Normal Development Video Series

Geraldine ("Geri") Fox MD, MHPE, FAACAP

Normal Development Video Series:
A Longitudinal Stimulus Video Curriculum Resource for Educators

by Geri Fox, M.D.
Professor of Clinical Psychiatry
University of Illinois at Chicago/Institute for Juvenile Research

Bring your teaching to life!

Video Introduction and Sample Video Clips


From Normal Development in the First Ten Years of Life:

Clip 2 - 2 weeks: excerpt from Brazelton's Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale:

Suggested discussion points:

  • Discuss various primitive reflexes shown in this clip: toe grasp, clonus, tone, incurvation, crawling, walking, weight-bearing. Note head control.
  • Some reflexes extinguish with development (only returning in pathological states), others persist.



Clip 7 - 10 ½ months: 11 ½ month old boy takes ball from Sarah; she gets it back

Suggested discussion points:

  • Social communication, aggression, frustration, competition, negotiation, conflict resolution between infants.
  • Difference in temperament between two children.
  • Sarah demonstrates social referencing by looking at mom before approaching "the thief”.

Clip 15 — 2 yrs, 10 ½ months: Playing "Mommy Game.”

Suggested discussion points:

  • Ability to role play, and relive daily events by creating small reenactments.
  • Some gender role rehearsing is involved (she is pretending to be Mommy, not Daddy).
  • Use of 2nd person pronouns.

From Normal Development in Middle Childhood and Adolescence:

Clip 12 - 14 yrs: Is Sarah ready to be completely independent?

Suggested discussion points:

  • Discuss conflict between wanting to be independent and awareness of need for parents. What do adolescents need from parents at this age? Why shouldn't adolescents be allowed to live on their own if they can take care of their practical needs? What other factors are necessary for parents to consider when granting additional independence?
  • Note non-verbal affectionate playfulness between Sarah and Dad during this exchange. Could her stealing his sandal be symbolic of wanting to take over his territory, "fill his shoes” and be an adult?



Clip 24 - 7 yrs: Brian gives money to poor people

Suggested discussion points:

  • At what age does a child learn compassion? What sorts of experiences encourage the development of empathy? Discuss the effects of role-modeling and vicarious learning, formal tutelage (e.g. in religious school), or involving the child in participatory experiences such as making sandwiches together to take to a shelter.
  • Research has shown that children who develop age-appropriate emotional competence skills (including empathy) are more likely to have increased academic performance; better peer relationships; and are less likely to experience psychopathology. Empathy also facilitates mature moral reasoning. See NDMCA-CV manual references.
  • Would it be better for Mom to take more control over the snacking (e.g. put the candy out of sight and allow only one piece per day)?

Clip 32 — (11 yrs) Brian makes time smaller

Suggested discussion points:

  • Time management will be a crucial life skill, affecting his future success in academics, his career, and his ability to juggle work and home life. This is a good time to learn how to prioritize, plan, and not leave things to the last minute.
  • Rather than not allowing Brian to go to the pick-up game, Mom lets Brian make his own decisions, then encourages him to learn from his experience and change future choices accordingly. See Diana Baumrind's research on parenting styles (authoritative vs. authoritarian).
  • Effort is highly dependent on the degree to which one is inspired by the task at hand (soccer versus clarinet, for example). Mom never had to remind Brian to get ready to go to his soccer games, or push him to practice his athletic skills.

From Saying Goodbye:

Clip #2 (3:18): 95 yrs "Why keep on living?"

Six years later, Si’s health has deteriorated. He and Cele have moved to assisted living within a retirement community that provides a continuum of care options (from independent living to assisted living to nursing home and hospice). Si struggles to walk with a walker. He asks, “What has my life been worth? Why am I still here? Why keep on going?” He tells an anecdote that poses the question, “Why shouldn’t the elderly commit suicide when it’s all downhill from here?” He rationally outlines his current challenges (health problems, friends dying), as well as reasons to continue.

Suggested discussion points:

  • In Erikson’s “Integrity vs. Despair” stage, how does one avoid becoming clinically depressed, in the face of loss of attachment figures, loss of physical and mental capabilities, and impending death?
  • Si says, “I haven’t accomplished much in my lifetime.” How do you think he views the worth of his life?  Do you think he has any regrets? Is he depressed or demoralized? What standard is he using to assess his accomplishments? 
  • Si is reflecting on his accumulated losses, both individual (physical abilities) and social (friends dying). He is mourning the loss of his vitality. In this clip, and the ones that follow, he is engaged in a reflective ongoing assessment of his quality of life (QOL), and whether or not life continues to be worth living. Si’s QOL does not hinge on one event, but on a confluence of circumstances, as well as his ability to adapt and accommodate to continued challenges.
  • If you were Si’s physician, would you say that he had suicidal ideation?  Would you view him as a suicide risk?
  • What do you think gives Si a sense of self-worth?  What are his values?
  • What do you think his purpose was in telling a story to his daughters about an older couple deciding to commit suicide, with their son’s consent? Do you think he is concerned about becoming a burden to his family, or life becoming a burden to himself, or both?
  • Si was not particularly religious.  How could having religious faith have affected his outlook in this phase of life?
  • What factors have been shown to contribute to longevity? Review the demography of the aging population.  The elderly population in the U.S. has grown ten-fold in the last century and is expected to double by 2050.
  • Looking at his surroundings, what can you observe about the choices Si has made?  He has planned for his retirement. He is living with his wife in a comfortable assisted living apartment with nursing support. Is this planning commonplace in aging populations? What happens to older adults who didn’t plan for their retirement or did not have resources to do so? 
  • Do you think he exhibits slight word finding difficulty (“prize”)? Would slowed retrieval be normal for his age?  Review cognitive changes associated with normal aging (general slowing of performance, less efficient attention and arousal, decline in visuospatial skills, etc.).

If you teach normal child and adolescent development, you can engage your students' attention and enliven class discussion, by illustrating your teaching points using this innovative stimulus DVD series. Created by an award-winning teacher, this rich resource delivers a diverse, enjoyable selection of key moments from two children's development over 20 years. There is no voice-over narration: these are short "visual anecdotes" that you can use any way you choose. The film is designed to be equally useful whether shown in segments or in its entirety, at the instructor's discretion. The accompanying teacher's manual provides the length of each clip, the age of the child, a short description of the vignette, and suggests ideas for discussion. The clips are cross-referenced by topic in the index, to make it easy for instructors to match clips to their teaching needs.

There are no other videos currently available for use in teaching normal development that follow a child's growth continuously and longitudinally. This video series has been created specifically to fill t his gap by a child and adolescent psychiatrist who has taught normal development for over 20 years.

  • Awards: Certificate of Merit, Chicago International Film Festival's Best of INTERCOM 2010 Competition; Bronze Finalist, Telly Awards; Bronze Finalist, Columbus International Film and Video Festival
  • Used in the majority of US medical schools
  • Appropriate for trainees in all child development disciplines at any level

Praise from reviewers of Normal Development in the First Ten Years of Life:

"This video by Geri Fox is a treasure for anybody teaching or learning about human development. Beautiful, rarely seen moments . . . shine before the viewer's eyes."
Daniel S. Schechter, M.D., Columbia University Parent-Infant Program

"The wonder of normal development, a baby girl grows up videotaped through the loving eyes of her child and adolescent psychiatrist mother. This is a guide for students of development in all disciplines and levels, for professionals, and for caregivers. Thanks, Geri, and family, for sharing your knowledge, wisdom, and joy."
Jean Thomas, MD, Children's National Medical Center

Praise from reviewers of Normal Development in Middle Childhood and Adolescence:

"Normal Development in Middle Childhood and Adolescence is the perfect companion for Geri Fox's outstanding original video stimulus series. Because these videos sensitively show the child or adolescent without commentary, they can be used in any setting at any educational level as a stimulus for discussion, or to demonstrate a teaching point. There is no other resource that I know of that is so rich for use in teaching normal child and adolescent development.”
Sandra B. Sexson, MD, Professor and Chief of Child Psychiatry, Medical College of Georgia

"Geri Fox's video about child development brilliantly captures the growth of two children in a way that provides wonderful stimuli for students to examine children's behavior and thinking. This delightful trigger video is rich with examples to launch discussions about both classical and modern theories of human development. Many thanks to Geri, for bravely and compassionately sharing her and her children's world.”
Donald C. Fidler, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, West Virginia University

"Geri Fox has given the mental health field a compelling gift. Following in the footsteps of Jean Piaget, Mary Ainsworth and other early pioneers, Fox's film provides beautiful documentation of the normal development of two children as they progress through middle childhood and adolescence. Rich in capturing individual differences and the many, intricate continuities and changes that comprise development, the film is an essential tool for any mental health professional who teaches in this area.”
Teresa Ostler, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Praise from reviewers of Saying Goodbye:

Saying Goodbye takes us on a prospective journey through Dr. Fox’s end–of–life experiences with her father using an intimately filmed, first-person perspective. Utilizing 15 short “scenes,” she captures this complex process in bite–sized vignettes which lend themselves to self-reflection, group discussion, and deeply felt personal emotions. 

"Amenable to health care professionals at all levels of experience, the movie can also be used to touch the hearts and minds of anyone who has witnessed this inevitable phenomenon of our human existence."
Fred Arthur Zar MD, Vice Head of Education, Professor of Medicine
University of Illinois at Chicago

"A true masterpiece! Intended for teaching students about the end of life in a developmental context-- this film, like all great works, exceeds any categorization. Yes, it is a terrific teaching tool, but this is a film that stands on its own as worth watching, even if you see no other films this year."
Markus J.P. Kruesi, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Medical University of South Carolina

"The import and uniqueness of Dr. Fox’s works of education, art and behavioral science call to mind Ken Burns, Jean Piaget, and Mitch Albom."
Frederick S. Sierles, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

"These extraordinarily sensitive videos should be infused into the curriculum of physicians, social workers, hospice workers, and mental health practitioners who work with older clients and their families at the end of life.  There are no comparable videos that so honestly depict the struggle between physically holding on to life and emotionally saying goodbye."
Marcia Spira PhD, Professor, Director, Institute on Aging and Intergenerational Study and Practice
Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work

"Discussion of this video is transformative."
Jim Lomax MD, Professor, Menninger Chair of Psychiatric Education, Baylor College of Medicine

The DVDs are packaged in a variety of sets (see below). Please contact Dr. Fox at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.


Normal Development Video Series
A Longitudinal Stimulus Video Resource for Educators

Geri Fox, MD, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (312) 996-9506

This 25-year video project is available in the following sets:

1. Normal Development in the First Ten Years of Life (NDFTYL)

  • a. Complete Version (NDFTYL-CV) (4 DVDs, with separate in-depth instructor’s manual) covers ages 2 weeks to 10 years of Sarah’s development in detail.   Includes full video introduction and interview with 10-year-old Sarah discussing the taping process.  Also includes 40-minute 14-clip video appendix contrasting selected points from Brian’s development (ages 7 weeks to 5 years) not demonstrated by Sarah, as well as excerpts from the Strange Situation of other securely attached children with different response styles, and demonstration of conservation of liquid at two different ages with another child.  201 short video clips, 6 hours 20 minutes total running time.   The separate instructor’s manual includes an in-depth introduction for use of the video series, a description of each clip with the clip length and child’s age, suggested discussion points for each clip, and an index that cross-references the clips with various commonly taught topics.

  • b. Greatest Hits sampler (NDFTYL-GH)  (1 DVD with enclosed abbreviated instructor’s manual) covers ages 2 weeks to 10 years of Sarah’s development very briefly, with abridged  introduction. All clips in the Greatest Hits are taken from the NDFTYL Complete Version; several have been edited and shortened. (Clips of Brian from 7 weeks to 5 years are only in the Complete Version, not in the Greatest Hits.) 31 video clips, 55 minutes total.

2. Normal Development in Middle Childhood and Adolescence (NDMCA)

  • a. Complete Version (NDMCA-CV) (4 DVDs with separate in-depth instructor’s manual) covers ages 10 to 20 years for Sarah, and ages 5 to 15 ½ for Brian, in detail, along with an epilogue of Simon Fox at 95 years. 171 short video clips, 6 hours total. The instructor’s manual includes an in-depth introduction for use of the video series, a description of each clip with the clip length and child’s age, and suggested discussion points for each clip. The supplement to this manual cross-references the clips with various commonly taught topics. It also suggests selected readings for groups of clips by subject.

  • b. Greatest Hits sampler (NDMCA-GH) (1 DVD with enclosed abbreviated instructor’s manual) covers ages 10 ½ to 20 years for Sarah, and ages 5 to 15 ½ for Brian, very briefly, with one clip of Simon Fox at age 95. All clips in the Greatest Hits are taken from the NDMCA Complete Version; several have been edited and shortened. 39 video clips, 1 hour 35 minutes total running time.

3. Saying Goodbye: A Personal Documentary of Attachment and Loss at End of Life (1 DVD with enclosed instructor’s manual) provides an intimately filmed documentary of family conversations with Dr. Fox’s father as he reaches the end of his life at age 97. The film is divided into four parts (baseline at age 89 and 95, a few months before his death, the time around his death, and the months after his death. The instructor’s manual includes an in-depth introduction for use of the video, suggested presentation techniques, a description of each clip, and suggested discussion points for each clip.  15 video clips, 38 minutes total running time.

Quick Guide to “Saying Goodbye”
(15 clips, four parts, 38 minutes total)

Saying Goodbye (:32): Introduction

PART 1—Prologue (Si, age 89 and age 95)

#1 (:54): "Super Dad" Si.
#2 (3:18): "Why keep on living?"

PART 2— August-October 2009 (Si, age 97)

#3 (:35): "Not too many more birthdays" wish.
#4 (2:18): "Like lambs to the slaughter."
#5 (2:02): What are their care options?
#6 (1:55): Difficult to add, gets angry at self.
#7 (4:26): "Promise you'll stick around?"
#8 (3:45): "You've been the love of my life."
#9 (2:01): Agonizing at airport.

PART 3—November 2009 (Si, age 97)—Three weeks later

#10 (1:24): "The time has come."
#11 (2:05): "I don't want all this crap to keep me alive."
#12 (4:35): A comforting lie for Cele.
#13 (:45): "I want you to go on living."

PART 4—Epilogue (November-December 2009)

#14 (2:37): "My Song."
#15 (3:25): "Where's Si?"

Credits (1:05)




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