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Learn About Child Development  

It is a great benefit to parents to learn enough about child development that they understand what kinds of behaviors are normal for their child and what expectations are reasonable for their children at different stages of their lives.  For instance, parents who start potty training a bit too early will likely find success but that the success costs them a great deal more time and energy than is necessary.  When a child is developmentally ready to learn how to use the potty the training process tends to happen much more quickly.

It is also useful for parents to know that at certain ages some behavior that is often seen as problematic is actually children learning a new skill that is important for their development.  While such behavior may still be annoying at times, it is easier for parents to tolerate and accept if they recognize the benefit for their children and how it is contributing to their children’s lives.  For instance, much of the mess that young children make when eating is about exploring their motor skills and how the world works. They are increasing their understanding of gravity when they push plates and various pieces of food off the edge of their high chair.  It still creates a big mess but is easier to tolerate when seen as an opportunity for knowledge to enter their cute little heads.

Interestingly, we seem to have less and less interest in how children develop as they get older.  In a recent check I did on, the perennial best seller What to Expect When You Are Expecting has a sales rank of 52.  In the same series, What to Expect in the First Year is at 288, What to Expect the Second Year is at 16,674, and What to Expect in the Toddler Years is at 213,657.  The book Ages & Stages, which offers an explanation to parents of what to expect through the first ten years of life is only at 40,611. 

Parents will benefit from understanding and thinking of developmental issues through the teenage years.  Cognitive and emotional development continues through the early twenties.  Thirteen year olds and sixteen year olds really don’t think like adults.  While it may seem overwhelming, taking the time and energy to develop some understanding of development early on will probably pay for itself in energy and time in the long run.