If there’s anything my experience as a family and child development specialist and human behavior expert has taught me, it’s that intellect alone does not guarantee a child will be a prolific learner. If you want your child to succeed, you have to coordinate her emotional, social, and motor development.

In this chapter, I’ll teach you how to sync the timelines of your child’s multifaceted development to maximize her potential. I’ll explain the ins and outs of your child’s emotional processing so that you can ease transitions and arm your child with powerful coping strategies. You’ll learn when your child is really ready to be a buddy and how to help him build meaningful, lasting friendships. And to assuage the fears of every mother, I’ll spell out a no-fuss guide to your child’s motor skills to help you understand how to foster and boost physical intelligence.

Your baby’s first test of child development occurs at the moment of birth. Your doctor will give him a given a series of tests, including:1


  1. Moro Reflex—more commonly called the startle reflex, where baby is placed on his back and thrashes out his arms and legs while extending his neck.
  2. Walking/Stepping Reflex—If baby is held upright over a surface, he’ll automatically alternate one foot in front of the other.
  3. Rooting—occurs when baby is touched on the cheek and turns toward the hand or finger in an effort to find Mother’s nipple.
  4. Tonic Neck Reflex—when baby is laid on her back and her head is turned to one side, her arm will reflexively straighten on the same side, while her opposite arm bends or The Tonic Neck Reflex is often called the fencing reflex, for baby’s posture imitates a fencing stance.
  5. Palmar Grasp—when baby’s palm is touched and closes immediately on the finger or instrument placed there.
  6. Plantar Grasp—a test that requires stroking the soles of baby’s feet and watching to see if baby flexes his feet and closes his toes.


By one year, baby begins to lose his Moro reflex. By the time he’s two months of age, the same is true for the walking/stepping reflex. The rooting, however, can last until four months, while the tonic neck reflex extends to the fifth month. The palmar grasp can still be observed at about six months of age. And finally, the plantar grasp is still observable at one year.

An average chart tracking baby’s achievements from 0–3 includes:



50% 75% 90%
While lying on baby’s back he can move his head easily, reaching side to side, though he typically keeps his head centered for the majority of time. 2 2 ½ 3
Baby lies on his tummy—he can raise his head and look out. 2 2 ½ 3 1/2
Baby rolls over to either side. 2 ½ 3 ½ 4 1/2
When baby’s on his tummy, he can lift both his head and his chest while holding himself up by his arms. 3 3 ½ 4 1/2
Now baby can sit with help and can keep his head straight and stable. 3 3 ½ 4 1/2
Here baby can sit unaided for over 30 seconds. 6 7 8
Baby can raise himself up to a standing position using any available support. 7 9 10
Baby is now preparing to walk by crawling, scooting, and hitching across the floor. 7 10 11
Baby can sit up from a lying down position independently. 8 9 1/2 11
Now baby can stand up without support for at least 10 seconds. 10½ 13 14
Baby can walk without help. 12 13 ½ 14


Creative play is essential for baby’s emotional and psychological growth. In fact, it may be the most important tool in your toolbox. Here are ideas to inspire your baby and support her neurological development.2


0–3 Months Baby is completely captivated by geometric patterns, colorful mobiles, cuddly soft animals, toys that make sounds such as rattles and squeaky animals, music, reflective light mobiles that cast shadows and the ceiling and wall, black and white geometrics, and circular objects that they can grasp and hold onto.
4–6 Months Baby is highly interested in textures: soft, smooth, scratchy, and so on; engages in games such as peekaboo; and gravitates to round objects such as balls. At this stage baby is all mouth and uses his mouth to distinguish and interpret games and toys. Thus, toys that makes noise, books, and paper of all sizes and shapes are all fascinating to baby.
7–9 Months At this stage baby becomes attached to toys, stuffed animals, dolls, blankets, and shapes of all kinds. If a particular blanket accompanies baby to sleep, it may become his security blanket, carried everywhere. Also, rubber animals and toys fill baby’s bath with delight. And now, games such as patty-cake, catch me if you can, how big is the baby, and where is the light become highly pleasurable.
10–12 Months As baby becomes more mobile, so do his toys. Now his interest moves to pots, pans, and spoons in the kitchen that can make noise; toy cars, trucks, and boats; pull toys that can move with a string; and stacking toys of all kinds such as squares, circles, and triangles.

Now baby can participate in moving objects such as rolling a ball and pushing a toy.

13–15 Months By 13 months, baby has become a really good mimic. You see this as he make-believes that he is talking on a phone, play eating from plastic plates and cups, talking with his imaginary dog, cat, cow, chicken, or horse, and simple objects in his favorite toy box, Mom’s kitchen.
16–18 Months By 16 months, baby shows more enthusiasm for music boxes and all things that create sound such as drums, xylophone, and pots and pans. He’s also highly attracted to color and colorful things such as balls, beads, and ribbons. Now baby is more interactive and enjoys

toys that pop up. For the first time, we see baby creating things with clay, bubbles in the bath, and blowing bubbles.

19–21 Months Now baby shows a high level of creativity and imagination. As a social learner, baby imitates making food with clay or mud, riding an imaginary horse with either a rocking horse or pogo horse, pails and shovels, as well as plastic cars large enough for him to ride. He’s still interested in balls and pull-apart toys. Additionally, he now likes to play with snap toys that come apart and can be put back together, as well as puzzles. He’s also still highly attracted to color and enjoys playing with colored chalk or crayons. Interactive games are more interesting to him as he continues to participate with peekaboo, catch me if you can, and hide and seek.
22–24 Months At 22 months, baby’s imagination is an explosion of creativity as he copies all obvious adult behavior. He may imitate cooking with plastic pots and pans as well as eating with plastic dishes and cups. Clay is useful for fake food and the creation of circles, triangles, and squares. Baby becomes interested in building sets, blocks, cars, trucks, planes, and phones as well as household objects such as

grown-up pots and pans and spoons that substitute for drums. Paper cylinders, plastic bowls and tops, and plastic stacking toys all capture baby’s interest, and baby is still captivated by interactive games.

2–3-year-olds Now baby’s motor skills are so refined that she can push a baby in a baby carriage, swing on a swing, swim in a pool, and ride a tricycle. Here baby’s creativity is in full bloom as she plays dress-up, Mommy, and treats her dolls as her babies. Still interested in music and interactive games, your toddler is now expanding her independence and expresses herself artistically through the use of coloring, painting, and drawing.

In the back of every parent’s mind is an unconscious calendar designating the approximate guidelines for child development.3 You have a general idea of when your baby should roll over, sit up, stand, talk, walk, and so on. And as these markers approach, you may experience anxiety, hoping that your child makes these milestones on time. Neuroscience tells us that children do not develop according to a specific timeline, but rather through systematic increments, with each maturational advancement building on the one before. In a sense, a form of scaffolding occurs, which allows your baby to practice specific skills that are later integrated into an ever more complicated system of movements. This gives him an expanded radius of action and dominion over his surroundings. For instance, your baby will first grasp objects using his entire hand, which is called the ulnar grasp.4 Then, he moves to the pincer grasp, in which he involves only the thumb and index finger, touching at the tip, which helps him navigate sm objects.5 Consequently, before baby can walk, he must gain mastery of the independent actions of his arms, hands, legs, and feet. Ultimately, he will incorporate all these pieces into his first step. Your baby’s physical skills are defined as gross motor skills, while his more precise motor movements such as those involving his small muscles, including eye-hand coordination, are considered fine motor skills.6 Screening tests such as the Denver Developmental Screening Test help parents assess whether their children are developmentally on target. It is important to note that babies develop from head to tail, a stage called cephalocaudal, as well as from inner to outer, called proximodistal.7 From the beginning, babies can move their heads from side to side, and they can lift their heads as well when placed on their tummies. By three months, baby may actually be thrown off balance by lifting his head too high. This helps him rollover, a stage that will ultimately lead to sitting.

Your baby can grasp things at birth, including Mom’s or Dad’s finger, and if baby’s open hand is touched, he can close it. By four months, he can hold objects. Soon he can move objects from hand to hand and pick up items of interest. At age one, your baby can navigate small objects and use his pincer grasp to obtain them, and by a year and a half, baby’s eye-hand coordination is so good that he can build buildings out of blocks. Your three-year-old’s dexterity is such that he can use a pencil or a crayon to draw a circle.

With the assistance of crib railings, furniture, toys, and pets, your seven-and-a-half-month-old can soon stand up. By eleven months, he can stand alone. These are the stages of development that prepare baby’s eye-hand coordination and muscle groups for walking. From eleven and a half months on, your baby’s motor development has moved him down the path toward mobility. Also, your baby may crawl before he walks, but not necessarily. In his second year, your baby will be climbing couches, chairs, and stairs as he masters putting one foot in front of another. Now he has the motor skills to run and jump, and by age three, your toddler has already gained enough balance to stand on one foot and hop. Though as a newborn your baby exhibits a walking reflex when held upright, it is not until his cortical control frees him that he can actually walk. All of that kicking and body movement is strengthening his neural connections and muscle development, allowing baby to support his weight as he prepares for mobility. Even when placed in warm water, infants imitate walking.

However, a developmental time clock is not the sole contributor to his physical milestones. According to Esther Thelen, “infant and environment form an interconnective system, and development has interacting causes; such as his desired and motivation to do something (for example, pick up a toy, or get to the other side of the room). The infant’s physical characteristics and his or her position in a particular setting (such as lying in a crib or being held upright in a pool) offer opportunities, and constraints that affect whether, and how, his goal can be achieved. Ultimately, a solution emerges as a result of trying out behaviors and retaining those that most efficiently reach the goal.”8 As a result, baby is all about problem-solving in relation to maturation. Here, once again, the nature-nurture partnership is evident and explains why babies walk on different timelines. Every parent is familiar with the stories of late walkers and late talkers. Though it is worthwhile to pay attention to loose developmental timetables, it is also valuable to recognize that each child matures at his own rate of speed. As it is baby’s own neuronal and muscular maturation, in conjunction with her environment that will determine the speed at which your baby walks and talks.

When you consider that our species is born completely helpless, without the capacity or physical strength to survive alone in the world, the real miracle is that we do. In the beginning your baby has little muscle control, and therefore his capacity is measured by his early unrefined reflexes such as sucking, rooting, and grasping. In fact, it is because the brain stem develops earliest that baby has some control over his survival reflexes. From 0–3 months, your baby experiences an intense period of synaptic development in his brain, which leads to physical, social, and intellectual growth. He begins to build an associative mass, recognizing that when he cries, he will be held. Little by little, his reflexive movements will be substituted for more deliberate ones. From the fourth to sixth months, your baby’s brain cortex matures, so that his more primitive activity slows down, replaced by his motor skills. Simultaneously, the neurons in your baby’s brain are coded by myelin. This coding acts as an insulation, protecting the electrical pathways of each neuron. Thus, the neuron’s signal is kept on target, so that it doesn’t crisscross with the electrical signals of other neurons. Your baby’s brain is developing all along, becoming so efficient that it discards or prunes synapses or connections not being used. This myelination and pruning will ultimately establish clear and precise pathways from billions of cells. A baby will be two years old before this process of myelination and pruning is completed.

Your newborn’s sensory capacity is as limited and vulnerable as her motor skills. Her ability to differentiate and focus on people or things is limited. Yet from the very beginning, the one voice and face he recognizes, and prefers above all others, is yours. Baby’s vision range is approximately thirteen inches. In an effort to protect your baby, nature conspires to place her viewing range at thirteen inches, the precise distance between mother and baby when breastfeeding. And though baby can follow an object with a range of eighteen inches, the object of his fixation is Mother. Little by little, baby’s vision is getting stronger until at approximately six months he can see things binocularly, while simultaneously gaining muscle mastery.

At this stage baby begins to prepare herself for further mobility. While lying on her tummy, she tries to raise her head off of her blanket and elevate her chest. Though still struggling with balance and the synchronization of her eyes and hands, your baby practices daily the first skills she’ll need to walk. By three months, baby can balance herself on her arm, moving her constellation of control down to her feet. As baby continues to strengthen and lengthen, she moves her body from side to side, until lo and behold, one day she reaches that next milestone and rolls over. She’s as surprised as you are. This happens somewhere between two and a half and six months. This is no small task, but she’s been practicing it all along by moving her hands and feet and turning her back. Her effort exhibits cortical power, including the motor cortex, basil ganglia, and the cerebellum. Your baby is a quick learner, and once she figures out what she did accidentally, she becomes a roll-over master. While exercising her whole body in this one supreme effort of rolling over, she continues to stretch and strengthen, contributing to the maturation and control of her nervous system. Soon, her movements become deliberate as she begins the subtle dance of muscle memory, moving her body in concert toward an ever more nuanced elaboration of task mastery. Now she’s catching on, and before long she will confront her next challenge: sitting on her own.

