Child Development: Milestones and Parenting Tips
- September 20, 2021
- Lisa Goldberg
- Parenting Advice
Welcome to Verywell’s Child Development Guide. Your children’s growth, needs, and challenges change quickly over the years—and your parenting concerns develop right along with them.
The guide is divided up by age group:
- Toddlers (1 and 2-year-olds)
- Preschoolers (3, 4, and 5-year-olds)
- School-age kids (6, 7, 8, and 9-year-olds)
- Tweens (10, 11, and 12-year-olds)
- Teens (13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18-year-olds)
The overviews in this guide provide a glimpse into what you can expect at each stage of your child’s development, including:
- Physical development: Learn how your child’s body is growing and changing and take notice of the new motor skills they are gaining at each age.
- Emotional development: Discover what type of emotional changes your child is experiencing at each stage and the emotional development milestones kids in each age group meet.
- Social development: Read about how kids interact, develop friendships, and connect with the world around them at each pivotal stage.
- Cognitive development: Uncover the critical thinking and intellectual skills kids develop at each age and learn about their speech and language development, the way they play, and the key cognitive milestones they reach.
You’ll also find out how to know when to be concerned about your child’s development and what to do if your child doesn’t seem to be meeting key milestones on time.
For each stage of development, you’ll also find a discipline guide to gain valuable ideas about how to address common behaviour problems. You’ll discover:
- Typical behaviours you can expect from a child in each group
- Common behaviour challenges you’re likely to see from a child at a specific age
- Discipline strategies that work best for kids at each stage
- Strategies for preventing future problems
- Tips for communicating with kids based on their development
You’ll also find parenting tips for each stage that will help you raise a happy, healthy child. You’ll develop a better understanding of what your child is going through at each stage and discover the latest recommendations for keeping your child healthy. You’ll learn:
- Diet and nutrition strategies for dealing with picky eaters, serving size suggestions, and information about what foods your child should eat or avoid.
- Physical activity recommendations, including the amount of exercise kids need, activity ideas for kids, and ways the entire family can become more active together.
- Tips for around the house to help you determine age-appropriate chores, how to spend time together as a family, and children’s roles within the family.
- Doctor visits to organize well-child checkup schedules, what type of doctor to see, common health issues by age, and recommended immunizations.
- Sleep guidelines to explain how much sleep kids need and how to encourage better quality sleep for your kids.
- Safety guidelines and strategies for keeping your kids safe.
- Technology advice on how to handle screen time and how to talk to kids about social media, the internet, and electronic devices
- Your child’s world and how you can help them manage school or daycare, navigate new friendships, handle stress, and deal with bullies and other likely stressors at each stage.
We hope this guide will help you dig deeper into your child’s developmental stage and gain an understanding of what you can do to best foster your child’s growth.
One- and 2-year-olds develop at a rapid pace physically, emotionally, and cognitively. Their developing motor skills give them freedom as they begin to navigate the house. As they develop new language skills, they’re better able to communicate their wants and needs.1
There’s a reason it’s called the “terrible twos,” however. Toddlers are impatient and they don’t hesitate to show their displeasure. Temper tantrums are common as your child isn’t yet able to verbalize their feelings or cope with distress.2
Child-proofing your home is a must during this stage, as toddlers are quick to climb on furniture, tackle the stairs, or get into things that could pose danger. They’re curious and they love to explore.
It’s important to take appropriate safety precautions, and it’s also important to ensure that your toddler is eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep. But if you’ve got a picky eater on your hands or your toddler has decided to take a nap strike, don’t worry. These toddler parenting tips have got you covered.
As your toddler grows into a preschooler, you’ll see some major social and emotional growth (in addition to physical growth). Your child will gain a little more control over their emotions and show interest in learning, playing with other kids, and pleasing you.3
Consistent discipline is key at this stage because preschoolers love to wear adults down. Whether they’re whining or asking “why?” for the 100th time, they can be good at getting their way. Fortunately, they’re also a lot of fun at this age. They love to learn and play and they can be quite funny and loving.
Their changing bodies also means their diets and sleep habits are more important than ever. It’s a prime time to begin teaching them how to begin caring for themselves. They’re often eager to learn how to dress on their own and they may insist on doing as much as they can independently.
Once your child enters school, you’ll see some amazing progress in terms of learning. They’ll love coming home at the end of the day and showing you what they learned in school (at least for a little while).
However, you may hear a little more resistance from your child when you tell them to do their homework or clean their room. Defiance can be common as your child tries to test your limits.
Discipline for school-age kids should include both positive and negative consequences. Use a negative consequence, like taking away your child’s electronics, when they break the rules.
Keeping your school-age child healthy can be a challenge. Their budding independence means they’re more likely to insist on staying up later or they may refuse to eat vegetables (even though they liked them last week).
No longer a little kid, but not quite a teenager, tweens encompass a wide range of development. While some 10-year-olds are content playing dress-up, others are more interested in make-up.
Boys usually begin puberty a little later. They’re often very proud of their changing bodies and developing muscles.
But don’t worry, that type of behaviour is developmentally appropriate as your child is beginning to form their own identity, separate from you.
As your child’s behaviour shifts, they'll outgrow the discipline strategies that were effective in the past (they might even enjoy being sent to their room at this age). Try to find new consequences that will be effective for your tween.
Technology is an important aspect of a tween’s life. Be sure to establish clear rules that will keep your child safe on a smartphone or when using the internet.
When your child becomes a teenager, you might be wondering where the time went. The early years go by fast and now you’ve only got a few more years to prepare your teen for the real world.
You’ll see a lot of emotional maturity in your teen in a few short years. They should gain better control over their emotions and, somewhere in the mid-teens, become less moody.6
Teen discipline is most effective when it involves rewards for good behaviour and consequences for bad behaviour.
Although your teen may have a fair amount of skills, there’s a good chance their social and emotional skills will need some fine-tuning. It’s a good time to teach your teen new problem-solving strategies.
Safety issues in the teen years revolve mostly around risk-taking. Car crashes are the biggest danger to teens. Focus on teaching them to be a safe driver and a responsible passenger.
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