Ages and Stages of Childhood

Ages and Stages of Childhood

Below you will find some ways children often act at certain ages. Remember all children are different, so don't be alarmed if your child doesn't do something that another child the same age is doing.

Typical behavior for any given age does not mean that all children will act that way all the time. The order in which these stages follow each other is important.

Age Changes 

2 years 5 years 10 years Smooth and consolidated
2-1/2 5-1/2 - 6 11 Breaking up
3 6-1/2 12 Rounded and balanced
3-1/2 7 13 Inwardized
4 8 14 Vigorized and expansive
4-1/2 9 15 Inwardized, outwardized, troubled, neurotic
5 10 16 Smooth and consolidated

A Healthy Baby's Cries

What They Can Mean What They Don't Mean
I'm hungry I'm angry at you
I'm tired I want to get back at you
I'm over-stimulated I want to disrupt your life
I'm uncomfortable I feel abandoned
I need a cuddle or a pat I'd rather be someone else's baby

6 Months to 28 Weeks

  • They're very social, like to smile at others, and are friendly to strangers 
  • Acts both social and self-sufficient 
  • Likes to grasp and finger objects, shifting from one hand to the other 
  • Takes great joy in banging objects, especially on a tray or high chair 
  • Listens to words and likes daddy's low voice which was once frightening 
  • At nine months, they learn to let go of objects and food and love to drop things or   food from their high chair 

1 Year Old

  • Shows wide range of emotions 
  • Sensitive to parent's mood 
  • Begins a period of adequately good functioning in all behaviors 
  • Begins to understand their bodies in space 
  • Motor abilities increase and may interfere with daily routines or habits 
  • Plays near other children but not with them 
  • Explores surroundings energetically 
  • Alternates between clinging and resistance to being held

15 Months Old

  • The word "NO" has no or little effect 
  • Moods shift and quick anger is short lived 
  • Compulsive behavior 
  • Dart-dash-fling age 
  • Gets into everything and loses inhibition 
  • Loves to throw things 
  • Understands what belongs to others
  • Is easily diverted and entertained 
  • Does not get along well with people

18 Months Old

  • Not only will they not come when called, but they rarely obey any verbal command 
  • "NO" is their absolute favorite word 
  • Cannot "wait" - only thinks of NOW" 
  • Has no concept of sharing 
  • Thinks only of taking - not giving 
  • Easily frustrated and has short attention span 
  • Pick up or carry rather than call them 
  • Use short and simple commands 
  • Rather than demand the child to "mind," give very close and constant physical   supervision 
  • Needs lots of outlets for energy, especially stair climbing 
  • Language is more or less "jargon" 
  • Can distinguish between "you and me" and make claims of "mine" 
  • Temper tantrums begin

2 Years old

  • Mature, calm and coordinated 
  • Can understand most language 
  • Language is just a use of words
  • Uses language to make their wants known 
  • Ability to wait a minute and suffer slight frustration is very increased 
  • People more important and likes to please others 
  • Although they cannot as yet share, they can find substitute toys for others

2-1/2 Years Old

  • Sets up rituals of behavior that must be followed, such as: the same cup, same   food, same stories, etc. 
  • Behavior is not a good one for groups 
  • Violent emotions
  • Rigid and inflexible - cannot adapt, give in, or wait 
  • Domineering and demanding - they give the orders and make the decisions saying   they want to do it themself 
  • Age of opposite extremes - cannot choose between alternatives - "will"and "won't" 
  • Deciding what clothes to wear can take a whole morning 
  • All routines should be streamlined
  • Make decisions for the child and situations where the child takes over

3 Years Old

  • Separates from mommy without crying or throwing a tantrum 
  • Will start to be able to share rather than like to do things with "mommy" 
  • They become less rigid, less worried about doing things "their way" 
  • Become more interested in people and will join in play with other kids
  • Understands taking turns 
  • Can make simple choices 
  • Makes bargains and sometimes keeps them 
  • Will sometimes work for a "surprise" reward
  • Language is used in sentences and constant verbalization