Each achievement is a watershed moment as your baby synchronizes both her muscle strength and balance, consciously manipulating her body toward her goal. Crawling is next, though in some cases baby may skip this stage altogether, while others invent variations of the typical crawl. It is at this time that baby becomes more social. Though she may still be afraid of strangers, she exhibits delight when around little children. At this stage, your baby is thinking and working out, little by little, the steps needed for advancement. According to neuroscientist Bruce Shapiro, babies “reach for their function threshold.”9 Of course this may require that they miss various stages of development, such as crawling. For example, an early walker may synchronize a low body weight with strong muscle capacity. As a result, your baby may stand up at nine months old and just take off. Never the less, somewhere between nine and eighteen months, she will begin her very first steps toward walking. The range of 9–18 months is simply measured by the necessary collaboration between the mind and the body. In the beginning, baby will use any prop available to give her both mobility and balance, including your family pet. When you realize that every muscle and every digit, both fingers and toes, are moving in coordination to assist baby in her first steps, you can see how central maturity is to mobility.

Between eighteen and twenty-three months, baby starts trying to run, hide, tumble, and climb. She may even try to hit or kick a ball, and begins to cup her hands in order to hold fluid. Now baby is responding to color and light so that brightly tinted crayons become one of her favorite toys. Your baby is unfolding at her own rate of speed. She is not social learning. She’s simply moving beyond her comfort zone to explore her environment, as soon as her body can support her journey. Thus, the idea of a normal range of development is filled with exceptions for every rule or milestone.

However, there are things to look for that may give you cause for concern. If baby hasn’t started walking by eighteen months, or can stand but not sit, a visit to the doctor may be warranted. On the other hand, if things seem to be moving along at approximately the right pace, remember that it’s not only baby’s biology that is controlling her development, but also her environment.

Every marker reached by baby is enhanced by experience, and each experience creates new brain associations and connections. These encourage baby to further expand her frame of reference by extending and trying more complicated endeavors. As baby builds her associative mass and gains mastery over each developmental marker, she experiences confidence in herself. It is this confidence that leads baby toward independence and competence. With each step, baby is becoming self-actualized, reaching for her own authority. Her growth has been from head to toe as she evolved from helplessness and primitive reflexes to an advancement of motor control and brain development.

Each time your baby masters a new stage of development, he may for a time forget a recently learned behavior. In a sense, the brain is reordering itself to accommodate the new task. This developmental loss is not permanent, and will only last for a limited time. In the past, the brain was thought of as a machine that advanced in skill as it matured. However, today neuroscience tells us that a partnership exists between your baby’s brain and his environment. Somewhere in the first year of your baby’s life he will already have trillions of synapses or neural connections, and some of those connections will be discarded or pruned by the time she is grown. What decides which synapses live and which die, which are turned off and which are turned on? The synapses that are the most used will be activated, and those that are not stimulated by experience will simply fade away. In this way, your baby is hardwired to learn, for it is the interaction of experience, stimulated by emotional gratification, that reinforces baby’s synaptic connections. The brain is so efficient that it prunes those synapses not used and activates those that are. Every time your baby acts and receives a positive reaction for his behavior, that reaction strengthens his brain’s synapses. Thus, the response for each experience is coded or stored in the brain.

By a year and half, your toddler will demonstrate that he has a sense of himself. He can recognize his face in a picture or mirror and is beginning to understand that he is separate and unique from the world around him. He is still parallel playing with little interest in being social. In fact, if placed in social environments with other children, your two-year-old may become anxious. In addition, he is expanding his vocabulary and is beginning to use sentences. He can understand simple games and simple directions . . . though his new surge toward independence may keep him from obeying. Your toddler is now moving, moving, moving as he walks, runs, and climbs everywhere. Simultaneously, fine motor skills are allowing him to begin to feed himself, hold a cup, and use utensils. Moving through the continuum from seven months toward three years, your baby masters rolling over, sitting, crawling, standing, walking, running, dancing, galloping, and tumbling. Ultimately, he achieves the autonomy that goes along with his hard-earned independence, as he experiments with the boundaries of his environment, through the use of his body and mind. No longer parallel playing, your three-year-old has become more social, though she will still experience times when she prefers to play by herself. Storytelling is now essential to your three-year-old toddler, for now her memories of past events find their way into her stories. In her efforts to exert her autonomy, your three-year-old toddler will also start asking you the proverbial question: “why?”

By age three, your toddler has made huge developmental leaps in his gross motor skills. Not only can he run and jump about 15–24 inches and hop on one foot, but he can also walk up and down a staircase independently, using both feet. Coincidentally, all of these advancements are the requisite skills needed to play games. He can’t, however, stop short or turn quickly. This motor skill explosion is due to both his environment and the development of the sensory and motor areas of his cortex. His body is cooperating with him as his muscles and bones get larger and stronger while his lung capacity expands, giving him all he needs for both coordination and acceleration. As a result, it is his genetic imprint in combination with his environment that will direct both his interest and skills. By age four, your toddler can jump 24–33 inches, go up and down a stairway with alternating feet, hop approximately six times on one foot, and is able to turn, stop, and start quickly. Your five-year-old can jump 28–36 inches, walk up and down a staircase without help using alternating feet, hop approximately sixteen times, and can easily turn, start, and stop short, and can now participate successfully in games.

Your three-year-old’s fine motor skills are getting more precise each day as he exerts his autonomy trying to dress himself, button his clothes, feed himself, and draw faces. His eye-hand coordination is strengthening, and your toddler now can participate in his own personal care and personal hygiene. For example, your three-year-old can feed himself, pour juice, water, or milk, use cutlery, and, most importantly, go to the potty alone. He can draw a circle and make a face as a complete body, minus limbs. At four, your toddler can dress himself independently, use plastic scissors, cut a line, draw a person, begin to copy letters, make paper into triangles, and take care of her personal hygiene. By five, your toddler can copy squares and triangles, and draw a more complete person. He is in complete charge of his personal hygiene, including washing his hands and face, brushing his teeth, and combing his hair. As her fine motor skills and gross motor skills mature, your toddler refines his capacity more precisely, integrating his abilities. This merging of skills is referred to as systems of actions.

As your toddler develops physically, he becomes more in control of his body. Now he can ride a bike, use scissors, cutlery, and even chopsticks. It is now, at around age three, that your toddler begins to favor one hand over the other. Most children are right-handed, as the left hemisphere of the brain has authority over the right side of the body. On the other hand, if both sides of the brain are symmetrical, the right hemisphere is in control and your toddler will be left-handed. There are cases when a child is ambidextrous. This is often the case with a left-handed child. In addition, more boys are left-handed than girls. In fact, there seems to be a genetic component to handedness, and 82 percent of the population inherits the gene for right-handedness. If your toddler did not inherit the right-handed gene, he has a 50/50 percent chance of being right-handed anyway. If not, he will either be left-handed or ambidextrous. If your toddler does not inherit the right-handed gene, his handedness may just be randomly determined. Even if you and your partner are both right-handed, your toddler still has an 8 percent chance of being left-handed. Nevertheless, your three-year-old will express a preference for one hand over the other in coordination with the advancement of his motor and fine motor skills.10 Never, never try to change your child’s dominant hand, as it can lead to both stress and anxiety . . . not to mention terrible handwriting.

By age five, half of her IQ will be in place. Now, she is ready for kindergarten.


The ABCs for Peak Performance The Three Most Important Steps for Each Age and Stage

In this book, I unlock the scientific data and open the door to the mystery of accelerated learning. By understanding the developmental stages of early childhood, you will master the art of expanding your child’s potential and performance through the experience of your daily interactions, and it is as easy as ABC.

We will identify every important milestone in your child’s life, and I will chart a course for you and your baby toward complete language, cognitive, social, emotional, and moral maturity.



Step A: The most important step, of course, is bonding. Yet it is so simple that it is often left out of child development books. Bonding is the one essential element needed in the alchemy of healthy brain growth.

Step B: By participating in the exercises provided for each stage of child development, you will learn how to create age-appropriate experiences to foster and enhance your child’s intellectual and emotional growth. You will also build a scaffolding of information, which helps you to support Steps B and C.

Step C will explain in greater detail how to help your child relax and reduce stress while enhancing her focus and concentration. You will uncover the value of the ancient arts of meditation, yoga, qigong, and creative visualization, as well as the importance of music in the science of learning. By the end of this book, you will be prepared to use the critical strategies and skills necessary to create a healthy, happy, and academically advanced child. More than that, your child will now be able to successfully self-manage whatever life has in store.


Not only are the activities and practical exercises enjoyable, but they also lay the foundation for each successive stage of your child’s maturation. When you interact with your baby at every age and stage, you actively listen to him, see him, and get to know him more each day. With you by his side, as an active participant in his life, he is able to unite his emotional, spiritual, moral, and intellectual ontogeny.

In education, every ending signals a beginning. According to psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, it is important to navigate and resolve each stage of child development successfully before moving on. There is an ancient Inca myth that you can only get back into the garden by eating the fruit, because the fruit of the past holds the seeds of the future. The same is true in child development. Therefore, if your child passes through each stage of development successfully, he will be ready, intellectually and emotionally, to open to the next stage enthusiastically. If she completes one stage before moving onto the next, she won’t carry with her the unresolved issues and residue of the stage before; she will begin each new stage afresh, open and ready to learn. First, however, you must know what’s needed at each stage of growth, what is age-appropriate, and what the consequences are for not successfully completing each stage. Here is the way to positively affect your child’s development, for in the process of creating a strong scaffolded foundation, you will also create a strong and healthy child.

In the following chapter, you will see that I separate the exercises for emotional and cognitive advancement. Though those two categories overlap, they are still in some ways interdependent. Emotions and intellect do not unfold in a parallel manner, but rather in a spiral movement, similar to the DNA molecule helix. If you could envision a DNA molecule or a rising scaffold, supporting intertwining paths of emotional growth and intellectual achievement, you would see that each advancement supports the next on an upwards trajectory.


The Possible Human

We are the only species born underdeveloped. It is our extra-large prefrontal cortex that separates us from all other animals and makes us human. Because of our large prefrontal cortex, where our critical thinking and executive function live, we have rapid brain growth that parallels the continued growth of our heads. If, on the other hand, we were born fully developed, our heads would be too large to pass through the birth canal. So we humans have an unusually prolonged period of helplessness, as our brains rapidly fire to organize the trillions of synapses, the connections that build our life. Although this process continues until the day you die, you will use more energy from birth until age ten than you will use from age ten to age 100. Hence the importance of early childhood, when your child’s young and vulnerable brain is creating all of those connections in conjunction with her earliest experiences. For this reason, I cannot emphasis enough how critical bonding is to early childhood: it is everything. Because the well-bonded child has most of her needs met, she feels safe and secure, and therefore calm and content. If your baby is not well bonded, she will be anxious and insecure, overproducing cortisol, which will bathe her brain, changing its structure permanently. In fact, this child may experience a failure to thrive and as a result face problems not only with you, but with all of her other relationships, forever. It will be difficult for her to connect with others, to follow instructions, to deal with anger and aggression. School will present a greater challenge for her, as her temperament and behavior can make it difficult for her to form friendships, making it challenging for her to hone the interpersonal skills necessary for social interactions. She will carry these insecurities with her throughout all of her life, missing opportunities because of her emotional immaturity. Can this dire situation be remedied? Yes, but only if it is recognized, acknowledged, and remediated during the first three years of life. The importance of parental involvement and bonding cannot be overstated.

Yet there is a bright side to your influence, which is that you can make the difference. By knowing your child and paying attention to her wants and needs, you can build the trust and security needed to help her access the range and scope of her full abilities.

In this chapter you will find an overview of early child development, differentiating between emotional, moral, and cognitive growth. In addition, I will explain the role of parents and their effects on the optimal performance in all those realms. You will also find information on the most effective stress-reduction techniques available to help your child manage his own stress and anxiety, thus processing information at an optimal level. Later in this chapter we will discuss in further detail how your child thinks and feels at every age and stage. You’ll get a clear picture of his development of mind and body along with the appropriate tools, exercises, and activities necessary to guide him toward his full potential.

Once you can interact with your child in a stress-free environment, you will both open to a relaxed and happy state of mind. Both you and your child will experience a sense of an open and complete relationship, where knowledge and independence can bloom and grow. Moreover, you will have helped to create a self-actualized, self-possessed, confident, and independent child who can muster his own resources to be self-motivated and independent. It is this child who can focus, concentrate, and problem-solve. You will become your child’s true gene therapist, showing him the way toward his own inner voice, where he can find his true vocation and happiness. Sigmund Freud summed up his work with a simple phrase, describing a successful life as one that is fulfilled in work and in love. By giving your child your time and attention in early childhood, you will maximize her chances to achieve a joyous and productive life, and that is the greatest gift of all.


