The speedy physical and psychological changes that children undergo from birth through adolescence often leave parents and caregivers wondering how best to engage and help them. The process of child development can include everything from sensory awareness and fine motor skills to language and socialization ability. It is strongly influenced by a child’s genetic makeup, environment, and cognitive skills. Parents and medical professionals frequently use developmental milestones, such as when a child learns to speak or read, to track that child’s growth relative to their peers. These milestones can also help identify any learning disabilities or behavioral problems a child may have, so that they can be addressed early, but it is important to note that these are just benchmarks and may have no bearing on a child's ultimate capabilities.
Understanding Child Development
Ages and Stages
All children have varying physical and emotional needs depending on their age, personality, and developmental stage. Decades of research in developmental psychology, pediatrics and neuroscience converge on the fact that the first five years are especially critical to a child's outcome. As a child matures, he or she will go through phases where they explore their environment, learn verbal and reasoning skills, socialize with others, assert their independence from their family, etc. Research explores how parents and caregivers can manage their own and a child's expectations and nurture the best qualities in children.