The 4 Developmental Crises that Worry Parents

Children, throughout childhood and up to adolescence, go through developmental crises. These crises are necessary for the development of their personality. We'll give you some advice on how to better cope with them.
The 4 Developmental Crises that Worry Parents
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

All parents dread the arrival of adolescence in their children, as we’re constantly hearing that it’s a stage of rebellion and that their emotions are like a roller coaster. But before reaching adolescence, you’ll have already gone through other developmental crises that are just as tumultuous as those of teens – or perhaps even more so.

But there’s no need to fear! After all, we all go through them and end up overcoming them, so don’t panic. To better manage these stages, we’ll tell you what they are and what we can do in each of them. Let’s get started.

Developmental crises: The terrible 2 years

This crisis is the first to appear: Tantrums, screaming, disobedience... What are the characteristics of this crisis?

Characteristics of the 2-year-old crisis

  • They begin to not want their parents to follow them; they seek their independence.
  • Tantrums appear as a means of communicating what they want and what they don’t want.
  • They complain and protest constantly.
  • They start to be very stubborn and always insist on getting their own way.
  • The word “No” appears as their favorite answer to all of our suggestions.
  • They become very disobedient.

What should parents of 2-year-olds do?

  • Be very patient and empathetic.
  • Establish limits and rules in a respectful way, but they must be firm.
  • Establish habits and routines to give them security.
  • Develop our emotional intelligence.
The 4 Developmental Crises that Worry Parents

Developmental crises: The 7-year crisis

The next crisis may appear at 6, 7, or 8 years of age, depending on each child. They’re building their identity and personality, so these crises are necessary for their personal growth.

Characteristics of the 7-year-old crisis

  • Moodiness without knowing the reason
  • They complain that nobody loves them and that things are unfair
  • They get angry and cry easily
  • During this phase, they’re often stubborn, rebellious, and domineering.
  • They become more thoughtful and serious.
  • They often make excuses.

Tips for parents of 7-year-olds

  • Be patient and always stay calm.
  • Listen attentively, empathize, and educate children in their emotions.
  • Be consistent with the rules.
  • Adapt rules and limits to their age.
  • Continue to maintain their routines and habits.

The puberty crisis

Yes, it’s true, this developmental crisis comes before the great crisis of adolescence. The puberty crisis usually appears between the ages of 9 and 12. Children are becoming less and less childlike, but they’re not adults either. It’s a time of emotional and physical transformation.

Characteristics of the puberty crisis

  • Body image is very important for them. The first complexes begin to emerge.
  • Oscillation in their emotions.
  • Less anger, but when there is anger, it’s much more intense.
  • Signs of autonomy appear.
  • Hormonal changes: Changes in their moods.

Advice for parents of children in puberty

  • Establish rules and limits that adapt to their age and negotiate with them.
  • Dialogue becomes a fundamental tool.
  • A lot of understanding, patience, and unconditional love.
  • Maintain routines and habits.
  • Avoid lecturing.

Adolescence crisis

We’ve finally reached the dreaded adolescent crisis. It usually appears around 14 and 16 years of age. In some cases, puberty and adolescence coincide.

At this time, children are going through a crucial phase in their development, and it’s now when the foundations of adulthood will be laid. They’re searching for their personality and where they’ll best fit in.

The 4 Developmental Crises that Worry Parents

Characteristics of the adolescent crisis

  • Fear of making a fool of themselves and being laughed at.
  • Their image and what others think of them is very important to them.
  • They need privacy, moments alone, in order to know themselves better.
  • Negative behaviors may appear, such as smoking.
  • Their character becomes more reflective.

Tips for parents of teenagers

  • Rules and limits are still one of the most important things.
  • Avoid long-lasting punishments.
  • Listen to your child and talk to them.
  • Communication will become your best weapon in dealing with this crisis.
  • Always respect their privacy.
  • Forget about lecturing; this will make them distance themselves from you.

About developmental crises

These are the developmental crises that your child will go through from infancy to adolescence. Remember, these crises are necessary for the development of their personality, so we must be patient, respect their rhythms, and always listen to them.

You can follow these tips to help you get through these stages in the best possible way. Have courage, this too shall pass!


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.