How a child thinks and works, the traits he/she exhibits and the development he/she undergoes- all comes under child psychology.
Understanding a child and comparing the behavioral changes with that of other children and other age groups is done under this topic. This is a subject which needs deep core understanding.
Many of the people are interested in psychology, which is the study of the human behaviour. And, as one explores this field, he comes to know that child psychology is something which attracts great amount of research and study work. Let us know more about the subject.
What is child psychology?
Childhood is that phase of life which witnesses peaks in growth and development processes. Some people find studying this phase and the growth pattern very interesting.
Child psychology is the field of study where the change an individual undergoes from birth to adolescence is taken into consideration. The person who studies this discipline is called the child psychologist.
He studies, observes and draws conclusions based on the type of change and the reason for the change. They enquire whether the development is stimulated by experiences or due to biological reasons.
Various aspects of the behaviour of the child are taken as individual areas for research work and investigation. They may be physical, cognitive, social, intellectual and emotional aspects.
Each child differs from the other in every aspect. The way a child thinks, learns, interacts and responds to situations around is monitored.
Also, the ability of the child to make friends, to develop his own personality, temperament and develop skills is also undertaken.
Child psychology definition
Britannica says that child psychology is a discipline which is also called the child development. It is the “study of the psychological processes of children and specifically, how these processes differ from those of adults, how they develop from birth to the end of adolescence, and how and why they differ from one child to the next”.
This discipline has been of recent origin. Charles Darwin in 1840 discovered this child psychology. He observed and recorded the data of growth and development of one of his own children.
The consecutive work was done by various other psychologists, which provided an elaborative approach to the subject.
Also, early 20th century witnessed a range of developments in intelligence tests and various child clinics were established. This proved to be a major milestone in the history of child psychology.
How a child sees the world and how the world sees the child is a question to ponder upon. The data is collected and kept in form of records. Various sources are involved.
This may include the perception of the family, friends, relatives, teachers as well as the psychologist herself when she has connected with the child.
Personality tests and intelligence tests are a few experimental methods which provide some crucial understanding of the growth pattern and development of the child.
Child development psychology
Development is a continuous process which is constant from birth to death. However, we shall be considering here just the development phase from birth to adolescence i.e. the development in a child.
A child undergoes biological, psychological and emotional changes as the age progresses. The sequence of development is not defined, but is unique because it has its own rate and own characteristics in each child.
Child development psychology is the science which deals with the study of development process in children over the time period.
This psychology has increased the scope of itself to other age groups as well. This field covers a wide range of aspects-
- Motor skills
- Cognitive development
- Executive functions
- Moral understanding
- Social change
- Personality development
- Emotional development
- Self analysis
- Formation of the identity
We know that the nature influences the child behaviour and the upbringing affects the process of development. The interactions and the personal characteristics are counted as well in child psychology.
The developmental changes are influenced by genetic factors and prenatal development.
The main objective of child development psychology is “to describe, explain and to optimize development”.
If we talk about describing the development, then we need to define the typical patterns of growth as well as the individualistic variations.
The continuous process of growth which is cumulative is termed as the “normative development”. This development is influenced by other external factors and hence exhibits plasticity.
All human beings develop in the same manner, but have some variations which are completely individualistic.
Under this field, there are certain theories which contribute to the foundation of child development psychology.
- Piaget’s Cognitive Theory
- Piaget’s Sensorimotor Stage
- Piaget’s Preoperational Stage
- Piaget’s Concrete Operational Stage
- Piaget’s Formal Operational Stage
- Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory
- Zone of Proximal Developmental
- Bowlby’s Attachment Theory
- Attachment Theory
Child psychology behaviour
Each child is unique and special. You can understand your child more deeply once you understand his/her behaviour.
Child psychology helps you to study the child behaviour, and hence, you can be a better parent by guiding and nurturing your child in an improved manner.
Also, you can then infer easily that whether your child has some behavioural problem or not and also find out the reason behind it.
We have a very few and simple steps which you can follow to understand your child.
- Observe your child carefully. Look after what he/she eats, plays, and draws and other activities. Observe the timings of sleep and interaction with others.
