A1 - Physical Development

  • Created by: elliesiss
  • Created on: 02-10-19 13:15

Physical Development across the life stages

Growth and development are different concepts: 

  • principles of growth - growth is variable across different parts of the body and is measured using height, weight and dimensions
  • principles of development - development follows an orderly sequence and is the acquisition of skills and abilities

In infancy (0-2 years), the individual develops gross and fine motor skills:

  • the development of gross motor skills 
  • the development of fine motor skills 
  • milestones set for the development of the infant - sitting up, standing, cruising, walking. 
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Physical Development across the life stages

In early childhood (3-8 years), the individual further develops gross and fine motor skills:

  • riding a tricycle, running forwards and backwards, walking on a line, hopping on one foot, hops, skips and jumps confidently 
  • turns pages of a book, buttons and unbuttons clothing, writes own name, joins up writing

In adolescence (9-18 years), the changes surround puberty:

  • development of primary and secondary sexual characteristics
  • the role of hormones in sexual maturity

In early adulthood (19-45 years), the individual reaches physical maturity:

  • physical strength peaks, pregnancy and lactation occur
  • perimenopause - oestrogen levels decrease, causing the ovaries to stop producing an egg each month. The reduction in oestrogen causes physical and emotional symptoms, to include hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, loss of libido and vaginal dryness
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Physical Development across the life stages

In early adulthood (19-45 years), the individual reaches physical maturity:

·         physical strength peaks, pregnancy and lactation occur

·         perimenopause - oestrogen levels decrease, causing the ovaries to stop producing an egg each month. The reduction in oestrogen causes physical and emotional symptoms, to include hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, loss of libido and vaginal dryness

In middle adulthood (45-65 years), the female enters menopause: 

·         causes and effects of female menopause and the role of hormones in this effects the ageing process in middle adulthood

In later adulthood (65+), there are many effects of ageing: 

·         health and intellectual abilities can deteriorate

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Command Words in Exam Questions


  • Give a clear, objective account in your own words showing recall, and in some cases applcation, of the relevant features and information about a subject
  • Example: "Describe gross and fine motor skills in relation to..." 
  • Top Tip; imagine sitting with your grandma and describing somethibng to her, if at the end of the conversatio, she doesn't fully understand, you haven't descrived it well enough 


  • Consider different aspects of a topic, how they interrelate and the extent to which they are important 
  • Example: " Discuss how both the environment and genetic factors may account for..."
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Command Words in Exam Questions


  • Draw on varied information, themes or concepts to consider concepts such as strengths or weaknesses, advantages or disadvantages, alternative actions and relevance or significance.
  • Example: "Evaluate possible explanations for the development of..." 
  • Associate the word evaluate with positive<negative< conclusion


  • Show you understand the origins, functions and objectives of a subject and its suitabilty for purpose. Give reasons to support an opinion, view or argument, with clear details
  • Example: "Explain two possible features of the development of..." 
  • Top Tip; associate the word explain, with the word BECAUSE
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Command Words in Exam Questions


  • Indicate the main features or purpose of something, and/or are able to discern and undertand facts or qualities
  • Example: "Identify the services that might be able to..."


  • Give reasons or evidence to support an opinion or prove something right or reasonable 
  • Example: "Justify how overcoming..."


  • Provide a summary or overview or brief description of something 
  • Example: "Outine ways in which X might affect their physical health
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Command Words in Exam Questions

To what extent 

  • Show clear details and give reasons and/or evidence to support an opinion, view or argument. It could show how conclusions are drawn. 
  • Example: "To what extent might recent..."


  • Specify one or more items from a definite set
  • Example: "Which body part..." 
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Centile Line

Centile Line explained... 

If a childs weight is at the 50th percentile line, that means that out of 100 normal children her age, 50 will be bigger than she is and 50 smaller. Similarly if she is in the 75th percentile, that means that she is bigger than 75 children and smaller than only 25, compared with 100 children her age 

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Primitive Reflexes

Glabellar Reflex

  • A reflex elicited by repetitive tapping on the forehead. Subjects blink in response to the first several taps.

Snout Reflex

  • A pouting or pursing of the lips that is elicited by light tapping of the closed lips near the midline.

