Supporting Your Child's Development:
From Toddler to Teen

See also: Reading with Children

Child development is a process that begins at birth and continues right through to adolescence. It is the result of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional changes.

Child development is a complex and dynamic process and it is influenced by many factors. These include the environment, heredity and experience. From the moment your baby is born, it’s your responsibility as a parent to support and encourage their growth.

It’s a pretty big task and adds to the pressure to be responsible for someone else’s growth in life, right? We totally agree and this is why we’ve put together a quick guide on supporting your child’s development from the toddler stage right through to their teenage years.

Baby Stage

Talk to your Baby. When a baby is born, they are unable to communicate their needs but don’t let their silence when it comes to talking have an influence on the way you talk to them. When parents talk to their babies, it helps them learn how to communicate and understand the world around them. It also promotes the development of their own thoughts and feelings. Talking to a baby can also help build a bond between the parent and child, which has a resounding effect on their development.

Answer when they make a noise. When your baby makes a noise, it is important to answer them in a way that is comforting and reassuring. You should speak to them in a soft, gentle voice and make sure that you are making eye contact. It is also important to keep your body language relaxed and open. Read and sing to your baby. Reading and/or singing to your baby can help to develop their language skills later in life. When looking after a new baby they’ll also pick up on rhythm and pitch, both of which are important for music development. Brain development is also massively enhanced which is a good enough reason by itself to pull out the story book each night.

Toddler Stage

Provide plenty of educational toys. One of the best ways to ensure that your toddler is getting the most out of their playtime is by investing in educational toys. These toys are designed to help with your child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. Some of the benefits of educational toys for toddlers include helping them to develop fine motor skills (i.e., the small muscles in their hands and fingers).

Turn off screens. All parents would agree that it’s hard to keep screens away from kids these days. That said; it’s not impossible and more parents would try harder to prevent too much screen time if they knew the damage that looking at screens can cause for young toddlers. We’re talking delayed and damaged language skills, poor sleep, behavioral problems and increased risk of obesity.

Stimulate their senses. In order to help a child develop properly, it is important to stimulate their senses. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as letting them listen to music, letting them touch different textures, or taking them outside to experience different sights and smells. By stimulating a child's senses, you are helping them to develop both mentally and physically.

Encourage interactive play. Interactive play helps children to learn about themselves and the world around them. It also helps to develop their physical, social and emotional skills. Their imagination and creativity are also enhanced so interactive play should be an essential part of any toddler’s daily routine.

Develop their gross and fine motor skills. There are many benefits to developing a child’s fine and gross motor skills. Motor skills are the ability to use one’s muscles and body to perform tasks. Gross motor skills involve the large muscles in the body, such as the arms and legs, and are necessary for activities such as sitting, standing, walking, and running. Fine motor skills, in contrast, involve the smaller muscles in the body and are necessary for activities like eating, picking things up and writing.

Teen Stage

Encourage further education. Many parents encourage their children to get good grades and to do well at school so they can have a successful future. However, what many of these parents don’t realize is that furthering their child’s education after high school, whether it be through college, trade school, a gap year, or even taking online classes, is hugely important. You can encourage further education by helping your teen get approved for a student loan. There are some cosigner requirements for student loans so be sure to look into these before applying. You could also take them to different college open days to let them get a feel for what’s out there in terms of course opportunities.

Create challenges. Parents should create challenges for their teens because it can help them grow. By doing things that are slightly out of their comfort zone, they can learn to adapt and problem-solve. This can lead to increased confidence and self-esteem. It can also help them learn to work collaboratively with others, which is a skill they can take with them right through to adult-hood.

Encourage change and new opportunities. As a parent, it is natural to want to protect your children and keep them from experiencing any pain or hardship. However, part of being a teenager is experiencing new things and learning from those experiences, even if they are difficult. There are several reasons why parents should encourage their teens to experience new opportunities.

First, going through tough experiences can make teens stronger and more resilient. It can teach them how to deal with difficult situations and how to overcome adversity. Parents should encourage their teens to experience new opportunities for a variety of reasons. First, it helps them develop a sense of independence. Second, it helps them learn about themselves and what they're interested in. Third, it broadens their perspective and helps them understand the world around them. Fourth, it builds confidence and self-esteem. And fifth, doing new things and meeting new people can be a lot of fun.

About the Author

Drew Allen is a financial enthusiast, seasoned blogger, music and sports fanatic. He enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and daughter fishing and boating. He is dedicated to his 20+ year career in the banking, mortgage, and personal finance industry.