The Wonder of Development

Thinking about stages of development is a little like thinking of a wave within a spiral. The waves are like the ebb and flow of each year and half year, and the spiral represents development as children ascend into adulthood. Despite differences in culture, personality of the child, familial environment, there is something very predictable about the course of development.

If this is new to you, this is a general course of development from age two until 17/18:

Two: Usually easier to live with than an 18 month old, likes to watch the household and participate in little errands or jobs around the house

Two and a half: Often an insecure age – often seen as bossy, rigid, demanding – but really feeling insecure. An age of “I want”, “Me do” and our favorite, “No!” Great vocabulary development at this age and much better motor skills.

Three to three and a half: A big age! Some parents say this age is actually the hardest, not two. Some things three year olds can do:
**Can distinguish between a bowel movement and urination; around three and a half may or may not go to the bathroom at regular intervals
**Can turn off water in bathroom when you ask; may be able to put toothpaste on toothbrush and wet the toothbrush; can put comb or brush in hair; can pull pants up; can get clothing out and put it on by around three and a half, although the average age for complete dressing is age 5. Can pull off shoes and unzip and unsnap clothing.
**May be able to play a game with another person, such as rolling a ball back and forth; they can usually talk about a game that just finished and start a new game; can take turns in a game at least 25 percent of the time
**Can sit quietly for at least one minute; this moves up to five minutes at three and a half

Four: Can be joyous and exuberant and ready for anything, but also can have extreme emotions; very speedy – does things and moves on to the next thing!

Four and a half: Usually a bit more self-motivated, better able to stand frustration, may be less easily shifted with distraction, some four and a half year olds can be very demanding and impatient

Five: Typically enjoys life and looks on the sunny side, typically loves his house, his street, his neighborhood, often doesn’t care to have something different, is often an age of childhood development where the child is in a state of harmony

Five and a half: Typically will have a readiness to go Usually has a great readiness to go against what is asked or expected of him, can often be combative or hesitant, dawdling, indecisive or at the opposite extreme, demanding and explosive. May be sick quite a bit, have a lot of tensional outlets like biting nails, fidgeting, etc.

Six: Six year olds can be ambivalent, stubborn and hard to make up his or her mind, but once his or her mind is made up it is difficult to get child to change his mind, the child is now the center of their own universe, they often want to win and want many things. Can be violent, loud demanding, insecure. High emotional needs!

Seven: Seven-year-olds are more contained, quiet, and tend to cry easily “at any, every, or even no provocation.”  Be careful becoming irritable or critical of the people a seven-year-old says is picking on them or hates them….Sevens rather like being gloomy and complaining.  Try not to take it too seriously, unless you really do think it is a bullying issue at school or something else more serious. 

Eight: Eight year olds are often expansive, high energy, speedy; may completely overestimate their own abilities. They try to measure themselves against adult standards rather than his own demands, and often are interested in fairness.

Nine: Nine year olds tend toward worrying, complaining, a bit tender (but not as complaining and moody as age seven!) , often have increased maturity. Many nine year olds generally like to do a lot and don’t want to give up any activities! Individual characteristics come to the forefront.  Friends are very, very important.

Ten: Ten year olds really love their family and family life.  They love to play in their neighborhood, if they live in a neighborhood, and sometimes even get along with their siblings (sometimes not!). They tend to respect their teacher and work hard in school. They tend to be more happy than they were at nine, and ten is typically an age of harmony.

Eleven: An energetic age, but also a year for a high number of colds, flu, ear infections, pneumonia. Moods can come and go rapidly, and eleven year olds can be rather egocentric and not cooperative with family life but away from home can be full of good manners and quite delightful!

Twelve: Solely based in neuroscience, the brain changes the most between the ages of 13 and 17.  Neuronal sprouting and pruning of neurons does begin around age 11 in girls and age 12 in boys, but the majority of changes are still ahead.  Twelve can be a fun age in that the child may now set goals, especially in learning, and may work at activities to really conquer something in the outside world that they are interested in intently.  The social element awakens;  there can be a  grouping off, especially after grade six. Girls may start banding together socially, and the boys can be brimming with activity!

Thirteen: Thirteen year olds are often withdrawn physically and emotionally, can be standoffish, tends to be critical – they are protecting their budding separate thoughts and personality!

Fourteen: A fourteen year old may be very energetic and want life to be full, but this can also be a period for some fourteen year olds of waiting, almost like a cocoon. Can be a time where fourteen year olds can be critical of their family.

Fifteen: Is actually an early stage of adolescence! Separation is often occurs – the adolescent may fantasize having a new family, a new school, having adventures, they may not distinguish  fantasy from reality too well (believe it or not!), they express growing independence in clothing, gestures, attitude, behavior…Through thinking they can begin to awaken to this new consciousness. They have very little tolerance for hypocrisy or  inconsistency and are often hypersensitive to how they are treated, but often do not treat others well. They have to learn how to consciously relate to others.

Sixteen: Usually there is  reduction in mood swings, irritability, and greater ability to manage anger. They often no longer feel as connected to their classmates, teachers, parents and feel a bit vulnerable or lonely. Often expanding out into the world but may feel a bit unsure.

Seventeen and Eighteen: After The Fifteen/Sixteen Change | The Parenting Passageway

I often found a good way to look at development for myself, and maybe this will help you, was to think in seven year stages that go throughout the lifetime, including adulthood all the way until death. This is very standard for Waldorf Education, but I just found it a useful and satisfying developmental framework. So, in that mode,

Birth – Age 7: The idea of using our hands, our will to work, movement more than lecturing or expecting a child to sit still. Using rhythm to anchor the days and to show that life around the home and within work is a place of ordinary but sacred wonder and goodness. Using our imagination to help in family life with discipline – speaking in pictures.

Age 7-14: The idea of using beauty, showing inspiration. Not snuffing the wonder out of things! I still think in American education this idea of “middle school” takes the wonder out of things far too quickly for children under the age of 14. Why are we in such a rush to have middle schoolers grow up?

Ages 14-21: The time for intellect, analyzing, finding the essential truths in life and being able to handle those lessons without becoming completely jaded and bitter.

There are over TEN YEARS worth of developmental posts on this blog! Try them out if you feel stuck at a particular age/habit with your child – I probably have a back post on it!

Much love and many blessings,


2 thoughts on “The Wonder of Development

  1. As a large family mom, I have used your blog as my go to reference for, yes, Ten Years! Thank you, Carrie!

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