What is meant by normal development of a child? Is their intelligence innate or can we encourage it through education? There is no easy answer, but we can conclude the following… “Each child is unique and is fine as they are.” This is the sentence that sums up the essay ‘First steps. Development and education in the early years’ (Ed. Captain Swing) by the well-known Swiss researcher and pediatrician Remo Hans Largo. It is about a international reference book on child behavior in the first four years of life, with more than a million copies sold in Germany alone, now reissued in Spain.

The experienced author presents, on this occasion, a very different textbook from previous works. It does not start from an idea of ​​ideal development or from fixed educational principles. It only intends that mothers, fathers and educators get to know their children better and see the child as they are in order to improve their skills in dealing with them. Simply put, “every child wants to grow up in their own way and at their own pace,” he explains. Regardless of the pedagogical style parents choose, Largo points out that the fundamental skills and characteristics of the child cannot be inculcated: “Not even the most competent parents can make their child have a high level of intelligence, social skills or develop a strong character. All these things are contributions of the child himself.”

“You cannot make a child what he is not”

The renowned scientist focuses his interest on two key points. The first is the previous biological conditions. In view of this, the scientist wants to arouse respect, tolerance and understanding in mothers, fathers and educators about the “given” characteristics of the child as an individual, because “you cannot turn children into what they are notthis is very bad for them”, it affects. The second is the importance of respecting the diversity of children’s behavior. For this, it provides data on the stages of development and the singularities of each age.

And is that the children show individual differences in different areas of development. For example, a child can walk at twelve months but not talk up to twenty-four. Therefore, it is useful to know the process and diversity of child development, adapt to the child’s behavior and always take it seriously. The Swiss researcher divides this work into nine chapters that address the different fields of study of child development: social behavior, motor skills, sleep, crying, playing, language development, feeding, growth and diaper removal.

Parents err on the side of rigidity and preconceived ideas

According to the pediatrician, parents are guilty of a certain prior rigidity and often have their own ideas about how children develop; for example, about when they should walk unaided or say their first words. Some, he says, are guided by standard concepts and place great importance on early care, hoping it will produce long-term positive effects. However, the role of parents must be determined by a position from which the child is considered a unique being, and also by the fundamental elements and regularities of child development. In this regard, our expectations should have less weightemphasizes Largo.

“This book is not intended to be a problem-solving manual, but rather to familiarize parents with the needs and peculiarities of the child, so that, as far as possible, they can relate to him according to his development. In recent decades I have seen that parents who understand and accept their son or daughter with their needs and abilities, with their feelings and ideas, they don’t need advice. They are exactly what your children want: competent parents.”

Hans Largo, a life dedicated to understanding the origin

Your concept of uniqueness and individual development of each child Trusted by hundreds of thousands of moms, dads, grandparents and caregivers since the publication of this reference work. Largo was the author of several scientific essays on early childhood education and development, some of which became bestsellers. He was born in 1943 in Winterthur, canton of Zurich and died on November 11, 2020 in Uetliburg, canton of St. Gallen. He was the father of three daughters and lived with his second wife in Uetliburg. He was 76 years old.

He studied medicine at the University of Zurich and specialized in pediatrics at the University of Los Angeles, California. He received his doctorate in this field in 1981 after having headed the Department of Growth and Development at the Children’s Hospital of the University of Zurich since 1978. Largo was responsible for the so-called longitudinal studies of Zurich —research internationally recognized for its advances in understanding child development—; he has spent nearly forty years researching developmental disorders and abnormal behaviors in children and youth.

In 1987 the Swiss Pediatric Society awarded him the Falconi Prize for their research in this field. In 2001, she won the Nessim Habif World Prize from the University of Geneva, and in 2002 she received the Swiss Professional Association of Applied Psychology Prize. He also received the Education Prize from the University of Zurich in 2006 and the Arnold Lucius Gesell Prize from the Theodor Hellbrügge Stiftung in 2010.