Chapter 2 – Therapeutic Communication and Interviewing

Developmental Considerations

A person’s age needs to be considered when conducting the client interview. Most importantly, you need to consider a client’s developmental stage. Developmental stage does not always align with a client’s chronological age. With regard to communication, a focus on developmental stage includes attention to areas such as language and cognitive and socio-emotional development. At times, you may need to modify your communication so that you are appropriately engaging with the client at a level they understand.

There are many ways to construct chronological age categories. Broadly, children are considered anyone under 18 and adults are considered anyone 18 and older. More specifically, you could consider the categories used in this resource:

  • Newborns and neonates: newborns are birth to a few hours old and neonate is up to 28 day.
  • Young children: clients who are 5 years and younger, including infants (28 days to 1 year), toddlers (1–2 years), and preschoolers (3–5 years).
  • Older children and adolescents: clients who are 6–17 years, including older children/school-age children (6–12 years) and adolescents (13–17 years).
  • Adults and older adults: clients who are 18 years and older, including adults (18 years and older) and older adults (65 years and older).

See Film Clip 2.5 of an expert pediatric nurse speaking about how communication varies between children and adults.


Film Clip 2.5: Interview with an expert pediatric nurse.


The following sections provide tips on broad chronological age categories including young children, older children and adolescents, and adults including older adults.



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Introduction to Communication in Nursing Copyright © 2020 by Edited by Jennifer Lapum; Oona St-Amant; Michelle Hughes; and Joy Garmaise-Yee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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