Children go through distinct periods of development as they grow from infants to young adults. During each of these stages, multiple changes in the development of the brain are taking place. What occurs and approximately when these transitions transpire are genetically determined. However, environmental circumstances and exchanges with key individuals within their environment significantly influence how each child benefits from each developmental event.
“Ages and Stages” is a term used to outline significant periods in the human development timeline. Growth and maturation occur in the primary developmental domains during each stage, including physical, intellectual, language, and social-emotional. Our goal is to help parents understand what is happening in their child’s brain and body during each period. We hope that parents will be able to provide the necessary support, encouragement, structure, and interventions to enable their child to progress through each phase as smoothly and successfully as possible based on their child’s unique set of traits and interests.
Baby (Birth – 2 Years Old) – Infant Development & Parenting Tips
Raising a baby, especially for the first time, is exciting and challenging; this is a time for developing bonds with your child that will last a lifetime, providing them with the inner resources to build self-esteem and relate positively to others. It’s also the time for parents to discover who this new person is in their lives. Each child is unique, and parents need to learn to understand, respect, support and encourage their unique characteristics and abilities.
Toddler Development & Parenting Tips (18 Months – 3 Years)
When a child takes their first steps on their own, a new phase in development begins. At this stage, children are now free to roam around their world. It’s a time for active exploration of their environment. Language development grows significantly, which leads to learning the names of objects of interest and the ability to ask for things. As they discover their independent nature, yes, they will also develop the ability to say, “No!”
A major challenge is forming during this stage: what psychologists call “emotional regulation,” where “meltdowns” are common. Still, parents can use the bond developed during infancy to help their children learn to modulate their emotional expression and begin to grasp the concept of delay of gratification. While they instinctively seem to be able to say “No,” toddlers also need help learning how to accept “No” from others.
This period is also a stage of rapid physical and intellectual development. Children are starting school, which includes interacting cooperatively with peers while at the same time being able to compete physically and intellectually. Parents can be a coach to their children, providing just the right combination of encouragement, support, and guidance. Parents can also serve as their primary teachers for the mastery of fundamental learning while encouraging active discussion and experimentation with new concepts and skills.
Preschooler Development & Parenting Tips (3 – 6 Years Old)
Preschoolers are emerging from toddlerhood to a new exploration and formal learning world. Most have started or will start preschool or prekindergarten and complete this developmental period by entering traditional school in either kindergarten or first grade. Because kindergarten has become more academic and often mirrors what used to be first grade, children usually start kindergarten around the age of six.
Children in this age group are open to learning numbers, letters, beginning reading, and simple math; this is also a critical period for learning music. Kids are improving their gross motor and fine motor skills, which gets them interested in art, crafts, and ride-on toys (wagons, scooters, bikes, etc.). They’re also developing early sports skills, which often leads to participation in organized sports by the end of this phase.
The most important mode of learning for children during this period is playing. Make-believe play of all kinds is attractive and fosters the development of language, socialization, and creativity. Interest in exploring their environment promotes early interest in science. Kids also like to build things out of items around the house and use sets such as Legos, Kinex, blocks, and others.
School-Age Children Development & Parenting Tips (6 – 12 Years Old)
Raising school-age children can be an exciting experience. Watching kids try new activities, cheering them on at athletic events, and applauding their accomplishments at recitals are usually some of the high points for most parents. However, success often precedes frustration and sometimes involves learning to accept one’s weaknesses while celebrating and building on strengths. Well-equipped parents can be excellent coaches for their children no matter the endeavor.
While toddlers and preschoolers need constant supervision, school-age children become gradually ready for more independence. However, learning to make good choices and exercising self-discipline is not easy for many. Parents need to impart a moral code that their child gradually internalizes. As children struggle with these essential tasks, parents must be able to provide praise and encouragement. Still, they must also allow their kids sometimes to experience the natural consequences of their behavior or provide logical consequences to help them learn from mistakes.
Parenting Teenagers – Adolescent Development & Parenting Tips (13 – 18 Years Old)
There is no doubt that the teen years present a challenge for parents and children in most families.
Middle School is not fondly remembered by most who attend. It’s often fraught with scary body changes, bullying by peers, and a new surge for independence. This leads to passive-aggressive behavior (“I’ll do it in a minute.”), self-consciousness (“What are you staring at?”), self-doubt (“I’m not good at anything.”), and/or over-confidence (“Well, I thought I could do that.”), and moodiness (“Leave me alone.”).
High School is usually better for most. It’s a time to begin defining oneself and realistically contemplate the future. Skill development is accelerated to prepare for college or job training programs, and talents are perfected. Social skills become more refined, and relationships become more serious. Peer pressure is at its max, and in today’s teen society, there are more tempting sidetracks than before.
During adolescence, kids need their parents more than ever. Research shows that teens can navigate these years with relative ease in a positive family environment, including fun family activities, open parent-child communication, and encouragement to participate in positive extracurricular activities.