Rooting reflex

  • Often seen in new born babies who automatically turn the face toward the stimulus and make sucking (rooting) motions with the mouth when the cheek or lip is touched

Sucking reflex

  • causes the child to instinctively sucks anything that touches the root of their mouth
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Primitive Reflexes

Palmomental Reflex

  • a twitch of the chin elicited by stroking a specific part of the palm

Grasp Reflex

  • when an object is placed in an infant's hand and strokes their palm, their fingers will close and they will grasp the object

Moro Reflex

  • when the baby is startled by a loud noise or heavy movement - baby will throw back their head, extend their arms and legs, cry and then pull their legs and arms back in 

Galant Reflex

  • elicited by holding the newborn in suspension and stroking along the one side of the spine. The newborn will laterally flex toward the stimulated side
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Primitive Reflexes

Asymmetric Tonic neck reflex

  • when a baby's head is turned to one side, the arm on that side stretches out and the opposite arm bends at the elbow

Babkin reflex

  • upon application of pressure on both palms, head flexes and rotates and mouth opens

Placing Reflex

  • lower limbs pressed against flat surface, one leg will flex to place and then extend 

Walking reflex

  • when the soles of an infant's feet touch the floor, they will attempt to walk
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Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skils are large movements, involving the bigger muscles, which require mobility and the coordination these require 

e.g. Rolling over or reaching out 

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Fine Motor Skills

Fine Motor skills involve smaller preicision movement, which requires dexterity and coordination. 

e.g. picking up and holding a pencil, pincer movement

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Gross Motor Skills vs. Fine Motor Skills

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Gross Motor Skills vs. Fine Motor Skills

6 Months

  • Gross motor skills: can raise chest and upper part of abdomen when on stomach 
  • Fine motor skills: follow objects with eyes

9-10 Months:

  • Gross motor skills: crawling, cruising around furniture, reach for toy when in sitting position
  • Fine motor skills: able to release an object voluntarily, gives toy to caregiver when asked

12-13 Months 

  • Gross motor skills: pull to a standing position 
  • Fine motor skills: turn pages of cardboard books
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Gross Motor Skills vs Fine Motor Skills

18 Months 

  • Gross motor skills: can run, though falls easily 
  • Fine motor skills: waves goodbye, scoop objects with spoon or spade

2 Years 

  • Gross motor skills: walks and runs fairly well, can jump with both feet, can climb stairs without support, can kick a ball 
  • Fine motor skills: holds crayon with fingers, able to imitate shapes 

2 1/2 Years

  • Gross motor skills: can balance on one foot for a few seconds, can catch a large ball
  • Fine motor skills: has hand control to build block towers, can string beads on a shoelace
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Gross Motor Skill Changes

3-8 Years

During the preschool years (ages 3/4) and primary school key stage 1 & 2 (aged 5-8), a child learns various new gross motor skills. These new skills are vital for playing with peers. 

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Gross Motor Skills vs Fine Motor Skills

Each child learns these at a different rate, however the following is a general outline of the development of gross motor skills during the preschool years.

2-3 Years 

  • Gross motor skills: walks and runs fairly well, can catch a large ball
  • Fine motor skills: stringing 3-4 large beads, turning single pages in a book

2-4 Years 

  • Gross motor skills: beginning to skip, can ride a tricycle, begins somersaults
  • Fine motor skills: tracing on thick lines, opening zip lock bags, lunch containers, and boxes
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Gross Motor Skills vs Fine Motor Skills

4-5 Years 

  • Gross motor skills: catches a ball reliably, can jump rope, beginning to skate and swim
  • Fine motor skills: cutting along a line continuously, writing their name 

5-6 Years

  • Gross motor skills: skip, gallop, dance, throw and catch a small ball well
  • Fine motor skills: drawing basic pictures, colouring in the lines

6-7 Years

  • Gross motor skills: ride two-wheel bicycle, learn new sports
  • Fine motor skills: pencil control, writing on the lines, using a knife and fork on soft foods 
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Gross Motor Skills vs Fine Motor Skills

7-8 Years

  • Gross motor skills: holding and moving across monkey bars, walking on a balance beam
  • Fine motor skills: tying shoelaces, writing neatly
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Growth spurts

  • In adolescence both boys and girls experience growth spurts and will have lost all baby teeth. Sometimes adult teeth cause issues that are addressed by orthodontic work.


