From the moment we are born, we are working to become a more complete person, developing day by day.
Every human being, from the time he or she is a small baby tries to learn and adapt as best as possible to the world around him or her, to interact with the people around him or her, to learn and adapt to the world around him or her.We are trying to learn, to interact with the people around us and to find our own place in this vast space. Of course all this is done intuitively at first, but then it is helped by the stimulation it receives from its parents and the education provided by its caregivers.
Many things happen during this stage of human life in an incredible and even surprising way, since they cause a significant and often irreversible impact on children. That is why it is considered one of the most important in the development of people and for which we must have great respect, admiration and preserve their care.
Precisely taking all this into account, in this article we will talk about the stages of childhood and the main characteristics of each one. and the main characteristics of each one.
What is childhood?
But before we get into the subject, let us first define this period of life. Infancy is defined as the developmental process of the baby from 0 year of life until the age of 12 when the puberty stage begins. This phase is composed of a whole complex procedure of learning and stimulation, in which the child becomes more and more mature.in which the child adapts to the world around him.
Beginning with the learning of their own skills (motor, cognitive, emotional and psychological) to the ability to express these skills in the environment where they develop (communication, interaction, sociability, basic problem solving).
Early and second childhood
There are theorists who define the stages of childhood as follows: early childhood (0-6 years of age) and second childhood (6-12 years of age) in which multiple changes occur in the physiological, emotional, linguistic, psychological and emotional spheres of the child, depending on its own stage of development.
Later on, the acquisition of major skills, such as autonomy, independence, concept of self-identity, socialization and expression capacity, will take place.
As already mentioned, this is characterized by occurring during the 0 to 6 years of a child’s life. However, However, it is divided into two phases, from 0 to 3 years of age and 3 to 6 years of age..
1.1. Early childhood, initial phase
During the first phase, the child begins to acquire the massive information that comes to him from the environment. It forms its first affective bonds with its parents, especially with the mother from the symbiotic bond. Their development depends entirely on the stimulation received from play and cuddling.
They have a very egocentric perception of themselves, that is, they do not take others into consideration. Their language is very basic, starting with a telegraphic method, they enjoy satisfying their curiosity by exploring everything within their reach and are more inclined towards solitary play, as they do not like to share their things with others.
1.2. Early childhood, second phase
At this stage, between the ages of 3-6 years, the child undergoes several radical changes. For example, they begin to acquire the skills of theory of mind. That is, they are able to use their imagination and intellect to understand that other people can think, feel and have other beliefs, as well as themselves. So they begin to let go of their egocentric side a bit and are inclined to relate to their peers through play.
They also begin to have a better command and fluency of language and communicative expressions, properties and characteristics of the objects around them. Differentiate the characteristics of people, acquire a sense of autonomy and better motor control, including the ability to control sphincters.
2. Second childhood
The last phase of childhood, which 6-12 years of age, which marks the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence..
During this stage children acquire abstract thinking and concrete operations, which gives them the skills to organize their ideas, use their reasoning to solve problems and discriminate right from wrong acts. They also have the ability to understand emotions, manage them and express them through better management of oral and written communication.
In turn, they acquire greater control over their fine and gross motor skills, so their mobility has increased and they can experience more challenging and complex activities. On the other hand, they acquire a sense of value about friendship and go in search of new companions to share.
Stages of childhood and their main characteristics
On the other hand, there are theorists who define in a more detailed way the stages of childhood, which you will know below.You will learn about them below.
It is comprised from the moment of conception until the mother’s delivery, i.e., about 40 weeks. It includes the early fetal period (when babies are born early or prematurely) and the late fetal period (those born a few weeks after the due date).
During this stage, the focus is on the process of fetal formation and the full development of the baby’s senses. Which can be stimulated by the mother, father and those around him through sound and which, in the future, will form part of the autobiographical memory.
Thus, the baby can learn, from the womb, about the world that will soon surround it through the sensory experiences provided by its mother.
2. Neonatal period
This is the shortest stage of infant development, from birth to 28 days or one full month after birth. But they represent the most important weeks of the baby’s adaptation to the world.
During this time, the baby begins to communicate with humans through babbling sounds and crying to express its needs, which cannot be met on its own. At the same time, the first motor stimulations, such as the walking instinct, kicking and the sucking instinct for feeding, should begin.
Finally, the growth of the rest of its body can be seen, with the exception of its head, it acquires more weight and muscular strength. A curious fact is that it is believed that at this stage and up to a few more months, babies are able to discriminate different languages.
3. Lactation period
Also known as the postneonatal period, it is also one of the shortest stages of infancy, since it lasts from the month of birth to the first year of life. In these the changes are more obvious to the eye, such as the children’s muscle growth, the definition of facial features, and displays of self-behavior.
They begin to acquire a better understanding of the world around them through their maternal bond, how the mother responds to their demands and how the father is involved in their development. Breastfeeding at this stage is considered essential, not only as the first form of nourishment, but also as a channel of affective communication.
4. Early childhood period
We have already described briefly what this period of childhood is about, however, it only includes the stage from 0 to 3 years of age. In which children are improving their language, although it is not yet understandable, they begin to describe the things around them, although not individually but rather generalized.
Egocentrism, as previously discussed, is at the core of children’s thinking, as they are not able to understand the beliefs of others. Likewise, curiosity is essential during this stage as it allows them to explore and become familiar with their environment. Becoming their first form of learning, just as indicated by the psychologist and expert in child development, Jean Piaget.
5. Preschool period
This stage would include what we described before as the second phase of early childhood. Where children begin to use the skills of the Theory of Mind and which helps them to generate relationships with their peers, as well as interaction with others, while leaving behind their egocentric tendencies.
The process of myelination of the brain is generated, which is the basis for the development of abstract thinking, which includes the ability to solve problems, discrimination of correct acts, following rules and values, improved communication and greater performance in more complex tasks according to their stage of development.
6. School period
This is the last stage of childhood, from 6-12 years of age (so it could be called the second childhood) and which, as mentioned above, marks the end of childhood to give way to adolescence.
In this stage, children are able to understand more complex and abstract concepts of the world, greater linguistic meanings, better use their oral and written communication skills, comprehension and analysis, control of fine and gross movements, reasoning and acting skills, as well as managing their own emotions and understanding the emotions of others.
This is because there is already greater whole brain communication, which helps them to maintain a more precise command of their emotions in different environments, analyze situations, focus attention and make decisions accordingly.
One of the big changes is that children begin to have a more defined image of themselves. So they create their concept of self-identity, gain confidence in learning and use their new knowledge to increase their self-esteem.
However, they may also find themselves vulnerable to negative behaviors, addictions and altered perceptions of the world. Especially if they are not in a supportive environment or if their family does not show much interest in them. They are inclined to fill their emptiness with not very positive experiences, which will affect their future emotional and psychological development during youth and adulthood.
Finally, it should be clarified that not all children have a similar temporal development. Some seem to have more early mastery of their qualities, while others may take more time and stimulation work to achieve.
But that is why childhood is one of the most significant stages of the human being, as it is the basis for reaching their full development.