Step A: How to Nurture Your Child’s Emotional Maturity

A Look at Skillful Social and Interpersonal Competence

Emotional and intellectual development are two of the most critical areas for building a happy, healthy, and academically advanced child. Though these skills develop on parallel paths, without the element of emotional maturity, your child cannot achieve the full magnitude of his cognitive potential. Since EQ or emotional intelligence affects motivation, it is essential for supporting your child’s ability to master his own intellect. For example, if your child is emotionally mature, all things being equal, he will outperform other children of similar ages. He’ll process information better, and in a sense use his brain better than a child who is emotionally immature. Why? Because emotional maturity enables your child to focus and concentrate, sit still for long periods of time, and open to new and exciting material. Therefore, it is the foundation of self-awareness, which fosters to motivation, morality, and good self-esteem. It is this feeling of self-confidence that makes your child feel capable, and it is that feeling of capability that leads to his sense of competence. These are the fundamental qualities that your child needs to access the full thrust of his talents and knowledge. Your emotionally mature child feels at ease and comfortable, not only with himself, but also in the way in which he interacts with others. She can tap into her own emotional, and intellectual productivity, guiding others to a more rewarding life.

Many years ago, I was privileged to hear a lecture from the nationally renowned educator Howard Gardner. He was one of the earliest educators to recognize the existence of “multiple intelligences.”11 In the West, we are most familiar with IQ or intellectual intelligence, but Gardner identified many more intelligences, including but not limited to interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, and musical. Then, in the 1980s, Gardner presented even more types of intelligence, including emotional. Though emotional development and its importance in infancy and early childhood has only been studied over the last few decades, most scientists today recognize the significant role that emotions play in language, cognitive, social, moral, and emotional development.12


Intelligence Definition Fields or Occupations Where Used
Linguistic Ability to use and understand words and nuances of meaning Writing, editing, and translating
Logical-mathematical Ability to manipulate numbers and solve logical problems Science, business, medicine
Musical Ability to perceive and create patterns of pitch and rhythm Musical composition, conducting
Spatial Ability to find one’s way around in an environment and judge relationships between objects in space Architecture, carpentry, city planning
Bodily-kinesthetic Ability to move with precision Dancing, athletics, surgery, teaching, acting, politics
Interpersonal Ability to understand and communicate with others Counseling, psychiatry, spiritual leadership
Naturalist Ability to distinguish species Hunting, fishing, farming, gardening, cooking

In his groundbreaking 1995 book Emotional Intelligence, psychologist Daniel Goleman stressed the importance of emotional intelligence while explaining that there was an interdependence throughout all multiple intelligences.13 I interviewed Dr. Goleman in 2012 and was particularly interested in his position that success in life relies on many factors, and is not exclusively dependent upon your SAT or GPA scores.

He explained that our natural intelligence quotient accounted for approximately 20 percent of the variables that determined performance, while 80 percent of your success can be attributed to other factors. It is EQ or emotional intelligence that Goleman and contemporary educators recognize as contributing to most of your child’s knowledge and cognitive ability.

In a neuroscientific research study by Goleman, he indicated that memory and learning are established in the prefrontal lobes of the brain. Thus, it is the prefrontal lobes that control your emotional impulses. If your child is emotionally immature, he will be vulnerable to emotional outbursts of anger, anxiety, and volatility. Under normal circumstances, the prefrontal cortex is the captain of your child’s ship, controlling his executive function and helping him think critically. But if your child is emotionally immature, his emotions can take over, grabbing the controls and inhibiting his ability to think while overriding his executive function, making it much more difficult for him to access his memory and learn.14

Bonding well with your child establishes his confidence and competence, thus enabling him to develop his emotional maturity. Then, he can interact comfortably under all circumstances, and on all occasions, in a calm and relaxed manner. These are the characteristics that heighten your child’s self-esteem and motivation so that he can discover and expand his talents and intellect.15


Let’s Begin at the Beginning

According to social scientist Albert Bandura, we are all social animals and learn by imitating and modeling behavior. Keep in mind that your child is watching you, always. You are the center of her universe, the focus of her attention, and everything you say and everything you do will be copied by this tiny actor. It stands to reason that your child will adopt your ideas and prejudices while mastering her social skills. The sum total of your actions will inspire and direct her to and from emotional maturity.

An essential part of bonding is the development of trust, so when your child crawls out of the room to play, looking over his shoulder periodically to make sure that you haven’t left, he is learning how to trust. If he finds you where he left you when he returns from his foray, then he is well on the road to trusting. Each encounter away from you is counterbalanced by the knowledge that you haven’t abandoned him, until ultimately he can relax, knowing that he can count on you to be present when he returns. This is how you build a relationship with your child, creating the intimacy of knowing you can be trusted to always be there for him. When your child learns to trust you, he learns how to trust himself, and if he learns how to trust himself, he learns how to trust others. Trust is the foundation upon which your child builds his sense of self, not only with you but also with the world around him. This is how he becomes self-actualized.

According to Vygotsky, this scaffolding allows your child to focus and concentrate.16 When you bond with your child, you are providing her with the scaffolding needed to support her ability to learn and process information effectively. There are several pertinent aspects that must be incorporated in scaffolding, including a safe, secure, and accepting environment at home, as well as a preponderance of parental interactions, both emotional and social. Your child needs to be loved, not judged, so that he can be motivated to override any and all obstacles that obstruct his path. Obstacles such as poverty, disabilities, etc. can be compensated for by a well-bonded child. Nevertheless, it is important to know your child’s history, both physical— was she full-term? did she have a traumatic birth?—and emotionally—is she shy or unusually aggressive? Here is the intimate information that only you can provide, and it is this very information that creates a bridge between your child’s past and present. Only then can you meet your child where she is, giving her the security to strike out on her own and explore her surroundings. In keeping with the idea of scaffolding, it is also relevant to organize a structured environment. Children need and want order, and they like consistency above all things, not very different from wanting to be cared for after birth. Your child wants to know the rules, what to expect, and what is permissible, so that he can have freedom within the limits of knowing what is acceptable. Now he is traveling on the road toward emotional maturity. By having a structure that is consistent, your child can align himself with his emotional world and widen his range of maturity.


Talking with Your Child

Your child’s first social interactions are the conversations he has with you throughout the day. It is the give and take of listening and talking that socializes your child, teaching him requisite social skills. I like to tell parents to talk, talk, talk. Talk about everything and anything, often and always. Language builds your child’s associative mass and increases those ever important connections in your child’s brain. More than that, talking engages and stimulates your child’s interests and feelings of joy and well-being. It is indispensable to bonding, as it grows the atmosphere of intimacy. It is here where a sense of being valued and validated originates, creating a lifelong practice of establishing and solidifying the child-parent bond, which will be transferred to your child’s adult relationships. By forming a habit of open and empathic communication, you clear the path for the difficult and emotionally charged problems that occur during the natural separation of adolescence. In chapter 8, I discuss my empathic process and how you can use it effectively to communicate in your family.

As a parent, you are the most important person in your child’s life, so he will mimic and imitate everything you do, the good, the bad, and the ugly. When you relate to your child and interact throughout the day, he is learning important social skills that he will later transfer to his own social sphere of friendship. Through your actions, you are teaching him how to advocate his feelings, how to voice his opinion, and how to express anger and hurt in an assertive but non-aggressive manner, always showing respect for his peers. These are the behaviors that will set your child on the path to healthy social interactions, relationships, and emotional growth. On the other hand, if you bully, control, discount, oppress, or dominate your child, you will see him imitate those behaviors with his friends and schoolmates. You must be what you want to see. Only then will your child learn the lessons of your successful social strategies. Once your child models your behavior, he will adopt, apply, and transfer those behaviors to all his social encounters.


Timing Is Everything

Emotionally immature children have a problem settling down and getting themselves ready to learn. Regardless of their IQ, if their emotional development is delayed, it affects all other development. The good news is that there is help for these children, and it is simply accomplished and near at hand, because it is you. You can make the difference by getting involved, paying attention, reinstituting structure, and practicing the particular kind of parental nurturing and bonding necessary to build your child’s interpersonal skills. Remember, time is of the essence.

By remedying emotional underdevelopment, you have the opportunity to help your child cultivate a strong central core, the foundation for his emotions. When life happens and your child is confronted with family problems, peer-group pressures, or typical struggles with temper and temperament, he will be able to stay calm and adjust rapidly to change. Here, your well-adjusted child will act based on his own internal and intrinsic rewards, rather than be vulnerable to social tensions and peer-group socializations. He will have a strong sense of himself, which leads to self-confidence and self-worth. He won’t have to follow the herd, because the herd is relatively unconscious. Rather, he can follow his own authority, and in the end lead the herd. Your support and loving feedback validates his choices and understanding of good and bad, positive and negative conduct. Here you can see the role that scaffolding plays in your relationship with your child. By knowing your child, you build the bridge that supports him through his growth and development. If you ever doubt how relevant you are in your child’s life, recognize and acknowledge that it is you who built the scaffold.

Many years ago, there was a worldwide survey studying successful people, asking what they all had in common. You may be surprised to know they were average students who had very high emotional EQ, meaning that they were friendly and knew how to get along with people from all walks of life. Knowing that they couldn’t be experts in all things, they were comfortable in hiring the A students—the experts—to work for them. What was unique to them were the social skills that allowed them to manage other people successfully. They had mastered the art of interpersonal intelligence, which increased their people skills. These skills will be most significant to our future high-tech, industrial, and service-based economy. So, you can see how important it is for your child to develop emotional maturity. It is almost impossible for your child to both integrate and implement his social skills if he is unable to approach his own thoughts and ideas without distraction. On the other hand, if he can find his way back to his own resource, that strong central core, anything is possible. By mastering her emotional intelligence, she will find her inner voice, her true vocation, and her destiny.17


STEP B: How to Influence Your Child’s Intellectual Growth

Your child’s view of the world, his perspective and understanding, evolve over time. Just as an artist uses local color (the color of the subject and its surroundings) to enhance his painting, so does your child use his surroundings to enlarge his reality, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year, thereby increasing not only his knowledge, but also his ability to process that knowledge, linking to already stored information and crossing a threshold of neurons to create something new. Each new experience builds on the one before in accordance with and relevant to his stage of development. By matching his intellectual readiness to his chronological age, you can support and encourage his intellectual expansion, keeping in mind that the main point is to know what the pivotal windows of opportunity are for each particular skill, those moments when your child’s brain is activated and ready to go. Your child’s social and emotional development follows the same pattern of integrating, of matching the right activities and exercises with his appropriate age and developmental stage. In this way your child will progress by leaps and bounds, naturally, without tension or stress. But first, it is important to know just how children learn. Though different theories come and go, we now have the advantage of technology to clarify a number of misunderstandings.


The Way  Children  Understand  Their  World

By becoming actively involved in your child’s growth, both intellectually and emotionally, you will reinforce his courage to venture out of his comfort zone. Thus, by creating a print-rich space with objects that stimulate his senses, can be observed, manipulated, smelled, touched, and so forth, including textures, rough and soft, colors, and age-appropriate toys, your little adventurer will happily learn about his surroundings, and return to you to tell you all about his discoveries.

The confidence that you’ll be there, that you’re reliable, and that he can count on you, frees him up to play creatively. Through manipulating every- day objects, including both familiar and unfamiliar items, your child learns not only how things work, but also why they do what they do. Everything in the realm of your child’s experience is new and interesting. Like a detective, your naturally curious child is motivated to investigate everything. Whatever you place in his vicinity, he will reach for and play with. For him, task mastery is its own intrinsic reward, for it is with that mastery that your little detective gains the tenacity and proficiency that leads to a greater sense of self and self-esteem. For example, when your child learns how to pour a glass of water or successfully places the right peg in the right hole, she feels successful and self-actualized. This offers her the intrinsic value that inspires motivation. In the beginning, your little toddler performs for your approval, always looking back to make sure you are watching. But she will soon become self-motivated, performing for her own inner satisfaction. By learning to trust her own authority, your child feels the internal rewards that make her feel good about herself, rather than anxious and fearful of failure.

There are many styles of learning—visual, auditory, verbal, kinesthetic, and so on—so it is not surprising that children often favor one or two of these modalities. However, if you expose your child to an environment that encourages the use of different styles of learning, his brain will process information laterally. According to Donald H. Schuster and Charles E. Gritton, in their book Suggestive-Accelerative Learning Techniques, children can learn more rapidly and process information better if they can relax and thus use their brain more harmoniously, like an orchestra.18 Furthermore, when you expose your baby to more than one learning modality, you engage more than one of his senses, introducing him to the full thrust of his intellectual capital. Keep in mind that when interacting with your baby in creative play, it is important to excite his senses by pointing out the collateral sights, sounds, feelings, and smells that accompany each and every new experience.

The importance of creative play cannot be overestimated, for it is in the state of creative play that our brains relax and process most effectively. Here is where most discoveries come from, where thoughts can be linked to create new ideas. In chapter 7, I will show you the strategies and tools to use with your child to help her achieve her greatest intellectual potency. In this relaxed state, new data can be understood and processed, so that associative information can be accessed to problem-solve.


