Encouraging Child Development

You don't have to be a child development expert to give a child a great start in life. In fact, it's surprisingly simple – and fun – to support a child's development. The early years of a child's life are very important for development. Healthy development means that children grow to their full potential.

Children are learning through everything they do. They may be practicing more than one area of development doing just one activity. A child may be learning to crawl (physical), or stack blocks (intellectual). They may be learning to be comfortable with strangers (social). Or they may express feelings of independence (emotional) or become aware of adult disapproval (moral).

Areas of development that you will notice include:

Intellectual development
Children learn ideas and thoughts to make sense of the world and organize the brain. They develop the abilities to solve problems, read and explore.
Social development
They know and understand how to interact with others, developing skills like playing with others, following rules and taking turns.
Emotional development
Children consider their own feelings and how to express them. They cry and calm down, watching and copying emotions.
Moral development
They perceive right and wrong and alter behavior according to that understanding. They can lie, be kind to others or tell when others have negative actions.
Fine motor development
They develop skills involving small muscle movement and control, like holding materials, turning knobs and snapping buttons.
Gross motor development
Skill development includes large muscle movement and control, like balancing on one foot, running or sitting.
Language development
Children learn ways to express oneself and to understand what others communicate. They can listen, talk and point.

A child's experiences are the most important for growing and learning. Providing your child with positive experiences can make a world of difference even though you can't always see it. Having safe and loving relationships and spending time with family – playing, singing, reading and talking – are very important. Proper nutrition, exercise and rest also can make a big difference. Things like showing your love, caring for your child's basic needs, stimulating all the senses, encouraging new challenges, taking care of yourself, finding good childcare and playing can strengthen the development of a child.

Last Updated: Sep 30, 2016