Prenatal period (Conception to birth)
The prenatal period has six important characteristics, each of which has a lasting effect on development. It is the period at which the hereditary endowment which serves as the foundation for the later development is fixed. The sex of the newly created individual is fixed at the time of conception.
Infancy (Birth to 2nd week)
The first two weeks of life is the time needed for a newborn to adjust to the new environment outside its mother’s body. Infants must begin to breathe on their own and get nourishment by sucking and swallowing, instead of receiving it through the umbilical cord. The infant organs of elimination begin to work soon after birth. The neonate has to learn to make adjustments with the fluctuating temperature.
Babyhood (end of 2nd week to the end of 2nd year)
Babyhood is also known as toddler-hood especially in the second year of life. The child attempts to acquire language and learns to develop intimate ties with others. It is the period for the beginning of socialization.
Early Childhood (two to six years)
Childhood is divided into early childhood and late childhood. The end of babyhood till the child enters school marks early childhood. This is the period between two to six years of life.
Late Childhood (six to ten or twelve years)
This stage starts with the child formally enters the school after completing five years of early parts of childhood. It is a critical age for acquiring academic as well as extra-curricular activities and habits. Once formed, habits of working below, above, or up to one’s capacity tend to persist into adulthood. Acceptance by their age mates and membership in a gang is an important characteristic of this age. They show conformity to group approved standards in aspects of appearance, speech, and behavior.
Puberty (ten or twelve to thirteen or fourteen years)
Puberty is a relatively short period, lasting for two to four years. It encompasses the closing years of childhood and the beginning years of adolescence. Puberty is characterized by rapid growth and marked changes in body proportions. Children take an “anti” attitude towards life or seem to be losing some of the good qualities previously developed.
Adolescence (thirteen or fourteen to eighteen years)
Adolescence is a transitional period during which rapid physical and behavioral changes take place. Both boys and girls show conformity to group standards which is important to their socialization. They begin to crave for identity. Unrealistic aspirations of adolescents are responsible for their heightened emotionality.
Early Adulthood (eighteen to forty years)
Early adulthood is settling down and reproductive age. This period stretches from the point at which the person is legally adult (at eighteen years) to the point when the person undertakes adult work and family roles. Choosing a vocation, getting appropriate education or training, and formulating ideas about the selection of a mate or someone to have a close relationship characterize this stage.
Middle age (forty to sixty years)
Middle adulthood or middle age is the time when men and women undergo menopause. It is a time for not only financial and social success, but also for authority and prestige. People of this age participate in community life beyond the family and reaffirm the values of life that have real meaning.
Old age (sixty years and above)
The term “senility” is used to refer to the period of old age when there are a physical breakdown and mental disorganization. The elderly occupy a minority group status in the family and society due to unfavorable social attitudes towards the aged. Poor adjustment is the characteristic of old. age and their desire for rejuvenation is widespread in all cultures.