Child development is like a wild adventure with different stops along the way. In the baby stage, it’s all about exploring, cuddling, and making sure those basic needs are met. Once they hit toddlerhood, they become little explorers, wanting to do everything by themselves and showing off their independence. Preschoolers are like sponges, absorbing knowledge, playing with their buddies, and learning the dos and don’ts of socializing. When they enter school, it’s like their brain goes into overdrive, solving problems, setting goals, and discovering who they are. Then come the teenage years, where emotions run wild, and they’re all about figuring out who they want to be, seeking freedom, and questioning everything. Finally, in young adulthood, they’re chasing dreams, making connections, and shaping their future.
As a child progresses through the various stages of development, it’s essential for parents to grow and adapt alongside them. Parenting is an evolving journey, requiring flexibility, patience, and a willingness to learn. Each stage brings new challenges and joys, demanding different approaches and strategies. From nurturing and bonding in infancy to fostering independence and supporting identity formation in adolescence, parents play a crucial role in guiding their child’s growth. Being attentive, understanding, and staying informed about child development helps parents provide the necessary love, guidance, and support their child needs at each stage.
I have a dilemma. My 2-year-old is constantly crying and whining. Some episodes turn to full-blown baby rage. Why is my boy crying so much?
It’s quite normal for a 2-year-old to experience these episodes of intense frustration or “baby rage.” A temper tantrum is usually the result of unprocessed emotions that make the child uncomfortable (Braund & Timmons, 2021). Around this age, when temper tantrums start, children are still developing their language skills, and frustration may arise from their inability to express their needs or desires effectively. You may see your child crying, screaming, or throwing things. A 2-year-old hitting and biting when feeling displeasure is also common.
Use empathy when addressing temper tantrums: “I see you are a bit frustrated, do you want my help? I’m here for you!” This not only helps them calm down faster but also powers up their emotional vocabulary. Encourage your child to use simple words, gestures, or visual aids – such as pictures or signs – to express their needs. This can help them feel more understood and reduce their reliance on crying as the primary mode of communication.
When discussing developmental milestones, 2-year-olds are going through significant changes. (Saracho, 2023). They are becoming more independent, exploring their boundaries, and developing a sense of autonomy. Emotional distress is common and stems from their desire to be autonomous but not being able to accomplish certain tasks. Provide your toddler with age-appropriate choices to help them feel a sense of control. For example, you can let them choose between two outfits or offer options for snacks. This can promote their independence and reduce frustration.
Help your child learn simple self-soothing techniques. Physical touch can be comforting for toddlers. Encourage your child to hug a stuffed animal, a soft blanket, or even themselves tightly when they feel upset. Sensory activities can also help. Provide them with materials like kinetic sand, playdough, or sensory bins filled with rice, beans, or water. The tactile experience can divert their attention and promote relaxation. Teach them deep-breathing techniques. For example, encourage your child to take a deep breath in and imagine they are blowing up like a balloon. They can pretend to fill their belly with air as they inhale and then slowly release the air while making a funny sound or blowing raspberries.
Modeling these techniques yourself and practicing them together can be effective.
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My 2-year-old doesn’t talk but understands everything I say. She occasionally uses short words like “mommy”, “nappy”, or “up” when she wants me to pick her up, but usually just points to what she wants. How many words should a 2-year-old say?
Language development in children is a complex process influenced by various factors, including brain development, exposure to language, and individual differences. In early childhood, the brain undergoes rapid growth, and neural connections are formed, particularly in regions associated with language processing.
Every child develops in a certain rhythm, and there can be variations in language acquisition. (Attig & Weinert, 2020). The fact that she points to what she wants is a common behavior at this age and serves as a way of expressing herself before fully developing verbal skills. Most parents and caregivers complain that their toddler is not speaking at all or that they don’t understand baby talk.
If your daughter gets frustrated when you don’t understand what she is saying, it’s a sign that you patiently have to help her develop her vocabulary. Have regular conversations with your child, discussing objects, actions, and events happening around you. When your child uses a word or expresses an idea, provide additional information to enhance their understanding. For example, if they mention a “ball,” you could expand by discussing different types of balls and their uses in various sports or talk about the movements they make – bounce, roll, dribble. Don’t think of them as hard words for kids to say but rather as seeds that will grow. Exposure is crucial for language development (Blocker, 2017).
