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Being a parent is not for the faint of heart. Kids behave differently at different stages of their development. How should you support them as they grow up, meet new people and go through challenging experiences? Well, knowing certain signs to look out for can make this much easier.
We have brought for you a virtual journey throughout your parenthood – right from when your baby is born to when he learns to crawl, jump, and take confident steps all the way to college! This guide, approved by child development experts, will give you concrete pointers on the kind of support your children seek from you, their mom.
Infants & Babies (0-12 months)
Cuteness aside, babies below a year can be quite a handful! No matter how much you try, they will end up putting anything and everything in their mouth. Since their movement is limited, babies explore the world through their senses – seeing, touching, tasting, hearing and smelling. What you need to do is be consistently attentive to their needs to help them feel safe and secure. Track their feeding carefully, cuddle and hug them, and support them as they try to explore the world through their tiny hands and feet.
1-2 Years Old
This is the age when most babies begin to speak. But along with words like mamma and daddy, they will also learn to say no – and often! Luckily, they have short attention spans which you can use to your advantage. When you catch them doing something they shouldn’t be doing, distract them. More often than not, this will work like a charm.
Your child will also begin to understand what you are saying to him. If you appreciate them when they do something praiseworthy, they are more likely to do it again. Also, be gentle when you are correcting undesirable behaviour, or else you might make them defiant or anxious.
3 Years Old
The best word to describe a typical three year old is this – feisty! Your child will start to make their own decisions, and they won’t always be to your liking! It will be a challenging time for you, but you have to be patient. Have some rules in place, and ensure that your child follows them consistently, and as often as possible.
To support them at this age, ensure you say no only when absolutely necessary – this is the age children really start exploring the world. If you show too much disapproval, you might end up taking away your toddler’s initiative to know more about the world. Also, encourage them to make decisions to make them feel powerful, but keep the ball in your court – say, do you want a banana or an orange? Chocolate is not an option!
4 Years Old
This is the age when you can start explaining to your kid the reason behind your rules, because if you don’t, they will refuse to listen! Encourage exploration of the world by regular trips to the zoo, the park, and any place you think will be interesting to visit. Also, friends are important at this stage, so make sure your child is spending enough time with peers.
One more thumb-rule at this age – your little one badly wants to impress Mamma; please acknowledge good behaviour with lots of hugging!
5 Years Old
Now is when your child will actually know right from wrong, but don’t expect them to always do the right thing. Unlike before, your child will prefer to play with kids of the same gender. In an attempt to fit in, they will do what most of their peers are doing. Make your child aware that just because everybody is doing something, does not mean it is okay to do the same.
Make sure you spend quality time with your children for them to share their secrets with you. You also need to give them extra emotional support by discussing feelings and thoughts; your children now understand and struggle with them!
6 Years Old
Peer approval and acceptance will continue to be important and will play a major role in shaping personality at this age. Make sure you are aware of the company your child keeps.
Help your child develop a sense of responsibility by giving chores such as setting and clearing the table. For better bonding, ensure that you spend ample time as a family, even if it is something as simple as playing a game of carrom together.
7 Years Old
This is the age of great development in intelligence – jigsaw puzzles and creative games! You might be surprised by the mature way in which your child communicates with you. However, your child will need help identifying and dealing with emotions. In particular, there will be an increase in negativity and drama.
Even if you feel that they are making a big deal out of nothing, don’t say this as you will hurt their feelings. Instead, listen to their problems and help them figure out how they can solve them.
8 Years Old
An eight year old enjoys solving problems independently, but your opinion will still be valued. A sense of worth will be established at this age, so be careful that you argue and criticize only when absolutely necessary.
Just remember this – spend plenty of time together to strengthen your bond. Encourage your child to explain their point of view if you have an argument.
9 Years Old
Nine is a period of physical and emotional changes and challenges. Not only is a nine year old on the brink of adolescence, they also have to struggle with complex and demanding school things. What friends think and say will be more important than anyone else’s opinion.
It will be frustrating to be less in control than ever before, but avoid being too bossy – it will only backfire on you! Instead, try to understand them by asking them about the reason behind their thoughts and actions. Once you understand the way they think, it will be easier to make them see things from your point of view.
10 Years Old
Now that your child is officially a tween, be prepared for a noticeable increase in defiance, excuses and misbehaviour. Increased discipline on your part is not going to prevent your kid from acting out. Be realistic; know now when to ignore bad behaviour and when to fix it.
Get your kid more involved in household chores and decisions, such as where to go on holiday. For an early start on money management, consider giving pocket money – your child will love the added responsibility!
11 Years Old
Your child will now be able to reason with more adult-like logic. Even the school curriculum will include complex subjects such as the solar system and algebra to challenge him to consider new ideas, and question old ones. So naturally, at times, their attitude may seem disrespectful.
Try to see this behavioural change as curiosity and inquisitiveness. Answer questions and doubts as calmly as possible.
12 Years Old
Being the year right before teenage, your preteen will occasionally turn into a moody, angry and rebellious person. These changes will be baffling and tough for him or her to deal with, so your support is essential.
Let your child know that whatever is happening is completely normal – and that you are always there to help. Now is a good time to teach essentials like physical and emotional changes, and how not to give in to peer pressure.
Adolescence needs no introduction, does it? It is an age parents fear the most. The age where friends and social outings take precedence, family time is drastially reduced, and worst of all – you simply cannot understand what’s going on in your teen’s mind! Don’t worry though. If you have bonded with your child in pre-adolescent years, they will respect and love you, even if their behaviour might make you feel otherwise. Give your teen space, give them information instead of lectures, let them know you are always there for them, and you’re sorted.
Knowledge is power – especially when it comes to understanding normal behaviour for your kids. However, all the knowledge in the world will not prevent you and your kids from making mistakes along the way. All you can do is love each other, be patient, and enjoy the journey!