Milestones of Child Development:
Addressing (and Preventing) Stuck Points
Instructor: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director: AllCEUs Counseling CEUs and Specialty Certificates
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox, Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery

~ Identify the major psycho-social milestones for each age group
~ Learn about things that may thwart development
~ Identify protective factors for healthy development
~ Conceptualize behaviors as goal-driven in order to better understand their purpose and provide appropriate redirection
Infancy Milestones
~ Age 0-1 years
~ Children master the use of their hands (0-6 months)
~ Start crawling
~ Respond to familiar words
~ Discover their voices
~ Rely on parents for comfort and to meet basic needs
~ Cognitive (Piaget): Object permanence
~ Develop Trust (Erickson)
~ Secure attachment to caregiver
~ In self to properly interpret signals and get needs met

Infancy and Attachment
~ Attachment
~ Attachment is the quality of the relationship with the caregiver characterized by trust, safety and security.
~ The quality of the infant-parent attachment is a powerful predictor of a child’s later social and emotional outcome
~ Determined by the caregiver’s response to the infant when the infant’s attachment system is ‘activated’
~ Beginning at six months old, infants come to anticipate caregivers’ responses to their distress and shape their own behaviors accordingly (eg, developing strategies for dealing with distress when in the presence of that caregiver)
~ Sensitive, Responsive, Loving = Secure
~ Insensitive, Rejecting or Inconsistent = Insecure
Attachment cont…
~ Continues through childhood, but formative attachment relationships developed in infancy
~ Effects of Secure Attachment
~ Learn basic trust, which serves as a basis for all future emotional relationships
~ Develop fulfilling intimate relationships
~ Maintain emotional balance
~ Feel confident and good about themselves
~ Enjoy being with others
~ Rebound from disappointment and loss
~ Share their feelings and seek support

Attachment Cont…
~ Effects of Secure Attachment cont…
~ Explore the environment with feelings of safety and security, which leads to healthy intellectual and social development
~ Develop the ability to control behavior, which results in effective management of impulses and emotions
~ Create a foundation for the development of identity, which includes a sense of capability, self-worth, and a balance between dependence and independence
~ Establish a moral framework that leads to empathy, compassion, and conscience
~ Generate a core set of beliefs
~ Provide a defense against stress and trauma

Infancy Developmental Stuck Points
~ Interferences
~ Child does not have basic food, shelter, safety, love needs met
~ Manifestations
~ Inability to trust self or others
~ Reliance on others to tell them what they need
~ Lack of a sense of worthiness for basics
~ Discomfort with and craving of attention
~ Irritability/anxiety
~ Establishment/Re-Establishment of Trust and Attachment
~ Consistency
~ Care: Understanding and ensuring basic needs are met
~ Compassion: Being calm and accepting of the child’s emotions and needs
~ Providing compassionate redirection: Add. Don’t just subtract

Toddlers 2-3 Years
~ Developmental Task:
~ Psychosocial: Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt (Erickson)
~ Personal control over physical skills and body (potty training and “no”)
~ Cognitive: Preoperational (Through age 7)
~ Think about things symbolically (Doll can “be” Mom) / Pretend play
~ Begin to understand the concept of past and future
~ Continue to develop secure attachments
Toddlers 2-3 Years Stuck Points
~ Interferences
~ Overly permissive or overly strict parents
~ Lack of praise for exploration and experimentation
~ Manifestations
~ Low self-esteem/need for external validation
~ Lack of motivation
~ Establishment/Re-Establishment
~ Encourage child to explore and experiment
~ Praise child for trying even if he fails
~ Reassure child that you love him for who he is

Preschool 4 to 6 years
~ Purpose: Initiative vs. Guilt
~ Assert control and power over the environment. Disapproval can result in guilt
~ Preschoolers live in a magical world where inanimate objects are alive (animism) and dreams are real.
~ Parenting challenge:
~ Truth vs. Fiction
~ Creativity vs. Reality

