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Difference between Growth and Development

We have often heard our parents saying, 'this is important for your growth.' Many advertisements on television usually try to guide us as to what is important for our growth over the years, i.e., what we must eat, drink or play for better growth. Now, we are always confused between growth and development. In schools, we are taught that growth and development are essential for a child. But what do growth and development mean? We must not confuse ourselves between these two terms.


Growth can be defined as the development of a person in age, height, weight, habits, etc. In biology, growth is considered as an increase in the size of an organ or cell. Growth can be called as the fundamental function of the body. In terms of plants, the growth is indefinite. The seed or sapling grows to be an adult plant wherein the growth is indefinite, i.e., we might not know from where the plant is growing and where it is going to reach.

Growth vs Development


On the other hand, development is defined as the growth process wherein a person develops in relation to physical, environmental, and social factors. Development can have several meanings. In terms of children, the development of a child depends upon several factors like physical, nutritional, genetic, and environmental. Now, what are the points of contrast between growth and development? Let us look at some crucial points.

1. Growth is defined as the development of a person in weight, age, size, and habits. On the other hand, development is defined as the process wherein a person's growth is visible in relation to the physical, environmental, and social factors.
2. Growth is a process that focuses on quantitative improvement. For instance, a child visibly grows in weight and height. Development focuses on both qualitative and quantitative refinement. For instance, a child's IQ increases with the growing age.
3. Growth is limited to a certain level, i.e., a person's height grows till a certain age. On the other hand, a person is developing every single day in terms of his/ her habits, maturity level, IQ, etc.
4. Growth depends upon the cellular changes, i.e., a child grows into an adult. The child undergoes many changes throughout his/ her childhood to adulthood. Development is basically dependent upon organizational growth, i.e., the environment in which a child lives or studies affect them immensely. The skill-set of a child changes in such an environment. For instance, a child develops reading habits or acquires an interest in the abacus.
5. Growth can be considered as physical growth that is seen from one stage to another. On the other hand, development is considered as a gradual change in skill-sets, behaviour, habits, etc.
6. Growth is an external process. Development is an internal process.
7. Growth changes the physical changes of a person. On the other hand, development changes the character of a person.
8. Growth is limited, i.e., it happens till a particular point in time. Development takes place throughout life, i.e., it doesn't depend upon time or age.
9. Growth focuses on only one aspect, i.e., an increase in the child's size. Development focuses on various aspects like interpersonal skills, intelligence, etc.
10. Growth is structural. Development is considered as functional.
11. Growth is influenced by development. Development is not dependent upon growth.

So, these are some points of contrast between growth and development. Well, there are four types of human growth. Let us first look at them.

  1. Physical Growth: Physical growth refers to bodily growth that includes weight, height, and other types of development in the body.
  2. Mental Growth: Mental Growth develops the child's mind that helps the child solve problems, make judgements, etc.
  3. Emotional Growth: Emotional Growth refers to the growth of feelings like love, joy, anger, hate, etc., in an individual.
  4. Social Growth: Social Growth refers to the growth of an individual through interaction with other social groups.

So, these are the four significant types of growth. But growth and development are not only limited to humans. They also occur in plants as well. So, let us discuss about that. There are three types of growth in plants.

  1. Primary/ Secondary Growth: Primary/ Secondary growth is defined as the growth wherein the plant grows in length. This increase in height is termed as primary growth. On the other hand, when the diameter of a plant gets increased, then it is known as secondary growth.
  2. Vegetative Growth: The formation of a plant, along with its leaves, branches, stems, etc., is known as vegetative growth. The vegetative growth takes place in a plant before flowering.
  3. Reproductive growth: When the flowering in a plant begins, it is called reproductive growth.

So, these are the three kinds of growth that occur in plants. Now, there are several factors that affect the growth and development of plants. Let us take a look at them.

  1. Light: Light is responsible for carrying out the process of photosynthesis.
  2. Water: Water is used by the plants for carrying out biochemical processes in plants.
  3. Temperature: Every creature needs an appropriate environment to grow and sustain. Temperature helps the organisms to grow and reproduce.
  4. Nutrients: The plants require minerals and nutrients in order to sustain and grow. Minerals and nutrients improve the metabolism of the plants that result in their growth.

These are the external factors determining the growth of a plant. Along with some external elements, there are some internal factors as well. In humans, somatotrophin is a hormone that is responsible for growth. Similarly, in plants, there are several hormones responsible for growth. These hormones are:

  • Auxins
  • Cytokinins
  • Ethylene
  • Abscisic Acid
  • Gibberellins

These hormones together are known as plant growth regulators. So, these were some of the factors determining the growth of a plant. Growth and development take place in humans, plants, and animals. Growth and development help a creature in sustaining to the environment they live in. In humans, growth and development are considered very necessary because when a child grows and develops into an intelligent individual, he/ she helps the nation in becoming developed. A human being is considered to be developed because of his/ her characteristics like behaviour, habits, attitude, maturity, etc. Thus, growth and development are significant for a child.

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