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Core Concepts of Prenatal, Infant, and Toddler Development (page 5)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

9.  The Timing of Early Experiences Can Matter and Children Are Open to Change

The importance of a responsive, caring environment during the first 3 years of life cannot be disputed. However, a wonderful infancy is not a magical immunization, like a polio shot, against later troubles in life. A 3-year-old may be bright, full of zip, caring, and engaging and yet face unbelievable trauma as a 4-year-old or as a teenager. Due to stress and trauma, there could be an erosion of the child’s trust in others and her own sense of self-worth. The developing child remains vulnerable to risks at all ages. Conversely, a child is still open to protective factors after 3 years of age. For example, a child who has an emotionally difficult first 3 years and has challenging behaviors may respond beautifully to a loving adult who sincerely believes in the child’s positive characteristics and supports the child through several years of learning new, more productive behaviors (Zeanah, Boris, & Larrieu, 1997).

10.Early Intervention Can Make a Difference

Early intervention includes services and programs for children at risk and children with disabilities and their families. We will discuss these types of programs later in the chapter. Early intervention with children and support for families can reduce the risk factors, ameliorate vulnerabilities, and increase protection factors and resiliency (Shonkoff & Meisels, 2000).

Conclusion of the 10 Core Concepts

Clearly, the main ideas represented in these 10 core concepts are that positive, responsive, mutual, and protective adult-infant and adult-toddler relationships promote a child’s development and have sustaining effects on the young child’s ability to be in a relationship.

Very young children need adults to protect them, build their sense of self-worth, help them become an important part of their community and culture, and support them in learning how to become healthy, caring, and constructive members of society. When the vulnerabilities and the protective factors for infants, toddlers, and families are understood, then the prenatal and infancy period will become—much more than it is now—a focus of care and concern by families, professionals, communities and nations far and wide.

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