Child Psychology and Behaviour

child development at the age of 0 to 5

All age groups

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Updated on Nov 17, 2016

NewbornsDevelopmentUnderstanding development Child development: the first five years 0-5 years A AShare  The first five years of a child’s life are critical for development. The experiences children have in these years help shape the adults they will become. More than anything else, your relationship with your child shapes the way your child learns and grows. About early child development Development is the term used to describe the changes in your child’s physical growth, as well as her ability to learn the social, emotional, behaviour, thinking and communication skills she needs for life. All of these areas are linked, and each depends on and influences the others. In the first five years of life, your child’s brain develops more and faster than at any other time in his life. The early experiences your child has – the things he sees, hears, touches, smells and tastes – stimulate his brain, creating millions of connections. This is when foundations for learning, health and behaviour throughout life are laid down. Both genes and the environment influence your child’s development. Genes are the blueprint for your child’s development and carry information about what your child will look like, how she might behave, her physical and mental health and more. The information in a child’s genes comes from her mother and father. The environment is the experiences your child has in his family, school and the wider community. The environment influences things like your child’s language, as well as how independent he is, how well he bounces back from tough times and how good he is at forming relationships. As your child develops, genes and environment influence each other. The way your child’s genes and environment work together affects her development. For example, how your toddler responds to a stressful situation depends on her temperament (mostly determined by her genes) and the relationships she has with others in her environment (usually her family or close carers). Babies are born ready to learn, and their brains develop through use. So your child needs a stimulating environment with lots of different activities that give him plenty of ways to play and learn, and lots of chances to practise what he’s learning.   Relationships: how development happens Children’s relationships affect all areas and stages of their development. This is because relationships are experiences. In fact, relationships are the most important experiences in your child’s environment because they teach her the most about the world around her. In turn, they shape the way she sees the world. Your child learns about the world both by being in a relationship – for example, when he communicates with you – and also by seeing relationships between other people – for example, how you behave towards your partner, and how your partner behaves towards you. Through relationships, your child learns whether the world is safe and secure, whether she is loved, who loves her, what happens when she cries, laughs or makes a face – and much more. And this learning is the basis for your child’s communication, behaviour, social and other skills. Your child’s most important relationships are with you, other family members and carers – for example, early childhood educators. These early relationships are the foundation for your child’s healthy development. Why play is important  In the early years, your child’s main way of learning and developing is through play. Play is fun for your child and gives him an opportunity to explore, observe, experiment, solve problems and learn from his mistakes. He’ll need your support and encouragement to do this. But it’s important to try to find a balance between helping him and letting him make mistakes, because finding out for himself about how the world works is a big part of learning. Lots of time spent playing, talking, listening and interacting with you helps your child learn the skills she needs for life, like communicating, thinking, solving problems, moving and being with other people and children. But more than this, play is a great relationship builder

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