Preschool 4 to 6 years
~ They have trouble distinguishing between appearances and reality.
~ Parenting challenge
~ Safe vs. Danger
~ Truth vs. Fiction
~ They focus on one aspect of a situation (centration) and struggle to see other vantage points (egocentrism)
~ Parenting challenge
~ Finding their voice vs. Being a bully
~ Helping them learn to make good choices

Preschool 4 to 6 years
~ Children of this age typically love to play make-believe.
~ Parenting challenge
~ Finding your make believe
~ Understanding what they are communicating through their play
~ Preschoolers also love to ask questions both to learn facts as well as learn how to interact with others
~ Parenting challenge:
~ Not getting impatient “Mommy, why is the….”
~ Helping children learn how to answer their own questions
~ Helping children learn to self-regulate in mutual conversations
~ Encouraging children to figure out their own answers

Preschool 4 to 6 years
~ They use everyday objects in “conventional” and unconventional purposes.
~ Parenting challenge
~ Honoring their creativity in the right time/place
~ Getting outside of the box
~ They are little scientists – trying things out to see what happens.
What will happen if I drop my ball of playdough into the aquarium? Hmmmmm. Let's check it out! In this same way, they test rules and boundaries to make sure they are the same.
~ Parenting challenge:
~ Cleaning the aquarium
~ Being consistent

Preschool 4 to 6 years
~ Children at this age crave structure.
~ Parenting challenge:
~ Consistency
~ Steadfastness
~ Piaget uses the term pre-operational to describe the reasoning patterns typical of children in this age group. They are easily fooled by appearances.
~ Parenting challenge
~ Appearances can be deceiving
~ Not everything happens the way you expect

Preschool 4 to 6 years
~ They often have difficulty putting into words how they feel or what is going on inside
~ Parenting challenge:
~ Pay attention to nonverbal (and verbal) cues and help the child label her feelings
~ Teach children to “check-in” with themselves periodically
~ Children begin to use strategies for remembering, but they often use inappropriate and ineffective strategies.
~ Parenting challenge:
~ Differentiating truth from fiction
~ Identifying intentional lying from ineffective recall
Preschool Stuck Points
~ Interferences
~ Overly strict/enmeshed parents
~ Lack of encouragement to take risks
~ Manifestations
~ Low self-esteem/need for external validation
~ Difficulty making or maintaining friends
~ Unclear what he likes, wants, feels
~ Establishment/Re-Establishment
~ Encourage child to explore and experiment
~ Praise child for trying even if he fails
~ Reassure child that you love him for who he is
~ Encourage children to develop friendships with a variety of people

~ How else can we help people become mindful, live authentically and improve their self esteem?

Childhood: 7 to 12 years
~ Industry vs. Inferiority
~ Coping with new academic and social demands. Success = self confidence and efficacy.
~ Cognitive (Piaget) Concrete Operational
~ Thinking is less egocentric
~ Begin to realize their thoughts and feelings are unique
~ Beginning of logical thought
~ Age 8 is a milestone across cultures. Children are perceived by adults to have attained a new level of competence at this age, and permitted to be on their own more often.
~ Parenting challenge
~ Creating a safe, stable environment for the youth to “fledge”

Childhood: 7 to 12 years
~ They acquire the logical reasoning associated with concrete operations.
~ Parenting challenge:
~ Not all things are logical.
~ Children begin to use advanced strategies when they learn new material. They gain much from teachers who help them cultivate useful strategies for learning.
~ Parenting challenge
~ Identify your child’s temperament:
~ Auditory, kinesthetic, visual
~ Active or Reflective
~ Identify your child’s temperament
~ Recommended book: Effective Teaching, Effective Learning by Alice Fairhurst
Childhood: 7 to 12 years
~ They are able to be fairly logical and organized when working on problems with concrete objects.
~ They have difficulty dealing with abstractions, hypothetical situations, multiple variables.
~ Parenting challenge:
~ Helping children learn to meaningfully conceptualize hypotheticals
~ Teaching children how to organize and solve multivariate problems
~ Perspective taking skills increase.
~ Parenting challenge
~ Helping them to take another’s perspective instead of just telling them how the other person felt/thought