Use storybooks. Make reading a shared activity by selecting age-appropriate books with interesting themes and more complex sentence structures. Encourage your child to actively participate in reading by asking them to predict what might happen next or analyze the characters’ actions.
Celebrate her progress, and continue to explore new ways to engage your child in language-rich activities. Through consistent practice and engagement, her language skills will flourish.
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I’m worried about my child’s behavior. He doesn’t share things that happen at anymore, doesn’t go out with friends, and he is always snappy. Why is my teenage son so angry?
Studies show that as children enter adolescence, they go through a period of significant physical, emotional, and cognitive development (Guevara et al., 2021). These changes can impact their behavior and emotions in various ways. Some parents may use force or punish teens for their lack of response or outbursts. This is not only ineffective but also a disaster for the parent-child bond. A change in brain chemistry mostly drives the reactions that teenagers manifest. Some impulses become harder to control.
During adolescence, hormonal fluctuations can lead to mood swings and heightened emotions. The surges in hormones, such as testosterone, can contribute to irritability and anger in teenage boys. (Romeo, 2013)
Additionally, the teenage years bring an increased need for privacy and identity development. This process can involve questioning and reevaluating various aspects of their lives, including friendships, interests, and values. Your son’s withdrawal from social activities and reluctance to share may be a reflection of his search for personal identity (Heshmati et al., 2021). If your son is experiencing conflicts or challenges in his friendships, it could contribute to his withdrawal and anger. Peer pressure and the desire to fit in or assert independence can also influence his behavior.
Academic pressure is also worth mentioning. Adolescence brings higher expectations, increased workload, or concerns about future goals.
Take each of these factors and discuss them with your son. Some mothers don’t talk about boy problems with their teenage sons, fearing that they’ll be intrusive. However, acknowledge the fact that teenagers still need support, guidance, and understanding. They want to be heard and protected, even though it may look like they are trying to push their parents away. Help them see that parents are pillars to lean on, not predators to run away from. The “don’t tell your parents” culture that runs in teenage groups may be inhibited by a lasting, strong parent-child bond and might keep our kids away from negative or risky behaviors.
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I feel like a bad mom. My 4-year-old son will start kindergarten next week. We’ve just had a new baby, and I feel overwhelmed having them both at home. I’m sure he won’t find it fair that I’m at home with the baby. How can I make this easier on him?
Welcoming a newborn brings big changes in the family dynamic (Volling, 2017). It’s completely normal to have these concerns and worry about how your son will adapt to the changes. Rest assured. You’re not a bad mom. Parenting is a journey filled with challenges, and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed at times.
Take some time to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your 4-year-old son. Help him understand the wonders of being a preschooler and how proud you are of him becoming a big brother. Highlight the benefits that come along with the responsibility of being an older sibling, such as being a role model and having the chance to share his experiences and wisdom with the baby. Studies have shown that children who have positive relationships with their siblings accommodate well and thrive in their preschool years (Graham & Coplan, 2012).
Involving your son in baby care activities can also help him feel included and important. Assign him age-appropriate chores like fetching diapers, singing lullabies, or gently helping with the baby’s bath time. This will give him a sense of responsibility and involvement in caring for his younger sibling, fostering a positive bond between them. If he chooses not to help sometimes, allow it. It shouldn’t feel like a burden or a strict task.
Allocate special one-on-one time with your older son where you can engage in activities he enjoys or simply have conversations together. This dedicated time will help him feel valued, loved, and seen amidst the adjustments happening at home. It’s important to reassure him that your love for him hasn’t changed and that you will always be there to support him.
Additionally, encourage your son to talk about the activities and peer interactions in his daily kindergarten schedule. This will help both of you make this new step a shared experience. As time passes, your family will adjust and find a new rhythm. Your son will gradually adapt to his new routine at kindergarten, and you’ll establish a balance between nurturing your newborn and spending quality time with your older child.
