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Much is written about physical growth and we know what to expect in terms of the physical aspects of development of our children. What becomes difficult at times is knowing what to expect when it comes to their social and emotional development - two aspects that are in fact integral to their well-being and success in life in later years. A large chunk of our know how typically comes through what we have heard from others, be it elders within family or other people around us who have had children, which would not necessarily be a scientific understanding of these factors.
As a result, there tends to be a possibility of ignoring important signs which may indicate a need to pay attention early on or to intervene in a structured manner through our own individual efforts or through guidance from professionals. In subsequent passages I would be talking about social and emotional milestones that your child's brain is typically wired to achieve in each year of life from 0-5 years of age and the non-achievement of which would indicate a potential problem that needs to be worked upon.
The First Six Months of Life
Filled with a lot of excitement this first year of life of a child sees us as parents eagerly awaiting to watch our child grow, start beginning to call us ma and pa, having a form of familiarity and attachment, followed by the development of the ability to crawl, stand and sometimes even walk.
The child in these first few months reacts to pain and discomfort, is able to recognise a parent's voice, begins to make make eye contact towards the age of 6 months, and shows affection by looking, kicking, waving and even smiling. It is now that your child should also begin to show signs of experiencing a sense of secutiry when held or spoken to and also expresses his delight, laughing when tickled and crying when needs are left ungratified. The initial signs of attachment to the primary caregiver begin to appear as the child also develops trust when its cries are attended to.
6-12 Months of Age
This is when the child begins to enjoy the company of other children and also starts expressing his anger and dissatisfaction. Herein the child also develops a fear of strangers and avoids being in their presence on his or her own. He has an increasing drive for independence and loves to perform for others and begins to develop a sense of personal accomplishment while performing as well.
The Second Year of Life
This second year of life sees a shift in the child's needs. He prefers to keep the primary caregiver in sight while exploring the environment and also demands a lot of personal attention. It is at this time that he also starts to become stubborn, not wanting to share his things with others, and being very possessive about his belongings. There also tend to be the early signs of empathy, that is being able to understand another's experiences and starts developing a sense of trust.
Your child would now also start to engage in imaginative play and also would enjoy playing alongside other children though not necessarily with them as cooperative play begins later in the development of a child. He also begins to test the limits of his behaviors and this is when tantrum behaviors begin to make their first appearances.
The Third Year of Life
It is in the third year of life that associative play begins to make its appearance. Children at this age are willing to play with other children who are engaged in the same type of play activity. They would be okay sharing the toys but there are no rules to the play or any formal organization. They also may have a need for a security object, though at the same tim they seem to be moving in the direction of being more independent as well.
The Fourth and Fifth Years of Life
The child begins to enjoy the company of other children far more than what it was previously. This is when cooperative play too begins to emerge and children begin to have fun with other children. They are learning to understand the feelings of others and can display sensitivity to other's experiences. It is easier for them to move away from parents or other important figures in their lives and not be distressed by it. Their games are more complicated and they can assume other roles in their play as well.
For parents it is essential to be able to enjoy the growth and development of their child and knowing about these aspects is a must in order to ensure that one does enjoy and is not constantly worried that what if I am missing out on something here.
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