  • Primary sexual characteristics are organs and cells that are present at birth but don't develop until puberty. There are changes in reproductive organs and the pituary gland induced changes. Secondary sexual characteristics, develop during puberty, outward signs of growing from child to adulthood.
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Primary Sexual Characteristics


  • the uterus enlarges and the vagina lengthens 
  • the ovaries begin to release eggs 
  • the menstrual cycle commences


  • enlargement of the penis and testes
  • spontaneous erections caused by blood flowing into chambers in the penis may occur
  • the testicles begin to produce sperm - cbeginning of ***********
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Secondary Sexual Characteristics


  • Breasts develop and the areola swells and darkens 
  • hair grows in armpits and pubic area
  • redistribution of body fat causing hips to widen


  • changes in larynx (adams apple) causing voice to deepen
  • hair grows in armpits and pubic area
  • facial hair 
  • redistribution of muscle tissue and fat
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Early adulthood

Physical strength peaks 

  • 19-28 years old is the age group in which we peak physically. Adults reach their full height and strength, and reaction time, coordination and manual dexterity are also at their peak
  • However, poor lifestyle choices impact on this greatly; obesity, drinking and smoking can create health issues

Relationships; pregnancy & lactation

  • Key phases in a females life, in this age group is pregnancy and lactation. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes during and afterwards which in turn, can cause mood changes and raising children can be very stressful

Perimenopause - PRE - menopause

  • From 40 onwards women may experience physical changes in the reproductive system as oestrgen hormone levels drop on the run up to the menopause. This may cause mood issues, hot sweats and the metabolism slows down so they're more inclined to put on weight.
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Middle Adulthood

Middle aged 'spread' 

Changing hormones from around 45 years-old for both men and women, leads to the slowing down of the metabolism and weight increase. This excess weight tends to accumulate around the tummy area and is referred to as, the middle aged spread 

Muscle decline

Changing hormones also decrease the mscle tone and strength, the older we get so we start to look different thatn our younger selves

Hair colour

As we get older, the pigment cells in our hair follicles gradually die. When there are fewer pigment cells in a hair follicle, that strand of hair will no longer contain as much melanin and will become a more transparent colour - like grey, silver, or white - as it grows

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Middle Adulthood

Skin elasticity reduction

Wrinkles are a natural part of the aging process. As people get older, their skin gets thinner, drier, and less elastic, and less able to protect itself from damage. This leads to wrinkles, creases and lines on the skin. Environmental factors such as smoking and direct sunlight can accelerate the development of wrinkles.

Receding gum line

Almost 10,000 people found that 38% of people aged 30-39 had some degree of the receding gums, compared with 71% in the 50-59 age group, and 90% for those aged 80-90. This causes sensitivity, infections and tooth loss as they becom loose

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Middle Adulthood

The menopause

The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. The menopuase is a natural part of aging that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman's oestrogen levels decline. In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51


An increase in gonadotropins that try to stimulate failing egg production causes a female to experience hot flushes and night sweats, which can leave them feeling tired and dizzy.

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Later adulthood

Life expectancy in the UK

2017 average life expectancy of woman is 82.9 years and of men is 79.2 years

Deterioration of senses; hearing 

  • Hearing loss is the result of sound signals not reaching the brain. There are two main types of hearing loss depending on where the problem lies
  • Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by deterioration to the sensitive hair cells inside the inner ear or damage to the auditory nerve 
  • Conductive hearing loss happens when sounds are unable to pass from your outer ear to your inner ear, often because of a blockage such as earwax which occurs in older age

Deterioration of senses; sight

  • visual impairment is caused by a number of problems but in old age it tends to be the weakening of muscles that help us to see close to or distances. Peripheral vision isn't as good as it used to be and the optical nerve ages
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Later adulthood

Mobility issues

Flexibility in joints, cartilage wastage and injuries can limit movement in older people and make it painful. Further loss of stamina and strength in muscles slow down and restrict movement and injuries take a long time to heal. Balance and coordination become more challenging which all impacts on an older persons independence and mobility

Incontinence problems

  • Weakened muscles at the bladder entrance and the anus causes leakages and the inability to hold on to urine or faeces for long periods 
  • Males experience enlarged prostates with age so bladder size shrinks and urination is frequent. 
  • Older people often worry how close they are to a toilet or require pads or a catheter 
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Later adulthood

Old age and ill health 

  • Immune system gets weaker, flu jabs are offered 
  • Injuries take longer to heal and so are open to infection longer
  • Poor life style choices; obesity, smoking, drinking lead to greater chances of heart disease and diabetes 
  • Kidney filtering systems deteriorate and don't renew
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