I have 2 children. A 5-year-old and a 7-month-old. The baby started to be interested in his brother’s toys, and they are not appropriate for him. Can you give examples of activities and toys for 7-month-olds?
Indeed, the first thing to consider is safety. Apart from investing in age-appropriate toys, you should also teach your 5-year-old son to play with his toys responsibly when the baby is around. Ask him to come up with ideas and make it a shared decision. This might mean playing with toys that have small pieces while the baby takes his nap. You can also design special separate areas in the house for each to play freely with their toys. Although you need to be cautious at the moment, make sure your children get enough playtime together, with or without toys, to strengthen their bond.
The appropriate toys for 7-month-olds shouldn’t be complicated or expensive. A vast amount of research links playing with toys and the development of creativity and problem-solving skills (Yazgin, 2021).
Look for toys that engage your baby’s senses, such as soft textured toys, rattles, and toys with different materials for them to explore by touch and feel. These toys help stimulate their sensory development and provide tactile stimulation (Møller, 2016). Toys that produce sounds or have interactive features when pressed or manipulated can capture your baby’s interest and encourage cause-and-effect learning, such as push-and-pop toys, or toys with buttons that produce different sounds or light up. Musical instruments or toys that play soft melodies or lullabies can provide auditory stimulation and foster an appreciation for music. Look for age-appropriate musical toys that are easy to hold and interact with.
Remember to prioritize safety when selecting toys for your baby. Ensure that toys are not made of small parts that can be a choking hazard and are made from non-toxic materials.
In addition to toys, engaging in simple activities like singing, storytelling, and playing peek-a-boo with both children is also valuable for their development and bonding with you.
My kids don’t listen to me when it’s time to put them to bed. I have 2 children, and the younger one no longer wants to nap because the older one doesn’t sleep either. How can I convince my children to sleep?
As a parent, convincing your little ones to embrace bedtime rather than resist it requires patience, consistency, and a few strategic techniques. Establishing effective sleep routines and getting children to listen can be incredibly challenging, especially when considering sibling dynamics. This is particularly true for parents with babies who are in the midst of their developmental stages, where they may have difficulty settling into new routines. But don’t worry, here are some strategies that can help you convince your children to get a good night’s rest.
Imagine this: as you create a consistent sleep schedule (Paruthi et al., 2016), picture your little ones snuggled up in their cozy pajamas, their eyes growing heavy with sleep. Regular bedtimes and wake-up times will help set your child’s internal clock, promoting healthy sleep habits that will benefit them in the long run. Make sure both you and your partner are on board with the plan, because consistency is key!
Involve both of your children in creating this routine; encourage your older child to take on the responsibility of helping their younger sibling settle in for bed. Together, they create a heartwarming scene where the older sibling reads a bedtime story to the younger one, surrounded by stuffed animals and soft music playing in the background. Together you can create a positive and nurturing environment where the child feels safe and can sleep better.
Consider other stages of the child’s development, such as introducing regular activities before bedtime, like listening to quiet music or warm baths. This provides routine and structure, which helps young children learn to self-soothe before bedtime.
Remember to remain patient and understanding during this time of adjustment. As they grow, they’ll soon be able to recognize the importance of getting adequate restful sleep each night. With these strategies in mind creating an effective sleep routine for both of your children becomes a little easier.
Above all, be gentle with yourself when dealing with parenting at different ages, and strive to create a safe and secure environment for your children. With the right guidance and support, your children will soon learn how to get a good night’s sleep, which is essential for their healthy development. Use these strategies to convince your little ones that bedtime can be fun!
My 3-year-old doesn’t listen to me. He is too adventurous for his age. He copies big children at the park and always gets hurt. How can I encourage him to try less harmful activities?
When your 3-year-old shows a proclivity for imitating older kids at the park and partakes in activities that may involve a level of risk, it’s natural for you to feel worried. It’s important to comprehend that this behavior is not born from recklessness but from their innate desire for competence and a thirst to explore the world on his own terms (Legault, 2017). If you recognize children’s motivation behind their Need for Competence, you can encourage him towards secure exploration while overseeing his development. In this context, figuring out how to discipline a 3-year-old who doesn’t listen becomes crucial, and having strategies that promote a balanced approach and positive behavior can be incredibly helpful.
