Aries Taurus Gemini Cancer Leo Virgo Libra Scorpio Sagittarius Capricorn Aquarius Pisces

Everyone knows that kids go through "stages."  What you probably don't know is that everything from the terrible twos to the trying teens and that threshold of adulthood crisis at 21 have an astrological explanation.  Knowing what these influences are can increase your understanding of your child, give you more patience, provide guiding wisdom to help them navigate through it, and also inspire hope that yes, this, too shall pass.  And don't think for a moment that once you get past 21 that these major events cease!  That mid-life crisis and "empty nest syndrome" have astrological corollaries as well.

Itís important to know the general theme of each astrological sign so you can understand how your child is "programmed, where s/he is going and thus prepare him or her for the journey.  These are elements that will be ingrained in their psyche and will be there whether you like them or not; your child cannot do anything about his basic nature and neither can you.  Ignoring this will not make those irritating qualities or behaviors go away; it will simply drive your child to other sources for whatever you donít provide.  I donít have any problem admitting that I would do any number of things differently if I were raising my six children today.  I wish Iíd had the benefit of astrology; it would have changed my tactics in a plethora of ways if Iíd had that insider information about what made each of them tick.  Maybe I can improve some of my karma by sharing this information mingled with my experience. 

Those infamous yet predictable life stages come about primarily as a result of outer planet transits, i.e. Jupiter, Saturn, the asteroid, Chiron, and UranusNeptune and Pluto move very slowly and are primarily responsible for the "generational effect" where children born over the course of several years have these planets in the same sign, giving them similar characteristics as noted on the specific planet pages linked above.  When a child is very young, the inner planets have the most noticeable effect.  For example, around the age of 22 months a child will have his first Mars return, which is when Mars returns to its natal position on the child's Natal Chart.  Obviously this coincides quite closely with the advent of the "terrible twos." 

Of course the most obvious "return cycle" is our solar return, more commonly known as our birthday.  This marks the beginning of a new life cycle every year of our life, the specifics of which can be read in a solar return chart which is cast for the exact moment when the Sun returns to the degree it was in when you were born.  This may be on your birthday or sometimes the day before or after.  The Sun represents our ego and each birthday this gets redefined, either consciously or subconsciously.  Children identify very closely with age, and this is part of the reason; we know intuitively that we've reached another milestone relative to who we are and progressed accordingly.  Children tend to look up to those who are older and look forward to the additional privileges available as they get older, whether it's to start kindergarten, first grade, middle school, high school, get a driver's license, be able to vote, smoke, drink or whatever.  We even look forward to 25 when our insurance rates usually go down!  After that we tend to pay less attention because societal influences are less obvious.  Nonetheless, the even decades such as 30, 40, 50, 60 and above are typically recognized, even for those of us that tend to try to ignore the years in between.

I would hardly represent myself as the perfect parent.  If I even attempted to do so I'm sure one or all of my six offspring would jump right in to quickly correct the record.  One thing I've noticed, however, with not only my own but other people's children as well is that by the time they get through that first Saturn return around 29, they are usually either dead, in jail, or straightened out.  I realize that is very representative of my Cappie "gloom and doom" nature of which I'm reminded on a regular basis by those close to me, but that doesn't change the fact it seems to work.   Fortunately, the vast majority are in the last category.  This undoubtedly relates to our first Saturn return.  At that time, as well as a few stops in between as denoted below, we take a careful look at how we feel about authority figures, responsibility, our obligations, and the various restrictions imposed by bureaucracies and other large entities such as corporations.  Back in the 60s the prevailing advise was not to trust anyone over 30.  The implications of that sentiment reflected on the concept of a Saturn return where after that age people would have a higher regard for authority and "The Establishment" as it was derisively called back then.  Now the "baby boomers" who grew up with that are twice that age!   However, as a member of that particular group, I'm not sure we have that much more respect for authority than we did back then, particularly regarding this most recent crop of politicians.

The following table denotes some of these key cycles and the associated influences you'll probably recognize, from your own experience growing up if nothing else.  Since this section is largely about children, I haven't included much detail about cycles past the 20s, but rest assured that they continue throughout your life.  Also note that I've only included the "hard" aspects, such as the square and opposition since they are the most noticeable.  Favorable influences such as the trine are seldom noticed by virtue of human nature, which takes the good times for granted while resenting the bad.  Note that the early to mid teens and around 21 contain overlapping cycles that often manifest as difficult times in the child's life and naturally this splashes on the parents stress level as well.  If a difficult cycle for one or both parents is in effect at the same time it will be a very trying time indeed for all concerned, for example if one or both parents are having their mid-life crisis at the same time they're trying to raise a teenager.

