Colección: La Educación
Número: (134-135) I,II
Development is not the same as growth although the two are often used interchangeably. Whereas growth is described by a change in size, development is characterized by changes in complexity and function (Brazleton 1982). A child who learns to coordinate eye and hand movements in order to grasp an object shows a sign of developing a more complex way of thinking, independently of the size of the child. In simple language, child development is, “A process of change in which the child learns to handle ever more complex levels of moving, thinking, feeling, and relating to others.” This definition makes clear that development includes improvements along a physical dimension as well as along mental, emotional and social dimensions. Moreover, these dimensions are interrelated: changes along one dimension both influence and are influenced by development along the others. Emotional development, for instance, affects physical and cognitive development. If a child is under emotional stress and has not developed an ability to cope with stress, the ability to develop physically and to learn can both be affected.
One conclusion from the brief presentation above is that the distinctions among health, nutrition and child development are not as clear as they may seem at first glance. Further, even if relatively narrow definitions are used (absence of disease, food intake or growth and psycho-social well-being), we should pay attention to inter-relationships. Thus, instead of the more common view of health, nutrition and development represented in Figure 1, we should be guided by an emerging view represented in Figure 2. The more limited view depicted in Figure 1, in which social and psychological well being (child development?) is seen only as a by-product of good health and nutrition, undercuts the integration of psychosocial components into nutritional and health actions. It does not allow realization of the potential for effects of improved psychosocial well being on growth and on disease or its absence. By way of contrast, the second formulation of relationships affirms that improvements in the social and psychological condition of both caregiver and child can affect survival and physical development.