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Development Occurs in Relationship

By Josette Luvmour, PhD

J & A & N_2-12Who is the child as a unique individual? Who is she when she's not seen as a part of a class or grouped with others in a grade level. How does the child, in his own right, perceive the world?

Welcome to my blog on parenting involvement matters. These discussions on supporting well-being in children will include talk about development-both the child's development and the caregivers' development, past and present.

This blog supports healthy development in children with practical applications to home life and education. In that healthy development, your involvement is key. In fact, caring for your child's development will promote optimal well-being for you both.

Here, the word development means a movement through stages of life that the child goes through as he or she organizes the world. Because these developmental changes are strongly influenced by both genetic inheritance and environmental influences, we must pay careful attention to our relationship with each  child. Each stage of life is seen through the manifestation of all the child's abilities: cognitive, emotional, spiritual, and self-perception. If we ignore the different ways in which each child's organizes her or his world, we may end up distancing ourself from that development and that can lead to objectifying the child or stereotyping.

As adults, we must be careful to not group children into categories; e.g., terrible-two's, awkward tweens, oppositional teenagers, etc. In my consulting practice, I encourage parents and caregivers to take a unique approach with each child they are with. In order to do this, we need to see each child as an individual with innate and unique characteristics influenced by his or her developmental capacities in combination with the context in which he or she lives.

Child's eyesThe key is for any adult to understand how the child sees the world and to acknowledge and balance the two main influences on who the child is: the child's age of development with its needs and characteristics and the environmental influences (family, school, clubs and sports). I have seen amazing trust develop when we can relate to the child in this way.

Since the child's consciousness develops in relationship with others, we need to take great care to learn about the child's development. Consciousness shows up primarily in changes in perception, which determines behavior, identity construction, ego development, relationship, knowledge formation, and emotional connection. To really look at and see the child is a form of respect for the child and, I dare say, for life. This requires understanding how the child's worldview is directly related to development.

  • Knowledge of child development is crucial to parents because family relationships are an essential contributor to the patterns that influence the child's emotional development and social interactions for a lifetime.

  • Knowledge of child development is crucial to educators because it can help educators understand the optimal age for appropriate communication strategies, for relationship, and for environments that provide the best needed support for developing the child's innate capacities.

It is also important to know who we are in our own development (and resulting consciousness) because this strongly affects our students and our children and is the underpinning of all that we do with them.  In essence, who we are is what we teach.

In a recent article, I discussed the importance of taking the time to understand how our children perceive the world at each age of development. This excerpt is an example:

...it is time that education supports each child in a web of relationships with educators and parents who share in the primary responsibility of guiding that child's development. In this view, the boundary between adult and child does not exist. Our relationship with the children in our care, whether personal or professional, is of critical importance to well-being in the child's consciousness. During each age of childhood, connection, understanding, and appreciation of child development are required.

Children learn competence in their developmental capacities in informal interactions with educators and in the family environment during everyday activities. To make those interactions the best they can be, it is important to understand how the child sees the world, a seeing that is governed by the organizing principle, and to nurture that child's developmental needs. Every aspect of a human being is continually adapting to relationships, interpersonal communication, and educational experiences. With knowledge of child development and attention to attuned relationships with the child's consciousness, we can co-create educational environments [and home environments] with supportive relationships that match the child's developmental capacities. Well-being will flourish in both child and adult... The benefits of right relationships with children nourish children, adults, families, and society as a whole.

"It's not about performance-it's always about relationship." 

Next month I'll be looking at emotional development in the child and in the adult. I hope you'll join me and I look forward to your comments as the conversation develops.


Luvmour, J. (2011). Education and the Consciousness of the Developing Child. Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice, 24(4), 15-23. Also read a review of this article by Paul Freedman, head of the Salmonberry School in Eastsound, WA.

Posted on February 25, 2012 by Josette Luvmour, PhD

Josette Luvmour, PhD is a developmentalist, consultant, educator who specializes in child development, adult development, and sustainable family relationships. She serves in the non-profit sector as Director of Family and Professional Development at Summa Institute, a nonprofit organization that provides Natural Learning Relationships™ programs to students, families, and professionals. In addition to her 26-year consulting practice at Luvmour Consulting, LLC, she is author of five books and numerous journal articles and chapters that focus on building positive relationships with children. 

©2011, Josette Luvmour, PhD. All rights reserved. Please contact for permission to reprint.

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Permalink   Comments (2)   Send to a Friend

Tags: *Parent Engagement at Home , Character Development, Communicating, Critical Thinking, Learning environment, Parents as teachers, Positive Discipline

Posted June 22, 2012 by Josette Luvmour, PhD
Thank you for your comment on my article. It is so important for child development to be more common knowledge...and more importantly, how to change as children change. Growing together with our children is a strong factor in adult development as well. So glad to hear that you are sharing with the parents in Memphis. Would love to hear about their impressions.  

Posted June 21, 2012 by ryan tracy
Josette, this is such an important article and I thank you deeply for it.....I will share it with parents in Memphis 


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