As children grow up, there are obvious changes, physically and in the way they behave. But significant changes are also happening inside them. It effects in the way they think, the way they feel, how they understand and how they cope with life.
These inside changes fall roughly into 3 stages, and correspond to different age groups for the 3 to 11 age range. These stages can give us important clues as to the different ways a child is likely to cope with stress.
In this phase, the child is still in the grip of a simple but powerful way of seeing the world in which all kinds of magical and impossible things are quite accepted as reality.
Added to this, the child is likely to think in black and white. For example, something is either very good or terrible. Plus they have not grown out of the view of the world revolving around themselves, and don't see things from another persons point of view. Stressful events are very painful to this group, because they have so little thinking resource to help them.
Now the child is beginning to use reasoning and memory to help work out what is really going on. At this time children are very proud of their achievements and feel very bad if they don't get the praise they expect.
Sometimes, the strain of keeping up with the new tasks is just too much. At this point, the child will collapse into more baby-like behaviour where they need support and encouragement.
This is the time when children feel more confident in their knowledge and abilities. They can use logic and reason to understand the world and make predictions about other people's behaviour.
The older child is less likely to be in touch with their more emotional side and so are not so good at identifying underlying worries (see Inside Stress). Friends become all important, and girls and boys divide off into same sex groups, where opinions and serious pronouncements about every topic can be safely voiced.
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