Stages of human development

What are the stages of human development?

The stages of human development are a series of biological, physical, emotional, psychological and social changes that people go through throughout their life trajectory.

The life cycle of a person ideally involves seven stages of human development:

  • Prenatal phase
  • Childhood
  • Childhood
  • Adolescence
  • Youth
  • Adulthood
  • Old age

Each of these phases of development bring with them a series of changes that are essential for the evolution of the individual, hence it is important to know the characteristics of each stage.

Prenatal phase (pregnancy)

It is the stage of development that takes place in the womb and in which the embryo begins its development process until it becomes a fully formed newborn. It includes three sub stages:

Germinal period

It is the moment of conception, when an egg is fertilized by a sperm and begins to travel to the uterus, where it will implant.

Embryonic period

It is the stage in which the division of cells begins according to their functions, and which will then give rise to the bone and muscle structure and the different organs of the baby.

Fetal period

In this phase the organs begin to form and mature. This stage of development begins at 12 weeks of gestation and ends with the birth of the baby.

See also Pregnancy.

Childhood (0 to 6 years old)

It is the developmental phase characterized by the learning of psycho-motor skills and abilities, as well as language. Other characteristics of the childhood stage are:

  • The infant begins to eat solid foods.
  • They begin the first movements autonomously, first crawling and then walking.
  • Pronunciation of the first words.
  • Learning the basic notions of reading and writing.
  • Interaction with the physical environment (going down stairs, getting on a chair) and social (meeting other peers and playing with them).

Childhood (6 to 12 years old)

For many specialists, childhood is the most important stage of human development, since it is there where the psycho-social and emotional skills fundamental for healthy development are acquired and lays the foundations of what the individual will be in the future.

Among its characteristics, the following stand out:

  • Development of cognitive skills (association of ideas, recognition of colors, shapes and structures)
  • Evolution of skills for reading, writing and logical thinking.
  • On the social level, it is a period of much interaction in which the first bonds outside the home begin to form through education and recreational activities.

See also Childhood.

Adolescence (12-20 years of age)

Biologically, adolescence is the stage of human development marked by hormonal and physical changes that will determine the sexual maturity of the individual. It is subdivided into two phases:

Early adolescence (12-15 years)

It is characterized by:

  • Increase in stature.
  • Changes in weight and height.
  • Appearance of body hair.
  • Breast growth in women and the beginning of menstruation.
  • Appearance of sexual desire in both genders.
  • Tendency to isolation or distancing from the family nucleus.

Late adolescence (15 to 20 years)

At this stage, the sexual maturation process is completed and the adolescent prepares for adulthood. It involves the completion of high school studies, as well as the exploration of academic or professional interests.

See also Adolescence.

Youth (20 to 25 years old)

At this stage, the first adult social interactions begin, although the individual still lacks emotional maturity. Among other characteristics of this stage of development, the following stand out:

  • Culmination of the physical development process.
  • The individual begins to experience the world with a clearer vision of himself and what he wants for the future.
  • In many cases, this is the stage of emancipation, as the individual begins to generate their own income and lay the foundation for their adult life.

Adulthood (25 to 60 years of age)

It is the longest stage of human development, and involves various physical, emotional and psychological changes depending on the age and phase of each person. It has, in turn, three classifications:

Young adulthood (25 to 40 years of age)

In principle, adulthood is the period of greatest vitality and activity. Some outstanding features are:

  • It is the phase of greatest productivity, since it coincides with the completion of higher education and professional development.
  • It is also the stage in which, ideally, it is procreated, since people are in the fullness of their reproductive capacity and the emotional maturity necessary to face the changes that this process implies.

Middle adulthood (40 to 50 years of age)

From the age of 40, the changes typical of menopause in women and andropause in men begin, characterized by:

  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Emotional changes
  • Change in weight and height
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Appearance of gray hair and fine lines
  • Loss of bone and muscle mass.

Late adulthood (50 to 60 years of age)

In addition to the intensification of physical changes that began in previous stages, late adulthood is characterized by a series of vital changes that have an impact on social dynamics:

  • Emancipation of the children, which in many cases implies the beginning of a period of loneliness for the parents.
  • It is the phase of retirement and rethinking of priorities, so skills, talents, hobbies and social ties are especially important in this period.
  • Decreased sexual desire in both sexes.
  • Vaginal lubrication problems in women and erectile dysfunction in men.

See also Adulthood.

Elderly (60 years and older)

Old age, also called third age, is the last stage of human development and is characterized by

  • Progressive deterioration of physical and cognitive abilities.
  • Tendency to social isolation, either as a consequence of the appearance or evolution of diseases or due to the reduction of the social circle caused by the death of other peers.
  • Acceleration of the aging process (the skin loses its elasticity, wrinkles deepen, hair begins to fall out).
  • Acceleration of the loss of bone and muscle mass.
  • Decreased vision and hearing.

However, factors such as quality of life and health habits acquired in previous life stages can positively influence this phase. A healthy adult in physical and emotional terms will face old age with a better perspective, hence it is important to create the conditions and habits in a timely manner to do so.

See also Old age.

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