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For most children, development is a winding road rather than a straight path.

However, according to psychologists, all children go through six distinct stages of development. Each stage represents a specific milestone in children’s lives, allowing them to do more and become more competent in many areas. These six stages are:

  • Newborn Development – The time between birth-one month, when a newborn begins to show movement in response to stimuli external to them
  • Infant Development – The period between one-twelve months, where abilities such as head movement, crawling, and picking up objects are fundamental
  • Toddler Development – From one-three years old, children begin to conform to routines such as bedtime and can walk unaided, hold objects, have basic talking skills, and can follow easy directions
  • Preschooler Development – Between three-five years, when the child develops fine motor skills as well as the ability to hold full conversations, draw faces with unique features, and manage bathroom breaks themselves
  • School-Age Development – From age six-twelve, children have increased capability, better motor skills, and develop relationships with peers of the same sex
  • Adolescent Development – From the age of twelve upward, children become adolescents and meet mental, cognitive, physical, and sexual milestones in line with their age group

While there is much more to the six stages than we’ve covered here, these basics offer an idea of precisely what these stages mean for your child; and the milestones they should be meeting to achieve them. Starting from birth, children are continually developing and evolving – something that can be equal parts scary and exciting to watch. For parents, understanding how to help their children through these stages is one of the things we feel compelled to do. With so much to go through, we want to help our children succeed and surpass those milestones easily.

So, as parents, what can we do to help? Here are just a few tips to get you started:

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Don’t get stuck on the definitions

With so much information and guidance about the six stages conflicting, many parents feel pressured to ensure their child measures up exactly to the milestones detailed within each step. But a little more of a hands-off approach is required to raise children properly. In fact, according to The Parenting Junkie, being too intrusive when monitoring your child’s milestones can have adverse effects, leading to them falling behind or being unable to develop naturally. Think of the definitions of the six stages as loose guidelines instead of specific goals, and you’ll be in a far better place to support your child.

Provide support when it’s needed

While going through the six stages is a natural process that all kids go through, being too hands-off regarding their development can be as harmful to children in the long term as being too involved. Being there to support your child when they need it, and provide guidance and learning where you can, is highly valuable to ensuring children develop well. Strike the right balance between the two, and you have a better chance of your child passing those milestones with flying colors. Attachment is vital to your children’s development, especially in the first stages, so ensuring you can create that bond sets your child up to succeed.

Know that less input will be needed as your child gets older

While it may be obvious to some, many parents have a hard time letting go of their children, especially as they reach adolescence. While in the earlier stage of development – especially anything Pre-School or earlier, your child will need a great deal of input and support to achieve their milestones, the same isn’t true for older children and adolescents. A part of their development is becoming more independent, so your child pulling away from you isn’t something negative in a healthy situation. It’s normal for teenagers to need their space and have room to grow on their terms – so don’t feel because you can’t be there 24/7 means your child isn’t meeting milestones as effectively as they did at an earlier stage.

How do you help your child through the six stages of development? Perhaps you’ve found it challenging to find the right balance, or you want more insight into how you can support your child to meet those all-important milestones. Let us know in the comment below.