Childhood Physical Development – More Than Just Physical Health

A fetus is in the womb – floating in water. The water supporting it, holds it and at the same time allows it to move within the body that carries it. And it floats and swims with pleasure in it.

A baby is born – suddenly there is no water, nothing to support it.

 

Gravity

There is a force: the force of gravity, which forces it to exercise muscles in order to stabilize. But how will it know which muscles it needs to exercise? And from where will it draw the power to activate them?

Childhood physical development is of the greatest importance. Proper development of it is crucial.

The equilibrium system begins to develop in the fetus while still in the womb.

If the pregnancy is normal and the mother is active and mobile during pregnancy, the baby has the opportunity to experience movement when it is protected and does not have to put in too much effort to balance itself. Then the equilibrium system develops normally.

But there is still a long way to go before the equilibrium system reaches full maturity. The sensory organ of the equilibrium system is in the ear. The organ is sensitive to movement and transmits messages to the brain when it senses a change in the position of the body in space. When the baby is born it is born with an equilibrium system that supposedly completes its physiological development but requires a lot of learning until it reaches full function.

 

Learning through experience

The equilibrium system learns through different experiences in movement. Without experiences the system does not perform learning and without learning it will not be able to reach full function. Any action that requires movement, from a small action of an infant such as lifting its head, or in an adult such as tying a shoelace or writing with a pen, to larger actions such as walking, running and jumping, requires the use of the balance system at different levels and in different ways, depending on the action.

 

There is a correlation between the equilibrium system at the physiological level and the mental equilibrium. Imagine a child whose balance system is underdeveloped compared to its peers: Every time he runs with his friends he stumbles, fails to catch a ball thrown at him, when he sits down to eat he gets all dirty and pollutes his surroundings.

Such a child will feel threatened whenever he is required to deal with the balance system. It is clear of course that he will have no interest in engaging in physical activity, and may be the object of ridicule in the eyes of those around him, which can lead to a decrease in self-confidence. For such a child, every walk from place to place is like walking on a thin, high rope – like a circus tumbler. Every step has to be calculated, the amount of energy he has to invest in order not to fall is enormous.

In contrast, a child with a well-developed balance system will not easily shy away from new balance challenges. He will be able to trust his body and his movements and feel a sense of independence. And even when he does occasionally fall it will not threaten him and he will simply get back up and try again.

 

Trust nature

It is advisable not to try to push the baby through the developmental stages – for example not to seat him ahead of time, so that the movement system and the balance system can be built in stages and not skip important experiences of balancing. The experience of moving from crawling to sitting, learning to switch between different types of sitting and to move from sitting to standing, all need to ripen in their own perfect time. The transition between the various stages of development is one of the significant tools in the learning of the system.

Towards the walking stage it is important to see that the baby learns to walk in an environment that on the one hand does not endanger him if he falls, but on the other hand is challenging and is not built as only flat surfaces.

It is important to convey to the baby a message that falling is okay and is part of the learning process of the balance system.

 

Experiences like rocking on a swing (without a backrest), gliding on a slide and running after a rolling ball greatly develop the system. Bicycles, scooters and similar vehicles are also excellent for developing the system of balance and the physical body.

 

Much more than just physical

It is worth remembering that motor ability has a great impact not only on the physiological state, but also on the whole world of emotion and security of the child in himself and in his environment.

Rudolf Steiner claimed that the first seven years of a child’s life are the years of building the physical body. By the age of seven, the age at which the milk teeth are replaced by permanent teeth, an amazing and accelerated growth occurs in a child, which will never happen again in his life this way:

Within a year of birth he doubles his weight. Internal organs such as the heart, lungs and gastrointestinal organs reach their full development and take their final shape only at the end of the first seven years.

As the body, movement, experience of space and senses develop more harmoniously and completely, so will the child’s mental abilities develop to their best and most balanced state.

I have researched a little into the world of Balance Bikes & Scooters. If you haven’t got those already for your child, you’re welcome to have a look.

 

I hope you found this insightful. If you have any questions or thoughts on the matter you are very welcome to leave them down here and I’ll get back to you.

