Today's lesson dealt with the developmental stages which children progress as they grow and mature. According to the Groffs, an understanding of the developmental stages helps us to have realistic expectations for our children and their behavior and helps us to understand the struggles they are facing. It also sheds light on some of the quirky things your child is likely to do and enables you to offer the kind of scaffolding he or she may need to move from one stage of development to another. In addition, knowing what your child is experiencing helps you to be empathetic. When you understand the unique challenges of each stage of the developmental process, you will be less inclined to misinterpret their actions. Understanding encourages empathy.
The Developmental Stages as outlined in today's lesson are:
I. Infant/Toddler--Ages 0-2, II. Preschool--Ages 2-6, III. Elementary--Ages 6-12, and IV. Teenage--Ages 13-18+. Within each stage, the Groffs discussed three types of development: Relational, Intellectual, and Moral.
During the first stage (Infant/Toddler), children tend to be bonding with those around them. A lack of bonding at this age can create serious problems that can be long-lasting. Fortunately, God has designed parents, and particularly mothers, in such a way that this bonding process is as pleasurable for parents as it is for the child. Because bonding is the sole focus at this stage, the bonding that occurs is pervasive. The intellectual world of a newborn is limited to what the child can physically sense. As their senses develop, their world expands, but only to the extent that they can physically perceive and interact with it. For example, when they see something it exists, but when it is hidden from view, it ceases to exist. Because these kids don't have language yet, their primary method of causing change in the environment is crying. They quickly learn that crying brings a parent and cases change. In reference to moral development, the thinking is again very simple at this age. Children of this age tend to think that whatever brings pleasure is good and whatever brings pain is bad. They are unable to comprehend things outside their physical world
During the pre-schooler stage, children begin to test boundaries as they meet people outside the family and learn to interact with them. Children at this age like to use the word "No." They are learning to separate from you ever so slightly. In the elementary stage, they are engaged heavily in information gathering and they develop a sense of fairness based on a strict set of rules. Moral decisions are based on this sense of fairness.
As they progress through the teenage years, they are likely to explore bonding again...this time outside the family. For this reason, it is not uncommon to see "puppy love" and short, but intense "romances." The pre-frontal cortex of the brain is not yet fully developed, causing teenagers to make decisions that often seen irrational. The pre-frontal cortex controls impulse decisions, delayed gratification, reasoning and risk assessment. Consequently, we often see teens taking inappropriate risks, acting on impulse, or acting in an unreasonable manner. Teens also are likely to seek acceptance and affirmation from groups with whom they are affiliated. Group interaction exposes kids to value systems other than their family's and the pressure to conform causes them to take the group's ideas very seriously. They will not take kindly to a denouncement of their group's ideology during this substage. Hopefully, toward the end of this stage, we begin to see young people developing principles as guidelines for moral decisions. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus responded in Mark 12:28-31, "...Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandement than these." Christ gives two principles that should govern everything we do. Remember, at this age, you are still the most influential person in your kid's life. However, your input will be discounted if it is not provided empathetically.
Next Week: Choices Within Limits
Have a great week: Jimmy and Cindy