What to expect of young children

It is important to know the characteristic behavior for each age. Often parents are irritated by a child's behavior when he is only acting his age. This does not mean that misbehavior should be ignored, but it does help when you realize that the child will outgrow the behavior. Discipline needs to be in keeping with the child's age and abilities. Ask yourself -"Are my demands reasonable for him at his age?" "Do I expect too much?"

 

THE INFANT
I cry to get what I need and what I want. I am dependent on adults for my needs. I love to play with my food. I am growing rapidly. I get into everything. I sleep less as I grow. I learn by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing.

THE TWO YEAR OLD
I can be negative (says "No" many times) and possessive ("That's mine"). I am often noisy. I try to get my own way. I have a short memory. I am curious and explore a lot. I often can't make up my mind. I can be poky (playing in food, dawdling). I can't sit still!

THE THREE YEAR OLD
I try to please and I can mind fairly well. I am learning to accept suggestions and I can be reasoned with. I am attentive when spoken to, especially when called by name. I can make a few choices. I can talk enough to be understood. I still don't know how to share.

THE FOUR YEAR OLD
I want friends. I ask many questions and tend to be bossy. I can brag and stretch the truth and I tattle frequently. I talk a lot. I am learning to take turns. I think I am very important. I enjoy playing with made-up words. And I may say words that shock you.

THE FIVE YEAR OLD
I am friendly with friends (usually) and parents. I am businesslike...I want to know and follow "the rules". I like to imitate grownups. I am dependable. I like praise. I like to feel important. I still tattle on others (if they're not playing fair!). I enjoy dressing up. I can give my name and address. I am serious and demanding.

THE SIX TO SEVEN YEAR OLD
I am very active; sitting still is hard for me. I like running, jumping, chasing and doing games. I can dress myself, but sometimes I dawdle. Small groups, with boys and girls, are fun at playtime. I like to wrestle, and have friendly fights. It seems one minute I'm "good" and the next I'm "not so good."

THE SEVEN TO EIGHT YEAR OLD
Slowly I'm getting taller. My friends and I all seem to have some habits like scratching or pulling ears. Jumping rope, hopscotch and jacks are favorite games. I like to dress like my friends and do what they do. Sometimes when my parents make me mad I wonder if I'm really their child. Sometimes I want to make something but I can't make it work out like my idea. I can tell time. Often I argue about what I'm expected to do. I am interested in how boys and girls are different.

THE EIGHT TO NINE YEAR OLD
I like doing things with my hands, but I can't always make them do exactly what I want. I am good on a bicycle and roller skates. I like to work on group, but sometimes it's hard to follow rules and wait my turn. I know what's mine and what's yours. I like to know about what happened in the "olden days."

THE NINE TO TEN YEAR OLD
I take care of my own physical needs like baths and hair combing. I'm so busy I don't always get the rest and sleep I need. I'm not afraid to try things that people say are too dangerous. The "opposite sex" bugs me sometimes. I like to be part of "gangs" and clubs. Sometimes I get to visits my new friend who lives in a different neighborhood.

THE TEN TO ELEVEN YEAR OLD
A lot of girls I know are gaining weight. I enjoy working really hard to get better at climbing, running, and other things like that. Playing to see which team wins is neat. And it is fun to be on a team. Sometimes I need to be by myself. I put good things in secret hiding places. Once in a while I like to plan ahead. It's interesting to hear how other people feel about things-and to tell them how I feel.

THE ELEVEN TO TWELVE YEAR OLD
Everybody in my group likes a different game. I'll die if I don't get in that club soon. I enjoy doing things in school, my neighborhood, and church. Team games are my favorites. Sometimes people notice I'm a little shy. I'm beginning to be able to see where my writing and drawing needs to be improved. Earning money would help me be a little more independent.

THE ADOLESECENT
I am in a time of major physical and emotional change. I am experiencing stress, and creating it for others (unintentionally, for the most part). I may experience big changes over night or breeze through smoothly. I am trying to figure out who I am: I may experiment with new ideas and life-styles. I withdraw from time to time. I am moody and unpredictable. I am critical of family members, especially parents. I have short outbursts of anger, as I push for my independence. I have difficulty compromising-I know all the answers. I am restless, mixed up, self critical. I will be forming a clear self-image, an identity of my own. I will need to share feelings and experiences with my friends. I am preoccupied with the opposite sex. I want to be treated like an adult. I have mixed feelings of joy about separating from home. I may not openly show it, but I need your love, your attention, and your understanding.

Caution: The exact time each child will reach each stage is highly unpredictable. What is predictable is that most teens do experience many of the feeling and behaviors described above.

 

Funding for this program provided by the Department of Health and Human Services