 

Have a nice day,

Nirit

 

12 thoughts on “Childhood Physical Development – More Than Just Physical Health”

  1. I can’t thank my dad enough for putting me through such rigorous training sessions from an early age. I learned to battle obstacles, and my confidence and self-belief have been peaking rapidly during and after my teenage years.

    It is crucial to take care of both our physical and mental health since they’re equally important and dependent on one another. Embarking on such a journey from an early age will only give you a head start and a massive advantage in life.

    Reply
    • Hi.
      I agree with what you wrote.
      More important than advantage I think it helps you lead a happy and fulfilling life for yourself.
      I hope that’s how you feel with yours 🙂
      Thank you,
      Nirit

      Reply
  2. Hi Nirit,

    A friend of mine took early childhood studies and had to learn a couple of very medical and scientific modules in her degree course. This article just reminded me of how crucial the first few years of a child’s growth.

    I have nieces and nephews myself and seeing them grow is a joy, they all have their own progression. It’s actually fascinating how they learn, like your said, naturally with experience. Perhaps now I’ll observe them a bit more.

    I really enjoyed this article. It’s an insightful one!

    Cheers.
    SAM

    Reply
    • Hi.
      Just found your comment.
      Yes.. children are fascinating.
      All poeple are really 🙂
      I’m glad you enjoyed the read.
      Nirit

      Reply
  3. Hello Nirit, Thanks for sharing this beautiful article. It made me understand that childhood physical development is more than just physical health. I would always love to know and study more about childhood because mine wasn’t so great. I am very happy I came across this article. It has my mood changed at this point in time. What if there aren’t any toys??

    Reply
    • Hi.

      Sorry to hear your childhood wasn’t so great. Mine had a lot of difficulty too. I think that’s one of the reasons I chose to care for kids as an adult. To give them a warm nice start 🙂

      Children don’t really need many toys. They find interest in anything that they come across. That is part of their magic. They are content with anything.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and write to me. 

      All the best,

      Nirit

      Reply
  4. From my experience taking care of my family members, every child has a different physical development like you mentioned. I have just found out recently that some of the tools such as the baby walker can slow down the child walking performance, I grew up with that tool! Anyway, I think as long as we just let the child observe and experience the development themselves without interrupting them, they should be fine. 

    Reply
    • I agree that in most cases we simply need to let nature take its course.

      A baby walker is great fun for toddlers that are nearly walking, but I believe it’s best to let their muscles and balance system develop completely, which might be disturbed with a baby walker.

      Saying that, there are always so many factors involved. For instance – if the toddler is really frustrated for not being able to walk and screams all day – and a baby walker makes him happy – it’s something I would consider as well.

      Reply
  5. This is such an important article.  I spent many years working with developmentally disabled children.  Often parents would push kids to do things that they wanted to see like saying a word or something, but some of the basic development of very early muscle tone and control were not seen as important. Your point about running without falling or catching a ball is so simple yet so much a part of socialization and learning.  Thanks for the article.

    Reply
    • I couldn’t agree more. In my many years of working with children, I have seen too many of them begin to develop issues that were all solved by going back to basic – climbing, running, sliding, jumping.. Sometimes things are simple. Thank you very much for your comment. You put a smile on my face.

      Reply
  6. Hi Nirit,

    Great!

    Your article shed light on the importance of physical development in early childhood as they are growing at a rapid pace.
    Growth and nutrition are equally important, physical activity is very important for overall development like making them crawl, walk, roll, jump, etc.

    Its the responsibility of every parent to help their child learn and develop to engage them in physical activities that meet the child’s physical needs.

    This helps build a healthier body, stronger bones, muscles as well as better motor skills, concentration, and thinking skills.
    Thanks for sharing the importance of physical development among children through this amazing article.

    Cheers!,
    Samantha

    Reply
    • Hi Samantha.
      Glad you found it useful.
      I find children don’t actually need much help normally. Just like they learn to lift their heads and roll over, they know what needs to be done to keep developing. All we have to do as the adults in charge is to allow them to do what they know, while making sure they are safe.

      Reply

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