What Is Child Psychology and Why Is It Important
Children have been historically referred to as mini-adults – to the extent that in the past, they have been adorned the same as adults and had to work alongside adults in mainstream employment. This is even evident in some of the advertisements today.
Within this context, child psychology was an alien concept. Jean Piaget is hailed as the founder of contemporary child psychology.
From the 1920s onwards, his work established the concept that children and adults think uniquely from each other.
One of his major contributions was that children pass through distinct stages of emotional and mental development throughout the course of their childhood.
He also recommended that intellectual growth is closely linked to emotional, social, and physical growth. Today we understand that childhood is a very prominent time in a person’s life.
Events that transpire when we’re young – despite small, apparently insignificant ones – can undeviating impact how we feel and perform as adults.
A child psychologist operates within this very significant life period, a specialized developmental psychology branch called child psychology or child development.
Child Psychology is a specialised branch of Developmental Psychology.
A child psychologist is an individual who is a specialist in childhood development. They work with children and adolescents to diagnose and assist resolve problems that cause emotional or behavioural problems for them.
Child psychology is essential because it can help us better understand how kids think and how best to raise them to become well-rounded individuals.
Therefore, it is useful to help both parents and teachers better understand and support children in their care.
Child psychology supports parents and teachers in better understanding of kids and how best to support them.
Main Areas Covered Within Child Psychology
There are 5 main areas covered within child Psychology
Three areas of Child Development are Physical development, Cognitive or intellectual development, and Social and emotional development. Below we are going to discuss them in detail.
Physical development pertains to physical body changes. These commonly occur in a comparatively stable and anticipated sequence. It additionally involves the acquisition of specific skills, such as gross-motor and fine-motor movements.
Gross motor skills are techniques that empower people to do things that require using the large muscles in the torso, arms, and legs to create whole-body movements like walking, running, throwing, lifting, kicking, etc.
Fine motor skills are the strength to perform actions using the small muscles in our hands and wrists.
Kids depend on these skills to do essential tasks in school and everyday life like buttoning up their coat, holding a pencil or scissors, threading beads, writing, cutting, playing with Legos, etc.
Cognitive or intellectual development applies to the methods children use to obtain knowledge. This includes thought, language acquisition, reasoning skills, and imagination.
Social and emotional development are remarkably interrelated, so much so that they are even frequently paired together.
Learning to associate with others is a component of a child’s social development, while emotional development includes feelings and the representation of feelings.
Confidence, trust, fear, pride, friendship, and humour are all part of one’s social-emotional growth.
While they may be separated into sections for the sake of easier understanding, the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional areas of a child’s development are all inextricably linked.
Development in one domain can heavily influence that in another. For example, writing words demands both fine-motor skills and cognitive language skills.
In addition to different development areas, research has confirmed that development reflects key patterns or principles. Recognizing these principles has greatly influenced how we care for, treat, and educate children today.
Behavioural challenges are the most obvious reason to consult a Child Psychologist.
Developmental milestones are an essential way for psychologists to gauge a child’s progress in various key developmental areas.
They serve as checkpoints in a child’s development to ascertain what the normal child can do at a particular age.
Understanding the milestones for diverse ages helps child psychologists distinguish normal child development and aids in recognizing potential problems with slowed development.
For instance, a 1-year-old child can typically stand and support his or her weight by clinging onto something. Some kids at this age can even walk.
If a child approaches 18 months of age but yet cannot walk, it might symbolize a problem that requires further investigation.
Developmental areas are interconnected and influence each other.
4 Main Categories of Developmental Milestones
Physical milestones: Which pertain to the development of both the gross and fine motor skills.
Cognitive or mental milestones: Which refer to the child’s developmental aptitude for thinking, learning, and solving problems.
Social and emotional milestones: Which pertain to the child’s ability to express emotion and respond to social interaction.
Communication and language milestones: Which involve the child developing verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
Development milestones act as checkpoints in a child’s development.
