This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Developmental Stages - Six to Early Adulthood Transition

I've been saying for a long time that Kitty is about age 6 years old, but I realized it had been a while since I'd reviewed what the developmental stages entail. I think Kitty has actually progressed. Although Kitty was chronologically ("calendar age") 11 years old when I met her, emotionally/developmentally she was about 4 (when a major trauma occurred). She's lived with us 4.5 years, and she has come a LOOONNNNGG way! I've been saying she's about age 6 for the longest time because I remembered that 6-year-olds are the "police of the playground," but in reviewing these stages, I think she's closer to 10 (no higher since she isn't able to grasp abstract concepts very well. Bear doesn't understand them at all).

Here's a good Developmental Stages Chart

Here are some behaviors and developments to look for in your daughter of this age:
  • Your daughter may view things as very black-and-white, right or wrong, good or bad, with little gray area in between. For example, she may talk of having a “best” friend and an “enemy.”
  • Children this age enjoy copying down designs, shapes, letters, and numbers, but may still write some printed letters backward.
  • Attention span begins to increase around this age, and your daughter may begin to show more pronounced interest in projects, creating extravagant collections, building things, and reading.
  • Hand-eye coordination improves at this age, as your daughter may begin to tie her own shoelaces and become skilled at using scissors or other small tools.
  • Friendships become increasingly important. You may notice that your daughter begins to prefer friends of the same gender.
  • At this age, children begin to be able to see others’ perspectives but are still very self-centered. They find criticism and failure especially difficult to cope with and show strong motivation to do things correctly and impress others.
  • Your daughter likely still struggles with logic and cannot grasp abstract or hypothetical concepts.
  • You may begin to notice your daughter’s developing ability to distinguish between left and right, as well as starting to understand time and the days of the week.
  • Children this age often enjoy caring for and playing with younger children. 
Ideas for parents:
  • Children this age often show enthusiasm for rules and rituals. Provide opportunities for your daughter to hone this understanding by playing simple table games like cards, tic-tac-toe, or Candyland.
  • At this age, children relish a sense of accomplishment. Offer opportunities for them to help out and feel they’ve achieved something, such as building models, cooking, crafting, or playing an instrument.
  • Another great idea to make your child feel that she is helping out and that her input is valued is to try working regular family meetings into your family’s schedule. Check out our blog post on family meetings for suggestions on what this might look like:
  • Make sure your child has ample opportunity for active play, such as jumping rope, tumbling, or playing ball.
  • Foster your child’s social development and sense of cooperation by offering noncompetitive team activities like completing a puzzle or building a fort.
  • Children this age are curious and eager to explore. Bring your child to new places like museums or different workplaces where she can learn and expand her understanding of the world.
  • Encourage reading and writing by helping your child write stories, create and perform plays or puppet shows, or conduct experiments.


§ Six - Six-year-olds have longer attention spans and continue to prefer structured activities to more open-ended experiences. They enjoy taking on new roles and responsibilities, but still require much direction and guidance from adults and frequently ask questions to ensure that they are completing tasks the right way. 
§ Social and emotional development-  six-year-olds are confident and delight in showing off their talents. They start to display an increasing awareness of their own and others' emotions and begin to develop better techniques for self-control. Six-year-olds enjoy sharing toys and snacks with friends, although conflicts among peers may remain quite frequent. Predictable routines are important sources of stability and security for children this age. Six-year-olds also draw emotional stability from their interactions with adults with whom they feel secure, particularly during challenging situations and circumstances.


§ Seven - Seven-year-olds enjoy having the opportunity to share their knowledge with others. They display a longer attention span and the ability to tolerate less-detailed directions and last-minute changes. Seven-year-olds are curious and frequently ask adults and peers questions to satisfy their need to know. They utilize increasingly complex and creative strategies to solve problems at home and at school. 

§ Social and emotional development-   seven-year-olds enjoy having and making friends and take pleasure in imitating the actions of friends and peers at school. While they typically prefer structure and routines, they may also choose to work or play independently when frustrated. Children this age often choose to develop games with rules and are likely to treat peers with respect during play. In addition, they start to experiment more with handling their emotional and social lives independently; they show that they can take some initiative socially and that they have the capacity to understand others' actions and feelings.

It's not until age 8 that the child's belief system syncs with their behavior.  This means:  "Just saying to a child, 'You know this is wrong. Why do you keep doing it?' may not be an effective strategy before the age of 8," Davis-Kean said. "Younger children may know it's wrong, but they haven't associated that knowledge with their own behavior."