When your child gets hurt or injured, it is an opportunity to teach them self-care. Use these moments to demonstrate that pain is a signal for him to be more cautious and avoid situations that can lead to harm.
To safely satisfy your 3-year-old’s Need for Competence, provide him with age-appropriate activities. Engage his attention with toys or games that challenge his skills within a controlled and suitable environment. This approach allows him to enjoy success while ensuring his safety.
Consider packing a treasure chest of toys for your day at the park, a vessel of social opportunities. Imagine your little one joyfully engaging with other children, while his toys are a gateway to fostering new friendships. This offers your young one a chance to play, communicate, and bond with other tiny explorers of their age, who usually bring a more carefree aura to playtime. In these special moments of play, he can start honing their social skills, plant the seeds of friendship, and absorb lessons from his small companions.
Reiterate to your child that you are their biggest cheerleader in their grand adventure of discovering the world, all the while keeping their safety at the forefront. Highlight the relevance of activities that are suitable for his tender age and clarify the boundaries set in place for his protection. By carving out a structured environment for exploration, you are nurturing his growth in a healthy way and bolstering his trust in his own abilities. Through these endeavors, you can cultivate a positive space where your child attentively listens and learns the art of navigating the world with responsibility.
My kids’ behavior drives me crazy. I have a 3-year-old son and 10-year-old twin daughters. How can I establish rules and boundaries when they keep telling me that I favor one or another?
Do your kids start to ask around, “Why do my parents hate me but love my siblings?”. It can be really hard to set rules and make everyone feel equally loved. Sometimes, kids might feel like their brothers or sisters are getting special treatment. This can lead to arguments and make it hard for them to work together.
Experts have found some strategies to help you address the issue (Jensen et al., 2018).
Start with not comparing them. Don’t always talk about how one kid is better at something than the other. This can make them feel jealous and start fights. Instead, help them work together on things like fun games or projects.
Help them work out problems. When they start arguing, don’t pick a side. Help them figure out a way to solve the problem together. Show them how to listen to each other, say how they feel nicely, and find a solution that makes everyone happy.
Create happy times together. Have regular family time where each kid can talk about something good that happened to them that week. This helps them be nice to each other and feel closer.
Make sure to celebrate each child. Sometimes, say nice things about each child to their siblings. For example, you could say, “Your brother is so lucky to have you! You’re a great big sister and he can learn a lot from you.” This makes each kid feel good about themselves and shows them that they’re all important in different ways.
Don’t forget to grant the older child some individual space and time. Let the older kid have some alone time if they want it. This shows them that you respect their needs and helps them feel more grown up. They might even feel like sharing with their siblings more after having some time to themselves.
In situations where kids don’t listen, it’s important to tackle this challenge with a heart full of patience and a mind full of understanding. Sidestep the path of rigid punishments or domineering strategies and instead, look into effective communication methods. Actively listen to their words, their silence, and the spaces in between. Honor their emotions, giving their feelings the legitimacy they deserve. Sculpt clear expectations, forming a concrete image of what you hope to see from them. Hand them the reins of decision-making when you can, allowing them the thrill and responsibility of choice.
Weaving the tapestry of a peaceful family life is a journey of a thousand stitches, each crafted with love, patience, and the constant effort of many days. So, hold tight to your patience. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
My 10-year-old kid and 2-year-old toddler watch TV together. I know my eldest’s favorite shows are not appropriate for the little one, but it’s hard to stop him from joining his brother. What can I do?
Regulating screen time for our youngsters is a puzzle that parents often find themselves trying to solve. This task grows more intricate when siblings of varying ages wish to indulge in a shared television session. Striking a balance between their entertainment tastes and age suitability can be like tiptoeing across a tightrope. Fear not! With the correct strategy, it’s feasible to unearth a solution that leaves each face beaming with satisfaction and delight.
