Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Developmental Stages of a Child

First of all I would like to put a disclaimer up front that I am not a psychologist so what you are about to read is completely unscientific. But it is based on the life experience of a single dad, so there is some validity here.

If you have read my blog, it may seem like I have a prejudice against teenagers. There is probably some truth to that, but I feel like I need to defend my position. To do that I will be discussing the development stages of a child. 0-2 years, 3-5 years, 5-12 years, and TEENAGERS!

0-2 years is probably my favorite age of a child. Even though it starts out with those sleepless nights and all the diapers, babies are so cute and fun. It is easy to make them smile and they are just starting to form words. Of course most kids will say "Dada" as their first word, which just confirms why I love this age so much.

But that doesn't last long because then comes the "Terrible Twos"! A catch phrase like that doesn't just appear out of thin air. Years of parental experience go into coming up with a phrase like the "Terrible Twos". They call it the Terrible Twos because this is about the time that kids learn the word "NO!" But they don't have a grasp on the rest of the English language so "NO", "Mine" and "Screaming at the top of their lungs" are about the extent of their vocabulary. This makes it impossible to reason with a 2-year-old. Just try to explain to a 2-year-old why climbing around on the ground under the table at Denny's is not a healthy activity. All they want is to get that crayon they dropped. Then instead of coloring with the crayon, they eat it! This developmental stage lasts from about age 2 to 5 and is the primary reason most Dads work overtime and take a lot of business trips.

Then mercifully children reach the age of five and have finally grasped enough of the English language that you can actually reason with them. They understand that Santa will leave a lump of coal in their stocking if they are not good. You can go five years on that explanation alone. And this is also the age when children begin to see their fathers as some sort of super hero that can leap tall buildings and unlock the mystery of riding a two wheel bike without training wheels. If you have a child that is between the age of 5 and 12, relish this time, because the next developmental stage is TEENAGER!

I don't really understand Einstein's theory of relativity or the notion of time travel, but somehow teenagers revert back to the developmental stage of the "Terrible Twos". It is as if they have just learned the word "NO!", but have very little comprehension of the rest of the English language. Trying to reason with a teenager is not much different then trying to reason with a 2-year-old. And forget about the super hero image. You have now been demoted from super hero to circus clown. You can almost hear that circus music playing in the background as you interact with your teenager. But circus clown is not the only circus act you will perform. You also get to be the lion tamer, tightrope walker, juggler, and mind reader. And of course your teenager plays the part of the ring master.

The reason I am bringing up the topic of the developmental stages of children is because of the Positive Discipline Tool Card this week "Allowance". I was very excited to introduce this tool card at our family meeting. I even wrote in my previous post that this might earn me a father of the year nomination. So I kept the card hidden to I could reveal it during our family meeting like a magician pulling the ace of spades from the deck. So I had my daughter do a drum roll on the table and "TADA!" this week's tool card is "Allowance"!

My daughter let out a "Yay!" (which I considered an appropriate response to allowance) But my teenage son said "We don't need an allowance, what we are doing is fine." Huh??? The ring master doesn't like the allowance tool card? Perhaps if I swallow a sword or breath fire he would be impressed? Suddenly I'm back at Denny's trying to get him off the floor and to stop eating the crayons.

In closing here is a short video in honor of all the parents of teenagers out there!


Karen said...

Funny you should write that - my almost 14 year old's default position on anything seems to be stuck on "NO"! She would rather things just stay the same and resists any change.

Maybe there are so many changes already happening in their world and the thought of one more (even if it's good) seems to be too much.

I'm finding myself looking at babies these days and feeling nostalgic! Those days seem easy compared to the teen years, but I have to say, I don't miss the sleepless nights!

Jacquilyn said...

Everytime you write about your teenage woes it reminds me of my kids 1,2, and 4. They would rather do the opposite of what I say just to get me mad. I am scared for the teenage years.

Single Dad Brad said...

Hi Jacquilyn,
You've got a head start on the game. If you start using all these tools now, you are going to have great teenagers! And don't get me wrong, my teenager is great too...he just likes to push my buttons. I guess it is entertaining for him. :-)

Jennifer said...

As the mother of the world's cutest 15 month old ever, let me remind you of what you are missing: 3 months + of colick that stretched his very laid back father and I to our limits, 2 ear infections in the last month, an antibiotic that resulted in days of very, very nasty diapers and the poor baby vomiting in my hair and all over my clothes. A periodically fussy little guy who just can't tell us what's wrong with him yet (he signs "milk" for everything). Not to mention never getting to sleep in...not ever. He's a joy and he's my heart, but you all have parental amnesia!! I suppose the grass is always greener.

Single Dad Brad said...

Jennifer...that is so true. I think we could all benefit from appreciating the uniqueness of each stage of our children's lives.

PixieGirl said...

This is, by far, your funniest post-you have quite a talent of creating amusing analogies!

I love the description of being demoted from super hero to circus clown and the background circus music...too funny! I laughed out loud, which only lets you know that I feel your pain and this whole song and dance is far too familiar!

But hey, clowns are also good at some things ...smiling even when they don't feel like it, entertaining crowds for very little pay, driving little cars around with too many clowns in them.

Karen said...

It's so true about the grass always seeming greener! BUT, there are lots of things that I am appreciating about the pre-teen and teen stages.

1) Independence - theirs AND ours! No more babysitters for the most part! It's also great to see how they can handle more freedom, in small steps.

2) Shopping is more fun! I love shopping with my two daughters. What used to feel more like a chore, is a ton of fun.

3) Conversations - How great to talk about more grown-up things and to get their opinions and find out how they are thinking.

4) Common Interests - We're enjoying some of the same tv shows and movies now so it gives us some great things to do for special time (I know, sitting side by side may not seem like much of a connection, but there's the picking the movie, the trip there, the popcorn, talking about the movie/show afterwards....)

Ah, I feel better already! Thanks everyone!