NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Raising a Child

Raising a Child  5/5/17Principles can defined as fundamental truths that serve as the basis or foundation that we build upon.  We can think of them as being the laws of nature.  They exist whether we know about them or not, and they operate whether we believe or like them, or not.  They can’t be ignored.  Kind of like gravity.              

Children don’t come with an “owner’s manual.” However, parents who are aware of the principles of child development, and who embrace them, empower themselves to fulfill their roles and responsibilities as parents.  This is true for anyone who reaps the benefits of having been parented in a way that fostered their optimum development,       also for anyone who wasn’t parented in such a way.

The first four principles of child development, out of the twelve that are the basis for work done by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), are listed below. 

  1.  Child development includes the child’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive (intellectual/mental) development and   these areas or domains of development are inter-related and inter-connected. 

   2.     Development occurs in a relatively orderly sequence, with later abilities, skills, and knowledge building on (and           dependent upon) those acquired previously.

   3.   Development proceeds at varying rates from child to child as well as unevenly within different areas of each child's functioning.

    4.       Early experiences have both cumulative and delayed effects on individual children's development; optimal periods exist for certain types of development and learning.

Simply put, the first principle gives us a heads up:  anything that happens to help or hurt a child in one area of his/her development will help or harm the child in other areas of his/her development as well.  In other words, "everything matters." From when and how we answer our infant’s cries, to the foods we offer them, to if or how much we allow our children to watch TV or use technology, everything matters. 

The quality of any constructed structure depends first on the quality of the foundation for the structure.  If pieces of the foundation are weak or missing, the entire structure suffers.  The same is true for children, as stated in the second principle.  The sequence, quantity and quality of what the child will develop or acquire for abilities, skills and knowledge in school or preschool will hinge on what and how he/she was able to learn and develop as an infant and toddler.

The third principle grants that although the pattern or sequence of development is predictable, the rates of development will vary because of the uniqueness of each child.  That is why age ranges are stated for when to anticipate certain skills and abilities developing within any child.  I clung to this truth and took comfort in it when parenting my first-born son.  I appreciated everything I could learn from his occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech/language therapists as to what I could do to best help him.

The fourth principle can be interpreted to mean that, although there is truth to the idea of “better late than never,” there is also such a thing as “missing the boat” when it comes to parenting and supporting a child’s optimal development. 

Sources:  http://www.naeyc.org/dap/12-principles-of-child-development and https://oldweb.naeyc.org/about/positions/dap3.asp      

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/en/baby-caucasian-child-daughter-20607/ (downloaded 5/9/17)


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