When people speak about ages and stages, they are referring to 4 stages of child development from birth until the age of 18. During each stage, children develop physically, intellectually, and emotionally in a significant way. Each child is unique, however, the predominant developmental issues are the same. Factors such as environment, education, social circumstances, upbringing and others have a bearing on a child’s development and help to shape each child until she/he reaches adulthood.
Psychologists and educators have described each stage in an effort to educate parents and equip them with the tools required to support and nurture their children.
During each stage, a child’s body, brain, and emotional being take a significant step forward and it is up to parents to try to support and guide their kids to the best of their abilities.
Stage I – Baby 0-2 Years
The first two years in a child’s life are crucial, especially when it comes to her/his ability to form lasting relationships and interact constructively with others. Apart from the major physical growth, the introduction of communication, and the discovery of the world around them, babies learn about self-esteem, trust, and bonding. The more positively parents interact with their baby, the stronger the relationships she/he will be able to form in later life.
This is also a time for parents to discover little personality traits and the onset of abilities, likes, and dislikes.
Stage II – Toddlers 2-5
A child certainly comes on in leaps and bounds between the ages of 2 and 5. For starters, she/he learn to walk and this new, incredible skill teaches her/him the concept of movement and exploration. All of a sudden, within reason, a child can choose where to go and is no longer dependent on a parent or carer to bring him to a particular place. This gives a child an immense sense of freedom and independence, both of which should be encouraged by parents.
Learning how to speak is the next major leap, as is the understanding of the word “no”, which ultimately lies at the heart of the well-known toddler tantrums. Not only does she/he learn to refuse to do something, but she/he also experiences restrictions from parents or carers. Parents ought to gently support the child in grasping these aspects of everyday relationships and help their child to respond more maturely over time.
During this time, parents also need to prepare their child for school and, ideally, take their child on a lifelong learning journey.
Stage III – School Age Children
As children venture out into the world and go to school, they start to lead a life away from their parents. They learn to make choices, take instructions from other adults, make friends, endure and resolve conflicts, and how to integrate socially. This is an extremely important stage in a child’s life because, for the very first time, she/he experiences true independence and responsibility.
Children also discover their own abilities, likes, and dislike and may at times experience failure and disappointment. The role of a parent is to guide the child, often from a distance, and provide a support system and a sounding board.
It is also important for parents to give their children a behavioral code to equip them to make good choices in relationships and at school.
Stage IV – Adolescence
No doubt, adolescence is a challenging time, not only for the teenager her/himself but for the entire family. Hormonal changes produce a plethora of emotions and the step from childhood into adulthood needs completion. A supportive, loving family environment, as well as enjoyable out-of-school activities, can make the transition considerably easier.
Parents need to allow their teenagers to find their feet and set out their stall as adults and in some way accept the fact that the behavior associated with teenagers, i.e. moodiness, is entirely normal.
Nowadays, peer pressure is immense, making a nurturing, supportive family environment all the more crucial.
These are the four main ages and stages, and perhaps, parents need to constantly remind themselves just how extensive and drastic the scope of child development really is. On a daily basis, a child learns and grows and continually requires love and support.