Numerous studies have unveiled effective tactics on how to get kids away from screens (Stiglic & Viner, 2021) and they refer to:
Lay down clear boundaries. When it comes to overseeing TV time, crafting definite rules should be at the forefront. Create a list of guidelines that detail the kinds of shows appropriate for each child’s age group. It’s essential that your 10-year-old child comprehends the significance of following these rules to shield their younger sibling from content that may be unsuitable.
Schedule separate viewing times. Consider scheduling separate TV times for your children. Let your 10-year-old enjoy their preferred shows during their designated time, while their younger sibling engages in age-appropriate activities or alternative forms of entertainment to keep them busy. This ensures that both siblings can have their individual viewing experiences tailored to their age and interests.
Propel sibling bonding through shared activities. Promote opportunities for sibling bonding that go beyond TV time. Invite your children to play board games, read books, or pursue shared hobbies together. By nurturing a deep camaraderie, they’ll rely less on TV as the only entertainment source and partake more in activities that appeal to both their ages.
Utilize parental controls and child-friendly platforms. Make use of parental control features available on TVs or streaming platforms. Restricting access to content that is not suitable for your younger child, you can ensure that the viewing experience is enjoyable and educational for both of them.
Set the right example. Since children often mirror their parents’ actions, it’s crucial to practice what you preach. Consider limiting your own screen time and launching family activities that encourage quality time and face-to-face interactions.
Navigating TV time when siblings have different age preferences can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Strive to find a balance that caters to both your 10-year-old and 2-year-old, creating an environment where they can enjoy screen time together and engage in other activities that foster sibling bonding. Remember, the prime objective is to provide a secure and stimulating environment for your children while cultivating a positive relationship that extends beyond the screen’s glow.
My 5 year old won’t listen when I tell him to stop sucking his thumb. He’s not a baby anymore and I want to make him forget about it. When do children usually stop sucking their thumbs?
Thumb sucking is a habit that some kids pick up even before they’re born, kind of like a built-in comfort blanket. It helps them chill out and feel secure. Perhaps they’re looking for a little more connection and this habit helps them cope with their feelings. It’s like a little escape hatch for their emotions. It’s super common and really just a way they’ve found to relax when things get a bit too much.
To address this habit, it is important to focus on managing emotions and promoting effective communication with your child. When your 5-year-old doesn’t listen and feels the urge to suck their thumb, offer gentle reminders to stop. No need to ridicule, criticize or tell him off. You can come up with a secret code that only you two know and prevent drawing attention to him. Also, make sure to celebrate the times he stops himself voluntarily from doing it. This will boost his confidence and motivation. You can praise his effort by being specific about his actions and saying things like “You went all afternoon without sucking your thumb, that’s amazing!”
Remember, you cannot force your son to stop this habit. Instead, help them develop internal motivation by discussing the benefits of finding new ways to manage emotions and soothe themselves. Talk to him about why it’s important and ask for his ideas on how he could stop. Let him be part of the decision making. If you notice your child often sucking their thumb when they’re tired or anxious, try to address those feelings directly. Try offering a hug, starting a conversation, or a fun activity!
It’s important to understand that thumb sucking itself is not the root problem. Instead, it’s a manifestation of a deeper need for self-soothing (Pattnaik & Panda, 2023). The intensity of the habit serves as an indicator of a greater underlying emotional necessity, such as feelings of insecurity or frustration.
Approach this habit with empathy and understanding. Have a heart-to-heart with your little one. Choose a quiet, relaxed moment to sit down together and bring up the topic. You could say something like, “I’ve noticed you’ve been sucking your thumb a lot. I understand that it helps you feel calm and comfortable. But as you grow bigger, it’s important we find other ways to help you feel relaxed.” Depending on the reasons your child is engaging in the behavior, the alternatives will differ. If they suck their thumb for comfort, perhaps a soft toy or blanket might be a good substitute. If they do it when they’re bored, consider offering engaging activities or toys to entertain them. Reassure your child that it’s okay if they don’t stop right away and that it’s normal to have setbacks. Express your confidence in them – let them know that you believe they can do this.
Finally, remember that your patience, love, and support are vital in helping them overcome this habit.