Step C: The Effects of Stress- Reduction Techniques on Cognitive, Language, and Social Development

Teach Your Child Techniques to Help Her Relax, Focus, Concentrate, and Problem-Solve

The stress-reduction techniques you will find in here are the result of my many years of practice and experience. Through my own exploration into matters of mental, physical, and spiritual techniques, I have over time developed my own approach, one that I feel is the most effective and efficient for children, and which begins at birth. Through my travels I’ve discovered that there’s a core principle running through all stress-reducing activities. First and foremost is the idea that relaxing the body prepares it for a state of mindfulness, in which more blood is thrown to the prefrontal cortex, causing the body to relax and the circulation to improve. The simplest form of relaxation for baby, of course, is massage, and nothing soothes and comforts baby more than being close to his mother, hearing her voice, and feeling her touch. Ancient cultures have always known that relaxation techniques can heal the body and expand the mind. Children who learn these relaxation techniques can hold images longer and process information better. When your baby’s stress declines, her memory improves, and in the end, your happy baby performs easily at her optimum level. By reducing your baby’s stress levels, you are preparing her to learn.

I’ve studied stress-reduction techniques and learning for forty-five years and have conducted a number of studies in the Houston Independent School District. What I have learned is that children of all ages experience stress and anxiety. Yet there are simple ways to alleviate stress that are easily taught and quickly mastered. Simply breathing can take an anxious child to a place of calm. Activities such as listening to baroque music, mindfulness meditation, qigong, creative visualization, and so forth are now considered mainstream, and therefore have found a place in the curriculum of many schools. All of these disciplines enhance your child’s learning by allowing his brain to expand like an orchestra, opening him to his own resources and creativity. This relaxed state stimulates the endorphins that are responsible for joy and happiness while lowering cortisol. Now your child can easily focus and concentrate in the most natural way without effort. As your child’s mind focuses on a particular thought, word, or object, it becomes still and peaceful. This is actually the natural state of the mind, and it will give your child the sense of control that is needed for calmness. This feeling of control leads to security, which then finds its way into self-management. By teaching your child how to manage his own stress, you are giving him the tools he needs to develop the self-discipline necessary to learn and achieve in life.

Measured breathing is the easiest way to relax the body and the mind. Because breathing is something we all do, and therefore know how to do, it is the easiest way to teach mindfulness. If you hold your baby to your chest, calmly and quietly, so that you can feel her little heartbeat against yours, you can slowly, slowly sync your breathing with hers. As your child gets older, he’ll learn to synchronize his breathing to his own heartbeat, placing him into a calm alpha state. The alpha state achieved in relaxation lowers both breathing and heart rate so that your child will experience a feeling of peacefulness, calm, and quiet. There are many positive outcomes that originate from the alpha state, and almost all of them are transferred into everyday life. Once you and your child learn how to enter the alpha state of relaxation, you become more aware of the subtleties around you, including your own behavior toward others. Most importantly, studies show that a still, quiet inner nature can stimulate both accelerated learning and performance.


Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development

Erik Erikson was a psychoanalyst and a student of Freud in Vienna. Because of the threat of Nazism, he left Germany for America in 1933. Analyzing his own childhood and professional experience, he developed a psychosocial model that stressed the influence of social interactions on the develop- ing personality.

In a sense, he modified Freud’s idea that early childhood experiences shape the developing personality by contending that ego development continued throughout life.

Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development covers eight stages across the lifespan. “Each stage involves a ‘crisis’ in personality—a major developmental issue that is particularly important at that time, and will remain an issue to some degree throughout the rest of life. The crisis, which emerges according to a maturation time table, must be satisfactorily resolved, for healthy ego development. Successful resolution of each of the 8 crisis requires the balancing of a positive trait, and a corresponding negative one. Although the positive quality should predominate, some degree of the negative is needed as well. The crisis of infancy, for example, is (basic trust vs. basic mistrust). People need to trust the world and the people in it, but they also need to learn from mistrust to protect themselves from danger. The successful outcome of each crisis is the development of the particular “virtue” or strength—and in this first crisis, the “virtue” is hope.”19


Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages20

Erikson’s psychosocial crisis stages
Basic trust versus Mistrust 12–18 months Baby develops sense of whether world is a good and safe place.

Virtue: hope.

Autonomy versus Shame & Doubt 12–18 months

to 3 years

Child develops a balance of independence and self-sufficiency over shame and doubt. Virtue: will.
Initiative versus Guilt 3 to 6 years Child develops initiative when trying out new activities and is not overwhelmed by guilt.

Virtue: purpose.

Industry versus Inferiority 6 years to puberty Child must learn skills of the culture or face feeling of incompetence.

Virtue: skill.

Identity versus Role Confusion Puberty to young adulthood Adolescent must determine own sense of self (“Who am I?”) or experience confusion about roles.

Virtue: fidelity.

Intimacy versus Isolation Young adulthood Person seeks to make commitments to others; if unsuccessful, may suffer from isolation and self-absorption.

Virtue: love

Generativity versus Stagnation Middle adulthood Mature adult is concerned with establishing and guiding the next generation or else feels personal impoverishment.

Virtue: care.

Integrity versus Despair Late adulthood Elderly person achieves acceptance of own life, allowing acceptance of death, or else despairs over inability to relive life.

Virtue: wisdom.

In Erikson’s psychosocial model, your baby’s first crisis is trust vs. mistrust, which occurs from birth to 18 months, a time in which your baby realizes that his well-being depends on the reliability of those around him. To resolve this crisis, your infant hopes that he can count on his primary caretakers to be there for him consistently. Thus, the virtue for his first crisis is hope. If the people and objects in his sphere can be trusted to meet his needs consistently, then your baby will transfer his feelings of trust from you to himself, and to the outside world. The most important thing you can do for your baby, to help him successfully navigate this first psychosocial crisis, is to help him develop trust by being present when he needs you to show up; whether it’s to feed him, diaper him, comfort him, or care for him when he is ill. Because your baby lacks certainty about his environment, he looks to you for stability. If you can be trusted to be there, he will trust you. This is how your baby develops security, by feeling that if threatened, he will be protected by you. And that is because, at first, his limited emotional repertoire makes his physical needs the most pressing.

However, if your care as his primary caretaker is unpredictable, and if your child feels that he cannot count on you to be there no matter what, he will develop mistrust. That mistrust will transfer into his own feelings of insecurity as he begins to doubt his capacity to influence his environment. That mistrust puts your baby on high alert, with feelings of anxiety and fear, doubting the safety of the world in which he lives. Not only that, but that mistrust will follow him throughout his life, and will forever influence the way he relates to others. If you aren’t trustworthy, and can’t be relied upon to meet your child’s needs consistently, you will evoke in him fear and mistrust, which then causes him to bring those feelings into the next psychosocial stage. The remnant of whatever isn’t resolved in each particular stage is not left behind, but rather brought forward into the new psychosocial developmental stage and crisis.


How Parents Can Influence Erikson’s First Crisis Stage of Trust vs. Mistrust:


  1. It is critical for you to be consistent in caregiving, sensitive to your baby’s needs, and responsive at every turn.
  2. Bond with You can’t spoil your baby with love, and “tough love” is an oxymoron.
  3. Be reliable. You are your child’s primary representative in his universe; if he can count on you, he will trust that he can count on others.
  4. Be actively and warmly responsive to your It is important to note here that baby directs the majority of his attachment behaviors such as smiling, clinging, crying, and sucking toward you, his mother; hoping that you will respond to him in a warm and positive manner and be there when he needs or wants you.


Your baby’s second crisis in Erikson’s psychosocial model is autonomy vs. shame and doubt, which occurs from 12–18 months to three years. As your toddler develops and matures, he will start to strike out toward independence. Every baby has a singular goal in mind: freedom. It is at this stage of autonomy vs. shame and doubt that your toddler moves with urgency from the control of others to self-control. If he has successfully navigated his first crisis of basic trust vs. mistrust, he will now be entering his second psychosocial stage with a sense of trust in his own experience. Here, he becomes more self-aware and more self-reliant, valuing his own judgment above that of others, including you.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that the virtue of this psychosocial state is will. When your child develops a wider range of skill sets, such as picking out special toys or putting on shoes and articles of clothing, he is illustrating his thirst for knowledge and independence. You may notice him moving away from you, resisting foods he doesn’t like, or resisting people he is uncomfortable with. Here is where your toddler begins to investigate the range of her abilities, and thus it is important to create an environment that is both encouraging and non-critical. For example, rather than forcing a particular food to eat, or outfit to wear, or toy to play with, it is more productive to demonstrate patience and allow your child to try out new activities without help; all the while knowing when to step in and protect him from either danger or too much failure. It is a delicate dance to give your child the freedom to try things out for himself, not criticizing him if he fails, while helping him avoid constant failure. Potty-training is a perfect example of this delicate balance. Here, you’re trying to teach self-control without injuring your child’s sense of self. If you encourage and support your child through autonomy vs. shame and doubt, you will reinforce the virtue of his will, leading to the independence necessary to survive the outer world. What you’re trying to build in your child is good self-esteem; however, if he is either overprotected or not allowed to assert his independence, he will come up short, questioning his own ability to succeed, and will feel inadequate.

What is important about this stage is that a careful balance be struck between your child’s striving for independence and accepting his boundaries. In this way, he will learn through trial and error when he is ready to be self-sufficient. This is where shame appears, amplifying the atmosphere that encourages your child to disown things he wants to do by learning the rules and following them. It is mother and other primary caretakers who must establish those rules, while being consistent in making sure they’re followed. This period, called the Terrible Twos, is the first time your child attempts autonomy. Having felt out of control up until now, and dependent on others, your child, for the first time, is driven to control. In fact, your child’s need for independence manifests itself when he resists authority. Therefore, his new sense of power and self-awareness translates to a form of negativism, and his favorite word during the Terrible Twos is “no!” But don’t be disheartened, because at around 4–6 years of age, this drive for complete independence softens.


How Parents Can Influence Erikson’s Second Crisis Stage of Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt:


  1. It is imperative for you to be both clear and consistent when setting limits and consequences.
  2. Concise language and consistency are most important now, so that you can gently guide your toddler away from unacceptable This will create the balance needed between autonomy, shame, and doubt.
  3. You are trying help your child develop self-control, self- confidence, and competence.
  4. It is best not to exacerbate your child’s conflict, which could easily lead to his self-doubt. If self-doubt is not resolved in the psychosocial stage of development shame and doubt, it will automatically move into the next stage rather than being appropriately resolved.
  5. On the other hand, if you create acceptable opportunities for your child to exert his independence, such as picking out an article of clothing to wear or choosing between one vegetable or another or one toy or another, he will have freedom within limits, experiencing the potency of success.


Your child’s third crisis in Erikson’s psychosocial model is initiative vs. guilt, which occurs from three to six years old. Your child is striving to balance his desire to follow his own goals with the moral dilemma that some of those goals may be unacceptable. At the core of the initiative vs. guilt stage are the opposing feelings of the self. The virtue therefore is purpose, as your child learns to regulate or balance her goals against her moral sense of right and wrong, which can prohibit her from acting on her own desires. Though your preschooler continues to push out, testing herself against her environment, wanting to add more and more to her repertoire, she is also being met by the need to receive approval from others. This is a time when your child asserts herself, a time of action that you may interpret as aggressive. Most important to the initiative vs. guilt stage is play, as it allows your child to use his interpersonal skills by planning activities such as games involving other children. Here is where your little leader is born, as your child develops the security and initiative to make decisions and direct others. Now is not the time to squash your child’s independence by either too much control or disapproval. This could lead to an exaggerated sense of guilt, which could make your child feel less capable and more likely to depress his self-initiative and become a follower. Of course it’s important to protect your child from danger, as children can often push the envelope. However, if you over-criticize or constrict your child’s initiatives, you will impair his sense of self. Also, at this stage your child will show a heightened state of inquisitiveness. Treat your child as you would a friend, showing respect for his thoughts while valuing his questions. Otherwise, your child will feel guilty or devalued, either feeling interfering with the healthy resolution of this stage. If your child feels guilty, it will negatively influence his social interactions and suppress his creativity. Though a little guilt is necessary for conscience and moral development, controlling your child too much can inhibit his natural unfoldment. Balance is the key to this stage of initiative and guilt, so that the virtue of purpose can develop.

The reconciliation of these two opposing interests, initiative and guilt, can create a split in your child’s personality. On one hand is your child who is filled with joy and excitement to try out new things, and on the other hand is your child who is trying to understand what is and is not appropriate behavior. How your child balances or reconciles these two drives can lead to the virtue of purpose, which requires the necessary courage to strive for goals without the pressure of guilt.

As in all other stages, if this crisis of initiative vs. guilt is not resolved, your child will carry the unresolved conflict into the next stage of psychosocial development, causing him to race to succeed, brag, boast, bloviate, exhibit narrow-minded behavior, or experience psychosomatic illnesses.


How Parents Can Influence Erikson’s Third Crisis Stage of Initiative vs. Guilt:


  1. At this stage, it is important that you create an environment in which your child can have the time and space to do things on his own, while still under your supervision.
  2. Once again, freedom within limits is the best possible model for the development of balance between the need to over- compete and over-achieve without feeling guilty.
  3. Don’t over-criticize your child’s initiatives.
  4. Respect, value, and validate your child’s thoughts and questions.


