(The life course continues through to the end of life, but this resource focuses on just the early years.) Vulnerability to the risk factors for problems such as substance abuse can occur throughout the life course, but it tends to peak during critical life transitions.Transitions may be biological, such as puberty, or they may involve entering a new environmental context, such as attending school for the first time.Achieving milestones within the expected time frame is an important signal that development is occurring in the expected manner and timeframe, and offers protection against risk factors for substance abuse and other problems later in development.

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In this process, you will study the rocks and events in a geologic cross section and put them in the correct order from oldest to youngest.

How successfully or unsuccessfully a child meets the demands and challenges arising from a given transition, and whether the child meets milestones on an appropriate schedule, can affect his or her future course of development, including risk for drug abuse or other mental, emotional, or behavioral problems during adolescence.

A variety of factors, known as , can interrupt or interfere with unfolding developmental patterns in all of these periods and, especially, in the transitions between them.

[Text description - Chart illustrating the spheres of influence through the stages of life: early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood.

Also shown are the developmental periods: prenatal, infancy, toddlerhood, and preschool, which all fall within early childhood, and puberty, which goes from the end of middle childhood through part of adolescence.

Prevention interventions designed specifically for early developmental periods can address these risk factors by building on existing strengths of the child and his or her parents (or other caregivers) and by providing skills (e.g., general parenting skills and specific skills like managing aggressive behavior), problem-solving strategies, and support in areas of the child’s life that are underdeveloped or lacking.

The child’s stage of life, aspects of his social and physical environments, and life events he experiences over time all contribute to the his physical, psychological, emotional, and cognitive development..

Although vulnerability can occur at many points along the life course, it tends to peak at critical life transitions, which present risks for substance abuse as well as opportunities for intervention.