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DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES OF CHILDREN (0-6 YEARS)

DEVELOPMENTAL TASK CHARACTERISTICS  SIGNS OF STRESS  CHILD NEEDS
INFANTS (0-6 MONTHS)
To establish basic trust that needs will be satisfied.  Child is totally dependent upon parents and has no concept of self being different from other. child cries only to get needs satisfied. Cannot purposefully disobey or willfully misbehave. Mostly happy or mostly upset most of the time. Excessive crying; eating, and/or sleeping problems  Consistent response to needs, consistent schedule, and lots of holding and hugging.
INFANTS (6-18 MONTHS) 
To establish an attachment bond with parents  At around 6-9 months, child normally shows separation anxiety and stranger anxiety (which are healthy signs of attachment). Child may show distress  in leaving primary caregiver to go with any other person (including the other loving parent!) Crying, clinging, fear of being away from parent  Consistency of schedule, Important 
TODDLERS (18 MOS. - 3 YRS.) 
To develop a sense of independence, autonomy, and a sense of self as separate from parents Child "test limits" constantly in true "terrible twos" fashion. It is normal to be non-compliant, uncooperative and self-centered. Tests out personal power and separateness. Irritability and anxiety. Excessive fears and worries. Regression to earlier behaviors. Fear of separation, clinginess, and asking for absent parent. 
Predictable and safe environment. Clearly defined and enforced limits (which help child feel safe and secure!) Firm, fair, and consistent parenting.
Very consistent and predictable schedule. 
PRE-SCHOOLERS (3-6 YRS.) 
To learn to take initiative, control impulses, interact and play cooperatively with peers, and begin socialization. Focus is on social roles and on mimicking adult behaviors. Stage of nightmares, invented monsters, vivid fantasies, and magical thinking ("If I think it, it will happen!") which creates much anxiety. Acute sensitivity to parental conflicts and parents' moods and feelings. Time perspective is very limited (to about 2-3 days maximum), and when appropriate, child benefits by frequent contact (by phone or in person) with other parent. Excessive fears and anxieties, including fear of abandonment. blames self for adult actions (including the divorce). Shows regressive behaviors (e.g. thumb-sucking, bedwetting, tantrums, clinginess). Shows transition distress and resistance to going with other parent.  Reassurance with hugs and holding, and with words like "I love you," "You'll be o.k.," "Your father/mother and I will make sure things are o.k. for you." Consistent and predictable routine, with some advance notice and explanations for any changes in routine.

 

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