wrong.

According to Killen and Smetana (2014), kids of ages ranging from 5 to 10 years perceive the world through the lenses of Heteronomous Morality. This means that these children have the mentality that figures of authority which usually come in the form of parents and teachers have specific rules that children and young people, in general, are supposed to follow always. The children perceive these regulations as unchangeable guidelines which are neither negotiable, evolutionary nor situational (Killen & Smetana, 2014). However, these kids grow older, and they begin to develop more intellectual thinking and the capability to form more flexible rules and use them selectively. Coles (2011) states that at this age of childhood, kids base their understanding of morality on a model of punishment and compliance alignment. They, therefore, try as much as possible not to get in trouble to avoid getting punished. Coles (2011) however argues that it is not realistic for guardians to expect very young kids of a preschool age to begin showing the understanding of what is the right and wrong thing to do. As for the older children who already have some knowledge of morality, it is the basis for future application of more complex moral directives.

Children should have a solid basis in each of their developmental phases for them to become morally upright members of society. Killen and Smetana (2014) describe the moral development stages of children in phases of raging years within which there occurs an advancement of their moral understanding. The first stage is that of between 2 and 3 years whereby children realize that others have rights and needs but are yet to grasp the difference between right and wrong. The second stage is between the ages of 3 to 7 years whereby children will begin to comprehend the significance of family values and assimilate them into their lives. For example, John of this age bracket will start to follow the family norm of showing kindness to everyone since the family practices showing kindness even to strangers. Another phase is that of between the ages of 7 to 10 years where the children have developed intellectually and begin to question the authoritative power but still maintain discipline and follow their rules (Killen & Smetana, 2014). From there on, the children become adolescents and continue to develop morally with their prior foundation being the basis for their future moral conduct. Coles (2011) suggests that children usually learn morality from those who are closest to them and as such, parents play a crucial role in ensuring that children have a strong moral foundation. Therefore, parents should motivate their children to conduct themselves within the acceptable norms of society so that they can know what behaviors are expected of them.


From the essay, there is an understanding that children go through different phases of development as they grow. The moral aspect of their development is described to be an important one since it molds their future characters as disciplined members of society. Their understanding of what is wrong versus what is right is seen to take a turning point at the age of between 2 and 5 years. From there onwards, children begin to understand the meaning of morality and apply it in their everyday activities. From the essay, there is also an understanding that children have a fear of authority, and at a young age, this becomes their primary guideline for how they behave morally.


Coles, R. (2011). Moral Intelligence of Children: How To Raise A Moral Child. Random House.Killen, M., & Smetana, J. G. (2014). Handbook of moral development.Lemerise, E. A., & Arsenio, W. F. (2011). Emotions, aggression, and morality in children: Bridging development and psychopathology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Physical Development of Children

Childrens physical growth commences from their birth and lasts well into their adolescence. Within this period of growth and development, children acquire skills and capabilities that increase their synchronization, muscle control, and excellent motor skills. Much of the development in humans happens during childhood since brain power is at its highest (Santrock et al., 2015). Physical activities assist childrens association of nerves and the brain thus enabling them to manage their locomotive and linguistic skills, imagination, socialization, and problem resolution abilities (Santrock et al., 2015). The skills that children acquire in their physical development significantly assist in growing their skills and abilities. Watson and Lowrey (2014) suggest that kids who grow up in an environment that is full of physical activities and various surrounding stimulants will have better progress in their physical skills and will have more contentment and enthusiasm to learn. Physical activities provide children with opportunities to develop physical, emotional, and mental skills that are necessary for proper development at their age.

According to Watson and Lowrey (2014), as children develop in their physic, they also gain various abilities and skills that allow them to discover their surroundings better and learn more from the world. As babies grow and develop into adolescence, they will continue to grow physically mainly in the following areas: motor skills, vision, hearing, speech, and social and emotional performance (Watson & Lowrey, 2014). Santrock et al. (2015) describe the usual standards of development called milestones as guides that allow parents to get an idea of how the development of children occurs at different ages. Santrock et al. (2015) define milestones as the capabilities and skills that kids develop by a certain age which assists in the gauging of their physical growth. Developmental milestones can be very useful for the measurement of childrens physical growth advancement. However, if a child does not reach a certain standard of development at a certain age, then that does not automatically mean that they are deficient in physical skills.

According to Watson and Lowrey (2014), some of the typical milestones in early childhood development include:

Birth to 3 months: This is where toddlers learn simple motor skills such as how to suckle, move their arms, kick their feet, make small fists and even pull.

3 to 6 months: the toddlers are now able to move their bodies by rolling, dragging themselves, reaching for objects, sucking their fingers and shaking objects.

6 to 12 months: the babies will now be able to sit by themselves, crawl, play with objects, stand upright and even eat using a spoon.

1 to 2 years: the babies development is at this age is perceived by their more sophisticated abilities that enable them to do things by themselves. These include crawling, talking, playing by themselves, eating without assistance, opening books and turning pages, among other physical capabilities.

3 to 4 years: at this age children are expected to be able to walk steadily, run well, dress themselves and even read and write at a fundamental level.

5 to 9 years: the children are now at the middle school stage of physical development where they develop even better motor abilities such as jumping ropes, riding bikes, swimming, and getting involved in various types of sports.

9 to 12 years: at this age kids should be able to play coordinative games and should be conversant with multiple skills that allow them to become less reliant on their parents.

According to Hauser-Cram et al. (2014), the more opportunities that children get to practice their acquired skills and abilities, the more they can develop them further. Physical exercise is especially helpful in boosting childrens physical development. There are various ways that parents and other adults can help in the development of childrens physical development. For toddlers, parents can encourage physical development by allowing them to move, wriggle, and roll around freely. It is advisable that adults encourage children to get involved in various forms of physical activities such as kids games especially if they enjoy them. For example, parents could let their children play in the park with other kids where they can play games such as tag which involves a lot of running. Parents should also allow their kids to practice other motor skills through activities such as drawing, solving puzzles which will not only boost their physical development but also give them a significant head start when adjusting to school. Hauser-Cram et al. (2014) suggest that parents and adults taking care of children should encourage them to take up sporting activities which will strengthen their muscles and agility. They should also limit their childrens indoor activities to allow them more time to engage in outdoor physical activities. For example, parents can reduce the amount of time that kids watch TV and stay at home and instead enroll them in a childrens development program where they get to mingle with other kids and engage in various physical activities.


Childhood is a stage in life that involves significant growth and development. Physical development is especially important for children since it enables them to gain new skills and advance those they already have. Form the essay; there is an understanding that there exist milestones that guide how children are expected to develop throughout their multiple childhood phases. However, these milestones should not be taken too seriously as they are just guidelines and nothing more. Parents can, however, boost their childrens physical development to ensure that they practice their skills and abilities which could be of use to them well into their adult lives. The essay provides some of the many ways in which parents and other adults can help children develop physically.


Hauser-Cram, P., Nugent, J. K., Theis, K. M., & Travers, J. F. (2014). The development of children and adolescents.Santrock, J. W., Closson, L., & Conrad, N. (2015). Child development.Watson, E. H., & Lowrey, G. H. (2014). Growth and development of children. Chicago: Year Book Publishers.

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