Growth and Development 

Human development is a lifelong process of physical, behavioral, cognitive, and emotional growth and change. In the early stages of life—from babyhood to childhood, childhood to adolescence, and adolescence to adulthood—enormous changes take place. Throughout the process, each person develops attitudes and values that guide choices, relationships, and understanding.
Sexuality is also a lifelong process. Infants, children, teens, and adults are sexual beings. Just as it is important to enhance a child’s physical, emotional, and cognitive growth, so it is important to lay foundations for a child’s sexual growth. Adults have a responsibility to help children understand and accept their evolving sexuality.
Each stage of development encompasses specific markers. The following developmental guidelines apply to most children in each age group. However, each child is an individual and may reach these stages of development earlier or later than other children the same age. When concerns arise about a specific child’s development, parents or other caregivers should consult a doctor or other child development professional.

How Well Do You Know Your Child? 

Living with a child means nurturing, teaching, talking and listening. It means spending time together. Still, no matter how much time we spend with our children there are usually things we don’t know about them. Here are some questions to help you learn more about your child’s ideas and feelings.  After you’ve answered them, ask your child these questions—just a few at a time if your child is very young—and compare the results. Remember to listen to your child’s ideas without correcting or criticizing. And remember it works both ways. Your child might want to ask you some questions!  Most importantly have fun!

1. What really makes your child angry?
2. Who is your child’s best friend?
3. What color would he/she like his/her room to be?
4. Who is your child’s hero?
5. What is your child’s favorite food?
6. What embarrasses your child most?
7. What is your child most afraid of?  What are some other fears?
8. What is your child’s favorite subject in school?  Most difficult subject?
9. What are some things he/she likes and dislikes about school?
10. How does he/she feel other people see him/her?
11. If your child could buy anything in the world, what would it be?
12. What is his/her favorite TV show?
13. What would your child most like to change about the family?
14. What accomplishment does your child feel most proud of?
15. What has been the biggest disappointment in your child’s life?
16. What is your child’s favorite thing to do on weekends and holidays?
17. Does your child feel too big/too small for his/her age?
18. What gift does your child most cherish?
19. What person outside the family has most influenced your child’s life?
20. What is your child’s favorite time to do homework?
21. Does your child feel he/she is treated fairly at home?
22. What about you would your child most like to change?

Tuning in to Your Teens

What you can expect: 

Teenagers will question values and rules. This is a basic and healthy part of adolescent development.
Annoying habits such as refusal to wash, poor manners, and untidy dress are normal ways in which teenagers try to assert themselves. 
Teenagers have a very strong sense of fairness. They will become judgmental if adults or peers do not do what they think is fair.
Teenagers will sleep late on weekends and during school breaks. Most young people need more rest during this stage and too little sleep can result in moodiness. 
As teenagers become more outspoken and independent, many parents feel less important. It’s OK! You are not losing your kid. It is normal for teens to need distance from their family and closeness with their friends.
What You Can Do
When setting and enforcing rules, make sure each rule is reasonable, clear, and enforceable. The risks and consequences of breaking the rules should be made clear along with exactly what is not allowed.
Recognize that their appearance is their own problem. Set strict standards only when it’s very important to you.
Try to be cheerful. Ignore teen moods as much as possible.  
Praise your teenagers when they do well.
When you hear, “I’m the only one who has to ...” check out the rules with other parents. You aren’t the meanest parent in the world!
Recognize the difference between giving advice and listening. You may think you’re being helpful, but if your kids think you’re lecturing or nagging, they will tune you out. Ask, “May I make a suggestion about that?” If they agree, then you’ll really have their attention.
If you are at the end of your rope, call the PIRC 24-hour helpline at 1-800-342-7472. Someone will listen to your concerns and help you find services for yourself and your family.


Initiating conversations about growth, development, and sexuality may be difficult for some parents because they did not grow up in an environment where the subject was discussed. Some parents may be afraid they do not know the right answers or feel confused about the proper amount of information to offer.  
To help, here are 10 tips to:

1. First, encourage communication by reassuring your children that they can talk to you    about anything.

2. Take advantage of teachable moments. A friend’s pregnancy, news article, or a TV show can help start a conversation. 

3. Listen more than you talk. Think about what you’re being asked. Confirm with your child that what you heard is in fact what he or she meant to ask.

4. Don’t jump to conclusions. The fact that a teen asks about sex does not mean they are having or thinking about having sex. 

5. Answer questions simply and directly. Give factual, honest, short, and simple answers. 

6. Respect your child’s views. Share your thoughts and values and help your child express theirs. 

7. Reassure young people that they are normal—as are their questions and thoughts. 

8. Teach your children ways to make good decisions about sex and coach them on how to get out of risky situations.

9. Admit when you don’t know the answer to a question. Suggest the two of you find the answer together on the Internet or in the library.

10. Discuss that at times your teen may feel more comfortable talking with someone other than you. Together, think of other trusted adults with whom they can talk.

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