§ Eight - Eight-year-olds enjoy having the opportunity to solve problems independently. They are able to concentrate on tasks for longer periods of time and begin to use their own resources prior to seeking adult help or they may seek out peers for assistance. Eight-year-olds demonstrate more highly-developed thinking skills as well as the ability to solve problems with creative strategies. 
§ Social and emotional development-   When interacting with others, eight-year-olds enjoy sharing their viewpoints on a variety of topics. They have a clearly developed sense of self-worth and may express frustration in response to activities that they perceive as areas of personal weakness. Eight-year-olds begin to understand the concept of masking emotions and can vary their use of coping strategies to deal with challenging situations. In peer interactions, they may start to engage in leadership, goal-setting, elaborate fantasy play and an assortment of interactive games. Eight-year-olds still rely on adults for a sense of security, but are proud of their independence and will want to express it. Under emotionally stressful circumstances, they will seek adults in less direct ways but still need contact.


§ Nine - The nine-year-old has definite interests and lively curiosity; seeks facts; capable of prolonged interest; can do more abstract thinking and reasoning. Nine-year-old boys and girls differ in personalities, characteristics, and interests; are very group and club oriented but always with same sex; sometimes silly within group. Boys, especially, begin to test and exercise a great deal of independence. Is most interested in friends and social activities; likes group adventures and cooperative play. 

§ Social and emotional development-   Morally the nine-year-old is very conscious of fairness; is highly competitive; argues over fairness; has difficulty admitting mistakes but is becoming more capable of accepting failures and mistakes and taking responsibility for them. Is clearly acquiring a conscience; is aware of right and wrong; wants to do right, but sometimes overreacts or rebels against a strict conscience.


§ Ten - Socially the ten-year-old is affectionate with parents; has great pride in father; finds mother all-important. Is highly selective in friendships; may have one best friend; important to be "in" with the gang; may develop hero worship (Kitty, obsesses about a particular boy or actor). 
§ Social and emotional development-  The ten-year-old is concerned with style. Is casual and relaxed. Likes privacy. Girls mature faster than boys. Not an angry age; anger, when it comes, is violent and immediate; seldom cries but may cry when angry. Main worry concerns school and peer relationships. The ten-year-old has a strong sense of justice and a strict moral code. More concerned with what is wrong than what is right.


§ Eleven - The eleven-year-old challenges adult knowledge; has increased ability to use logic. May have interest in earning money. Is critical of own artistic products. Is becoming interested in world and community; may like to participate in community activities. 

§ Social and emotional development-   The eleven-year-old is critical of adults and is obnoxious to live with. Strives for unreasonable independence. Has intense interest in teams and organized competitive games; considers memberships in clubs important. Anger is common; resents being told what to do; rebels at routines. Often is moody; dramatizes and exaggerates own positions (e.g., "You're the worst mother in the world!"). Experiences many fears, many worries, many tears. Morally the eleven-year-old has a strong urge to conform to peer-group morals.


§ Twelve to Fifteen - Thrives on arguments and discussions. Increasingly able to memorize; to think logically about concepts; to engage in introspection and probing into own thinking; to plan realistically for the future. May read a great deal. Needs to feel important in the world and to believe in something
§Withdraws from parents, who are invariably called "old-fashioned." Boys usually resist any show of affection. Usually feels parents are too restrictive; rebels. Needs less family companionship and interaction. Has less intense friendships with those of the same sex; usually has a whole gang of friends. Girls show more interest in opposite sex than do boys. Annoyed by younger siblings. 

§ Social and emotional development-  Commonly sulks; directs verbal anger at authority figure. Worries about grades, appearance, and popularity; is withdrawn, introspective. §Knows right and wrong; tries to weigh alternatives and arrive at decisions alone. Is concerned about fair treatment of others; is usually reasonably thoughtful; is unlikely to lie.


§ Sixteen to Nineteen - May lack information or self-assurance about personal skills and abilities. Seriously concerned about the future; beginning to integrate knowledge leading to decisions about future. 

§ Social and emotional development-  Relationships with parents range from friendly to hostile. Sometimes feels that parents are "too interested." Usually has many friends and few confidants; dates actively; varies greatly in level of maturity; may be uncomfortable, or enjoy activities, with opposite sex; may talk of marriage. May be strongly invested in a single, romantic relationship. 
§ Worries about failure. May appear moody, angry, lonely, impulsive, self-centered, confused, and stubborn. Has conflicting feelings about dependence/independence. 
§ Is confused and disappointed about discrepancies between stated values and actual behaviors of family and friends; experiences feelings of frustration, anger, sorrow, and isolation. 
§ May be interested in sex as a response to physical-emotional urges and as a way to participate in the adult world (but not necessarily an expression of mature intimacy).


§ Seventeen to twenty-two - This transition stage is characterized by an overlap of both the pre-adulthood stage and the early adulthood stage, and typically occurs around age 17-22. At this point, physical growth and development are complete and independence is fairly well established. 

§ Social and emotional development- Individualization is becoming more prominent because one is now better suited to make decisions in preparation for their future. An important concept relating to this era is the modification of relationships; by which a person increasingly distances themselves from their family in order to solidify their transition into adulthood. Upon termination of the transition stage, maturity is established and one is fully prepared to enter the adult world.

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