Teaching parents of infants

It is important to teach parents that infancy is a time of rapid growth and development. New parents may misinterpret many normal aspects of infant development as a deviation from the norm. It is important to emphasize that development does not occur at the same rate for all infants. Unless new parents are aware of this, they may experience considerable anxiety when comparing their infant to others who may be developing more quickly. Teaching parents about normal infant development, as well as the range of individual differences, can relieve unnecessary anxiety. Other typical topics for infant development teaching include the need for immunizations, infant stimulation, infant feeding, and safety issues, and teething.

Table 12

Piaget’s Life Stages and Children’s Concepts of Health, Illness

  • Infant/toddler-Sensorimotor stage: The infant or toddler has no perception of illness and little understanding of health and illness concepts
  • Pre-schooler-Preoperational stage: The pre-schooler perceives illness as changes in behaviors; is not able to explain the cause of illness; may see illness as a form of punishment.
  • School-age children-Concrete operations stage: Are able to describe illness in terms of multiple symptoms; view disease transmission primarily resulting from physical contact with source, e.g., „catching a cold from someone else.“
  • Adolescents-Formal operations stage: Adolescents are able to acknowledge that their personal actions contribute to health and illness, and understand many dimensions of illness and treatment, internal organs/processes that may affect health/illness, and the influence of psychological processes in health and illness

Source: Whitman, N.I. (1998). „Developmental characteristics.“ In: Boyd, M.D., et al. Health Teaching in Nursing Practice: A Professional Model, 3rd ed. Stamford, Conn: Appleton & Lange, 136.

Teaching toddlers