Your baby starts her journey into adulthood with
very little going for her other than an inborn potential to grow and become.
Within the first few weeks of life, she begins the lifelong process of
experiencing, exploring, and expressing herself. This is a very physical/doing
time of life for baby. She spends most of her waking hours looking, making
noises, learning to hold up her head and turn over, squirming and moving
around, trying and then learning to pick things up, usually putting them in her
mouth, and gradually organizing her life around the major goals of getting to
things and getting into them. As your baby becomes a toddler (around the age of
eighteen months), the circle of her world starts to expand. There are myriad
things to get into and to learn to stay out of, to climb on and around, to
explore and experiment with, to take apart and throw around. There is a long
list of things to do, such as learning to talk, to use the bathroom, and to
feed herself, figuring out new ways to get others to pay attention, finding out
about rules and restrictions, getting better at moving around without falling
down – generally discovering the physical world.
As your toddler becomes a preschooler,
her world continues to expand geometrically with things to do or to avoid,
experiences to have or to refrain from, with more complicated toys, more
elaborate opportunities, and with those ever-present but changing rules and
restrictions. The world of puzzles and coloring books, bicycles and roller
skates, games and good manners also begins to come into focus.
As your preschooler becomes a grade schooler,
the circle of her world expands yet further and rules and restrictions begin to
decrease, even if only slightly. Not only is she able to do more things, but
she is allowed to, even encouraged to do more. Somewhat suddenly, it may seem
to your grade schooler, you and other adults expect her to learn how to do
things that are sometimes difficult or tedious. Fun and work are becoming
interacting and interrelated parts of life.
As your grade schooler moves into adolescence,
the circle of her life continues to expand, and the rules and restrictions
change and lessen. Your child by then has developed a fairly well-established
pattern of discovery, experimentation, and mastery; she has developed an
amazingly complex array of skills, abilities, and behaviors to be consciously
used or not, depending on the circumstances. And still more skills and
behaviors are yet to be learned – how to participate in team sports and group
activities, what is the proper behavior in a multitude of situations, how to do
geometry, how to drive a car, how to behave on dates and in other social
situations. Gradually, the developing individual comes to do and act less like your
child and more like an adult.