Last Updated 25 Mar 2020

Physical Development and Health in Middle Childhood

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Physical Development and Health in Middle Childhood

Rosibel CastroPhysical Development in Middle Childhood The hidden changes in children's bodies that enable the movements so familiar to us-riding bikes, climbing, jumping, skipping (p.289). Between the ages of 6 and 12, children grow 2 to 3 inches and add about 6 pounds each year. Girls age range are head of boys.

Girls also have more body fat and less muscle tissue than boys (p.290). Bones mature in such a regular and predictable way that physicians use bone age as the best single measure of a child's physical maturation. The process of bone development gives us a powerful argument in favor of increased exercise or physical activity for children.

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The endocrine system strongly influences physical growth and development. During the middle school years, the glands of the endocrine system change gradually in ways to prepare the body for the momentous changes that will occur during sexual maturation, or puberty. A muscle mass increases in middle childhood, so does strength.

Boys and girls differ in strength in two ways:

  • Boys outperform girls on measures of strength, including tasks that involve using the muscles to apply pressure to a device used to measure muscle force.
  • The ratio of strength to body size is greater amongst boys, thus boys require less effort to move their bodies through space than girls do. Both boys and girls become stronger during middle childhood.

Children's capacity for extended physical activity (stamina) rises steeply across the middle childhood years as well. (Gabbard,2008). If we observe children at the playgrounds, we will notice that preschoolers display short bursts of physical activity followed by periods of rest. Changes in stamina are linked to growth of the heart and lungs, which is evident during later years of middle childhood.

These changes enable children bodies to take in more oxygen and to distribute it throughout the body more efficiently. Two major growth spurts happen in the brain during middle childhood. (Spreen, Risser, ; Edgell, 1995). In most healthy children, the first takes place between the ages 6 and 8, the second between the ages 10 and 12. Both spurts involve development of new synapses as well as increase in the thickness of the cortex.

Some of the first motor skills infants use are eye movements, and slowly this expands to movement of the arms, legs, and hands (even though they're uncoordinated). Eventually, the child begins crawling and walking. Gross motor skills involve activities like rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and walking. These allow the child to gain new perspectives from which to evaluate their surrounding environment, enabling them to begin learning social skills and rules.

Fine motor skills involve more intricate tasks like touching, grabbing, and manipulating objects, enabling learning about the details of different objects and people. Advances in both gross and fine motor skills interact to allow children to develop sports skills such as hitting a baseball. About one-quarter to one-third of children in the united states suffer from allergies, immune reactions to substances called allergens. Children who have respiratory allergies experience sneezing, stuffy noses, and more frequent sinus infections.

Food allergies can affect the respiratory system as well. The most frequent cause of school absences is asthma. Asthma is a chronic lung disease in which individuals experience sudden, potentially fatal attacks of breathing difficulty.

An acute illness has the following characteristics:

  • Onset is usually abrupt and from a single cause
  • Develops quickly and worsens rapidly, such as an infection, trauma or injury
  • Usually isolated to one bodily area
  • Can be diagnosed and responds to treatment
  • Acute pain stops when the illness is healed
  • May heal by itself or can be treated and returned to normal within a few days or up to three months
  • If it lasts longer than three months, it may be the start of a chronic illness

The following are generally descriptive of chronic illnesses:

  • Onset is commonly gradual
  • Duration is lengthy and indefinite
  • Cause is usually multiple and can be a combination of genetic and environmental factors
  • Diagnosis is often uncertain; getting an accurate diagnosis can be a long, difficult process

There is no cure and requires management over time In my opinion, we do most of the learning about our bodies during middle childhood, the reason I say this is because, we learn about ourselves, the environment around us, this is the time when we are truly exposed to everything out there.

Children are aware that they have allergies, they know they need their asthma pumps if they start having trouble breathing. During this time children know what kind of sports they want to play and they know what limits to push their bodies too. If a child is obese he will not want to join any sports not only because he might be "fat shamed" but also because he knows his body is not prepare to be put into the sports routine.


The Growing Child, Denise Boyd, Helen Bee 2009.

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