June 18, 2024


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Read the introduction to ‘Beginnings’ for free – Sarah Ockwell-Smith

Read the introduction to ‘Beginnings’ for free – Sarah Ockwell-Smith

I’m delighted to share with you the introduction to my new book ‘Beginnings: A Guide to child psychology and development for parents of 0-5 yr olds’. If it piques your interest in the book, you can find order information at the end.

The first five years of a child’s life underpin their future personality, health and relationships. In that time – just under two thousand days – a child’s body and brain will grow and change far quicker than at any other time in their life. The way that parents and carers respond to them during these years has more of an impact on their development than anything else.

We are the architects of their lives. An exciting yet terrifying thought, isn’t it? Surprisingly, many parents and carers are unaware of what is happening in their child’s brain and how they are developing, perhaps because the relevant information is so often written in dull medical jargon, or only found in weighty textbooks.

Over the last two decades, I have been asked thousands of times if I can recommend a book about child development – one that covers the common queries about physical development, such as, ‘How does a baby learn to walk?’ as well as, ‘How do children learn to talk?’ and questions about brain development. Parents and carers want to understand what neurological stages their children are going through and how this affects their behaviour. They want to be better informed so they can help their children to blossom into confident and happy individuals who will meet their full potential. But they just don’t have the time to trawl through a three-hundred page textbook to do so. And rightly so – they have other things to do!

Beginnings was born out of a desire to fill this gap and provide parents and carers with the information that they’re desperate for, in a way that is not too technical, but not patronising either. It’s the book I wish I had read when my own four children were small – and the one I hope they will read in the future, when they have children of their own.

So what will you find in this book? We start with a chapter on life in utero, providing descriptions of how a foetus develops and grows, with an emphasis on the astounding brain development that occurs during this period. Chapters 2 to 5 divide the first year of life up into blocks of three months. There are so many incredible changes in the first year that to do justice to them, we need to break the chapters down into smaller age periods. Chapters 6 and 7 look at life from the first to the second birthday, as babyhood comes to an end and the beginnings of toddlerhood emerge. Chapter 8 considers the fascinating world of two-year-olds, while Chapter 9 deals with the development that takes place once a child turns three. Finally, Chapter 10 is a study of four-year-olds, right up to their fifth birthdays.

As you move through this book, you will notice that each chapter is broken down into the following:
• Brain development – changes that take place in the brain and neurological growth
• Physical development – what happens to your child’s body, including physical milestones
• Feeding and eating development – your child’s relationship with food at the various stages and physical changes in their body that affect eating
• Sleep development – how sleep varies at different ages, including sleep milestones and how these are affected by physical, neurological and psychological development
• Social and psychological development – how your child experiences and interacts with the world around them, and their relationships with yourself and others close to them
• Language development – how your child learns to communicate, including the emergence of talking and elements that influence it
• Play ideas – to help your child to develop, bond with you and, most importantly, keep them entertained.

These sections will make it easier for you to skip straight to any areas of special interest or find answers to any pressing questions you may have when you don’t have time to read the whole chapter.

As well as longer descriptions of physiological and psychological development, you will also find the following throughout the book:
• Neuroscience Nuggets – small, easily digestible, bites of brain science
• Fun Facts – interesting and entertaining facts and figures
• Anthropology Titbits – beliefs and behaviours concerning childhood from different cultures around the world and from different periods of history
• Parenting Q&As – common questions that parents ask me (and my answers)
• Parent Observations – real-life experience from other parents
• Quotes – child-development-related quotes from wellknown figures, past and present

There is arguably nothing quite so astounding as the beginnings of a new life. If you’re interested in reading ‘Beginnings’ you can grab a copy HERE.