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Childhood and young adulthood phases Childhood and young adulthood phases
by Joseph Gatt
2020-07-03 08:42:43
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I'll save you some time. Very roughly sketching the different phases children and young adults go through.

Children ages 0-6

-Need to be under constant adult supervision.

-No concept of danger (can climb ladders and fall, can jump around and fall). In sum, they might take risks by moving around, touch dangerous things and so on.

yoadu001_400-No clear concept of what food is. A big mistake parents make is to identify what the child likes and keep feeding them the same dish over and over. The idea between ages 0-6 is offer a variety of food, as likes and dislikes tend to evolve very quickly. Note: I was lucky enough to grow up in Socialist Algeria ages 2-8, and as there were meat shortages I got to try a lot of vegetables, which grew into a lifelong love for a lot of vegetables.

-No dexterity. Don't expect children ages 0-6 to be able to handle and manipulate objects like pencils, pens, scissors, or anything really.

-Difficulties recognizing people. Children ages 0-6 often don't know (and don't care) who they are dealing with. One mistake parents make is to spend so much time with their children (hoping the children will eventually get to know them) when such “overbearness” tends to lead to emotional dependence more than anything.

-Very short attention spans. That's why children that age love cartoons, especially the classics. 3 minutes is pretty much all their attention can handle.

-Don't mind repetition. They could watch the same cartoons, listen to the same songs, sing the same songs over, and over and over and they never stop!

-Anger and morbid emotions scare them (really freak them out!). Children that age like to live in a fantasy world where everyone laughs and is happy.

Children ages 6-13

-They start developing a sense of recognizing people. They know who their uncles and aunts are, who their parents' friends are, who the relatives are and so on.

-People are either “kind” or “mean”. More sophisticated gossip starts developing around age 11. Before age 11, children tend not to attribute personality traits to the people they are surrounded by.

-Very “weak” sense of identity. National identity, tribal identity, religious identity, social class identity and so on starts developing around age 11. Children might be able to identify flags and geographic zones and currency and so on, but often don't understand what “Christian” or “Jewish” or “American” or “Italian” means.

-Authority scares them. Children 6-13 start developing a sense that they are “under control” and that they are under the orders of their parents and teachers. And they tend to try everything not to upset their parents and teachers, even when it involves telling blatant lies (about doing homework, washing up etc.)

-Habit formation very difficult. If your 11 year old child does his/her homework for a week, don't expect them to keep the habit without supervision (a mistake a lot of parents make is stop checking homework and assume their child has a permanent habit of doing their homework).

-Longer attention spans, but usually can't watch anything above 20 minutes or focus for more than 20 minutes. Notice how they start fidgeting when that Disney movie, movie or cartoon gets too long.

-Tend to associate “heroes” with “high emotional outbursts.” That is to them, if a sports star, politician or event stirs up high emotions in the household, they will look up to that “hero.”

Teenagers 13-18

-Big one: to them, anyone who's on TV is a VIP. MTV stars are VIPs, stars that get hundreds of millions of views on YouTube are VIPs (or idols). To them, the world is divided in two categories: family, friends and school friends, and idols or VIPs.

-Teenagers believe idols are perfect and can do no harm. They also believe idols are eternal, and examples to follow. They don't understand their parents when they're told Kanye West “has a low IQ” or Nirvana and Kurt Cobain are “trashy drug addicts who make noise.” To them, if they're on TV and get millions of views on YouTube, they're perfect.

-Start defying authority. Children around the age of 13 start saying “no” to a lot of the orders their parents give them. They could refuse to dress up, could refuse to wash up, could refuse to do their homework, could reject their parents' recommendation not to hang out with certain people.

-They want their decisions to be taken into consideration. This is where good parenting comes in. If teenagers get granted certain wishes, they will tend to agree to those wishes in exchange for certain prohibitions. They might want a set of drums (or music instruments) or an expensive pair of shoes or any “status symbol” in their school world (I'll get to this in a second.) So in exchange for those expensive shoes from that particular brand, you do your homework, and don't hang out with Mike and his gang.

-Schools have “status symbols.” Status symbols could be particular fashion brands, particular backpack brands, particular stationary brands, some accessories, listening to certain music bands and so on. Such status symbols are also present on social media. Of course, “beauty” is often a status symbol among women, so female teenagers will tend to watch their hair, makeup and wasteline, and can become “bestial” if their mothers impose a certain haircut or forbid certain accessories.

-Warning: at some schools, drugs, tattoos, piercings and other destructive items are “status symbols.” So watch out if at your children's schools kids are getting piercings, tattoos or engaging in destructive behavior, and change schools if necessary.

-Important note (I almost forgot). Teenagers like to have “their own secrets” and tend to like to pursue hobbies or things that (they think) no one knows about. Maybe they are in love with someone and want that to remain secret. Maybe they secretly listen to a pop band (or something) and want no one to find out. Sometimes (for dudes) it's watching porn that they do secretly (and they freak out that someone's going to find out). Sometimes it's just this silly game they like to play and want that to remain a sacro-saint secret. Advice to parents: if you find out, act like you saw nothing (unless it's something destructive).

-Finally, teenagers often have a very vague notion of money, and have no idea how to budget. They often don't realize their parents don't have unlimited amounts of money, often have this vague notion that “money grows on trees” and, if not carefully monitored, can spend huge sums of “useless items” (like spending 1,000 dollars for a baseball card or something).

Tweens (ages 18-30)

-Finally, ages 18-30. This is when tweens gradually realize that “idols” and VIPs are not that perfect. This is when they realize NBA stars and pop idols can't even spell properly. This is when they gradually realize that life is not about “status symbols” but about “finding happiness.”

-Unfortunately, tweens still believe in status symbols, but the status symbols tend to be more diverse, more subtle, more implicit. Status symbols could be living in a certain district, owning a certain brand of car, going to certain restaurants, wearing certain fashion brands, working at certain companies, going to certain universities and so on.

-But, unlike teens, tweens also tend to downplay status symbols. That is there's this strange thing where tweens like to own status symbols, but discard everyone else's status symbols.

-In today's world, tweens usually belong to these “social categories” in the Western world: the environmentalists (those who want to be in harmony with nature, go vegan, eco-friendly and so on). Then there are the “techies” (those who believe technology is super important and own a lot of technological gadgets and so on). Then there are the “conservative religious nationalists” who believe in traditional values (nuclear families, going to Church, saluting the flag, faithful marriages and so on). Then there are the “hedonists” (those who like to eat, drink, party, have lots of sex and so on). Then there are the “quiet ones” (those who tend to live alone and reclusively, stick to their solitary hobbies, don't attach importance to social life).

-The stereotype goes like this: the eco-friendlies (or hipsters as they are known) tend to multiply sex partners. The “techies” (or geeks as they are known) tend to avoid romantic relationships. There's some truth to that, but it's not an exact science. “Vegans” indeed tend to be “sluts”, but there are many exceptions to that rule.

-Either way, tweens will negotiate their identity. Either they will build strong foundations for their “hipster” lifestyle, or strong foundations for their “techie” lifestyle, or strong foundations for their “conservative” lifestyle. Or, if the foundations for their lifestyle are weak, they could shift from one to the other (from hipster to Church-going for example, or from Church-going to hipster).

So much more I could say, but I'll save that for next time. 

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