The First Seven Years

January 19, 2012 at 10:13 am (Attachment Parenting, General)

This post is in honor of Elia, who turned 7 years old last week. Seven years ago, my life changed for the incredible. Seven years ago I found the passion for which I’d been searching. Seven years ago, an amazing person came into this world, and it’s a brighter place because of her.

Seven years is a significant milestone in child development. Many psychologists divide childhood into various stages of  different types of development, and they all seem to agree on the seven year change. Which, incidentally, can be a difficult age for kids, filled with emotional ups and downs, as they are experiencing several kinds of developmental milestones at once. By age seven…

Children have gone through 2 out of 4 stages of cognitive development.

  • Sensorimotor (ages 0-2) in which learning comes from sensory perceptions and motor activities.
  • Preoperational (ages 2-7) in which thinking occurs through symbols and language. Memory and imagination are strongly developed during this stage. Jean Piaget’s stages of cognitive development

Children have gone through 3 out of 8 stages of social development.

  • Trust vs. Mistrust (ages 0-18m) is about learning trust in those who care for you. Being able to trust caregivers means being able to trust the world.
  • Autonomy vs. Doubt (ages 18m-3y) is about children venturing out and asserting their will. A child in this stage develops self-sufficient behaviors and a strong sense of autonomy.
  • Initiative vs Guilt. (ages 3-6) is about the development of courage and independence. A child builds upon her sense of autonomy by beginning and completing actions for a purpose. Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development)

Children have gone through all six stages of attachment with a primary caregiver.

  • Being With (age 0-1). The most basic level of attachment, this age is about engagement. Engaging the senses, touching, holding, cuddling, feeding, eye contact, smiling, giving nonverbal cues.
  • Being Close (age 1-2).  Realizing what we have in common. We understand how we are similar, our commonalities, shared interests. Gordon Neufeld calls this stage “samesies.”
  • Being on the Same Side (age 3-4). We come to develop a sense of belonging and loyalty. A child knows, “I belong here with you. We are together and are on the same side.”
  • Being Held Dear (age 4-5). At this level of attachment, a child feels significant. “I matter to you. I have an important place here.”
  • Being Loved (age 5-6). Children understand that beyond being the same and being held dear, they are loved. It comes from the heart; to be loved is a feeling of great emotion. Kids need to feel loved above all.
  • Being Known (age 6-7). The final stage of a child’s attachment is when things get personal. At this point, a child feels trust, significance, love, commonalities, belonging…that is, they feel close enough to divulge deeply personal information. They want to share their secrets, their fears, their anger, their hopes, and their dreams. “To tell you everything is to know me.” Gordon Neufeld’s Six Stages of Attachment

There’s a lot to be said for the adage, “Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.” So much brain development occurs in the first seven years of life! The neural pathways that form create a foundation for lifelong behavior, learning, and relationships.

Elia, thank you for these first seven years! Thank you for giving my life new purpose, and thank you for shining light in this world.

Two days.

One.

Two.

Two and a half.

Three.

Four. And the teeth started coming out.

Five. Glasses and a couple of loose top teeth.

Five and a half. Teeth are falling out left and right.

By the time kindergarten started, eight teeth lost.

Seven. What a sweetheart, so grown up! Happy birthday baby girl, though not a baby anymore for sure!

1 Comment

  1. lily said,

    beautiful pictures of your girl 🙂

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