Understanding The 5 Stages Of Child Development

There are five main stages of child development: infancy, toddlerhood, preschool, school age, and adolescence.

During infancy (birth to 1 year), babies learn about the world around them through their senses. They also start to develop a sense of trust or mistrust based on how they are treated by their caregivers.

Toddlerhood (1 to 3 years) is a time of exploration as children become more mobile and discover that they have some control over their environment. At this stage, it is essential for parents to provide consistent limits and routines to help children feel safe and secure.

Preschool (3 to 5 years) is a time of dramatic physical and cognitive growth. During this stage, children learn best through hands-on experiences and need plenty of opportunities to explore their world.

School-age (6 to 12 years) is a time when kids are developing more advanced thinking skills and a greater sense of self. At this stage, it is essential for parents to provide support and encouragement as children learn and grow.

elementary children

Photo by Lukas

Adolescence (12 to 18 years) is a time of rapid physical, cognitive and emotional changes. During this stage, teens are exploring their independence and identity. Therefore, it is essential for parents to provide guidance and support during this time of transition.

No matter what stage your child is in, there are things you can do to help them thrive. 

Here Are Some Tips For Each Stage:

Infancy:

Provide plenty of love and affection: 

Babies need lots of physical and emotional closeness to feel secure and loved. So respond to your baby’s cues for feeding, cuddling, and comforting.

Promote physical activity: 

Babies are born with a natural interest in movement. So encourage your baby to move by providing plenty of floor time for exploring, crawling, and cruising.

Stimulate your baby’s senses: 

Babies learn about the world around them through their senses. So offer your baby a variety of toys and experiences that stimulate their sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.

Respond to your baby’s needs promptly: 

Babies communicate their needs through crying. Therefore, respond to your baby’s cries promptly and offer comfort and support.

Toddlerhood:

Provide plenty of love and affection:

Toddlers need lots of physical and emotional closeness to feel secure and loved. So respond to your toddler’s cues for cuddling, comforting, and play.

Promote physical activity:

Toddlers are full of energy and need plenty of opportunities to run, jump and explore. So provide a safe environment for your toddler to play in and limit sedentary activities such as TV time.

Stimulate your toddler’s senses:

Toddlers learn about the world around them through their senses. So offer your toddler a variety of toys and experiences that stimulate their sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.

Encourage your toddler’s independence:

Toddlers are exploring their independence and beginning to assert their autonomy. Encourage your toddler to try new things and do things on their own.

Set consistent limits and provide clear expectations:

Toddlers need consistent limits and clear expectations to feel safe and secure. Establish rules and routines that are appropriate for your child’s age and development level.

Encourage your toddler to express their feelings in appropriate ways:

Toddlers may express their feelings through challenging behavior such as tantrums. Encourage your child to express their feelings in appropriate ways, such as using words, drawing, or playing.

Help your toddler learn to share and take turns:

Toddlers may have difficulty sharing and taking turns. Help your child learn these important social skills by modeling, sharing, and taking turns yourself.

Preschool:

Encourage your preschooler’s independence:

Preschoolers are becoming more independent and need opportunities to practice their new skills. Encourage your preschooler to try new things and do things on their own.

Encourage your child’s interests and help them explore the world around them:

Preschoolers are full of curiosity and love to explore. Encourage your child’s interests and help them learn about the world around them.

Help your preschooler learn to share and take turns:

Preschoolers may have difficulty sharing and taking turns. Help your child learn these essential social skills by modeling, sharing, and taking turns yourself.

Help your preschooler develop self-control:

Preschoolers may have difficulty controlling their emotions and behaviors. Help your child develop self-control by setting limits and providing clear expectations.

Foster creativity and imagination:

Preschoolers are natural explorers who learn best through hands-on experiences. Encourage your child’s creativity by providing materials for art, music, dramatic play, and other imaginative activities.

Promote language and literacy development:

Preschoolers are acquiring the skills they need for reading and writing. Encourage your child’s love of language by reading together, telling stories, and singing songs. If you don’t know the appropriate age to introduce ready, take a look at this guide, When Do Kids Learn To Read: A Helpful Guide.

Stimulate your child’s mind:

Preschoolers are rapidly growing mentally and intellectually. Provide opportunities for your child to solve problems, think critically, and learn new things.

School-age:

Support your child’s learning:

School-age children are developing more advanced thinking skills and expanding their knowledge base. Help your child succeed in school by providing a quiet place to study, helping with homework, and staying involved in their education.

Encourage physical activity:

School-age children need plenty of opportunities to be active. Promote physical activity by enrolling your child in sports, taking family walks or bike rides together, and playing active games.

children

Photo by Kampus Production

Foster social and emotional development:

School-age children are developing a greater sense of self and beginning to interact more with their peers. Help your child navigate these waters by teaching them social skills and encouraging positive relationships.

Help your child develop a positive sense of self-esteem:

A healthy sense of self-esteem is key to your child’s success in school and in life. Help your child develop a positive sense of self-esteem by praising their accomplishments, spending quality time together, and providing unconditional love and support.

Encourage your child to try new things and persist in the face of setbacks:

It’s essential for children to develop a sense of grit and determination. Help your child build these skills by encouraging them to try new things and persist in the face of setbacks.

Adolescence:

Encourage academic success:

Adolescents are under pressure to succeed academically. Help your teenager reach their full potential by staying involved in their education, providing resources for success, and helping them manage stress.

Foster social and emotional development:

Adolescents are navigating the waters of social and emotional development. Help your teenager navigate these waters by teaching them social skills, encouraging positive relationships, and modeling healthy coping mechanisms.

Promote healthy habits:

Adolescents are undergoing rapid physical changes and need to develop healthy habits to support their growing bodies. Encourage your teen to eat a balanced diet, get regular exercise and get enough sleep.

teens

Photo by olia danilevich

Help your teen manage stress:

Adolescents are under a lot of pressure to succeed in school, make friends and fit in. Help your teen manage stress by teaching them healthy coping skills and providing support and encouragement.

Promote open communication and provide support and guidance:

Adolescents are developing their own identities and may want to assert their independence. Promote open communication by talking with your teen about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Provide support and guidance as they navigate this transition.

Model healthy behavior:

Adolescents are influenced by the adults in their lives. Help your teen make healthy choices by modeling healthy behavior yourself.

Encourage your teen to express their feelings in appropriate ways:

Adolescents are going through a lot of changes and may feel a wide range of emotions. Help your teen express their feelings in appropriate ways by encouraging them to talk to you or another trusted adult, write in a journal or participate in creative activities.

Help your teen learn to make responsible decisions:

Adolescents are faced with many choices and decisions. Help your teen make responsible decisions by teaching them about the consequences of their choices, encouraging them to think through their options, and providing guidance when needed.

In Closing

Regardless of your child’s development stage, remember that they need your love and support. By providing guidance and encouraging positive growth, you can help your child thrive at every stage of life.

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Lisa Ehrman
Lisa Ehrman
Lisa has been blogging since 2013, and loves sharing resources and ideas for living a simple life. To get free printables, bonus words, and more - sign up for the newsletter.

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