Sunday, February 05, 2006

Yet Another Life-Time Skill

The semester before I started clinical classes in nursing school, I was required to take a class in Child Development. At the time, I could see the perfect logic in requiring such a class, as we would be heading into Pediatrics the next semester, where we would learn how to provide care for sick children. I also expected that the material would help me someday be a better mother. What I didn’t appreciate, though, is that understanding and appreciating developmental milestones is a life-time skill that serve one in unexpected ways.

The instructor used a powerful technique to help us remember developmental stages. She invited mothers and their young children to the class for the mother to talk and for the child to demonstrate what was unique about each age group. We started out with a mother and an infant, then at the next class, a mother with a toddler, progressing finally to a mother with her school-age child. Now, some 40 years after the course, the only mother-child pair that I remember is the mother with the toddler (FYI, for those not versed in Child Development, toddlerhood is from the age of walking to 2-3 years.) And what I remember best about that woman and her busy toddler is that she was constantly watching out for his safety as he teetered on the edge of self-injury in our un-child-proofed classroom.

I’ve been intrigued to note that I’m much more attentive to my grandson’s developmental stages than I was to my children’s. It’s been 30+ years since they were little children; now I relish and savor each new level of Johan’s intellect, personality and physical accomplishments to a depth that eluded me when I was the mother in the picture. Maybe I was distracted by all of the other pressures/demands besides motherhood that I had during those years. But maybe I was also preoccupied with my own changes during that time, doing my own major developmental work as an adult.

Which brings me to the point: Understanding and appreciating all of life’s developmental stages is rewarding study. If you haven’t had the chance, I encourage you to consider doing some reading or even a formal class studying developmental stages through the life-span. If there is an age group that seems to challenge or anger you, zero in on understanding what’s going on in their developmental stage. Sometimes you can better understand a person’s confusing behavior by having the insight that (s)he simply hasn’t accomplished appropriate developmental tasks.

Having that background will help you develop the patience and creativity to fully enjoy not only your own life, but also to better understand the little and big people that you know and/or love.


At 2/09/2006 10:41 AM, Blogger Sara said...

I remember those kinds of classes being offered when I was in college, but I was too busy changing majors to have time to take elective courses. But it's intriguing, and I can still take one at the local college. Maybe I'd understand my younger sister a bit, seriously.

At 2/10/2006 6:10 AM, Blogger Rosellen said...

Sara, I'm certain that you'd find studying teen developmental issues helpful in understanding her. Each stage has its own set of unique problems, but I think that adolescence is the most confusing stage to live through and can be confusing for the people who live with the teen.

At 2/11/2006 11:57 AM, Blogger Sara said...

I certainly know what kind of issues I had at that age, which wasn't all that far away, but a refresher course might not hurt ;)

My mom and I actually discussed this topic the other day too, and both agreed wholeheartedly that we'd never want to go through our teenage years again. Ever. Never. Nope. Uh uh.


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