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What Are The 5 Critical Periods In A Child's Life: What Every Parent Should Know

The development of a child is rapid. The majority of these changes are physical. Children also undergo cognitive changes, affecting their thinking and learning ability. A child's development typically occurs in stages, with most children reaching certain developmental milestones at a certain age.

Experts differ in their classification of child development into stages. Some have described children's development in four stages, some in five and others in six [1]. The number of stages may differ, but the changes that occur at a particular age or range of ages remain essentially the same.

During these phases, parents should pay extra attention to their children. So let's look at the five critical periods in a child's life.

5 Critical Periods In A Child's Life

Stage 1: Newborn

Newborns exhibit automatic responses to external stimuli during the first month of life. For example, newborns can see close-up objects, recognize certain smells, smile or cry to indicate a need, and move their heads from side to side. As a result, newborns can exhibit developmental disabilities, such as spina bifida, genetic disorders, and foetal alcohol syndrome [2].

Stage 2: Infant

In the first year of life, infants develop new abilities rapidly. Conversely, infants with slow growth and development may be at risk for Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities [3].

  • By the age of three to six months, an infant can control his head movements and bring his hands together.
  • A six to nine-month-old infant can sit without support, babble and respond to his name.
  • When a baby reaches nine to twelve months of age, he or she can pick up objects, crawl, and stand without assistance.

Stage 3: Toddler

Toddlers learn to walk independently, climb stairs, and jump in place between the ages of one and three. The children can hold chalk or a crayon, draw circles, stack blocks, use short sentences, and even follow simple instructions. It is recommended that children be screened for autism between the ages of 18 and 24 months by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [4].

Stage 4: Preschool

Children refine their motor skills between the ages of three and five. In addition, they can throw a ball overhand, skip and hop, stand on one foot for ten seconds or longer, dress, and draw a person with features. At this stage of development, signs of developmental disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, may appear [5].

Stage 5: School Age

Children of school age are between the ages of six and twelve. They are capable, self-assured, independent, and responsible. Children of school age value peer relationships. It is important that they interact with their peers as much as possible. They may also develop irrational fears of the dark or monsters under their beds. They will feel more secure if you comfort them. As a child reaches school age, sexual characteristics begin to develop. Children of school age may exhibit signs of ADHD, such as difficulty remaining focused and being easily distracted [6][7].

On A Final Note...

The experience of being a parent is filled with different challenges at different stages, but this does not mean that you should feel unprepared and lost. On the contrary, knowing what your child is going through will make it easier for you to assist them in overcoming their challenges.

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