3-1/2 Years Old

  • Shows emotional extremes of shyness to being rambunctious 
  • Night terrors and animal phobias
  • Can be tense, whiny, and clinging 
  • Is often quite insecure 
  • May become much less coordinated in all fields of behavior 
  • Can often be very demanding 
  • Needs extra love and support 
  • Stuttering often occurs 
  • Tension outlets such as blinking, nail biting, and facial tics often occur

4 Years Old

  • "Test" rules, defy their parents more 
  • Loud, silly laughter alternates with fits of rage 
  • Expect tall tales, swearing, taking things - and a highly embarrassing command of   bathroom language 
  • Seem overconfident 
  • Seem not to know the difference between fact and fiction 
  • Tattles, exaggerates, and boasts 
  • Hitting, kicking, throwing, and running away

Between 4-1/2 and 5 Years Old

  • Cooperates with other children 
  • Shows sympathy for playmates when they are hurt
  • Begin to learn the difference between real and make believe 
  • Power hungry 
  • Able to finish projects they start 
  • Can talk about things and are interested in learning 
  • Can begin to count but will make mistakes 
  • Often are interested in concepts like inside/-outside, back/front 
  • Better able to handle frustration 
  • Better coordinated

5 Years Old

  • Loves to help and is eager to please 
  • Imitates, helps parents 
  • Language is literal ... they'll talk to anyone and everyone
  • More stable, relaxed, brighter and cheerful 
  • Can succeed and feel good about success 
  • Learns not to interrupt 
  • May take things from school, thinking it belongs to them and can't deny themselves   of it 
  • Place school and home separately ... thinks their teacher lives in school 

5-1/2 to 7 Years Old

  • Acts like a 2-1/2 year old 
  • Brash and aggressive
  • Argumentative, explosive, rude, and stubborn 
  • Violently emotional, loves one minute, hates the next 
  • Often blames problems on mommy
  • Behavior is at worst when with their mother 
  • Knows everything, boasts and brags 
  • Demanding, not flexible ... can dish it out but can't take it 
  • Clumsy and a dawdler 
  • Negative in response to others 
  • Very fearful age, especially of sounds, such as sirens
  • Likes praise and approval
  • Loves or hates mother 
  • Resents correction and is easily hurt by a cross word 
  • Resents directions but is over conforming and loves new experiences 
  • Behavior and feelings begin to smooth out with more tolerance and patience

7 Years Old 

  • Parents need to be reasonably sympathetic 
  • Use language to complain 
  • Visual fears, the dark, shadows
  • Very "feeling" and "empathetic"
  • Always touching and exploring 
  • More withdrawn, moody, "neurotic" 
  • Demands too much of self, and feels others are against them
  • Feels teachers are unfair
  • Feels kids "pick" on them

8 Years Old

  • Talks "with" rather than "to" adults
  • Exuberant, ready for anything 
  • Loves a new and exciting a challenge
  • Interest in relationships 
  • Overestimates abilities, followed by feeling of failure, tears and self criticism 
  • Constantly trying new friends, new difficult things, and new ideas 
  • Friends are prime reason for interest in school 
  • Must know "how," "what," and "why" 

9 Years Old

  • May see shoplifting as a temptation
  • Resists bossing from parents 
  • More withdrawn, self-contained, self sufficient 
  • Interest in parents for what they can do for them - trips, money, etc 
  • The age of perfecting skills and of real, solid accomplishment 
  • Worries a lot, is anxious 
  • Physical complaints often occurs in relation to a disliked task (Example: has a   stomachache as soon as it is time to empty the garbage) 
  • Rebels at authority - either passively or aggressively 

10 Years Old

  • One of the best stages 
  • Straightforward and flexible
  • Obeys easily, pleased with family 
  • Easy going and matter-of-fact 
  • Very specific; doesn't generalize 
  • Shrugs off responsibility; can usually toss off criticism and bad grades 
  • Much interest in own future parenthood and in how he/she will treat his/her children 
  • Satisfied with world in general 
  • Plateau between childhood and adolescence

