I don’t think any parent I know would say, ‘I’ve got this whole parenting thing down. I don’t need any help. Nothing surprises me, I know it all.’ If you know a parent like that, send them my way. I want ALL their tips and wisdom!
I think far more often I hear about parents constantly wanting to be better parents. Because they know they need help; they know they can’t do this alone; and they know at every phase they’ll face something new about their kid. And ‘new’ is unknown territory and sometimes scary.
So if kids are constantly changing and we’re constantly learning more and more about who they are, then wouldn’t it be nice to at least have a baseline to return to when you feel lost? Something that you know is true for children at that specific age that you can resort to?
The ‘Just a Phase’ Project from Parent Cue has done just that. They have spent hundreds of hours researching, interviewing counselors, teachers, and ministry staff so the average parent can understand their kid better.
They define a phase as, “a time frame in a kid’s life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future.”
Here is what they say about each phase, 0-12th grade:
0 – 1 YEARS The “I Need You Now.” phase – what matters most is you show up. To feed them, change their diaper, rock them to sleep.
1 – 2 YEARS The “I Can Do It.” phase – what matters most is it will be messy and they will be slow but they’re developing confidence for the next phase.
3 – 4 YEARS The “Why?” phase – what matters most is knowing how things happen.
K – 1ST GRADE The “Look at Me.” phase – what matters most is they want your undivided attention, your focus, and your approval.
2ND – 3RD GRADE The “Sounds Like Fun!” phase – what matters most is they aren’t especially needy, but they’re still kids: impressionable, enthusiastic, and excited about what you are excited about.
4TH – 5TH GRADE The “I’ve Got This.” phase – what matters most is letting them know you see their potential and believe in it.
6TH GRADE The “Who Cares” phase – what matters most is amid all the emotions now is the time to lean in even more closely. Keep up the chase.
7TH – 8TH GRADE The “Yeah…I Know.” phase – what matters most is encouraging their process while remembering it’s their process and they know it.
9TH GRADE The “This is Me Now.” phase – what matters most is to listen and pay attention. Know them and know where they are finding acceptance.
10TH GRADE The “Why Not?” phase – what matters most is that you understand what they need right now. Not past experience or future orientation.
11TH GRADE The “Just Trust Me” phase – what matters most is you help them prove the ways they can be trusted.
12TH GRADE The “What’s Next?” phase – what matters most is to focus on “next: few months”, not the “next: rest of your life”. They’re legally adults, but not adults, really. Your job isn’t over!
Check out the links below for more helpful phase resources!
– Liz, LH Kids Director