THE MOST CRUCIAL YEARS IN A CHILD’S MENTAL DEVELOPMENT
Do you remember your seventh birthday? More likely, your folks made a big deal of it. If not, surely you know a parent now who is clamoring to make her son’s seventh birthday the best and biggest birthday celebration ever.
This isn’t because seven rhymes with heaven, or that it is even a lucky number. There is an old saying that says “Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you a man.” There is much to be said about the old adage.
This is because the first seven years of a child’s life is the most crucial years of his life. While most adults would dismiss a baby, thinking that baby “doesn’t understand the world” yet, the brain development of a child from years 0-7 is perhaps the biggest leap in cognitive growth than any other time in his life.
For children, the first seven years is also particularly tough, filled with emotional ups and downs as they deal with different developmental milestones all at once. By the age of seven, children would have gone through two out of four stages of cognitive development and three out of eight stages of social development.
For cognitive development, they would have gone through Sensorimotor between infancy up to 2 years old where learning comes from sensory perceptions and motor activities. As well as Pre-operational development from ages 2-7 wherein thinking occurs through symbols and language. Memory and imagination are strongly developed during this stage.
In terms of social development, the child would’ve experienced three namely Trust Vs Mistrust wherein he will learn to trust those who care for him, Autonomy vs Doubt wherein a child will venture out and assert their own will, and lastly, Initiative vs Guilt wherein a child develops courage and independence.
The mental and emotional leap on the first seven years should be celebrated indeed because this is when the child will develop important skills he will need later on in life. If you ignore these years, you will never raise the child the way you want to, especially not in the teenage years.
While most parents think they “lose” their kids to puberty and teenage-dom, the truth is, if the first seven years were not well established in a child’s life, they would’ve lost them right there and then.