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Comprehensive Table - Complete overview of the different stages

Key Characteristics
  • Calling for & accepting care;
  • "Is it okay for me to be here, to make my needs known and to be known?"
  • Do I have value?
  • Will my needs be met?
  • Do I belong here?
Developmental Tasks
  • What you need is important to us.
  • We want you to be here and want to care for you.
  • We’re glad you’re here.
  • You belong here.
  • You can feel all of your feelings.
  • We are glad you are you.
  • You can grow at your own pace.
Killer Message
  • Don't exist
  • Don't be
  • Don't trust
Helpful Adult/Carer Behaviours
  • Affirm child in doing the developmental tasks for this stage
  • Provide consistent care as needed
  • Think for child when required, while monitoring development through the stage
  • Use touch, holding, talking, singing – and intuition to decide how and when
  • Be reliable and trustworthy
  • Get help when unsure how to respond to child
Problematic Behaviours
  • Difficulties feeling welcome
  • No/little sense of belonging
  • Unsure about feelings
THE DOING STAGE - 6-18mths
Key Characteristics
  • Experiment & explore;
  • "Is it safe for me to explore & try new things and to trust what I learn?"
  • What can I know?
  • Is it safe for me to explore?
Developmental Tasks
  • You can use all of your senses when you explore.
  • You can explore and experiment and we will support and protect you.
  • You can be interested in everything.
  • We like you when you are active and when you are quiet.
  • We like to watch you grow and learn.
  • You can know what you know.
  • You can do things as many times as you need to.
Killer Message
  • Don't be active
  • Don't do
Helpful Adult/Carer Behaviours
  • Provide a safe environment and protection from harm
  • Provide nurturing touch and encouragement
  • Say ‘yes’ more than ‘no’
  • Offer a variety of sensory experiences
  • Listen to the child, especially if s/he is struggling to express something
  • Feedback observations of behaviour and model new language
  • Respond when child initiates activity
Problematic Behaviours
  • Difficulties in settling
  • Lack of concentration
  • High risk-taking behaviour
  • Getting into prohibited places
THE THINKING STAGE - 18mths - 3yrs
Key Characteristics
  • "Is it okay for me to learn to think for myself?"
  • Start separating out from parent(s)/carer(s)
  • 'No'
Developmental Tasks
  • I’m glad you’re starting to think for yourself
  • You can learn to think for yourself and others too.
  • You can think and feel at the same time.
  • You can know what you need and ask for help.
  • You can be yourself and we will still care for you.
  • It’s Ok for you to be angry, and we won’t let you hurt yourself or others.
  • You can say no and push the limits as much as you need to – and we will keep you and others safe as you do so.
Killer Message
  • Don't think
Helpful Adult/Carer Behaviours
  • Help transition from one activity to another
  • Give simple clear directions, including basic safety commands
  • Be consistent in setting limits and ensuring they are kept
  • Accept all child’s feelings without getting into win-lose battles
  • Give reasons, and provide information, to move child on in own thinking
  • Stroke/recognise thinking by encouragement and celebration
  • Expect child to think about own and others’ feelings
  • Give time for new thinking to develop eg cause and effect
Problematic Behaviours
  • Non-compliant behaviour; boundary-testing
  • Oppositional/defiant behaviour
  • Tantrums
Key Characteristics
  • Discovering who I am
  • Testing the consequences of behaviour
  • "Is it okay for me to be who I am, with my unique abilities?"
  • "Is it okay for me to find out who others are and learn the consequences of my behaviour?'
  • Pick up messages about the appropriateness of feelings
Developmental Tasks
  • You can explore who you are and find out about others.
  • You can try out different ways of being powerful.
  • You can be powerful and ask for help at the same time.
  • All of your feelings are OK here.
  • You can learn the results of your behaviour.
  • You can learn what is pretend and what is real.
Killer Message
  • Don’t be who you are
  • Don't be you
Helpful Adult/Carer Behaviours
  • Expect learner to express feelings and to connect feeling and thinking
  • Teach clearly that it is OK to be who you are, and that both sexes and all cultures are OK
  • Answer questions accurately, providing information and correcting misinformation
  • Be clear about responsibilities
  • Encourage fantasy while being clear about what is fantasy and what is reality
  • Acknowledge and affirm appropriate behaviour
Problematic Behaviours
  • Difficulties in distinguishing between play fighting & aggression
  • Lying
  • Manipulation
  • Issues re: gender identity
Key Characteristics
  • Acquiring the skills, tools and values needed to get by in the world
  • 'How do I build an internal structure that supports me, as well as others?'
  • 'How do I develop the competence necessary to acquire the skills that will help me get along with others and in the world?'
  • Making sense of the world especially rules & fairness
Developmental Tasks
  • You can learn from your mistakes.
  • You can find ways of doing things that work for you.
  • You can trust your intuition to help decide what you want to do.
  • You can learn the rules that help you live with others.
  • You can learn when and how to disagree.
  • You can think for yourself and get help instead of staying in distress.
  • We still want to be with you when we differ and we can learn together.
  • You can think before you say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
Killer Message
  • Don't make mistakes
Helpful Adult/Carer Behaviours
  • Teach conflict resolution and problem-solving skills
  • Give lots of strokes for learning, thinking and finding out own way to do things
  • Encourage skills development
  • Be encouraging, enthusiastic, reliable and consistent
  • Respect child’s opinions and beliefs and allow discussion
  • Be clear that mistakes are part of learning
  • Challenge negative behaviour and confront discounting - either of responsibility for actions and/or the significance of inappropriate behaviour
  • Encourage participation in rule-making, and be clear about negotiable and non-negotiable rules
Problematic Behaviours
  • Fear of trying
  • Rubbishing imperfect work
  • Difficulties in peer relationships
Stage & Key Characteristics
  • Preparing for adulthood – feelings; identity
Developmental Tasks
  • You can know who you are and learn and practice skills for independence
  • You can develop your own interests, relationships and causes
  • You can grow in your femaleness or maleness and still need help at times
  • You can learn to use old skills in new ways
  • We look forward to knowing you as an adult
  • We trust you to ask for support when you need it
Killer Message
  • Don't grow up
Helpful Adult/Carer Behaviours
  • Continue to offer appropriate support
  • Accept learner’s feelings
  • Confront unacceptable behaviour
  • Be clear about school’s position on drugs etc
  • Encourage growing independence
  • Expect thinking, problem-solving and self-determination
  • Confront destructive or self-defeating behaviour
  • Celebrate emerging adulthood, personal identity etc
  • Negotiate rules and responsibilities
Problematic Behaviours
  • High risk-taking behaviours



Barrow, G. (2001) 'Raising Self-esteem and Improving Behaviour'

Clarke, J.I. in Family Matters, Bulletin 4427, University of Maine