How to Build Your Baby’s Brain is concerned with children from birth to five years of age, though the chart at the beginning of this chapter includes all eight stages of Erikson’s psychosocial development model for your perusal.


Lawrence Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Reasoning

In the 1950s, American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg created stages of moral development that were similar to Piaget’s moral model, expanding on Piaget’s ideas. Both Kohlberg and Piaget used a storytelling approach which incorporated stories that had a moral crisis. At the end of the story, Kohlberg offered several solutions to the dilemma. The story that best describes the moral conflict that Kohlberg presented to his research participants was about a man named Heinz.

The theme of the story is that Heinz’s wife was dying of cancer. There was a new drug available that could save her life. A local chemist created the drug, so Heinz went to the chemist and asked to buy the drug. The chemist, on the other hand, had just invented this new medication and wanted to make a large profit, so he raised the price of the drug ten times higher than the cost to make it.

Unfortunately, Heinz did not have enough money to buy the drug. No matter what he did, even receiving help from his family and friends, and finally raising half the money, he still couldn’t meet the chemist’s demand for payment. He told the chemist his story, asking for help, explaining that his wife was dying and offering various ways he could pay for the lifesaving drug.

Nevertheless, the chemist said no. He explained that he had created the drug and that this was his golden opportunity to make money. Heinz was bereaved, and exhausting all possible means for payment, he made the desperate decision to break into the drugstore and steal the lifesaving medicine.

After telling this story, Kohlberg asked ten questions similar to the ones below: 21


  1. Should Heinz have taken the drug without paying for it?
  2. Would his behavior have been different if he didn’t care for his wife so much?
  3. Would it make a difference if it wasn’t his wife that was dying but someone else?
  4. And finally, if Heinz’s wife died, should law enforcement arrest the chemist, charging him with murder?


The study included seventy-five boys, 10–16 years of age. Kohlberg continued this study as a longitudinal study covering thirty years. The questions evolved around the idea of justice. By reviewing the children’s answers for each question, relying on their different ages and stages of development, he discovered that the way children reason morally changes as they age. He concluded that children consider moral problems differently depending on their cognitive development, reaching a choice or moral decision independent and distinct from the adults or peer group in their orbit.

In his study, Kohlberg created a final sample of fifty-eight boys that he reexamined in three-year segments for approximately twenty years. Each boy was interviewed independently and confronted by ten moral problems. Kohlberg wanted to understand the thought process of the sample population—not if the boys judged the behavior, but rather the thought process behind their conclusions. In the end, he established that the reasoning power of the sample population changed according to the boys’ cognitive development.22

As a result, Kohlberg created three stages of moral reasoning, each stage separated into two parts. His theory was that moral reasoning progressed gradually from one stage to the next. As your child moves into a new stage of reasoning, that new stage replaces the reasoning of the level before it. Kohlberg believed that the last level of moral reasoning was for all practical purposes theoretical and rarely, if ever, reached. Moreover, he stated that it was his opinion that most adults are realistically operating at level two, which he called conventional morality. It is at this stage that a majority of Americans conform to social norms without question.


Stages of Moral Reasoning
Level and Age Stage What determines right and wrong?
Preconventional: Up to age 9 Punishment and Obedience Right and wrong defined by what they get punished for. If you get told off for stealing, then obviously stealing is wrong.
Instrumental— Relativist Similar, but right and wrong is now determined by what we are rewarded for, and by doing what others want. Any concern for others is motivated by selfishness.
Conventional: Most adolescents and adults Interpersonal concordance Being good is whatever pleases others. The child adopts a conformist attitude to morality. Right and wrong are determined by the majority.
Law and order To this end we obey laws without question and show a respect for authority. Most adults do not progress past this stage.
Postconventional: 10 to 15% of the over-20s. Social contract Right and wrong now determined by personal values, although these can be overridden by democratically agreed laws. When laws infringe on our own sense of justice, we can choose to ignore them.
Universal ethical principle We now live in accordance with deeply held moral principles that are seen as more important than the laws of the land.


Level I: Preconventional Morality23

It is at this first level of moral reasoning that children are controlled by external rules. Your child from infancy to ten is too young to have developed his own moral compass—rather, his personal code is created by the rules and consequences established by the adults in his sphere of influence, especially you. These external controls are most often obeyed, not because of moral reasoning, but rather to escape punishment or gain rewards. Thus, the preconventional stage of morality is really one of self-interest, where your child has not yet found his own authority and reasoning is based on the authority of others. At this stage, your child understands right from wrong behavior in terms of rewards and punishments.24


Age: 0–10 years

Stage 1: Orientation toward Punishment and Obedience. “Will I be punished?” Your child will know the rules and follow the rules to escape punishment and possibly gain a reward. Further, he will disregard the reasons for a behavior, and instead concentrate on the physical form. For example, the size of an infraction or consequence. Authority figures have the power in your child’s life, and they should not only know the rules, but obey the rules to avoid punishment. Your child believes if punishment is executed, something bad must have happened.25

Stage 2: Instrumental Purpose and Exchange. The basic idea of stage 2 is self-interest: if I do this for you, what will you do for me? Therefore, a behavior is deemed as good if it helps satisfy both your child’s need and the need of another. The motto here could easily be value for value, or an even reward exchange. Behavior is seen in relation to what is needed, while separating out the value from the consequences. Your stage 2 child will say that there is more than one way to solve a problem, and begin to appreciate that different people have different opinions.26


Level II: Conventional Morality. (Or morality of conventional role conformity.)

At this level, your child internalizes the rules of those in authority. They are interested in pleasing others, being viewed as “good,” and following social norms. Though it is hard to believe, this level is reached by ten years of age, and most people never go beyond this point.27


Age: 10–20 years

Stage 3: Maintaining Mutual Relations, Approval of Others, the Golden Rule. Your stage 3 child considers that if he follows the rules he is entitled to a reward. At this stage your child wants to please you and others, and by internalizing the rules while still observing the standards of adults, he begins to internalize those standards. It is at this time that she starts referring to herself as “good” to people she holds in high esteem. Now she can model authority figures, and determine for herself whether behavior is right by her own personal code of morality. For the first time, she looks for a motive behind the behavior, as well as the person acting out. Thus, she considers not only the act, but also the circumstances behind it. Your stage 3 child is moved to respect social norms by following and obeying the established rules of authority.28

Stage 4: Conscience and Social Contract. Stage 4 respects the social order, considering a behavior wrong, irrespective of reasoning, if it breaches human rights and causes harm. According to Kohlberg, this is the pinnacle of moral development, and most people can never get there. In this stage, morality hinges on justice and the rights of others, while personal judgment is founded on personal principles, as well as individual reasoning. Kohlberg tells us that only 10–15 percent of people are able to operate on such a high moral level, as it requires a solid core that is based on critical thinking. However, because most humans are social learners, they find their moral ground linked to societal norms; to think independently, through the prism of ethics, is an amazing feat, requiring a giant leap into the possible human.29


Level III: Postconventional Morality. (Or morality of autonomous moral principles.)

Level 3, according to Kohlberg, is as high a level as most people can reach. Moral reasoning is an internal affair, based on intrinsic beliefs of justice, fairness, right and wrong, and an overall moral code. At this stage, moral dilemmas can be resolved through moral standards.30


Age: 20 years and up

Stage 5: A Social Contract of Morality. Includes protections for the right of the individual through the mutual acceptance of democracy. Though society recognizes that the democratic will of the people serves the best interests of the people, there are still times when your needs and the law are in opposition. Then, the laws of the greater good and the laws of the individual are not always clearly defined, as for instance in the Heinz problem. Nevertheless, in the long run, it is best to know the rules and follow the rules of your community.31



Stage 6: The Universal Principles of Ethics and Morality. In stage 6, people listen to their own inner voice rather than being influenced by the opinions of others. Regardless of peer pressure, the constraints of others, or the laws of society, individuals in stage 6 follow their own authority. These individuals are self-actualized, acting in alignment with their own internalized moral code, and willing to take the consequences for their own actions, recognizing that if they violated their conscience, there would be an emotional cost.32


Influencing Your Child’s Moral Development According to Kohlberg’s Six Stages:


  1. Most importantly, be what you want to Children are social animals and they imitate social behaviors, especially yours.
  2. Talk, talk, From the moment your baby opens his eyes, his most valued experience is the sound of your voice. By talking to your child and referencing your thoughts about your experiences in relation to him, he will begin to catch a glimpse of the principles under the patterns of your values.
  3. Invest your child in the development of his own moral compass by actively involving him in the small moral dilemmas of his surroundings.
  4. Be an active As soon as your baby starts to talk, he will want to tell you about his world and how he stretches and tests himself against it.
  5. Even in the nursery, children seem to demonstrate altruism. If one baby cries, another will Observe your baby’s sensitivity to the feelings of other infants, and take every opportunity to model empathic behavior. In this way, little by little, you can build his central core and moral code.
  6. Keep in mind that your young child will interpret and respond to moral dilemmas relative to her age and stage of development.
  7. When building your child’s moral reasoning and conscience, it is important to socially interact with her by talking about moral dilemmas throughout the day. Use story time for stories, myths, and fairytales, with a moral to the story, so that she starts to recognize and even anticipate how good prevails in the end.
  8. Children show the greatest progress in moral development when their parents actively listen to their opinions and ask them child-centered questions. Ask your child clarifying questions so that you can be certain that he understands the issues at Use humor and praise while talking to your child, and actively listen to him when asking his opinions.
  9. When modeling moral reasoning for your children, guide them to a higher level of thought, following a scaffolding approach.
  10. Never lecture, challenge, or contradict your child’s thoughts, and Ask child-centered questions to help your child come to a conclusion that exposes him to a higher order of thinking.
  11. Use every opportunity to pose a moral conflict, so that your child will have a chance to think about these questions during the course of a day.
  12. Role-play with your child, raising moral dilemmas that the two of you can solve together.
  13. Create a safe and understanding space so that your child knows that he can ask you anything without fear of retribution.
  14. Use my empathic process to teach your child empathy, so she can learn what it feels like to walk in another person’s shoes.
  15. Make a game out of creating stories with your child involving moral In this way, your child can be the architect of the story, following the course of human conflict toward a positive resolution.


Piaget’s Four Stages of Cognitive Development

Intellectual development, the faculty by which young children acquire knowledge, was often addressed by Jean Piaget in his discussions about the development of children. Of Piaget’s work, Friesen says:


His work has had a dramatic effect on our understanding of the characteristics of children’s thinking and their acquisition of knowledge. It is Piaget’s work that has helped us understand how young children learn. Through his research, educators have come to realize the importance of providing appropriate experience matched to the developmental level of the child.33


Piaget (cited by Teale, 1982) argued that “the child builds up his knowledge through interaction with the world,” and that “intellectual growth is a process of assimilating new experiences to the current state of the child’s cognitive organization.”34 According to Piaget, “this is a process that requires an accommodation of existing mental structures, and that, in turn, stems from part of the mental organization, which allows for the intake and the assimilation of the new experience.”35

Piaget (cited by Biehler and Snowman, 1986) was able to state broadly that cognition develops through the interaction of children with their environment. Piaget’s stages of mental development:36


  • In Stage 1 (birth–age 2), infants are concerned with “sensorimotor” achievements—they use their senses to inspect the world and begin to see a distinction between themselves and other They have no concept of “object permanence,” meaning that when their mother or anyone else disappears from sight, the infant believes that person is gone forever.
  • Stage 2 (ages 27) is “preoperational.” This is where children begin to acquire language, use mental images and symbols, and understand simple rules. They see the world only from their perspective. For example, if they cover their faces and cannot see others, they still believe that means others cannot see them.
  • Stage 3 (ages 711) deals with “concrete ” At this stage, children distinguish between fantasy and reality: they become more logical, less egocentric. They can concentrate and solve problems better and begin to understand the relationships between time, distance, and speed, as well as other rules that govern the world.
  • Stage 4 (ages 11adult) is called “formal operations,” which focuses on the child’s growing ability to deal with abstract ideas, understand ethical principles, and reason about rules and regulations.


As seen above, Piaget created a model to illustrate that thinking develops in this progressive movement through a series of stages and applied this paradigm to education. A specific educational model was constructed to differentiate what should be taught to children at various stages. For example, preschool, kindergarten, and primary grade children are all in the preoperational stage, while children in grades five to nine are in the transition from concrete operations to formal operations.

Piaget was the founder of today’s cognitive reformation, recognizing the significance of mental processes through his observation of children. By observing and questioning children, Piaget discovered a comprehensive theory of cognitive development. He believed that children had an inborn capacity to adjust to their surroundings, and it was that adaptation that was the beginning of cognitive development. In a sense, when a baby is rooting for his mother’s breast, or investigating the perimeters of his environment, he creates an ever more precise understanding of his space, and a better capacity to relate to it.

In Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, he defined a sequence of qualitatively unique and distinctive steps. At each one of these steps, your child experiences a new way of thinking.

