Developmental Tasks


Birth – 1 Month

• Sleeps 20 hours a day
• Crying – main form of communication (fosters early interaction)
• Begins to have distinct facial expressions
• Moves around more
• Focuses both eyes together
• Can detect smells
• Sensitive to touch
• Uses reflexes
• Focuses on source of sound

2 – 3 Months

• Visual and oral exploration
• Cries, coos, and grunts
• Emotional distress
• Smiles at a face (social smiling)
• Imitates some movements and facial expressions
• Begins to realize he/she is a separate person from others
• Can be comforted by a familiar adult
• Can respond positively to touch

4 – 6 Months

• Babbling
• Feeds 3-5 times a day
• Control of head and arm movements
• Recognizes parents
• Distinguishes familiar people
• Pays attention to own name
• Reaches, grasps, and puts objects in mouth
• Laughs

7 – 9 Months

• Sits without support
• Crawls
• Emotional attachment to parents
• Separation anxiety
• Distinguishes between living and non-living objects
• Aware that objects exist even when out of sight (object permanence)

10 – 12 Months

• Controls legs/feet
• Can stand
• Responds to simple commands
• Responds to own name
• Throws objects
• Mimics simple actions
• Says first real word

1 – 1 ½ Years

• Walks unaided
• Feeds himself/herself
• Obeys commands
• Repeats words
• Understands many words, simple phrases, and directions

1 ½ – 2 years

• Runs
• Toilet training
• Vocabulary of more than 200 words
• Temper tantrums
• Does opposite of what is told
• Expresses negative feelings
• Plays by himself/herself and initiates his/her own play
• Begins to show pride and pleasure at new accomplishments

2 – 3 Years

• Can jump
• Uses short sentences
• Copies parents’ actions
• Gives orders
• Sense of humor
• Fear of separation
• Develops a concept of “self” and can identify himself/herself in the mirror
• Begins self-evaluation
• Conscience starts to appear
• Groups objects by category
• Points to common objects when they are named
• Recounts events that happened that day
• Assertive about his/her preferences
• Displays aggressive feelings/behaviors
• Shows awareness of gender identity

3 – 4 Years

• Theory of mind (an understanding of how the mind works and how it influences behavior)
• Likes to share
• Plays with other children
• Practices gender role activities
• Curiosity – asks many “why” and “how” questions
• Begins dramatic play (acting out whole scenes)
• Shows awareness of past and present
• Uses and understands sentences
• Can sing a song

4 – 5 Years

• Skips
• Dresses himself/herself
• Talks clearly
• Uses adult sounds
• Uses more complex grammar
• Reads a story
• Prefers sex appropriate activities
• Can draw, name, and describe pictures
• Shows some understanding of moral reasoning
• Compares himself/herself to others
• Develops friendships
• Expresses more awareness of other people’s feelings
• Retells a story
• Understands the sequencing of events when clearly explained
• Enjoys imaginative play with other children

6 – 12 Years

• Growing independence
• Common fears include the unknown, failure, family problems, rejection, and death
• Friends are most commonly the same sex
• Begins to see others’ point of view more clearly
• Defines himself/herself in terms of appearance, possessions, and activities
• Are self-conscious
• Tattling – a common way to attract adult attention
• Feelings get hurt easily
• Needs about 10 hours of sleep a night
• Begins to think about his/her own behavior and see consequences
• Can talk through problems to solve them

12 – 14 Years

• Trying to find his/her identity
• Rapid body changes from puberty (girls mature before boys)
• Moodiness
• Shyness
• Greater interest in privacy
• Can express himself/herself better
• Uses actions more than words to communicate feelings
• Close friendships gain importance
• Influenced by peer groups
• Same-sex friends and group activities
• Shows parents less affection
• Realizes that parents have faults
• Revisits childish behavior
• Feels like nothing bad could possibly happen to him/her
• Focuses mostly on the present
• Experiments with the rules, cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol
• The adolescent can put together all the possible outcomes before beginning the problem (abstract thinking)

14-17 years

• Self-involvement
• Complains that parents get in the way of his/her independence
• Very concerned with appearance, body, and sexual attractiveness
• Changes relationships often
• Still feels like nothing bad could happen to him/her
• Engages in risky behaviors
• Poorer opinion of parents
• Tries to make new friends
• Competitive and selective peer groups
• Periods of sadness
• Intellectual interests are important
• Feelings of love and passion
• Development of principles
• Selection of role models
• More consistent evidence of conscience
• Ability to set goals is better
• Interest in moral reasoning

17 – 19 years

• Firmer identity
• Can delay gratification
• Thinks ideas through
• Expresses feelings in words
• Sense of humor more developed
• Interests are stable
• Emotional stability is greater
• Can make independent decisions
• Can compromise
• Pride in his/her work
• More self-reliant and independent
• Peer group not as important as a few good friends
• Greater concern for others
• Starts listening to parents advice again
• Greater concern for the future
• Thinks about his/her life role
• Concerned with serious relationships
• Clear sexual identity
• Useful insight
• Can set goals and follow through
• Accepts social institutions and cultural traditions
• Self-esteem is based on the adolescent’s view of himself/herself, rather than other people