Sensory development is a fundamental aspect of child growth. It involves the acquisition and refinement of skills related to recognizing and interpreting information received through the five senses. By having a variety of experiences, children develop important skills for their cognitive, physical, and social development. Visual experiences, for example, help children develop the ability to recognize and interpret shapes, colors, and patterns, which provides the foundation for visual perception and cognitive processing skills. Auditory stimuli help children develop language and communication, as well as memory. Healthy sensory development is critical for children’s attention, concentration, and self-regulation skills. When children are exposed to a variety of sensory stimuli, they learn to adapt to different environments and effectively regulate their responses to sensory input.
Fine motor skills refer to the precise control and coordination of small muscles, especially in the hands and fingers, to perform tasks that require dexterity and precision. These skills play a critical role in various aspects of life, such as academic performance, hobbies, and everyday activities. Fine motor skills are essential for tasks such as writing, drawing, buttoning clothes, using utensils, and handling small objects. It also contributes to hand-eye coordination and enables individuals to perform activities that require accuracy and spatial awareness. The development and refinement of fine motor skills not only supports academic achievement, but also promotes creativity, problem-solving skills, and overall physical and cognitive development.
Gross motor skills refer to the ability to control and coordinate large muscle groups to perform physical activities and movements. These skills include the use of arms, legs, and trunk muscles to accomplish tasks such as walking, running, jumping, and climbing. They are vital to overall physical development and play a critical role in a child’s independence and exploration. Gross motor skills enable children to play sports, games, and outdoor activities, and promote strength, coordination, balance, and overall physical fitness. Developing and refining gross motor skills in childhood is important for improving physical abilities and laying the foundation for a healthy and active lifestyle.
Emotion regulation refers to the ability to effectively manage and regulate one’s emotions in a healthy and adaptive manner. This includes recognizing and understanding one’s emotions, as well as implementing strategies to control their intensity and duration. It plays a vital role in promoting emotional well-being, maintaining stable relationships, and navigating challenging situations. Developing emotional regulation skills allows individuals to express emotions appropriately, cope with stress, and make sound decisions.
Brain development in childhood refers to the complex and ongoing process by which the brain’s structures and functions evolve during the early years of life. During this time, the brain growths rapidly, dissolves unnecessary connections, and builds vital neural pathways. Brain development in childhood affects physical, social, emotional, and intellectual aspects, shaping cognitive abilities, language skills, emotional regulation, and social interactions. The brain’s adaptability, known as plasticity, allows it to adjust and reorganize in response to experiences and environmental stimuli. Nurturing relationships, a stimulating environment, proper nutrition, and positive experiences are important to support optimal brain development in childhood.
Screen time is the time a child spends using electronic devices such as televisions, computers, tablets, and smartphones. It’s important to highlight that excessive or inappropriate screen time can be detrimental to child development. It can hinder physical development by limiting active play and promoting a sedentary lifestyle. Social and emotional development can be impaired because screen time limits face-to-face contact and impede the development of essential social skills. Intellectual development can also be compromised, as excessive screen time can disrupt cognitive processes, attention span, and language development.
The link between misbehavior, refusal, and the hindrance of the 3 Basic Psychological Needs refers to the connection between a child’s challenging behaviors, such as defiance or refusal, and the unmet or thwarted psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. When these fundamental needs are not adequately met, children may engage in disruptive behaviors to assert autonomy, demonstrate competence, or seek attention and connection. Understanding this link highlights the importance of fostering an environment that supports children’s autonomy, promotes their sense of competence, and nurtures positive and meaningful relationships, to reduce the likelihood of challenging behaviors.
The 3 basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness refer to fundamental psychological requirements that are essential for human well-being and optimal functioning. Autonomy involves the need for independence, choice, and the ability to make decisions across various personal values and interests. Competence pertains to the need to feel capable, effective, and competent in accomplishing tasks and challenges. Relatedness entails the need for connection, belonging, and meaningful relationships with others. Satisfying these three basic psychological needs is critical to an individual’s positive psychological development, motivation, and overall psychological well-being.
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