Child Growth and Development

The first years of life are a time of rapid physical, social, emotional and intellectual development for a child. The early years are critical to a child’s development.

As a parent, guardian or caregiver, you know your child best and can see and identify possible developmental concerns. The earlier concerns are identified the more you can do to help your child reach their full potential.

Early experiences influence the way children learn, think, and behave for the rest of their lives.

How to know if your child is developing well

As a parent or guardian, you may be wondering whether or not your child is developing appropriately for his or her age. To find out more about your baby’s development, go through the checklist on the age-appropriate Looksee Checklist (formerly the Nipissing District Developmental Screen). You will need to register once per child to receive the screens.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s growth and development, be sure to contact your family doctor or a public health nurse.

What can I do to support my child’s development?

Engage in play: Play gives your child a chance to develop physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. Play activities teach your child skills that are important for success in school and later on in life. They learn how to:

  • share
  • work in groups
  • build their self esteem
  • develop language skills
  • develop problem solving skills

Encourage your child to explore the world around them, and also become involved during their play activities. Remember – play comes in many forms. Some parents value the use of toys while others value the involvement of their child in family routines, such as making meals.

Teach children to eat healthy: Nutrition is the basis for healthy child growth and development. When children’s nutritional needs are met, they are better able to focus and learn. Healthy eating gives children with the energy and essential nutrients they need for growth and development.

Attend parent and child programs: You and your child can benefit from many of the parent and child programs in Perth County. These programs let you and your child interact with other children in play activities. You can also connect with other parents and early childhood service providers.

For information about local programs, Perth Care for Kids provides the EarlyON calendar of activities.

Emotional Development

Children, like adults, have feelings and emotions. Happiness, sadness, fear, anger and excitement are only a few feelings that children will experience. Young people often have difficulty expressing their feelings and as a result research has shown this can affect their behaviour.

The ability to deal with feelings, especially negative ones, plays a key role in being able to get along with others. Parents, caregivers and teachers need to help children understand and learn acceptable ways to express their feelings.

Before facing this challenge it’s important for adults to understand and express their own feelings.

Here are some suggestions to help children to express their feelings …

  • let children describe their feelings in their own words
  • listen to their words in an accepting way, do not judge
  • provide children with appropriate words to help them describe their feelings
  • talk to your children about their different feelings when they occur
  • use favourite characters in storybooks to discuss feelings. Relate the character’s feelings to the child’s feelings
  • be a positive role model when expressing your own feelings
  • talk out loud about your own feelings
  • create an environment that allows a child to express both negative and positive feelings
  • be patient, children need time to develop a healthy expression of feelings

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