More information about planetary cycles is available under Planetary Returns.

Planet 1st Qtr


Half Cycle


Last Qtr


Return to Natal



(Mercury completes one orbit around the Sun in 88 days, but astrology is based on a geocentric view.  Thus, it appears to follow the Sun other than its retrograde periods that occur approximately every 4 months.)

~3 months

Responds to loud noises; recognizes parents' voices; coos, smiles and responds to attention; rolls over and interacts with others.  By this age is it fairly easy for an adult to understand what the child is trying to convey.

~6 months

This is about the time when a child starts to crawl and explore his or her world in a more mobile way.  His curiosity is awakened and the child can become bored if s/he doesn't have an interesting toy or person to keep him or her occupied.




~9 months

At this point the child is usually pulling him or herself up and may stand unassisted or even walk.  They are occupied greatly with movement and are doing so during nearly all their waking moments.  Even if they can't quite walk, they usually are adept at crawling and getting to where they want.  If their efforts are frustrated, they are likely to protest very loudly.  Their vocabulary is starting to form with simple words.


~1 year

Most likely the child is walking and communicating quite effectively with numerous words and actions.  They are fascinated by various toys and devices such as the television or cell phones, which they understand are for communicating so will mimic talking on one, even if you don't know what they're saying; they do!  At this point the toddler is rapidly becoming a "miniature person" with his or her own style of investigating their world and communicating with it.



Mercury rules the brain and is thus all about our ideas, thoughts and  communicating as well as eye-hand coordination and motor control (or lack thereof).  A child's survival depends on being able to communicate and move.  Each of these aspects will mark a milestone in the child's ability to communicate with his environment and his physical development then continue at regular intervals of approximately 1 year's duration.  During Mercury retrograde periods, progress will typically slow down considerably.

(Venus has a 225 day cycle, but like Mercury is between Earth and the Sun, so astrologically its cycle is closer to a year.)

~ 3 mos

Realizes that eating is more than just to satisfy hunger but is also enjoyable; may take a pacifier refused earlier or nurse for comfort long after milk is gone.

~ 6 mos

Interested in food, openly affectionate, responds to love and attention; may start to show preference for a certain toy or blanket as a comfort device. 


~ 9 mos

Is more aware of his senses as a way to experience the world; everything starts to go in the mouth; pays attention to music and cries when it stops; voices pleasure or displeasure.


~ 1 year

Shows clear preference for certain toys; may have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal that is soft and no substitute will do.  Shows affection with kisses and understand what they mean, i.e. will withhold them if unhappy.



Venus influences our affections, pleasures, what we value, and where we find comfort.  During the first year an infant shows distinct stages of development  as he determines his needs and responds to whether or not they're being met.  The ability to receive and give love is developed during this time.

(687 day cycle)

5 - 6 mos

Sits up independently, crawls.

~11 mos

First steps, unassisted.  Mars and Mercury work together for mobility with Mars providing the motivation and drive for independence while Mercury supplies the motor skills to accomplish the action.

~ 17 mos

Walking unassisted.  Often resists help or direction. 

~22 - 23 mos

Aware of own identity; Terrible Twos! Wants to do things his or her own way and shows considerable resistance when restrained.

Mars is all about independence and our drive to get what we want.  These cycles represent the child's efforts to assert himself and do things he hasn't done before.  They motivate him or her to seek out experiences that provide more autonomy.  How dramatic or difficult these stages may be  depend on how Mars is placed in the natal chart as well as in the return chart.  If Mars is in a Fire Sign, on their Ascendant, the Chart Ruler, or the Sun is in Aries, this will be more pronounced.
2nd Mars Return ~ 4 yrs

Interested in new experiences; develops more complex motor skills such as riding a tricycle and possibly simple sports.

3rd Mars Return

~ 6 yrs

Starting to think on his or her own and take action based on own experience and ideas.  This is the true difference between kindergarten and 1st grade!  [Corresponds with Jupiter opposition]


4th Mars Return

~ 8 yrs

Various religions consider this the time when a child becomes accountable and knows the difference between right and wrong.  They are likely to no longer ask permission as often or even be openly rebellious. [Correlates with Saturn square.]

Subsequent Mars Returns every ~ 2 yrs Parents have often noted that a child's even-numbered years tend to be more challenging than the odd-numbered years; this is easily attributable to Mars returns when a child's will is renewed, new drives are introduced, and different experiences pursued.

(12 years)

3 yrs

Curiosity increases and wants to learn; answers simple questions.

6 yrs


Synthesizes information and begins to form own opinions from discrete information.

9 yrs

Socializing increases with other children; stronger interest in learning; likes and dislikes more pronounced; "Best friends."

12 yrs

Begins to realize place in society; "Cliques"; starts to discover world outside immediate environment; interest in other lands and cultures increases. [Correlates with Chiron square.]

Jupiter is known as one of the "social planets" and rules your expectations, beliefs, and your philosophy of life.  You will notice that your child's understanding of the world around him changes significantly at each of these milestones.  They are learning not only rote knowledge, which falls under Mercury, but learning how to put it together and form their own opinions.  Jupiter also influences your confidence.  Note that at all these junctures s/he thinks he knows it all.

These returns continue throughout your life with each one representing a time when you pull it all together in some area of your life, depending on the House placement of the return Jupiter.  Jupiter rules such things as politics, religion, higher learning, relocation, long-distance travel, and legal matters, any of which can become a new focus with a Jupiter Return.  A new awareness of something and its meaning in your life will be the hallmark of each one.

2nd Jupiter Return 15 yrs

Thinks he knows it all and everyone else, especially adults, are stupid; peer pressure strong and influential.

18 yrs

Graduates from high school; strong opinions of how world works; begins to interact with society outside peer circle.


21 yrs

Graduates from college; attains new level of understanding of how the world works, based on learning and own experience. [Correlates with Saturn square.]


24 yrs

After living in the world on his own for a few years further grasps how it all fits together beneath the social umbrella.


3rd Jupiter Return ~ 36 yrs

Re-examines life and its direction; dramatic changes ensue if things don't add up.  Many individuals return to school, change jobs, or get more actively involved in politics or religious organizations at this time. [Correlates with 3rd Chiron square.]

4th Jupiter Return ~ 48 yrs

Reassessment time again that will result in attitude adjustments and change.  Many people at this age enjoy travel now that the kids are gone and their income is likely to be more stable than the earlier years.

5th Jupiter Return ~ 60 yrs

Enter the "croning" years when your life experience is displayed as a panorama expressed by every wrinkle and grey hair.  Perspective is deeper as well as understanding of the world at large.  What needs to be done to improve the world seems intuitively obvious to you and yet the rest of the world hasn't caught on.  At this point many of the individuals with whom you interact such as your physician, legal advisor, broker, and so forth will be younger than you are and you may begin to doubt whether they really know what they're doing. [Correlates with 2nd Saturn return.]


(29 years)

7+ yrs

Recognizes right and wrong and need to follow established rules. Rules are "black and white;" may not obey but doesn't modify them. [Correlates with 4th Mars return.]

14-15 yrs

Questions restrictions and boundaries; redefines and interprets rules.

21-22 yrs

Accepts, adapts or rejects rules of childhood as s/he is now an adult and no longer answers to parents. [Correlates with Jupiter square.]

29 1/2 yrs

Recognizes the need for rules, that lack of  responsibility will have a price, and fighting against the world is an exercise in futility.  In Biblical times, a man was not considered an adult until he was 30 years old.

Another "social planet," Saturn rules how you view, respect and respond to authority.  It's about restrictions, delays, your sense of responsibility, how you handle your obligations and those hard lessons we all experience, through which we gain wisdom.
2nd Saturn Return ~ 59 yrs

At your first Saturn return you learned responsibility and with your second you begin to gain wisdom.  In concert with the 5th Jupiter Return, an entirely new outlook begins to form regarding responsibilities, authority, and anything else that has been a stern instructor in your particular life.  Regard for authority is likely to change as respect is expected from others more than you're inclined to give it to those around you.   [Correlates with 5th Jupiter return.]


(50 years)

12-13 yrs

Hormone and growth influx brings a wealth of potentially painful experiences such as discovery of the opposite sex and body changes.

25 yrs

By now realizes that the world is a difficult place and can be cruel.

37-38 yrs

Mid-life crisis; seeks meaning in life.  Contemplates mistakes, their price, and corrective action. [Correlates with 3rd Jupiter return.]

50 yrs

Has just about "seen it all" and integrates experiences into psyche;  desire to help and mentor others.  Any unresolved hurts from the past may demand absolution.

Chiron influences the various hurtful experiences we encounter in life and how we use them to help others.  These can be of a physical, mental, emotional or even financial nature, depending on the house placement.

(84 years)

21 yrs

Determines own path that may be significantly different than the way he or she was raised.  Parents can't do much about it and s/he knows it.

42 yrs

A different type of freedom ensues with kids leaving the nest; time to reassess and redefine life's direction with changes likely.

63 yrs

Retirement countdown begins; leaving a career or work behind represents another type of freedom.  Ambition is likely to wane or be redirected to another area (i.e. retirement) if you're caught in a "grind."

84 yrs

Onset of old age, more social and physical changes.  Freedom at this point may be lost due to physical limitations.

Uranus is about sudden change, freedom, rebellion, disruptions, and the unexpected after which our life is never the same.  These are typically times of our life when we experience major changes, perhaps of our own making.

Progressed Sun and/or Moon signs are other possible reasons for personality and behavioral changes you may observe in your child, other family members, or even yourself.  If a child is born toward the end of an astrological sign, his or her Sun Sign will change at an early age.  For example, based on the "day for a year" formula for advancing a birth chart, a child born at 25 degrees Pisces will display all the dreamy and typically gentle attributes of a little Fish for the first five years of life, then about the time s/he enters school, will become more aggressive and active than previously.  Their interests will change, they'll become more bossy, have a lot more raw energy and be more drawn to or in need of physical outlets for their exuberance.  It would be natural to "blame" this on the school environment whereas in reality it's the sign change.  Thus, it's a good idea to take note of when this will occur and be prepared.  Your child may wonder why s/he feels differently as well, even to the point of wondering "What's wrong with me?" which can be very disconcerting, especially if they're already at a difficult age.  While they may not be able to understand or even belief in the astrological effects, you can and thus have a better idea how to help your child because of the veritable window astrology can give you into their deepest feelings and motivations.

Conversely, if someone is born at the beginning of a sign, they won't undergo a sign change until adulthood.  In other words, there are thirty degrees per sign, so if you were born at zero degrees, you will be 30 before you progress into the next one.  No matter what age this occurs, it can be quite disconcerting to the person as well as those close to him or her.  This can have an effect on all relationships but particularly marriages when one of the partners suddenly changes their personality.  This is not to say that they leave their entire previous persona behind, only that another layer will be added.  The beauty of this evolution is that it teaches us to understand others as we get to view the world through various zodiacal knotholes.  While we never leave our birth chart entirely behind, these progressions add another layer of experiential wisdom.  As an analogy, if you were born and raised in Montana you'll always possess the traits and paradigms you acquired from that culture.  If you move to Connecticut you'll assimilate certain elements of that culture though at heart you'll still be a Montanan.

Even Moon Sign changes are noticeable, sometimes even more so, at least once you know what to look for.  I've had adult clients come to me asking why they cry more easily than before and react more emotionally to stress; this is usually explained by their Moon progressing into Cancer or Pisces.  If someone suddenly becomes more worrisome, critical, complains more, has to blame everything on someone or something, and is more organized, maybe even to the point of being a neat-freak, the odds are good their Moon has gone into Virgo. 

Moon signs change approximately ever two and a half years.  The lunar phase changes as well, which also affects a person's emotional nature and quest for learning.  It's a very good idea for a parent to keep track of their child's Moon Sign since it has such a strong effect on their emotions.  Especially during times that are highly charged anyway, such as the teens, it provides one more piece of data to help you understand your child and help him or her grow into a responsible adult. About the time each person reaches approximately 30 years old, they will experience their first Progressed Lunar Return, meaning that they will have experienced the entire zodiacal emotional spectrum, further adding to the wisdom they assimilate with their first Saturn Return.  This has a lot more meaning and learning value when the person recognizes the different effects of each excursion so s/he can use it for understanding others' emotional natures.  The Natal Moon Sign will still be in force, but the Progressed Moon will manifest itself somewhat similar to the way cumin will manifest itself when you add it to a pot of chili.  Itís still chili and maintains its basic character as such, but thereís a new dimension to its flavor that gives it more authenticity.

 Learn more about your child's inborn traits

Optimize Family Harmony with a Family Dynamics Report

--Timing is Everything--

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