chapter  6
20 Pages

Physical Growth and Social Development

In the previous chapters, we portrayed the historical forces and conditions of racial inequality, poverty, and community violence which we argue have significalntly shaped the environments in which Mandela's children are being raised. Though rooted in the past, these forces continue to exert powerful influences in children's lives. In later chapters, we will address how each one specifically affects children's physical and psychosocial development in contemporary South Africa. In addition, we have highlighted several secular trends such as modernization, urbanization, and political transformation which constitute significant challenges for family and community life and which reverberate throughout efforts to raise and socialize children today in South Africa. Child development can refer to children's growth and change across many diverse domains. Most often discussions of child development attempt to identify, describe, and predict patterns in children's cognitive, linguistic, motor, social, behavioral, and emotional functioning and in their physical growth over time. Our treatment of child development will depict children's physical growth and health and emphasize continuities and changes in their socioemotional functioning from birth to age six. We begin by describing the principal assumptions of and issues surrounding contemporary examinations of child development. Then we initiate discussion of the developmental status of Mandela's children by presenting what we have learned about their early physical development and health.