An Overview of the Stages of Natural Learning Relationships™

The developmental approach of Natural Learning Relationships is designed to expand the child’s skills and create a mutually joyful experience for children and adults alike.

BodyBeing (BB)—0-7 years
BB_Stage_Poster_-_Half_Page_2015.pdfIn this stage, the child is developing a sense of rightful place in their body, in the family, and on the planet. Providing a safe, warm, and loving environment will promote the child’s ability to organize healthy boundaries and experience a sense of personal strength.

  • Communication with BB children: Use age-appropriate sensory-based language—i.e., simple concrete references to the child’s experiences and things in the child’s world. BodyBeing children experience the world from one pleasant sensation to the next. Offer reassurance in a soothing tone of voice.
  • The key attributes of this stage include a receptive attitude towards life, with sensory explorations of their world as they establish that sense of rightful place. Children this age learn primarily by imitation and through the vicarious sensory experience of others in their world.

FeelingBeing (FB)—8-12 years
FB_Stage_Poster_-_Half_Page_2015.pdfIn this stage, the child is developing the capacity to trust self and others. Providing a trustworthy and fair environment will promote reciprocal cooperation in the child.

  • Communication with FB children: Use age-appropriate feeling words as much as possible. Be relational to the child’s feelings and attentive to comments concerned with fairness, justice, and caring. Invite stories about the child’s values in relationships. In this stage, the child is searching for feeling mentors, people who can be trusted for honest information about how to navigate the world of feeling relationships with others.
  • A key attribute of this stage is interest in building community relationships while searching the environment for anything that generates or supports an exploration of feelings without judgment. Children this age seek trustworthy people, inspirational experiences, and adventuresome activities.

IdealBeing (IB)—13-18 years
IB_Stage_Poster_-_Half_Page_2015.pdfTeens are developing their capacity for autonomy and constructing an identity that will match their core nature. They need support to develop healthy self-governance while learning about the responsibilities that accompany their desired freedom. Teens are also developing the capacity for social ability in relationships.

  • Communication with IB teens: Use teen-appropriate language, such as inquiry, then listen patiently to understand the teen’s meaning and inquire further into the teen’s worldview and underlying ideals. Be relational with sensitivity to comments concerned with identity, peers, and the teen’s ideals. Invite stories about the teen’s values in relationships in the family. Respect the teen’s point of view no matter how idealistic.
  • Key attributes include an unceasing exploration of individualization, identity exploration, and a growing awareness of personal responsibility. Teens yearn for challenges (of their own design) that sharpen the discovery of their own core nature.

ReasonableBeing (RB)—19-23 years
RB_Stage_Poster_-_Half_Page_2015.pdfReasonable individuals are able to explore all forms of knowing with an ability to form data into systems and, through those systems, to participate in change in the world. A healthy reasonable individual develops substantive values that lead to interconnection with all life, which include humor and humility. RB individuals are learning to be incisive, act with intention, and find personal meaning and purpose in life.

  • Communication with RB individuals: Use respectful dialogue, moving towards complex logic that cuts into meaning, often with informed research as a basis. Co-explore any topic with openness to comparison and the investigation of systems.
  • Key attributes include an expanded relationship to time (it now includes past, present, and future). For the first time, the youth can ask the question, “What lasts beyond time?” This question drives the search for substantive values (e.g., love, truth, goodness, etc.) This stage of development has the mature ability to review the previous three developmental stages and assess the health of the capacities developed.

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