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1.3. Phase 1: newborn to adulthood (0-20)

1.3.1. Introduction

This phase has been called "creating capacity" and "becoming somebody". It is the phase over which you have little control (except in the latter part). You cannot choose your parents, so hopefully you will have had good parenting. What is good parenting? It is providing the child with a solid foundation for the life s/he will build for himself/herself. What are the rules for providing children with a solid foundation? They can be summarized as follows:

- Read up on the cognitive development stages of offspring.

- Promote a rock-solid emotional backbone.

- Provide sound education inside and outside institutions of learning.

- Programme the child's mind to be an inquiring one.

- Promote an ethos of sound money management.

- Drive home the philosophy that wealth has two legs: monetary and non-monetary.

1.3.2. Read up on the cognitive development stages of offspring

Raising one's offspring is centered on learning: from parents, the environment and institutions of learning. While the latter are the authorities on "when the child leans what", the parent usually is not. Therefore, it is important to have an understanding of the cognitive development stages. Jean Piaget, a development biologist, devoted much of his life to the cognitive (i.e. learning, in the widest sense) development of infants, children and adolescents. He identified four stages, now known as the four stages of Piagetian development:

- Sensory motor stage (aka Sensorimotor stage) (0-2 years).

- Preoperational stage (2-7 years).

- Concrete operational stage (7-11 years).

- Formal operational stage (11-adulthood).

Sensorimotor stage (0-2 years)

Infants are "ego-centric": they are not able to consider others' needs, wants or interests. They acquire knowledge about objects and the ways that they can be manipulated, and begin to understand how one thing can cause or affect another. They also begin to develop simple ideas about time and space.

Preoperational stage (2-7 years)

Children's thought processes develop in this stage, although they are still considered to be far from "logical thought", in the adult sense of the word. The vocabulary expands and develops during this stage, and they change from babies and toddlers into "little people".

A characteristic of this stage is "animism": when a person has the belief that everything that exists has some kind of consciousness. An example: when a child runs into a piece of furniture s/he will punish it, because it behaved badly in that it hurt them. They tend to assume that everyone and everything is like them; therefore, because they feel pain and have emotions, everything else does too.

Children start this stage as "ego-centric" but gradually a certain amount of "de-centering" transpires.

Concrete operational stage (7-11 years)

During this stage, the child's thought process becomes more rational, mature and "adult-like", or more "operational", and often continues well into the teenage years. Belief in animism and ego-centric thought tends to decline (although remnants are often found in adults). They are able to evaluate the logic of statements by considering them against concrete evidence only.

Formal operational stage (11-15+ years)

In this stage adolescents are able to reason beyond a world of concrete reality to a world of possibilities, and to operate logically on symbols and information that do not necessarily refer to objects and events in the real world. They can focus on verbal assertions and evaluate their logical validity without making reference to real-world (concrete) circumstances.

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