Go The Distance

by | Oct 13, 2022 | KidZone, Stephanie Holmberg

In the first 18 years of a child’s life, they will go through more mental and physical changes than at any other time in their lives.

Let’s follow a typical child’s change timeline:   

1.       In the first year of life, children have 100 billion neurons (roughly the number of stars in the Milky Way) more than at any other time in their lives.  They double their weight in just one year. 

2.     By the age of one and two, they understand roughly 70 words and they learn to walk. 

3.     At the age of 3 and 4, they have about one quadrillion connections between their brain cells (twice as many as an adult). 

4.     By kindergarten/first grade, they are learning to read, tying their shoes and understanding humor. 

5.     At Grades 2 & 3, they begin to categorize information and understand different points of view.   

6.     In the fourth and fifth grades, their attention span increases up to 45 minutes and the average girl begins puberty. 

7.     In the sixth grade, the brain undergoes a rapid growth of nerve cells and synapses similar to the first years of life. 

8.     In the seventh & eighth grades boys begin puberty and children gain 50% of their ideal adult weight. 

9.     The grade 9/10 years we will see the majority of kids develop acne as a result of hormonal changes. 

10.  The eleventh grade sees many teens driving a car legally. 

11.  During the 18th year, your child takes on an adult appearance, but the brain (prefrontal cortex) is still developing and will continue to do so for another 5+ years. 

(Info from “It’s Just a Phase So Don’t Miss It, by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy) 

Now that’s a lot of change!

As parents, it’s our job to help them navigate these 18 years with safety and love.  This means, getting into the trenches with them and discovering their world.  Children need parents who understand and are willing to process these feelings and changes without shame.   

 Regardless of what phase your child is at, the way we respond to these changes and how we meet these basic needs will create a foundation for future relationships.  We want our children to have healthy, productive lives and the start of this is by being there at each stage of life, showing them the way and patiently walking beside them, even when the path is rocky.

Ephesians 6:4 says, “Parents, don’t be hard on your children.  Raise them properly.  Teach them and instruct them about the Lord.”  (CEV) 

No matter what phase of life your child is at, there are always going to be challenges.  How we respond in these growth phases matter.  A child will become angry when we are impatient or trivialize their concerns.   

Remembering that from 0 to 18 years old, children’s bodies are going through many physiological changes that often are reflected in their behaviours.  Knowledge is power when you understand what phase of life they are in.  Don’t react but respond with understanding.  Show up day after day with tender, lovingkindness.  Point them to God’s truth about His purpose and plan for their lives.   Pray for them and with them.  Allow them to express what they think and feel without interrupting.  Gently direct them along the right path and you will have built a strong foundation for a lifetime.