From early childhood through adolescence, cognitive development evolves from sensory and motor behavior to critical, abstract thinking. These mental operations develop gradually, following three connective ideas:


  1. Organization
  2. Adaptation
  3. Equilibration


According to Piaget, organization is the ability to integrate more complicated cognitive systems of thinking which organize more effective views of reality. He called these organizations schemas, which are ordered patterns that your child uses to understand his environment. These schemas become more complex over time, and your child uses them to help him think and react. For instance, early schemas for viewing or touching act independently—ultimately, however, your child merges them into particular schemas so that he can see an object as he is holding on to it.

Piaget states that adaptation is the way your child receives new stimuli that is in opposition to his current knowledge. It requires him to follow two approaches:


  • Assimilation, which involves receiving new data and integrating it into current cognitive
  • Accommodation, which requires transferring cognitive constructs to incorporate new


Piaget states that equilibration is the propensity to continually reach for balance, demonstrated by the ebb and flow of assimilation to accommodation. All systems within your child strive for equilibrium between herself and her world. However, if your child cannot cope with new and unexpected events within his current cognitive construct, then those structures reorder themselves, creating new mental patterns that merge the new events and thereby create equilibrium. As a result, when assimilation and accommodation integrate, they create equilibrium and cognitive development. All behavior transactions operate in this manner. For example, when your child moves from the breast to a bottle, he adjusts his sucking techniques to confront the new experience. In this way, he is using assimilation and accommodation to customize his original schema.

A modification of Piaget’s original idea is that a child’s cognition is not a single advancement to formal thinking, but rather is influenced by particular content; in other words, what your child is thinking in relation to a specific problem, in conjunction with a cultural norm.

Piaget believed that cognitive growth was a process regulated by both a child’s maturation and the interactive relationship with his surroundings. He was the first psychologist to examine cognitive development, and he created an observational protocol, and a series of tests, to study children’s cognitive growth. He wasn’t interested in measuring how well children could add or subtract, spell, or problem-solve, but rather in the way children developed fundamental ideas about quantity, justice, causality, time, and so on. He challenged the idea that children were less capable than grownups, considering the idea that children’s thought processes were significantly different than their adult counterparts. Also, he was mainly concerned with focusing on children’s mental growth, rather than learning. Therefore, his approach was void of memorization and learning techniques. What he discovered was that the critical stages of development could be identified by their qualitative characteristics, instead of an increased complexity of behaviors. He examined the specific mechanisms by which a baby, toddler, and child grows into a person who can think, first concretely, and then abstractly. According to Piaget, when a child grows cognitively, she readjusts her mental processes in relation to both her maturation and the interactions with her environment. She structures a view of her surroundings, and is soon confronted by inconsistencies between what she thinks she knows and what she discovers.



Piaget’s Four Stages of Cognitive Development

I.   Sensorimotor:

The sensorimotor stage is Piaget’s first stage of cognitive growth, and it includes children from birth to two years of age. It is during the sensorimotor stage that your child learns about his world through his motor activity and developing senses. It is during this period that you first observe your child’s metamorphosis from an infant who can only respond through reflex and random activity to a goal-driven toddler. Piaget’s research indicated that the sensorimotor stage contains six sub-stages, which progress into each other as your baby’s schemas become more complicated. In the first five sub-stages, your infant organizes intake and activity from his senses and environment. In the sixth sub-stage, your child begins to advance through hit and miss, learning how to use ideas and symbols to navigate obstacles successfully.37


Sensorimotor Sub-Stages:

Sub-stage 1: Birth to 1 month

In sub-stage 1, cognitive growth occurs in a “circular action.” Here, your baby learns to reproduce pleasing and gratifying experiences that first happen by chance. Consequently, the chance discovery is integrated into a schema, one that is both new and novel. Also in the first sub-stage, your child will work and stretch her reflexes until she achieves a sense of control. Only then she will initiate activity, even though the original stimulation for that behavior is absent. Sucking is a perfect example, as your baby will suck whatever her mouth touches, ultimately focusing on her sucking in particular when she wants something to eat and is offered Mother’s breast or a bottle. Soon, she will learn how to adjust and adapt her behavior, becoming more efficient at fulfilling her own wants and needs. 38


Sub-stage 2: 1–4 months

During sub-stage 1, your child learns to replicate satisfying experiences that were originally discovered by accident. Piaget identified this as a “primary circular reaction.” Now your child will now be able to turn toward and follow sounds by organizing distinct and diverse sensory input, such as sights and sounds.39


Sub-stage 3: 4–8 months

Your child begins to learn about objects in her environment by touching and observing them. For the first time, she repeats her behavior to produce a desired outcome. Piaget called this deliberate behavior a “secondary circular reaction.” For instance, your child may smile and babble just to get and keep your attention.40


Sub-stage 4: 8–12 months

Piaget called the fourth sub-stage the “coordination of secondary schemas.” It is at this stage that your child creates new schemas scaffolded onto her old ones. Now she can connect and form associations, reaching back into her prior experiences for the answers to her current dilemmas. She becomes highly creative as she organizes and changes past schemas to problem-solve. Correspondingly, this stage is the beginning of your child’s deliberate and intentional activity.41


Sub-stage 5: 12–18 months

By the fifth sub-stage, your child will begin to investigate her surroundings, experimenting with different modalities of reciprocal actions. This stage finds your child curiously trying out, adapting, and adjusting to new ways of behavior. A great liberator of this stage is walking. When your child is ambulatory, she is free to explore. This, stated Piaget, is a “tertiary circular reaction.” Now your child begins to try different solutions to new problems, no longer simply repeating accidental behaviors.42 Your child will thrill and delight you as she displays original thinking for the first time. Also for the first time, your child can successfully navigate problems. Through hit and miss, she experiments, figuring out the best way to reach her objective.



Sub-stage 6: 18 months–2 years

In the sixth sub-stage, identified by Piaget as “mental combination,” your child shifts and moves into the preoperational stage. Her mental range increases, and now she can symbolically and mentally represent items and behaviors. By employing symbols like numbers, your child finds herself liberated from the need for immediate experience, and she can access “deferred imitation” through memory. Imagination takes center stage as your child uses mental representation from her memory so that she can think about her behavior before acting it out. She finally comprehends that one thing can cause another. Now she no longer needs to go through the arduous task of testing out all of her assumptions to find solutions. This is what Piaget called “representational ability.”43


Key Developments of the Sensorimotor Stage
Concept or Skill Piaget’s View More Recent Findings
Object permanence Develops gradually between third and sixth sub-stage. Infants in fourth sub-stage (8–12 months) make A, not-B error. Infants as young as 3½ months (second sub-stage) seem to show object knowledge, though interpretation of findings is in dispute. A, not-B error may persist into second year or longer.
Spatial knowledge Development of object concept and spatial knowledge is linked to self-locomotion and coordination of visual and motor information. Research supports Piaget’s timetable and relationship of spatial judgments to decline of egocentrism. Link to motor development is less clear.
Causality Develops slowly between 4–6 months and 1 year, based on infant’s discovery, first of effects of own actions and then of effects of outside forces. Some evidence suggests early awareness of specific causal events in the physical world, but general understanding of causality may be slower to develop.
Number Depends on use of symbols, which begins in sixth sub-stage (18–24 months) Infants as young as 3 months seem to recognize perceptual categories.
Categorization Depends on representational thinking, which develops during sixth sub-stage (18–24 months) Infants as young as 3 months seem to recognize perceptual categories.
Imitation Invisible imitation develops around 9 months, deferred imitation after development of mental representations in sixth sub-stage (18–24 months) Controversial studies have found invisible imitation of facial expressions in newborns and deferred imitation as early as 6 weeks. Deferred imitation of complex activities seems to exist as early as 6 months.

Piaget included five key developments in his sensorimotor model:44


  1. Object permanence appears gradually between eight and twelve It can be observed between the third and sixth sub-stages, and according to Piaget, it occurs when your child realizes that something exists, either an object or a person, even when out of sight. Moreover, your child recognizes that she exists separate from others, including both objects and people. Piaget described a process called A, not-B error, a situation in which an 8–12-month-old child will continue to look for a hidden item in the location where he originally saw it, even though he saw the object moved to a different place.45

By integrating visual and motor input and observing the outcome of his own behavior, your child gains information about space and objects. As soon as he is ambulatory and can crawl or walk, he can reach objects nearest to him and contrast the size, shapes, and locations relative to other objects. When he adapts and adjusts, he gradually becomes more efficient at judging the distance and size of objects in his path. Having already achieved object concepts, for which he now understands that objects and people exist when out of view, he no longer feels insecure or fearful if Mom or Dad is out of sight. Now he recognizes that they still exist, and have not abandoned him. The game of peekaboo is highly significant at this stage of development because peekaboo serves to help baby confront and overcome anxiety when his mother is out of sight. Further, peekaboo allows baby to think about the appearance, disappearance, and existence of people and objects beyond his view. Also, it helps baby learn how to take turns, which transfers to the protocol necessary for conversation. Finally, peekaboo gives your baby a chance to practice and rehearse active attention, which is a skill for focus, concentration, and learning. Piaget calls this development object permanence.

Peekaboo also encourages cognitive development, for the game requires baby to anticipate the facial expressions and voice modulations of each player. This places baby on high alert as he waits, anticipating what lies ahead. By the time your baby is one year of age, he is no longer a passive observer, but rather initiates peekaboo himself, using physical and vocal cues to encourage others to come and play.

When playing peekaboo with baby, it is essential to use a scaffolding approach as baby reaches cognitive competency gradually. As a result, you can stimulate baby’s task mastery building up his skill a little at a time, always motivating and prompting him to a more advanced stage of competence, coaxing him to interact at his most advanced level.

All manner of toys can be used as participants in the game of peekaboo, as Mother decides how much and what kind of scaffolding to use to support baby. Though at first you may need to gain your baby’s attention, he will quickly become a part of the game, modeling your behavior until he integrates it as his own. At twelve months of age, baby becomes more receptive to verbal commands, and it therefore becomes easier to instruct him on the rules of the game by reinforcing his excitement and pleasure at predicting future experiences. By the time baby is two, scaffolding is no longer necessary, as he can not only imitate peekaboo, but also add his own creativity to the game.46

Invisible imitation, according to Piaget, appears at approximately nine months, when baby can imitate parts of his body that are invisible to him. A little before this is the onset of visible imitation, when baby can imitate with his body those things that he can see before him, such as fingers and toes. Then, at approximately eighteen months, your baby begins to defer imitation, now able to imitate a physical behavior he remembers from his past. Overall, Piaget’s research asserts that immature cognition gradually moves to mature cognition.47

  1. Spatial knowledge is linked to your baby’s self-locomotion, the integration of his motor knowledge and visual Here, baby can make judgments spatially, which appears to develop just as egocentrism dissipates.48
  2. Causality evolves gradually, from around four months to one year of As baby uncovers the mystery of his own behavior and its effects on his physical world, he discovers the concept of causality, or cause and effect. This development is slow and steady, proceeding in direct coordination to baby’s general awareness of the effects of his actions on outside events. Once your baby is able to grasp items, he becomes aware of his impact on his environment. This is really how causality evolves, as baby becomes conscious of his own intent. As your baby gathers knowledge about how things act, he is able to transfer the idea of causality to other circumstances and conditions.49
  3. Number, according to Piaget, requires the facility of Therefore, number appears in the sixth sub-stage, 18–24 months. Though babies as early as five months can identify and even use small digits, there doesn’t seem to be a true understanding of what the number symbols represent.50
  4. Categorization is the fifth development. At about 18–24 months, your baby will begin to think in a representational This means that he’ll be able to see visual distinction. In fact, your two-day-old baby can already see the difference between a curved line and a straight line, being more partial to the curved line. Furthermore, he can recognize simple and complex patterns, being more partial to complex patterns. At this age your baby can even recognize the difference between a two- dimensional and a three-dimensional object, favoring the three- dimensional object. He can also identify the difference between a picture of a face, as opposed to a picture of a thing, and identify the difference between what is familiar and what is new.51


Your baby attends more to new and different stimuli, rather than familiar stimuli. According to Piaget, this is called a “novelty preference.” By eighteen months, your baby can contrast and compare new information to old, creating mental representations. Current information suggests, contrary to Piaget, that your baby may even be able to demonstrate a novelty preference at birth. This is most evident in the area of sound, where baby can distinguish his own mother’s voice at one day old.

