Clearly, common sense would tell us that you communicate with a one-year-old child differently than a four-year-old, or a teenager. As the child gains experiences in life, the child collects ideas and develops perceptions. What the child understands at a young age is clearly different than what the child understands at an older age.
An effective interaction is developmentally appropriate for the child. The interaction:
- Involves a child’s current understanding
- Encourages a child to make better sense of a situation
- Gives a child an opportunity to express current thoughts and feelings, and be heard
- Is loving, shows you want only what is best for the child in the present moment.
#6: An effective interaction T.E.L.L.s a child in developmentally appropriate ways.
In every interaction, adults are informing a child about something, whether it is about what the child can expect from you, how to speak and think around you, what the situation could possibly mean, etc. There are many things we T.E.L.L. a child whether we realize it or not. A child is constantly seeking to understand. The child can only understand what she is developmentally capable of understanding in the moment.
What is developmentally appropriate can be as simple as making sure you speak and think in such a way a child understands. Or you can make sure you speak and think in such a way you communicate what is best for child’s well-being and personal growth in that moment.
Interacting in a developmentally appropriate way can also mean speaking and thinking more about how children develop physically, cognitively, and socially. There is good information available to help you better understand the growing child. I will be looking at some of these ideas in the next posts.
For now, try and think about how your words and actions are developmentally appropriate for the child. Ask yourself how your words and actions are being comprehended by a child. How do you know a child understands your words and actions? Are your words and actions appropriate for the child in this moment of time? Do your words and actions allow the child to develop for better, or worse? How are you helping the child develop empowering thoughts, skills, and behaviors?