The Stages of Development: Birth to Age Five
Childhood is more than how a child grows. It's about the series of stages a child goes through to get to adulthood. Going through childhood is work, a lot of work. Each stage of a child's life has different demands on the child. A new parent may not always be aware of what is considered "normal" during the various stages of their child's life. Below are a few examples of the various stages.
Birth to Age One: This is the most important time in your baby's life. Babies often cry because they're hungry, tired, bored, or uncomfortable (for various reasons: wet, diaper rash, etc.) Many times babies cry to find out how their parents will respond. This is cause and effect. It's normal for a certain amount of fussing and crying to continue throughout a day. Be aware of your baby, and you will know how to react. If you feel that something more might be going on, besides the normal fussing, contact your pediatrician. This is also the age when babies are developing their motor skills. Your baby is looking to you for approval during this time. It's ok to make a big fuss over babies when they begin to exhibit their motor skills: trying to sit up, rolling over, standing, etc.
Age Two: Many of us have heard of the terrible twos. This is often a time when your child is trying to establish his/her identity. They may seem difficult to handle, but the reality is that they are simply trying to establish themselves. Give them opportunities to choose what they want to wear, read, or what toys to play with. Try to guide them instead of being in complete control of all their decisions.
Age Three: The terrible twos and threes may seem to be two years of difficulties for the parents. But, not all parents see it that way. This is the time when your child is curious about his/her world. The question "why" comes up a lot. Be patient with your child's questions. Give your children the the opportunity to explore. This is also the time when toilet training begins. Some children will take longer than others with toilet training. Be patient and consistent with how you handle this period. Some children may continue to wet themselves. Mistakes happen. If your child seems to be having a lot of difficulty with toilet training, talk with your pediatrician. There may be something wrong.
Age Four: By this age your child may develop fears or phobias. Try to reassure your child that you will always be there for her. Children at this age are also looking for the approval of their peers. Children need interaction with their peers to explore these feelings. You may also notice that your child is developing new behaviors. Do not be alarmed. Do not pressure your child to stop if you are uncomfortable with the new behavior. Most times, it is just a phase. It's usually a good idea to talk with your child about the behavior.
Age Five: Have you ever noticed how little ones love to please others, especially adults. Be patient with your children if you find that they are constantly following you around. Give them opportunities to spend time with you, help out. Praise them when they do a good job, even if it isn't quite what you wanted. Children also suffer from separation anxiety at this age. Do not feel guilty about leaving your little one with a sitter when you need to go out. If you are leaving your child with a sitter for the first time, it's a good idea to have the sitter come over and spend time with your child while you are there.
by Wendy Greif
Wendy Greif is a mother and graduate of USF in Special Education. She has taught children with various disabilities in both South Carolina and Florida. Mrs. Greif operates an informational website for parents and caregivers of children and/or adults with special needs (http://www.specialneedschildrenandadults.com).