Developmental Differences in Children You Should Know for the EMT Exam
You will need to know developmental differences for children for the EMT exam. From the time they are born until they transition to adulthood, children experience rapid physical growth. How they engage with their environment and other humans also changes dramatically. Children can be broadly divided into the following subgroups:
Infants: Birth to 1 year
Toddlers: 1 to 3 years
Preschool: 3 to 5 years
School age: 6 to 12 years
Adolescent: 13 to 18 years
Check out the developmental differences among the groups, as well as their impact upon your assessment and treatment approach.
Kids cry when they’re hurt or frightened; this is normal. You should be concerned about a child who is unusually quiet or cries weakly during your assessment and care.
|Age Group||Developmental Behaviors||Assessment and Treatment|
|Infants||Easy to separate from caregiver (separation anxiety develops as
infant approaches 1 year)
Crying a major form of communication, as is touch
Well-developed sense of hearing
Tracks motion with eyes
Being undressed normal, but staying warm is important
|If possible, have caregiver hold infant during
Evaluate appearance, work of breathing, and skin color (pediatric
assessment triangle, or PAT.
Find pulse at brachial artery.
Uncover body as needed but cover back up to preserve
|Toddlers||Begin exploring environment, first by crawling, then
Do not want to be apart from caregiver (separation anxiety)
May need special object to feel safe (toy, blanket).
Can speak simply; may understand more than they can
|Have caregiver nearby or next to patient during
Perform PAT from a distance; address both child and
Use simple words and phrases but not “baby talk.
”Assure toddlers that they did nothing wrong; they were not
|Preschoolers||Do not like being separated from caregiver
Rapid development of speaking ability
Fantastical thinking — pain and injuries may appear overly
dramatic to them
Do not like being undressed
May perceive illness/injury as punishment
|Have caregiver nearby or next to patient.
Conduct PAT from a distance. Speak to both child and
Expose areas of the body only when necessary.
Use simple words and phrases to question and explain.
Reassure preschoolers that the situation is not their fault.
Engage more with the patient — ask about what happened.
|School-age children||Greater sense of autonomy
Can have sustained, sensible discussions
Increasing peer and popularity pressure
Modesty is important
|Speak to both child and caregiver.
Ask patient about medical history and about the events surrounding
the current injury or illness.
Have school-age children help to make simple decisions.
Explain as you examine and treat.
|Adolescents||Like to be treated as adults
Strong awareness of body image
Experiment and take risks
|Create private space for questions and examination.
Maintain modesty. May need to separate adolescent from
Have adolescent involved in making more significant
Adolescents may regress when confronted with significant stress. Be
prepared to support them as needed.