TYPICAL DEVELOPMENT, DOES IT MATTER?
Children’s maturity and development happen in stages. We have learned that children need to successfully pass through one stage in order to move on to the next stage. Understanding child development is a key to understanding children’s behavior and mental health.
Why do we need to know this?
When we don’t know what kids need, we don’t know how to support them.
Children need to go through certain developmental stages to reach full maturity and gain full conscience development. When we understand what is normal and what is needed at each stage it is easier for us to meet the needs of the child. It also helps us know what is not normal and when something has gone awry. Knowing where a child is stuck developmentally, clues us in to what a child needs to mature.
When you think of your challenging students, what do you think their prenatal, infancy, toddler, and current life has been like?
What is typical development?
- Infants are bonding with their caregivers and learning that the world is safe and predictable so they can learn to trust healthy adults.
- Infants and toddlers are learning how to regulate their emotions and feelings.
- Toddlers are learning some autonomy, frustration tolerance, starting/finishing tasks, and following adult directions.
- Elementary-age students are learning how to make decisions, complete tasks, handle consequences, and fit in socially.
- Teenagers are learning to be more independent, who they are, how they fit in, how they are different, and what they believe.
There are important steps in each of these stages that children need to go through so they can successfully pass on to the next stage and mature.
What do children need to move through the developmental stages?
Children don’t grow and mature on their own without the right help, structure, and support from adults and peers.
- Infants need a responsive caregiver that consistently meets their needs (food, sleep, touch, comfort, warmth, clothing, play, making sure the baby is dry/clean, etc.).
- Toddlers need a safe environment to explore, social interactions with caregivers, opportunities to try new and hard things, encouragement through frustration and not doing things for them that they can do for themselves, and healthy boundaries and limits.
- Elementary-age students need practice making mistakes, opportunities to socialize, and healthy boundaries and limits.
- Adolescents need healthy adult conversations, encouragement, and opportunities to take healthy risks socially and with life choices, boundaries, and limits.
To learn more, you can watch our podcast, take our online course “Healing Discipline: Finding Joy in Working with Challenging Students” (go to https://healingchildren.teachable.com/courses to see all available online courses) or purchase our book “Healing Discipline: Bringing Hope to Shattered Lives, A Guide for Educators”.