Piaget perceived that information processing was founded on the principle of habituation, in which your baby’s knowledge of something lessens his response. Whereas in dis-habituation, there is an acceleration in responsiveness to a new or novel stimulation.52

Studies can measure the efficacy of your child’s information processing by noting how rapidly he can habituate to something familiar, as well as how quickly his focus shifts when given a new stimulus, in conjunction with the time in between, paying attention to both new and old information. The proficiency of habituation in conjunction with the ability to process information is often used as a predictor of cognitive development, as well as IQ. Moreover, “predictions based on information-processing measures alone, do not take into account the influence of environmental factors. For example, maternal responsiveness in early infancy seems to play a part in the link between early attentional abilities and cognitive abilities later in childhood and even at age 18.” 53

Also, Piaget, stated “that the senses are unconnected at birth and are only gradually integrated though experience. If so, this integration begins very early.” For instance, a baby might look toward sound, indicating that they connect the idea of hearing with seeing. Correspondingly, Piaget defines this integration, as a cross-modal transfer, meaning, that now your baby is able to take knowledge from one sense, to lead her toward others.54


What to Look for in the Sensorimotor Stage

At this stage, your child will obtain self-awareness, comprehension, and knowledge through her sensory and motor experiences. First, your baby begins to investigate her body and sensory impressions. Once ambulatory, she will examine and manipulate everything within her reach. Then, through a method of trial and error, new schemas form, which help her develop cognitively so that she can understand her environment.

The most important advance in the sensorimotor period is object permanence. At this stage, your child recognizes that something exists regardless of whether it is visible or concealed, and that capacity necessitates a mental representation of the unseen object.


What You Can Do to Positively Affect the Sensorimotor Stage:


  1. The most central concern of the sensorimotor stage is that your child is free to explore in a learning rich environment that is safe, secure, stimulating, and most importantly loving.
  2. Be sure to create a safe environment that is also rich in objects to manipulate, textures to touch, and exciting and interesting visuals to observe.
  3. As your little scientist extends out into his world to explore and expand his range of influence, it is important for him to know that you are nearby, within his frame of reference, and that he can look back and see that you’re there with him to support his journey.
  4. Bonding at this stage is Thus, your baby will be free to explore his surroundings when he can depend and rely not only on your love, but also on your presence. In this way, he can build the security needed for attachment, and it is that secure attachment that will translate into trust. If he trusts you, he will trust himself, and if he trusts himself, he can trust his environment. This security will further stimulate his cognitive development, as he extends out each day into the unknown.


II.   Preoperational:

Piaget’s next stage of cognitive development is the preoperational stage, 2–7 years of age. In this stage, your child becomes more knowledgeable about symbolic thinking. However, she is still unable to think logically. Piaget tells us that only in concrete operations will your child be able to use logic, and that won’t occur until middle childhood. Because she thinks egocentrically, preoccupied with herself and her world, your preoperational child will find it nearly impossible to see another’s perspective or point of view. Yet think- ing symbolically allows her to represent one word or item for another, so that she can transfer the symbolic meaning of one thing to something else. It is in the preoperational period that your child gains a more sophisticated understanding of numbers, identities, causality, categories, time, and space. Some of this more sophisticated and symbolic thought, has its beginnings in infancy. Advances in preoperational thought continue from early toddlerhood through to middle childhood.


Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development in Early Childhood:

Symbolic function: By the time your child is four years old, she can desire something without needing a sensory cue. For example, she may want a slice of birthday cake by retrieving its image from her memory, rather than experiencing it through her senses. Therefore, she can now ask for birthday cake based on her memory of its sweetness, rather than from any current sensory input. Piaget calls this mental process the “symbolic function,” which reflects your child’s capacity to use mental representations wedded to a meaning, without the use of sensory or motor cues.55 Here, symbols assist your child’s memory and help her to think about things that are not in her presence. The use of the symbolic function can be seen in deferred imitation, for example in imaginative play. Even infants use deferred imitation as they remember and recall the mental image of something they’ve seen. Likewise, when your child makes one thing represent another, for instance a toy for a friend, she is also using a mental representation. You can see this all through childhood as your child participates in symbolic play, using her imagination to have one object represent another. Even language is part of the system of mental representation, as words are symbols used to speak.


Understanding of identities: Piaget discovered that the understanding of identities is intrinsic to your child’s developing sense of self. It is then that your child can view the world in a more organized and predictable manner. For example, with a more developed understanding of identities, your child can recognize that objects and people are similar, though they may be altered in size or shape. This knowledge leads to the emergence of your child’s self-image.


Spatial thinking: By the age of three, children have a more developed capacity for representational thinking, which allows them to make better decisions about spatial relations. Before the age of three, your child will have difficulty accurately discerning the connection between a model or a picture and the space or object that they depict.

In conjunction with spatial thinking is the concept of dual representation hypothesis, which is the idea that your child cannot understand spatial relationships, as it requires her to maintain several mental representations simultaneously. But after the age of three, your preschooler will be able to not only understand easy maps, but also to transfer her spatial comprehension to other models or objects reciprocally.


Causality: Though Piaget realized that toddlers comprehended the relationship between reactions and actions, he didn’t believe that they could think logically. Rather, he asserted that they connected or linked a myriad of experiences with or without understanding the logic of cause and effect. He called this system “transduction.” Children using transductive reasoning are not reasoning logically, but rather generalizing from one experience to another, often seeing a cause that isn’t there.


Categorization: Your four-year-old can now classify objects, people, and things by comparing and contrasting what makes them similar and what makes them different. To do this, she has to be able to identify both qualities. Most four-year-olds can recognize approximately two such criteria. The process of categorizing allows your child to create order out of chaos and, in a very positive way, organize small parts of his life. For example, he may identify someone as good, someone as bad, and so on. The capability to categorize demonstrates cognitive growth, as well as emotional and social development.56


Animism: Until the age of four, children think that inanimate objects are alive: the sun, the moon, the clouds, and so on. But at about four, your child will begin to understand that while people are alive, toys are not. As a result, animism is the propensity to assign life to inanimate objects. Correspondingly, your child’s culture and customs can influence his tendency toward animism. For example, certain cultures may attribute qualities of life to inanimate objects, as they do historically in Japan. It is customary for a traditional Japanese garden, for instance, to have particular arrangements of rocks and sand which are often seen as animated; not only living, but also having emotions.



Number: Between three and four years of age, your child will develop vocabulary for comparing and contrasting things, qualities, and quantities. They will compare and contrast size, saying that one thing is smaller than another, or complain that one ice cream cone is larger than another. If they have a piece of candy and you give them another piece, they know that they have more candy than they had before. If they give some of their stash of candy to another child, they realize they have less candy. Further, though qualitative and quantitative information appears in all cultures, it unfolds at various speeds based on the relevance and style of counting in each society. In the East, five-year-olds have the ability to count to twenty or higher, and also understand the difference between size and number amounts.58

By the time your child is five, she can add and subtract using single-digit numbers. Five-year-olds also seem to have an inner knowing or intuition that allows them to create a method for adding and subtracting, by using items such as buttons, stones, fingers, or toes. Then there are those children who simply intuit an answer without knowing how they got there. Once again, a particular culture and its numeral system plays a part in how soon children begin to count. In the United States, children begin to count from one to ten at approximately three; in China it’s quite similar. In the US, a four- or five-year-old can count to twenty, while children in China use a more sophisticated system based on tens and ones. Therefore, the Chinese child surpasses the American child in counting by the age of five.59

According to Paplia et. al in Human Development, your toddler begins to understand five fundamental concepts of counting:60


  1. The 1-to-1 principle: Say only one number-name for each item being counted (“One . . . two . . . three . . .”).
  2. The stable-order principle: Say number-names in a set order (“One, two, three . . .” rather than “Three, one, two . . .”).
  3. The order-irrelevance principle: Start counting with any item, and the total count will be the same.
  4. The cardinality principle: The last number-name used is the total number of items being (If there are five items, the last number-name will be “5.”)
  5. The abstraction principles above apply to any kind of (Seven buttons are equal in number to seven birds.)


Immature Preoperational Thought:

According to Piaget, centration is a limited approach to preoperational thought in which your child concentrates on only one part of an event while ignoring others. That limitation of focus often creates an illogical thought process. Because your three-year-old is engaging in an immature aspect of preoperational thought, he has difficulty decentering, or focusing on more than one aspect of an event simultaneously. This is why centration inhibits your child’s thought process in relation to social and physical interactions. Piaget asserted that your child decenters when he can think about more than one part of an event simultaneously. As a result, centration occurs when your child cannot decenter, and thus can only concentrate on one part of an event, ignoring the rest.61



Piaget stated that conservation is the understanding that two equal amounts or items, based on a particular measure, continue to stay equal even though there is a change in perception, such as an alteration in shape. The only criterion is that nothing is either subtracted or added to the item. Piaget discovered that preschool children did not understand this concept, and that it was only in concrete operations that other types of conservation developed. Piaget’s most well-known study of conservation is the water conservation method, in which water of equal amounts is put in two different sized glasses, one tall and one short. The children are asked if both glasses contain the same amount of water, and inevitably the preschoolers will identify the taller glass as containing more water. When the investigator shows the children that he is pouring the exact same amount of water into the tall glass and the short glass, the preschoolers still maintain the idea that the taller glass holds the most water. This is an example of your three-year-old focusing on one part of a situation while ignoring others, therefore thinking illogically. In a sense, your child is unable to recognize that an activity can be carried out in more than one way. The definition of “irreversibility,” according to Piaget, is the inability to comprehend that an activity can be completed in several possible ways. Finally, Piaget explained that your preoperational child focuses on “successive states,” unable to discern the shift from state to state.62



Piaget tells us that egocentrism is an aspect of the preoperational stage. He defined egocentrism as a form of centration in which your child is unable to take another person’s perspective into consideration. Even though an infant is more egocentric than a toddler, both feel as if the world revolves around them. Piaget believed that egocentrism was one of the reasons why your child might have difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction and have little grasp on cause and effect. A perfect example of egocentricity is when a three-year-old believes that he is responsible for his parents’ divorce.63

Piaget used a format called the “three-mountain task” to study egocentricity. In this experiment, Piaget sat a child at one end of a table and a doll at the other, while on the table he placed three large mounds. Then he asked the child his opinion on how he believed the doll viewed the three mounds. Though preschoolers were unable to give the right answer, they talked about the “mountains” from their point of view. This example demonstrates that a preoperational child is unable to see another’s perspective.64



Piaget felt that egocentrism inhibited empathy, which is the capability to put yourself in another person’s place and understand their feelings. Yet there seems to be a natural inclination toward empathy. If, your ten-month-old baby sees another baby crying, he may try to comfort the other child or start crying himself. By fourteen months, your baby will exhibit comforting behaviors such as hugging or patting a crying baby. By a year and a half, your toddler may offer a crying child her own toy for comfort, or ask you to help if the child is injured. Empathy can be seen all through early childhood development, increasing as your child grows. Ironically, empathy is one of the few things that can be taught, and it is one of the most significant deficits of a bully. However, empathy appears early on in a child whose family of origin discusses emotions and the cause and effect of actions and reactions. My empathic process is a wonderful way to teach empathy to your child, and will enhance her self-esteem and expand her ability to get along with others.65


Piaget’s Theory of Mind

In 1929, Piaget researched the theory of mind, in which he noted that children aged three to six became self-aware of their own thinking, as well as the thinking of others. He concluded that once the theory of mind emerged, it continued to grow all through early childhood, at which time children begin to recognize that when someone succeeds in fulfilling their desire, they are satisfied and even joyful, whereas when they fail, they may be unhappy and even teary-eyed.66


Understanding Thinking

From three to five your child will understand that thought is an interior behavior taking place within his head. Not only that, but he comprehends the difference between reality and imagination, cognizant of the fact that he can hold the thought of one thing while observing another. At this age, your young child is already mindful that if he shuts his eyes and covers his ears with his hands, he is still able to engage in thought about objects, people, and places. He may also assume that if a person is quiet, they are most likely thinking, recognizing that thought is different from sight, speech, touch, or knowledge.

It is not until middle childhood that your child will understand that his mind is constantly thinking, whereas your preschooler views the mind as something that turns on and off. In essence, your preschooler is unaware of the part that language plays in thinking, unable to comprehend that he and others think in language.


The Difference between Fantasy and Reality

From eighteen months until three years of age, your child can participate in imaginative play, communicating to those around him that what he is actually doing is pretending. Nevertheless, there is a thin veil between what is imaginary and what is real, and there are those times where that veil is pierced, blurring the distinctions. Somewhere between four and six years of age, your child will exhibit magical thinking in an effort to understand situations that are not clear or easily explained. Then, there is just the fun of imaginative play in which imaginary friends such as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell and others participate. Interestingly, your child at this stage does in fact understand that he is using his imagination in creating his fantasy play, though leaving the door open to the potential reality of his experience. Your three-year-old can appreciate the concept of a “false belief,” but when he cannot, it is often because of his egocentricity and inability to be “aware of mental representations.”67 At this age and stage, it is sometimes difficult to determine if he is pretending or being sincere, so once again, it is important to know your child.


