Your Developing Child

The first five years of a child’s life is extremely important. I’m sure that most parents or parents-to-be are aware of the different milestones by which the doctor’s will monitor the progress of their child, but how many people really understand what is happening in those first important years?

In the first three years alone, you can really think about your job as a parent as one in which you must build your child’s brain. The substantial amount of development that is taking place – including the formation of brain connections – is phenomenal.

Building your child’s brain is so much more than just having and introducing educational toys, or reading to your child. In addition to just teaching your child – colours, shapes, animals, etc – you must also address the emotional security and social interaction of your child. You’ll be teaching your child that he is a part of this world, and you’ll need to show him or her how to live within it. This type of teaching will give your child a solid footing early on, and will help him to thrive later in life – like when he or she goes to school.

Children also need to have their language skills nurtured. From the moment your child is born, it is very important to talk around your child – and to make a conscious effort to do so. Long before your child can begin to say, or even understand your words – it’s important to spend your days surrounding our baby with words. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have the hottest new product for teaching your baby how to talk, it simply means talking to your child every day – all through the day – and ensuring the rest of the family is doing the same.

Doctors have narrowed down segments of time within your child’s first few years in which they seem to really “take on” a particular emotion or social issue. Knowing and understanding what your child’s theme is can help a parent to better understand and address their child’s needs.

In the first two years of life, a child is learning about his or her sense of security and developing language. Your baby will learn security when you come to him or her when they cry; by keeping them warm, dry, and fed; and by holding them. Speaking to your child throughout the day is very important – as is speaking to them in a soothing and cheerful way.

At the age of three, your child is focussed – and sometimes obsessed – with being with you. In those first three years, your child’s brain develops very rapidly. As they move from the “terrible two’s” most parents find their three year old to be a very cooperative and loving child who loves to spend time with their favourite grown up. Still inquisitive as ever, your child wants to learn how everything in the world works. You’ll notice a lot of “whys” at this age! Your child is able to understand language quite well, so now is the time to really capitalize on their good natured ways. Talk to them – learn about them – and most of all, love them!

At the age of four, your child’s world begins to expand as they prepare for school. As their ability to understand letters, numbers, and other such school related skills, they seem to be drawn in by any school-like activities. And at five, they are transitioning to a brand new stage of childhood as they enter kindergarten.

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