Holistic development is the development of the ‘whole self’. To gain a better understanding on what holistic development means let us first define the term ‘holism’. In philosophy, holism is the theory that different parts of a whole are interconnected, and that they cannot exist independent of each other.
However, it would be difficult to understand these parts without taking into consideration the ‘whole’ which is perceived as the total of all parts.
For example, in natural medicine, holism refers to treating a person’s illness while considering other factors, such as psychological and environmental, rather than just merely treating the visible symptoms. To overcome the condition, the patient is treated as a whole, with all the connecting parts having a role.
So, by these definitions, holistic development refers to how every aspect or part of a person’s life is interconnected. Each part is affected by, and also affects, other parts.
All these parts combine to make up what this person is or will be, whether it be an infant, child, or a mature adult. Holistic development also incorporates a comprehensive learning approach whereby a person’s physical, mental, emotional, and social needs are not just met, but continuously improved.
Understanding the Basics of Holistic Development
Let’s take a look at what holistic physical development means by looking at how children develop. The physical development of a child includes physical growth, such as increase in height and body mass. It also includes control of muscle movements, such as coordination and strength development.
If you’re a parent, you can help your child’s physical development in a positive way, by encouraging the interest in sports and exposing them to activities that help them hone and develop their physical skills.
Mental development refers to a person’s thinking and comprehension. It also involves the development of analytical thinking, logic, and memory skills. Again, let’s look at a child’s development.
Developing this aspect does not mean that you have to force your child to learn complex mathematical algorithms or play complicated mind games. If you do, there can be a risk that your child may become reluctant in some areas of learning. When overwhelmed, children and adults alike may shut off instead of accepting new and possibly essential knowledge.
Mental development can be encouraged positively by providing stimulating mind games that suit the child’s age, comprehension, interests and preferred style of learning.
Emotional development ultimately results in emotional intelligence and emotional maturity. This enables a person to respond in a manner that is appropriate to the situation or circumstance, providing the best possible outcome for the person and anyone else involved. Emotional intelligence allows a person to appreciate life’s gifts and to experience more joy, and less destructive negative behaviors.
Emotional development includes the ability to learn and know how to control emotions at the appropriate times. Learning how to control anger and emotional upset, for example, makes a person happier within. If they can control emotional outbreaks and understand why they feel the way they do at certain times, it will help them develop emotional wellness.
Developing the ability to manage different emotions will help prepare a person face complex issues throughout their life.
Social development refers to how an individual interacts and communicates with others. It involves the ability to develop, maintain and nurture relationships.
Social development isn’t ‘developed’ through individual efforts. It involves the concerted efforts of family, friends and the people in the community. The knowledge and beliefs you have about yourself are largely influenced by the society in which you live and are surrounded by.
It Is All Holistic
None of the above areas can be either improved or degraded in isolation. If one area is modified for better or worse, there will be compounding effects on the other aspects also. This is the beauty of holistic development – working to improve any area of your life will have great benefit (often unexpected) in other areas too!