What Are the Basic Principles of Growth and Development?

The basic principles of growth and development are physical development, social development and cognitive development. Growth and development in children is nearly always a sequential process. However, negative experiences, such as child abuse or witnessing a traumatic event, can delay the growth and development process.

Physical development includes changes to the size and function of the body, the development of motor skills and a change in appearance. Childhood and early adolescence are the major periods of physical development. However, many changes occur well into adulthood. For example, physical development occurs during pregnancy.

Social development is the way a person expresses emotions, internalizes knowledge and interacts with others. Parents serve as the primary agents of socialization from birth until a child enters school. At that point, peer groups impact social development. Although social development does not typically occur in adulthood, certain situations, such as entering the workplace, do affect social development and change the way a person interacts with others.

Cognitive development is the process of learning, reasoning and thinking. Cognitive development occurs primarily during childhood and adolescence. Parents play an important role in this process. Children typically learn more reasoning skills in the home where they are given explanations of abstract ideas. On the other hand, the school is where children are taught the process of learning new information.