11 Years Old

  • Growth spurt
  • Searching for self-definition
  • Consequent carelessness
  • Increased activity level trouble keeping still
  • Is eager by the awareness of impending new status as a teenager 
  • Growing up brings a lot of feelings of hope, anxiety, and fears 
  • Increased sensitivity, emotionalism, and very argumentative 
  • You never know what mood will strike and when 
  • Often forgets manners, is rude 
  • Thinks they're often being yelled at, disciplined, or that you're picking on them 
  • Need to be noticed, can't tolerate indifference 
  • Child rearing practices are challenged; attacks parent's motives and feelings 

12 Years Old

  • Groups of friends very important 
  • Peer groups play role in shaping interests and attitudes 
  • Less insistent, more reasonable and more sociable 
  • Indecisive because they can see the larger picture - abstract thinking undeveloped 
  • Outgoing, enthusiastic, and generous 
  • Emotions are carried to extremes
  • Emotionally uncomplicated 
  • More self insight, less self centered 
  • Seeking to win approval from others 
  • Shows reasonableness, tolerance, and humor

13 Years Old

  • Fragile 
  • Preoccupation with self 
  • Help them save face
  • Appears sullen and glum without actually being ill-humored or unsociable 
  • Less conversation, less humor, very shy 
  • "Very Sensitive," least happy of adolescent years, most depressed age of   adolescence 
  • Likes to keep to self, and decrease of friendships 
  • Indulges in many private worries 
  • Constant reflective thinking 
  • Fond of school, with fair and efficient discipline 
  • Large capacity to assimilate knowledge 
  • Gradual turning inward
  • Readiness to learn and a desire to exercise independence of thought 

14 Years Old

  • Sexual experimentation
  • Challenges everything and everyone in authority
  • Needs to be heard, mouths-off, acts like a know-it-all 
  • Gets along better with parents and siblings 
  • More open about expressing feelings 
  • Accepts personal strengths and weaknesses 
  • Friendships close again, yet based on personality and similar interest 
  • A more mature attitude toward family yet is hypercritical and embarrassed by   parental conduct 
  • Capacity to perceive how others feel and to see himself as others see him 
  • Beginning of interminable phone communications, silly, happy, serious, and hushed 
  • Abundant energy, outgoing friendliness, awareness of ideals
  • Growing comprehension and command of words and an exuberant inclination to   reason

15 Years Old

  • Sexual experimentation
  • Contradictions
  • Thinks of future 
  • Nurtures feelings of grudge, revenge, and violence 
  • Questions parents' values (can be a positive thing) 
  • High incident of school drop-out, drugs and alcohol, and teen pregnancy 
  • The gloom this age may be a reflection and awareness that childhood is gone and   nearing adulthood is fearful
  • Apathy and lethargy, seen as "lazy" or uncommunicative 
  • Friendships in groups rather than one-to-one 
  • Just lets things happen 
  • Negative attitude toward home, family and school 

16 Years Old

  • Sexual experimentation
  • Wholesome self-assurance, much companionship on a non-romantic basis 
  • Mixed groups socialize together 
  • More tolerant of the world in general 
  • Even disposition 
  • Emotions are stabilized, isn’t prone to worrying, seldom cries, usually curbs anger,   likes laughter, cheerful, outgoing and friendly
  • Observation is sharpened by increased powers of judgment 
  • Equilibrium compared to a 10 year old 
  • Interested in human nature 
  • Recognizes the importance of both written and unwritten codes of conduct 

17 Years Old

  • Often gets involved in health risk behaviors
  • Reacts to society's expectations 
  • Seeks group identity 

18 Years Old

  • Less self-absorbed
  • Re-establish family ties 
  • Considerate of other's needs 
  • Realistic self image 

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