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The Thinking Stage
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THINKING (Visited the first time round between 18 months – 3 years)

Truly Into toddler-dom, the child at this stage continues to be into everything, on the move and exploring the world. In addition, he begins to separate out from his key carer – to establish his own sense of self. This is a fundamental developmental milestone - and the main way he can communicate and experience a sense of separateness is by using the word ‘No!’ - “Jack, we’re going out now. Leave your toys and put your coat on” – “No!” Thus conflicts can become increasingly common during this stage as the toddler thinks increasingly for himself and also needs to test the boundaries. Through being consistent in limit-setting and helping support transitions between activities, carers affirm the youngster and help satisfy his hunger for structure.

Too many restrictions and admonishments and a lack of the appropriate affirmations can lead to frustration for the toddler – and in some instances result in him internalising the message ‘Don’t think’.

Older children and young people who, for example, are found to be regularly testing boundaries and/or being defiant towards adult authority may well benefit from revisiting the Thinking stage and’ hearing’ some of the affirmations.

Teenagers at the onset of puberty recycle the Doing stage - hence risk-taking behaviours with little thought for personal safety (think of the toddler whose fingers are continually poking plug sockets, reaching up to the cooker etc).
Prevouis Fact 3/3 Next Fact
Developmental Task Affirmations for the Being Stage Helpful adult/carer behaviours Indicators of possible need to revisit this stage
  • To establish ability to think for self
  • To learn to think and solve problems with cause-and-effect thinking
  • To start to give up beliefs about being the centre of the universe
  • To separate from parents without losing their security
  • To express anger and other feelings
  • To start to follow simple safety commands e.g. stop, come here, go there
  • To test reality, to push against boundaries and other people
  • To continue learning earlier 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
  • 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 thinking by encouragement and celebration
  • Expect child to think about own and others’ feelings
  • Non-compliant behaviour/boundary-testing
  • Oppositional/defiant behaviour
  • Tantrums
Need help understanding the table above
The developmental tasks are the jobs the child/young person needs to begin to get under their belt in order to optimise their growth. This is facilitated by the adults around him/her providing permissions via the affirmations. These tend to be communicated primarily non-verbally, examples of which are given in the ‘Helpful adult/carer behaviours’ column.

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