All children can be naughty, rebellious, and unpredictable from time to time. As a matter of fact they should be so. They are, after all children, and this is what sets them apart from adults.
In most cases, conflicts between parents and children are inevitable as the children learn to cope, from the “terrible twos” (child’s mood and behaviors) through adolescence, to declare their independence and manifest their own identities.
These behaviours are a natural part of the growing-up process.
Nevertheless, some children display notably difficult, challenging behaviors outside the norm for their age.
In fact, behavioural issues are the most obvious reason that parents solicit the help of child psychologists.
Child psychology includes looking at all possible sources to behavioural issues, including diet, family dynamics, brain disorders, genetics, and stress, and subsequently treat them.
Behavioural issues can be brief temporary problems that are usually linked to stressful circumstances. For instance, a divorce, birth of a sibling, or a death in the family.
Alternatively, behavioural issues include a pattern of aggressive, sustained hostile, or disruptive behaviours that are inappropriate for the child’s age.
The most usual disruptive behaviour disorders include oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
These 3 behavioural disorders share some general symptoms and can be further aggravated by emotional problems and mood disorders.
Emotional development includes learning what emotions and feelings are—understanding how and why they occur and understanding their own feelings and also those of others, then cultivating effective ways of managing them.
This complex process starts in infancy and extends into adulthood.
The ﬁrst emotions that can be recognized in babies are anger, joy, sadness, and fear. Later, as children start to acquire a sense of self, more complex sentiments like shyness, surprise, delight, humiliation, shame, embarrassment, guilt, pride, and empathy develop.
The objects that provoke emotional responses also change, as do the approaches used to manage them.
Learning to manage emotions is more challenging for some children than it is for others.
Learning to manage emotions is more challenging for some children than it is for others. This may be due to their unusual emotional nature – some children feel emotions more strongly and quickly.
They tend to be extra emotionally reactive and ﬁnd it more difficult to calm down. Emotionally reactive children also manage to get anxious more speedily and quickly than other children.
A child psychologist first distinguishes why the child is having difficulty expressing or regulating his or her emotions.
They will then develop strategies to assist them to learn to accept feelings and understand the links between their feelings and behaviour.
Close on the heels of emotional development is social development.
Social Development involves socialization, which implies acquiring the values, knowledge, and skills that empower children to relate to others productively and contribute positively to school, family, and the community.
While this is an endless process, early childhood is a significant period for socialization.
One of the first and most significant relationships children encounter is with their parents or primary caregivers.
The essence of this relationship has a notable effect on later social development.
In peer relationships, children discover how to initiate and sustain social interactions with different children.
They acquire skills for managing disagreements, such as turn-taking, compromise/agreement, and bargaining.
Playing also includes mutual, sometimes complex, coordination of intentions, activities, and judgment.
Through these experiences, children cultivate friendships that contribute as additional security sources and support to those rendered by their parents or primary caregivers.
Factors that can add to an inability to acquire age-appropriate social skills encompass everything from the amount of love and affection the child gets to the family’s socio-economic status.
Children who fail to socialise properly possess difficulty forming and sustaining satisfying relationships with others – a weakness many carry into adolescence adulthood.
Play is an essential part of social skills development.
Domains a psychologist will strive to address when working with children battling to socialise, include restraining hostile or aggressive impulses.
They will help a child learn how to self-express in socially suitable ways, engage in socially productive actions (such as helping, caring, and sharing with others), and developing a healthy sense of self.
FAQ About Child Psychology and Why Is It Important?
What is a Child Psychologist?
A Child Psychologist is a person who is trained in understanding the processes of childhood development starting from infancy to adolescence.
Why should you take a child to a Child Psychologist?
The most common cause of why a child’s visit to a child psychologist is linked to the child’s behavioural challenges.
What are the five fundamental areas of Child Psychology?
The five fundamental areas of child psychology are development, milestones, behaviour, emotions, and socialisation.
What are the four developmental milestones?
The four crucial childhood developmental milestones are: Physical, Cognitive/Mental, Social and Emotional, and lastly, Communication, and Language.