Ages and Stages

What To Expect

Knowing a little about child development can help you understand your child's behavior and needs, and how to assist their growth through each stage of life. Of course I'm not going to write a book here, but I'll give some ideas on what to expect concerning social/emotional development from birth to teens, and a few quick tips that might help. Follow the links for more information. Related Post: Sometimes We Forget.

Birth to One Year Old - Babies grow so fast! Developmental milestones during this time usually go under these headings: Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Language, Cognitive, and Social. During well child visits the doctor will ask you questions and evaluate your child's progress in these areas. Pediatricians are trained to recognize if a child is more than 6 months delayed in reaching developmental milestones. However, they do rely on what you tell them, so if you have a concern let the doctor know.

In the first year the most important person is you (parents) and the development of trust. By attending to your baby's needs, your baby develops trust in you and their world. Your baby has needs in all 5 of the developmental areas listed above, and through your loving care you help them grow.

0-1 Babies experiences are processed in their brains through their senses and emotions. They put things in their mouth a lot to see what the world is like. The home must be baby proofed.  Babies are sensitive to the emotions of people around them. Their early language development is based on context; the feelings, circumstances, and visual/auditory cues that go with the words.

1- The one year old is learning to talk, walk and exploreThe home must be baby proofed. One year old's play alongside others but not with others. There may be competition for toys as sharing is meaningless. There may be separation anxiety at times. They enjoy being around older or younger children as well as adults, and may try to imitate others. Between one and 3 years old your baby's brain develops to 80% of it's adult size, and all kinds of connections are being made up there for future learning.

2- While motor skills and language abilities continue to develop, your child is also trying to assert their individuality. They may be negative and demanding at times (the Terrible Two's), but they generally show a  lot of enthusiasm in activities, and are warm & affectionate in general. Creating rituals around the morning & evening schedule -like dressing, brushing teeth, meals, bath time and bedtime- help them feel secure by knowing what to expect, and they usually enjoy this. Related Post: Good Question

3- Three year old's can cooperate better and like to please adults. This is a great age to start teaching manners. They have a longer attention span and will enjoy having playmates. Daily routines can become a source of conflict when they don't want to stop an activity they are interested in. It's not unusual for 3 year old's to still feel insecure at times, or even stutter when they speak.
4- A four year old will act out a wide range of feelings making their behavior sometimes seem "out of bounds". They have found a new sense of freedom in their growing abilities and are exercising their independence. Make rules and consequences clear, and follow through. A good time to start using Magic 1-2-3 if you haven't already. Generally they are very imaginative, lively, sociable & eager to learn.

5- Five year old's will seem more mature and content that 4 year old's. They have stronger motor & language skills, play well alone or with others, and are more likely to use words than hitting. They are becoming more interested in reality and they are ready to learn some responsibility (like caring for a pet and having routine age appropriate chores).

6- Six year old's can seem a bit self-centered and moody. They like getting their own way, being in charge, and winning! Power struggles can be an issue. It's better to emphasize teamwork than competition at this age. They are learning lots of new skills and are generally outgoing.

7- So many experiences and so much growth has happened in such a short time. They are going through a transition and may seem quiet and moody, maybe even complaining. Fairness & "playing by the rules" becomes important. The more routine & secure home feels the more easily they will mature. They will show an increased interest in household responsibilities and have an increased ability to consider the needs of others. Work together and build their skills in these areas.

8- This is a time of greater self-confidence. As they progress in social, intellectual and physical skills they feel more ready to tackle the world. They are usually cooperative and considerate, and fairness is still important to them. They are capable of of building long-lasting friendships and may enjoy team sports.

9- Continues to show independence and self-confidence and may even begin to question parental authority.   Likes to be busy with friends and is a good companion. He realizes that people around him have differing opinions, it's a good time to learn about personality differences. Busy with self initiated projects and school and is more careful about his own possessions. May begin to struggle with moral 7 ethical issues like lying, stealing, and peer pressure. Needs reinforcement in these areas.

10- Ten year old's like being 10 because they are no longer a child, but they are also not a teenager or adult. They still enjoy their family & take pride in their family, so enjoy it while you can! They are usually very social & outgoing, enjoy sleepovers, school & family activities. Developing good parent/child communication habits now will help smooth things out in the future.

11- May feel anxiety about growing up and the changes ahead. Is starting to break away from parental influence and may question or challenge parent's views. They may be hard to live with at times due to their internal turmoil and are prone to emotional outbursts. They can be sensitive to being picked on by others, but generally maintain good relationships with peers. Be available to listen, but don't lower your expectations for behavior.

12- Feeling more mature, the twelve year old looks forward to growing up. They will seem more at ease, friendly and content with life. A good time to take on a little more responsibility like an occasional job or volunteering. Give plenty of opportunity for your child to express their ideas & opinions to you. This will be the foundation for them to talk to you as a teenager.

13- The search for identity begins. They may be touchy, sensitive and introspective. They don't take criticism well and like their privacy. They may seem moody, confused and rebellious at times. Stay positive & confident that "this too shall pass."

14- They are coming to terms with adolescence and their own growth and will seem a little more content. They may feel a little more confident and enjoy their relationships with friends & family more. Build on these time by continuing family & community activities.

15- They yearn for freedom while also feeling anxious about the eventuality of joining the adult world leaving home. They will spend a lot of time with friends. They want and need to make independent decisions and may do so without communicating with you. This is when the relationship you have built in the past will pay off. Explain that you need for them to communicate because you care about them, not because you are trying to control them.

16- They will act more mature and responsible if they feel satisfied in their growing independence. Good time to get a weekend or after school job. They begin to feel as if they are more equal to adults. They will be easier to get along with if they are given responsibility, treated respectfully "like" an adult. However, it's important to remember that they are not completely mature and their brain is not fully capable of thinking like an adult (but they don't understand this).

Books for the teen years: (coming soon)