Understanding Your Child’s Development

Understanding Your Child’s Development

Does anyone else feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of information out there about how to raise your children? It often feels impossible to make the right decision. What are the terrible twos? How should we be potty training? How should be manage tantrums? What happens if we see the onset of anxiety in our children? Sound we teach them to share or will it come naturally? Do we really need to worry about all this stuff or will it just happen naturally?

Well, unfortunately I am not here to give you ‘the right answer’, what I can offer though is a friendly, non-judgmental environment, where I can equip you with knowledge of what developmental milestones children are going through at different ages. From there we can generate ideas and open discussions on how best to deal with elements of childhood. All this is based on psychology and existing literature in the area which is my background, but I also welcome parents own experiences which should be shared and discussed too.

Psychologist and psychology is so often associated with atypical development and only used when we think there might be something ‘wrong’ that we forget that actually most our knowledge and experience is with (what we call) typical populations. I got my PhD in psychology, in 2011, where I focused on how children learn words, and other aspects of language. I then worked on a n umber of projects including one with individuals diagnosed or at risk of developing autism, looking at their brain activity before and after interventions. I’ve worked in sixth form colleges supporting the students who needed a little bit more help with social aspects of going to college and then preparing them for life after college. Since 2014 I have been teaching developmental psychology at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as supervising Masters and PhD projects on a range of topics including: using rhythm to help support reading development, postnatal-depression and social media, and discovering the music of individuals on the autism spectrum in collaboration with the Birmingham conservatoire. I absolutely love what I do. I love teaching people about child development, but also being asked questions I’ve never thought of before! These very questions are what builds us as humans- we want to know more, so we research and create or discover new things.

I am a strong believer in the parenting instinct, but I also believe that we have become so overwhelmed by the internet ‘wealth’ of knowledge that actually we can lose sight of how we want to bring our children up. It is individual choice, and it should remain that way. But I really want parents to have all the tools they need to make those decisions. What I can offer is a better understanding of how children change, how they think, what their brain is doing and so on. All these elements interact to make a fascinating little human being!

Here is an example: nightmares. So many parents struggle with this stage, they want to help but aren’t sure how! Did you know what that the age of onset for nightmares is approximately the same as that for imagination? Makes sense now you know it doesn’t it? But might that affect the way you approach your child’s nightmares, or how you help them understand or deal with them?

At age two children’s brains go through drastic changes, they are cutting synapses right, left and centre- effectively getting rid of bits they don’t need to know. Language is a great example here, by age two if a child hasn’t heard a sound in the languages he or she is learning, they cut that sound out of their repertoire effectively become ear blind to it. Making these ‘cuts’ makes them quite volatile at times, the world is a crazy and ever hanging place for them! Interestingly teenagers brains go through similar changes (explains a lot doesn’t it?).

On Saturday I am hosting my first workshop on Understanding Child Development in Cheltenham. We will be focusing on ages 2 two to five years. I will start off with some information, including activities aimed at increasing our understanding of how our little humans think and how this changes during this period. We will then have a number of activities and discussion opportunities as a group, including generating ideas of how to tackle difficult periods or behaviours you might be facing or be worried about facing in the future. If you’re interested in attending grab your ticket here. 

A Guest Blog from Katerina Draper

About Katerina

Katerina is a Psychologist, graduate of the University of Birmingham, whose PhD and ongoing research has focused on child development, predominantly language development in children and Autism. She has a range of experience including lecturing, being a school governor, additional support teacher, tutor and working with early years in nursery settings. She recently accepted a post at the University of Gloucestershire. During her maternity leave she set up Morphosis Education, an educational consultancy specialising in supporting children,  their families and wider network through potential developmental disorder diagnosis and intervention. She aims to address the problematic waiting times often faced by children who are suspected of needing additional support. Morphosis offers a range of services including assessments for children who may require additional support, short and long term 1:1 work with children, families and school, bespoke school training  programmes, and events aimed to help increase the reach and use of up to date research in developmental psychology for all those interested. You can find Morphosis on Facebook or visit their website.

*Katerina is a member of the Cheltenham MumBoss Club – this post is not endorsed.


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