Childhood: 7 to 12 years
~ School age children acquire a relatively stable and comprehensive understanding of the self.
~ Parenting challenge:
~ Help children appreciate their physical characteristics
~ Support children in exploring their values and reactions to things
~ Children acquire a set of standards and expectations with respect to dealing with others. The formation of friendships and close affiliations with peers is a hallmark of this period.
~ Parenting challenge
~ Help children define a realistic and healthy set of standards and expectations
~ Identify in yourself what standards and expectations you model for your child
Childhood: 7 to 12 years
~ There is a new appreciation of authority and an interest in understanding and abiding by the rules.
~ Parenting challenge:
~ Having an explanation for every rule
~ Picking your battles
~ There is a reciprocal relationship between cognitive development and social interaction/interpersonal effectiveness.
~ Parenting challenge
~ Helping children who are lagging in one of these areas

Childhood Stuck Points
~ Interferences
~ Lack of consistent support and encouragement even with failure
~ Lack of successes
~ Manifestations
~ Low self-esteem/need for external validation
~ Lack of motivation
~ Establishment/Re-Establishment
~ Encourage child to develop skills in areas in which he can excel
~ Praise child for trying even if he fails
~ Reassure child that you love him for who he is

Adolescence 13-18 years
~ Psychosocial (Erickson): Identity vs. Role Confusion
~ Successes lead to the development of a sense of self and personal identity
~ Failures provide an opportunity for learning coping skills and compassion
~ Cognitive (Piaget): 11 years old- Adulthood
~ Develop the ability to think about abstract concepts, and logically test hypotheses.

Adolescence: Stuck Points
~ Interferences
~ Lack of support for individual wants, needs or goals
~ Lack of stable, consistent, positive relationships
~ Lack of successes
~ Lack of education about or opportunity to develop coping, life and interpersonal effectiveness skills
~ Manifestations
~ Low self-esteem/need for external validation
~ Lack of motivation

Adolescence: Stuck Points
~ Establishment/Re-Establishment
~ Encourage child to develop skills in areas in which he can excel
~ Provide support when the child’s world seems chaotic
~ Help child learn to identify and set SMART goals
~ Reassure child that you love him for who he is (unconditional positive regard)
~ Model and reinforce positive coping skills
~ Encourage opportunities for the development of interpersonal skills

~ Preventative/protective factors include
~ Parental involvement
~ Parental consistency
~ Connection to positive adults and peers
~ Connection and involvement in an organized community
~ Development of a positive view of self and future
~ Exposure to and development of:
~ Coping skills
~ Interpersonal effectiveness skills
~ Life skills including goal setting and time management
~ Behaviors represent the person’s best attempt to meet a need
~ Love (Prevent isolation, rejection)
~ Security or control of self/environment/situation (Prevent rejection, failure, loss of control)
~ Identifying the need and alternatives often eliminates inappropriate behaviors.

Additional Reading
~ Challenging Behavior and Positive Behavior Support
~ Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports
Established by the U.S. Department of Education, this center offers information for schools, families, and communities on positive behavioral interventions and support.
~ SPAN: Statewide Parent Advocacy Network – Positive Behavior Supports Fact Sheet
Assists in identifying the underlying causes of challenging behavior in a child and provides recommendations for responding.
~ Learning Disabilities
~ LD In Depth: Technology Information
On the official Web site of The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, Offers practical insights into the promise and realities of making technology work for people with learning disabilities.

More Resources
~ Autism
~ Families for Early Autism Treatment
This non-profit organization provides education, advocacy, and support for the autism community. The site includes research updates, handbooks, and links to regional chapters.
~ Autism Society of America
This national organization is dedicated to increasing public awareness about autism and the day-to-day issues faced by individuals with autism, their families and the professionals with whom they interact.
~ Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders