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Age-Appropriate Expectations

November 12th, 2013


It is critical to have an understanding of child development and to have age-appropriate expectations in terms of what is realistic behavior for your child. Often power struggles and discipline situations arise when you are expecting your child to behave in a manner that is beyond your child’s capabilities. According to The National Association for the Education of Young Children “Young children don’t always understand and remember the rules.” It is often challenging for adults to understand and remember that young children don’t always understand and remember the rules.

Expecting your young child to clean up their toys without structure and supervision is unrealistic. Expecting your young child to have patience to wait for ten minutes while you are talking on your cell phone is beyond many a young child’s capabilities. Your young child is not always capable of being rational and flexible and obedient. Sometimes when it seems like your child is not listening, the truth is that your child is not capable of comprehending and acting on the information you are providing in the manner that you are providing it.

A question arises: How do you know what are realistic capabilities for your young child? What are age-appropriate expectations? There are two good sources for this information. The series Your One-Year-Old, Your Two-Year-Old,….Your Ten-Year-Old by Louise Bates Ames and Francis Ilg, provides down-to-earth expectations for the various age groups. In addition, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has several brochures and books on developmentally appropriate practices, books and brochures which provide guidelines for age-appropriate teaching methods for childcare facilities. By reading between the lines you can know what behaviors should realistically be expected at your child’s age




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