Deception and Incorrect Belief Systems

Your three-year-old child, according to Piaget, is still unable to distinguish fantasy from reality, because she still is in egocentric thought. By four or five years of age, your child can recognize that she and others can have fantastical thoughts and ideas. The reason she is able to understand this is because she realizes that some children use mental representations that are incorrect. While your three-year-old can’t accept or appreciate that another child or adult thinks differently than she does, with different wants and needs, your four-year-old can. On the other hand, because your four-year-old is less egocentric and has a better grasp of mental representations, she is able to recognize and accept the opinions and belief systems of others. Furthermore, by the time your child is six, she will understand that different people can view similar events differently. Research indicates that children who have high social skills are more capable of identifying false reasoning.68

Since “deception” is the idea of putting an untrue idea into another’s mind, it asks your child to repress what she knows to be true. Nevertheless, between the ages of two and five, your child will be able to participate in deception. The determining factor is the particular kind of deceit that your child is asked to perform. If it is a simple deception, a young child is more likely to succeed. Piaget asserted that your younger child is unable to differentiate between a deception and an error, thus considering that every mistake is a lie. Nonetheless, your three- to six-year-old is better able to recognize the difference between a mistake and a lie, understanding the part that intention plays in falsehoods. By the time your child is five or six, she appreciates the difference between reality and appearances, and now she can see the distinction between what is real and what is not.69


What You Can Do to Positively Affect the Preoperational Stage:


  1. When your child is 2–7 years of age, in Piaget’s preoperational stage, it is important to talk and read All that talking and all that reading keeps building up that associative mass, creating more and more synapses and more and more cognitive connections from which your child can draw.
  2. Remember that even though your child is getting older, he still needs lots and lots of bonding, TLC, touch, and affection. By cuddling and holding, praising and supporting, you can validate your child’s sense of self by letting him know you value him, accept him, and love him unconditionally.
  3. By fostering your child’s sense of self, you are building his strong inner core. It is that resource that will inoculate him against peer pressure and self-doubt. Now he has the confidence to venture beyond his comfort zone, reaching for that next This is how he will learn to problem-solve. By teaching your child that he doesn’t have to be afraid to make mistakes, you are freeing him up to be his best possible self.
  4. In Piaget’s preoperational stage, children should engage in play that is simply imaginative and His environment should be safe and secure, overflowing with color and objects to be manipulated and observed. Since your child is developing the ranges of his representational thinking, it is important to interact with him in games such as peekaboo, hide and seek, hide the doll, etc., always stimulating his perception of the symbolic function, which allows him to imagine and think about people, situations, and things that are not actually present. This is the place for pretend play.
  5. As your child is now thinking logically, beginning to understand the idea of cause and effect, games that stimulate his understanding will encourage his development.
  6. Your preoperational child can categorize and classify things both living and He is beginning to understand the concept of counting and quantity, while learning to make more succinct judgments about spatial relationships. He spends a lot of time in his imagination, playing along with his animism, which thrills and delights him. However, he still has the inability to decenter, and doesn’t understand conservation limited by the idea of irreversibility. Introducing objects and games and interactions that enhance his understanding of conservation will further his development.
  7. He is definitely in an egocentric place, yet has the ability to be empathic. By using my empathic process at this stage, you can actually teach your child empathy. Model empathy for him in the course of your normal day. Also, tell stories and roleplay situations that call for empathy. Finally, use my empathic process to invest your child in the real-life experience of empathy.
  8. Between the ages of three and five, your child’s theory of mind increases so that he becomes cognizant of his own thinking, separating himself from his oneness with Mother and capable of recognizing the difference between what is real and what is fantasy, what is false and what is true. It is at this stage that your child understands the difference between appearance and deception, so that imaginary games that encourage his fantastical play are joyfully received.
  9. Discovery learning is most important at this stage. It involves guiding your child to actively explore and discover things for himself. Because discovery learning is not without structure, it is critical to fill your child’s environment with those things of interest and stimulation that are necessary for his advancement. This is true individual learning. There should also be a focus at this time on play as it corresponds to learning. Learning by discovery, according to Piaget, unfolds naturally in accordance with your child’s biological maturation. Once again, we see the importance of readiness, which includes appropriate stages, concepts, and information. For that reason, concentrate on the process of learning rather than the outcome. Create situations that confront your child with age-appropriate solvable problems. Organize collaborative as well as individual activities that are age-appropriate so that your child can invite a friend and they can stimulate, encourage, motivate, inspire, and learn from one another. Finally, incorporate active methods, as they involve the reconstruction and rediscovery of each problem’s solution.70

III.    Concrete71

Your seven to twelve year old child is in concrete operations. In this stage, your child will be less egocentric, better able to think logically, and have a better grasp on spatial relationships, recognizing cause, and effect. It is in this stage of concrete operations that your child will be able to categorize, make inferences, and display deductive and inductive reasoning. He will also have an understanding of seriation, transitive inference, and class inclusion. Only now can he use numbers efficiently and recognize conservation, he is still however in concrete thinking which creates a horizontal décalage, leaving his logic most obviously, in the present. Piaget states, that moral growth is connected in a very real way to cognitive maturation, this he says happens in two steps, morality of constraint, which you can find in the preoperational stage, and morality of cooperation, which parallels concrete and formal operations. Furthermore, it appears that your child’s social interactions effect his rate of growth, in concrete operations.

Here, though your child is thinking in symbols, he is still organized around the construct of concrete thought, and actions. Now, less egocentric, he can see another person’s point of view. He is also more logical, uses language more effectively, specifically to solve problems. Thinking more logically, your child in concrete operations uses language to effectuate problem solving. For the first time, reality and fantasy become distinct and autonomous. Accordingly, reading opens your child to new ideas, thoughts, situations, and coping skills. By the time your child goes to school, he will be exposed to new rules, and models for cooperation. Subsequently, he will establish new relationships, friends, and cliques that begin at first with informal rules, and regulations, but evolve into a hierarchy of more clearly defined guidelines. As he gets older, this hierarchy gets tighter, and it influences music, clothing choices, behavior, and a sense of personal belonging. It is here, that your child learns about matching his needs with those of others. And, now you will see your child develop either a sense of industry, and self-confidence or inferiority.

This concrete period is the turning point in your child’s cognitive growth, for now he can think logically, with operational thought. He can problem solve in his mind, and try things out in the physical world. More than that, now, he can conserve numbers, weight and mass, while recognizing that quantity is identical though it changes appearance.


What You Can Do To Positively Affect The Concrete Operations Stage:


  1. First and foremost your child needs a lot of bonding, and encouragement during the ups, and downs of concrete By advocating your child, and letting him know that you are there for him no matter what, you will help him adjust to the changes of his physical, cognitive, and emotional world, that are all happening simultaneously.
  2. You are his true North, the one person that can help him stabilize through this period of growth, and change. At this stage your child needs a lot of structure, scaffolding, support, and consistent discipline so that he can mature in a secure manner, adjusting to the day to day challenges with a positive sense of self.
  3. The idea of readiness for learning is particularly important at this period, as it relates to what information should be taught, Piaget tells us that your child should not be given particular learning constructs until he is learning ready, and he has reached the appropriate age for each cognitive stage.
  4. In a sense, your child is now an active learner, as he enters a period of discovery learning.
  5. All learning at this point should be child centered, and discovery Consequently, you become a facilitator, encouraging your child, helping him focus, discover, and construct ideas.
  6. Your child can now learn both collaboratively, and independently, so make learning fun by inviting other children for a play date, and creating experiences that your child can master.
  7. Construct events that contain problems which make your child By creating such disequilibrium, your child will seek balance and try to find a solution.
  8. Observe your child so that you can know what stage he’s in, so that you can create learning models that are age, and stage appropriate.



According to Piaget, your child enters formal operations at about 11 years of age, and will stay in formal operations for the rest of his life. It is in this period that he will learn about abstract, and critical thinking. Further, he will primarily test everyday hypothesis using logical concepts. Gradually, his grasp on abstract thought will increase, and transfer to his understanding of morality, ethical principles, and justice. His firm grasp of logic allows him to think about rules and regulations. He can seek balance in problem solving by using his facility of logic and reason, and consequently, develop a strong sense of self, and desire for independence. By 11 years of age, your child starts to experience self-reflection, thinking about who he is, and his place in the world. His relationships shift in concert with his interests, and social experiences, hence, now, he moves away from single sex relationships, and forms co-ed, as well as opposite sex friendships.


What You Can Do To Positively Affect The Formal Operations Stage:


  1. Education proceeds gradually, and cumulatively so it’s important that you influence your child’s learning by getting involved in his life. That requires you to participate in his schooling, encourage his advancement, and transfer positive reinforcement in conjunction with learning.
  2. Become an active listener so that your child knows that you care about what he By paying attention and hearing what he has to say, you will validate his thoughts, and feelings.
  3. When your teenager realizes that you care about his contributions, he will be more willing to share other information with you.
  4. Your preadolescent, and teenage child, above all else, needs your acceptance, and He is particularly self- conscious, and embarrasses easily. Thus, by expressing your respect for who she is, and what she does, you will encourage her to value, and respect herself. Similarly to the huge transition from 0 to 2, in which talking increases the synaptic connections, your preadolescent, and teenage child, also needs those open lines of communication. Thus, once again, you as a parent are called upon to talk, talk, talk. Freud called this period strum and angst, and Aristotle, the age of insanity. We all can remember the highs, and lows of hormonal changes that your child is experiencing, as he transforms from a child into an adult. Talk to your child about his changing biology, and explain to him, what is going on in his body, and why. By showing your teenager that you understand the biology and psychology of what he’s going through, and that you respect his developing maturity, you will help him stabilize through his enormous physical, mental, and emotional changes.


No two children navigate Piaget’s four cognitive stages at the same rate of speed, and that is because each child’s biological maturation is unique onto himself. It is the combination of his biological maturation, and his relationship with his environment, that will foster his cognitive growth. And though the sequence of Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development are similar for all children, each child still progresses at his own rate of speed.










Chapter 5

1.Newsweek Staff, “Turning on the Motor,” Newsweek, March 13, 2010, accessed December 30, 2018, https://www.newswcom/turning-motor-174928.

2. Ibid.

3. Newsweek Staff, “Cultivating The Mind,” Newsweek, March 14, 2010, , accessed December 30, 2018, https://www.newswcom/cultivating-mind-174976.

4. Diane Papalia et al., Human Development, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2001), 140.

5   Ibid., 140.

6   Ibid., 141.

7   Ibid., 142.

8   Ibid., 144.

9. Anne Underwood, “Hey—Look Out, World, Here I Come,” Newsweek, March 14, 2010, accessed December 30, 2018, https://www.newswcom/ hey-look-out-world-here-i-come-174964.

10. Papalia et , Human Development, 243.

11. Howard Gardner, Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century (New York: Basic Bks., 1999).

12. Papalia et al., Human Development,

13. Goleman, Emotional

14. Goleman, Emotional Intelligence

15. Goleman, Emotional Intelligence

16. Gross, Parental Involvement, 27–28.

17. Stillman, “Why Success Depends More on PersonalityThan Intelligence.” The Inc. Life. January 11, 2017. -depends-more-on-personality-than-intelligence-new-study-shows.html (accessed April 24 2019, 2019).

18. Donald Schuster and Charles E. Gritton, Suggestive Accelerative Learning Techniques (New York, NY: Gordon and Breach, 1989).

19. Diane Papalia et al., Human Development, 33.

20 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 32.

21 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 429.

22 Ibid., 430.

23 “Lawrence Kohlberg Moral Development | Counseling | Pinterest | Kohlberg Moral Development, Morals and Human Development,” Pinterest, accessed December 21, 2018,

24 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 430.

25 Ibid., 430.

26 Ibid., 430.

27 Ibid., 431.

28 Ibid., 430.

29 Ibid., 431–432.

30 Ibid., 431.

31 Ibid., 431.

32 Ibid., 431.

33. Friesen, Sharon. “Bridges to Learning: A Guide to Parent ” Distributed by ERIC Clearinghouse, 1986., page 11.

34. Teale, H. “Toward a Theory of How Children Learn to Read and Write Naturally.” Language Arts 56, no. 6 (1982): 568.

35. Teale, H. “Toward a Theory of How Children Learn to Read and Write Naturally.” Language Arts 56, no. 6 (1982): 556.

36. Snowman, Jack, and Robert Psychology applied to teaching. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company (1986): 63–64.

37. Diane Papalia et al., Human Development, 161.

38 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 161.

39 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 162.

40 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 162.

41. Diane Papalia et al., Human Development, 162.

42. Diane Papalia et al., Human Development, 162–163.

43 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 162.

44 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 166.

45 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 164.

46 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 165.

47 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 166.

48 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 166.

49 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 173–174

50 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 172–173.

51 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 166.

52 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 168.

53 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 171.

54 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 170.

55 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 250.

56 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 253.

57 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 253.

58 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 253.

59 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 254.

60 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 254.

61 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 254–255

62 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 255–256.

63 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 256.

64. Diane Papalia et al., Human Development, 254.

65. Diane Papalia et al., Human Development, 256–257.

66 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 257.

67 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 257–258.

68 Diane E. Papalia et al., Human Development, 258.

69.Diane Papalia et al., Human Development, 260.

70. Sam McLeod, “The Preoperational Stage of Cognitive Development,” Simply Psychology, accessed December 21, 2018, html.

71. Saul McLeod, “Concrete Operational Stage,” Simply Psychology, January 01, 1970, accessed December 21, 2018, crete-operational.html.