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DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES OF CHILDREN (6-18 YEARS)

DEVELOPMENTAL TASK CHARACTERISTICS  SIGNS OF STRESS  CHILD NEEDS
ELEMENTARY (6-10 YRS.)
To learn skills to be competent, industrious and productive. focused toward school, outside activities, and peer relationships.  Child can for the first time begin to think logically, take the role and perspective of another person, and show true empathy. No longer purely egocentric (or self-centered). Time perspective strongly developed; child can maintain a close relationship with other parent even with more extended periods away from that parent Problems with school performance and peer relationships. With new empathy ability, child reacts strongly to parent's pain. child acts angry, blaming, morally and righteously indignant; avows loyalty to one parent and may refuse to spend time with other parent. Child appears sad and morose. Help with solving school and peer problems at early stage. give reassurances with clear, understandable explanations. Remove child from middle of parental disputes and/or as "caretaker" of one parent. Continue consistency in routine. Mutually cooperate within time-sharing schedules to allow child's outside activities and peer friendships develop and grow.
PRE-ADOLESCENCE (11-12 YRS.) 
To gain a sense of control over and comfort with their relationships.  Child achieves the development of true abstract thinking. For first time, child is able to think about hypothetical ideas in a truly adult-like fashion. Child can now understand what a variety of time-sharing schedules would look like, without needing to directly experience them. Child can fully participate in developing realistic time-sharing schedules.   Development of intense loyalty conflicts. Acting prematurely adolescent, which retards true maturation. Depression and anxiety. School problems.   Flexibility of time-sharing schedule so that child can develop peer relationships and outside activities (sports, social, etc.) away from both parents, without depriving child of significant time/relationship with both parents.
ADOLESCENCE (12 - 18 YRS.) 
To develop separate identity from parents. Child normally pulls gradually away from the family, physically, socially, and emotionally. Child develops interests apart from either parent and resists "family activities." Child challenges adults ideas and asserts independence. Breaking rules and acting out. withdrawal, isolation, and depression. Abuse of alcohol or drugs. Suicide threats or attempts. Poor school performance. Loyalty conflicts which lead to cutting off contact with one parent and avowing loyalty to the other. (Note: adolescents often suddenly and unpredictably switch loyalties from one parent to the other, in their attempts to cope with the conflict.) Youngster may become the hurting parent's caretaker, sacrificing outside activities, time with friends.  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.

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