16:20 28 March 2017
Having a front-row seat to your child’s life is one of the most rewarding experiences a parent can have. While each child does develop at his or her own pace, it is important to keep in mind that there are certain milestones that can be expected by each age. By maintaining awareness and recognising any red flags along the way, you will be better equipped as a parent to support your child’s development.
Here is a preview of what you can expect along their journey.
With a baby’s brain doubling in size during their first year of life, each child’s cognitive development is astounding to witness. From those first days of facial recognition by around three months to the refining process that the brain undergoes during the later teenage years, the process of growing up can be wonderful yet trying for children and parents alike. Shaking and banging their toys served as a sufficient lesson in cause and effect as a seven-month-old, but natural consequences will become their teachers as they continue to learn that everything they think, say, or do will have an impact in a very real way.
Another area of rapid development is the physical one. As infants are barely able to hold up their heads, it’s hard to believe that they will begin to sit up by six months and that they’ll be walking or very close to it just six months after that.
While milestones continue to be followed as the tween and teen years approach, the physical changes that ensue can be confusing ones for them. Body changes happen at varying rates for each child, with some faster, some slower, and many feeling more self-aware and unsure because of their transformation or perceived lack of it. A great deal of understanding and patience will be required at this time as your children adjust to their bodies changing and who they are in general. No longer are they that little bundle of joy awaiting their first steps. They are more on their own than ever, and possibly more unsure than ever, as they try to figure out just who exactly they are and who they want to become.
From the beginning, babies are attached to their mother and father. They don’t just need them for nourishment and shelter, but also for love and affection. This need for attachment fulfils their sense of well-being and is carried not just through the teen years, but over the span of their entire lives. Additional attachments, vital to your child’s positive social development, are also found through interactions with other children. While toddlers only play in parallel with each other and without direct contact, it is still very important for these social engagements to begin at an early age. Taking them to a park or a museum is an excellent way to immerse your child into social situations at their own pace.
Of course, being out with your little one can produce unpredictable environments. A safety harness is an excellent method for preventing a disaster and a wonderful way to keep your child close when there are so many distractions all around. As they press on to the tween and teen years, there are likely many parents who would love to be able to continue using that harness to keep their kids close. So much peer pressure occurs at this time, and it is vital for parents and their tweens or teens to maintain a relationship of openness and connectedness with one another. Having strong social connections with their parents will help children to stay grounded and make better choices when it comes to those difficult encounters of peer pressure.
Emotional development is impacted by all other types of development. Babies express their emotions largely through smiles and tears. As they approach the tween and teen years, these smiles and tears will likely continue while they learn to process the barrage of new emotions they are feeling. With a surge in hormones largely to blame, emotions can seem to come and go without notice or reason. Regardless of their age, it is always important to allow your children to experience the emotions they feel whilst also letting them know that you are there for them, and they are not alone. The tween and teen years can feel extremely isolating for a child. Providing a strong support system will help your children to make wiser choices when it comes to the environment and their social groups.