Our development during the formative years as children evolves as we move through the teenage and into the adult years. As children, our development is first influenced primarily by our parents and family in general and the environment. This development also consists of the biological, psychological and emotional changes that occur in children from birth to the adolescent stage. It is important to note that every child follows a unique path which is not necessarily the same with another child. Development is also said to be influenced by the genes.
The proper growth and development of children and youths in society cannot be over-emphasized. If they are not guided properly, it is the society that will lose as there would be increase in crime and other vices that can lead to the loss of property and lives. It is pertinent that all hands must be involved to create an enabling environment for our children and youths to develop in the right way.
Development in children and youth - stages
There are various stages in child and youth development beginning from the infant stage. Here is breakdown of these stages:
= Newborn: 0-4 weeks
= Infant: 4 weeks - 1 year
= Toddler: 1-3 years
= Preschooler: 4-6 years
= School aged child: 6-13 years
= Teenager: 13-19 years
= Youth: 19-40 years
There are some characteristics that the child usually
exhibit when they are in the various stages. Let us go through them stage by stage:
= 0- 3years
-At this stage, the child enjoys being cuddled and held. They like to be carried or tossed during this period. You will need to be patient and show love to the child at this stage when you want to correct him.
-The child loses interest in things quickly and will usually interrupt with loud cries and noises. At this stage, they play with objects which they also put in their mouths.
-At times he stops misbehaving but quickly returns back to it.
= 2-7 years
-At this stage, the child displays affection when you don't expect it. Shower him with affection and praise.
-The child may act selfish and not like to share with others. They may like to interrupt others more frequently and moves from one activity to the other.
-The child may do naughty things more frequently and obeys little until he is reminded. At this stage, you can introduce rules and be firm. Show him how obedience will help him grow.
= 7-12 years
-At this time, the boys may appear not to be affectionate unlike the girls. They are active and like to play. Give them a listening ear and enough personal time while also providing support to help out in their challenges.
-They love to play games while some may be aggressive or lack confidence. The girls may be more successful in school. You can teach them games which help them become more honest.
-Children may begin to question the decisions of their parents to know why they decided to do a particular thing. Explain your reasons to them gently and make sure you are fair in how you handle issues.
= 11 years - adulthood
-Boys may become clumsy and the girls silly and self centred. They may seem irresponsible. Do not argue with them over their views but share your experiences but be supportive and encouraging all the same.
-They may enjoy being involved with sporting activities and may show intolerance for differing opinions. Remain friendly and open to their friends.
-Some may questions the values they have been taught and begin to go against the rules. They may start insisting upon their rights. Engage them in challenging discussions.
The 5c's of Youth Development
There are also 5c's of youth development which in summary are: Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character and Compassion.
Factors that contribute to effective Child and Youth Development
1. Proper upbringing by parents.
Children and youths develop better when they have had proper upbringing from home. The direction parents give their children as they grow up impacts them throughout the life. Parents should ensure that they approach upbringing in the right way so that they do not lose their children.
Love and care
Children and youth development is positive when they have grown up with a lot of love and affection from their parents, guardians and people they look up to. Those who lacked proper love and care when growing up often lack self confidence and develop inferiority complex.
3. Good company
Bad company corrupts good moral. A good child, if care is not taken, can be destroyed by bad friends. It affects their proper development so this should be guided against by parents and guardians. Peer influence today has destroyed so many young people that had a promising future.
4. Proper nutrition
Growing up and eating a balanced diet also affects the mental development of children. It is important to provide them with the right nutrition that will enable them develop normally.
5. Quality education
Education is very important. It exposes them to information and knowledge which prepares them to become the leaders of tomorrow. They should be put in good schools and taught skills that are relevant in today's world.
6. Close supervision
Children and youths should be properly supervised by their parents and guardians to help them not to miss their way in life. When they are not assisted, it is easy for them to be influenced by the society.
7. Reading of books and other materials
Knowledge is power and our children should be encouraged to read widely in order to acquire knowledge and skills that will position them for a better tomorrow. Reading helps to develop the mental capacity of our children.
8. Less time spent on television and video games
Our children should be closely guided not to spend their whole days watching television and playing video games. There are a lot of distractions in today's society that if they are not properly guided, they will divorce.
Aspects of Development in Children and Youths
I will like to examine some aspects of development as it relates to children and youth:
They should be guided to know about their spirit. It is very important for our youths today as it will help them maintain their values in life.
Our youths should be helped to enable them grow well physically. This will involve, parental care, feeding habits, emotional stability, skill development.
Their minds should be empowered with knowledge and enabled to think for themselves. When they are developed in the mind, they are able to stand strong and face the challenges of life.
Our children should be taken to good schools and given quality education. They should be introduced to books and encouraged to read in order to develop themselves.
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