According to a traditional developmental perspective, there are ages that are prone to a sense of equilibrium and ages prone to disquilibrium. I thought I would recap the ages of birth through age 9 here with a quick sentence or two, so you all would know what ages are traditionally considered more challenging than others.
This is of course, not an anthroposophic point of view and of course your child is influenced by their own temperament, their own personality traits and parenting and the environment also have an influence. Some children I have known never did seem to go through these traditional stages at all, while others seemed to fit into them very well.
But, here they are for you to consider, and I think you can tuck them away and find them helpful at varying points. If you know four is typically out of bounds in many ways, and seven is typically morose and moody and can be rather morbid, it just can help you cope a bit better.
These ages and descriptions are from the work of The Gesell Institute. Sometimes the descriptions may sound a bit negative, but if you read the books in their entirety, they do try to paint a balanced picture of each age.
I encourage you to read these books for yourself. I hold more of an anthroposophic view of the child, but find these descriptions to be helpful at times, and hopefully you can pick what would be helpful to you and your family and your child out of it all.
AGES OF DISEQUILIBRIUM: 18 months ( I would say 15 to 21 months), 2 1/2 years, 3 1/2 years, 4 1/2 years, 5 1/2- 6 years, 7 years, 9 years
AGES OF EQUILIBRIUM: 12 months, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, 5 years, 6 1/2-7 years, 8 years and 10 years
More “outward” behavior generally occurs at 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, 6 years, 8 years, 10 years – think expansive behavior, outward bound, silliness in older children, biting, hitting, kicking, etc. Behavior is typically more “inward” at 18 months, 2 1/2 years, 3 1/2 years, 5 years, 7 years, 9 years.
15 months – completely active, throws objects, “dart and dash” age
18 months – cannot wait, in the taking phase but not the giving phase, needs close and constant supervision in a baby-proofed environment, needs outlet for physical energy
The Gesell Institute says in “Child Behavior: The Classic Child Care Manual from The Gesell Institution of Human Development”:
“Eighteen months is not one of the “better” ages if we measure goodness in terms of minding, responding to commands, keeping within reasonable bounds. However, if we can appreciate the immaturity – of motor ability, language, and emotions – of the 18-monther, it can be fairly easy to keep his behavior within reasonable limits…..Thus, if you would like to have him move from wherever he is to wherever you are –lure him, pick him up and carry him, but for best results, do not call him. He is simply not mature enough to respond, in most instances, to such a verbal command…..”Coat-hat-out” is about as complicated a command as the average 18-monther can follow.”
2 years – loving, affectionate, cannot share
2 1/2 years – a peak age of disequilibrium typically, typically rigid and inflexible, wants everything done according to what they want, when they want it, domineering and demanding, violent emotions, no ability to choose between alternatives or make a choice and stick to it
3 years – the age of “we” (mommy and me), no longer rigid and inflexible,
3 1/2 years – new motor incoordination, new stuttering, tensional outlets, emotional insecurity, crying, whining, frequent questions, demanding
4 years – “out of bounds” – hit, kick, throw things, break things, run away. Out of bound emotionally, rage/loud silly behavior, shocking language, out of bounds in relationships, “swaggers, swears, boasts, defies.” Height of imagination,
4 1/2 years – Height of mixture of reality and imagination, can be a time of catching up in motor/language, play is less wild than at age 4, fine motor coordination improved and will often begin to be interested in drawing,
5 years – equilibrium, mother center of the world, an enjoyable age
5 1/2 years to 6 years – violent emotions, emotional outbursts, mother no longer center of the world, the child wants to be the center of his own world now, demanding, rigid, “negative, rude, resistant.” They typically have to be right, to win, to be praised.
The Gesell Institute writes, “Whatever the situation, we can make it a little easier for the 5 1/2 or 6 –year-old, and for ourselves, be respecting ourselves, by respecting the fact that he is having a difficult time within himself as well as in his relations with others. Use techniques where you can. Bypass as many unhappy incidents as you can.”
6 1/2 to 7 years – more calm, more withdrawn, more complaining, moody, moping
8 years – exuberant, enthusiastic, often will not finish a task, speedy, may have tears of “I never do it right!”, “needs protection both from trying to do too much and from too excessive self-criticism when failures occur.”
9 years – quieter, calmer, very independent, less arguing back, more interested in friends than family, interested in excursions and what adults will do with/for him but not as interested in the relationship itself, worries and complains
10 years – equilibirum, enjoys and listens to parents, tries to “be good”, pleased with the world.
That is a quick overview of each age; do look up the Gesell Institute Books (“Your One-Year-Old”, “Your Two-Year-Old” etc.) for more information from a traditional developmental viewpoint. I also would like to point out the list of gentle discipline/development books I posted here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/11/27/favorite-books-for-gentle-discipline/