- Notice that whether your child adjusts with the changed surroundings easily or exhibits difficult behaviour.
- Always remember that each child is unique in his own way. Children differ in traits and talents.
- Be a little friendly and have a very comfortable connection with your child. This will make him/her converse with you easily.
- Do not jump to harsh acts such as shouting and scolding. Offer some generous advice and judgement to your child. Do not blame him for his mistakes.
- Do not be too lenient towards your child, which may spoil him.
- Offer him sufficient space to understand things you say and you do.
- Spend some real quality time with your child where you involve in his/her life very well.
- Make your child trust on you and let him become open about his fears, feelings and thoughts in front of you.
- Be a good listener to your child. If he/she knows that you are listening and understanding, he/she will like the feeling and also feel comfortable.
- Make your child realise himself about his responsibilities.
- Encourage your child and give him an independent feeling.
- Appreciate him whenever he does something worth appraisal. Praise him for showing a responsible attitude.
- Help your child develop a very positive attitude.
- Include your child in family conversations if applicable. Make him feel “wanted” in the family. Make him feel as a family member who has some say in family decisions.
- Understand his ideas and thought process. Do not directly jump to conclusions and blame him for doing mistakes.
- Keep your promises and always set an example for your child to be a “good” person.
- Teach moral values to the kid.
- Don’t be a hyperactive parent. Help him whenever needed. Do not constantly pinch him.
- Let your child make mistakes and learn from them.
- Do not consider your child to be too timid or portray him as a troublemaker. Childhood is all about fun and learning. Dig deeper and know the reason behind such behaviour. Help your child overcome his fears and strengthen his foundation.
- Involve your kid in some creative activity. Dedicate time and resources to help your child discover his own talent.
If you keep a check on the behaviour of your child, then it will be easy for you to detect any sort of childhood psychological disorder such as:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Autistic Disorder
- Conduct Disorder
- Anxiety Disorder
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Learning Disorders
- Substance addiction
- Major depression and Bipolar Disorder
Any disturbance or deviation from the normal behaviour can be taken as a sign of some “problem”. Disturbance can be emotional (in form of anxiety or depression), behavioural (in form of aggression), Physical (psychogenic disorders) or mental (impact on behaviour at school or degradation in performance).
The factors responsible for such behaviour can be the inconsistent or contradictory parenting style, problems in the family or married life, child abuse, domestic violence, negligence, some chronic illness or separation.
The ways in which the abnormal behaviour comes out is unpredictable in case of children. Children are not always spontaneous at reactions.
They emerge the behavioural changes later on. Sometimes, it can turn out to be really difficult to understand whether the behaviour is normal or abnormal.
Have you noticed some unusual habits in your child such as thumb sucking, nail biting, hair pulling, breath holding, fidgeting etc.?
These are repetitive behaviours which a child can exhibit due to physical, emotional or social stress. Some habits emerge out of imitation, but not every time such habits can be neglected.
You need to be quite serious regarding your child behaviour and his psychology.
Child psychology courses
Child psychology is a discipline which covers a vast career. Many people are interested to become child psychologists, and this requires good learning and determination power.
For treating and helping out the little young patients, you need to be eligible of diagnosing and treating a variety of disorders.
Several courses are available to train people in this field. The choice of course is solely yours depending upon the type of child psychology you wish to pursue.
You can study to be a clinical psychologist or move into the research field.
Undergraduate education along with the doctoral program is necessary for better placements and opportunities. The post-doctoral courses are considered for the involvement in research work.
The courses are available at all the levels- bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree in psychology, child psychology and developmental psychology.
License or certification is provided only when there is an advanced degree along with the experience.
Undergraduate degree provides the base for the future coursework. You can have a social science background of education.
Master’s degree can be taken in art or science field, according to your own comfort and specialisation. Doctoral programs are offered as PhD, which involve deep study.
The most important aspect is getting a license. The license gives the permission for practice.
Child psychology books for reference
Books are the man’s best friend. You can always take help of a book to learn or obtain knowledge. There is a wide range of written content available in form of books.
The accuracy and value of a book defines its usefulness and quality. A few books are mentioned below which can be used for reference in child psychology.
- “How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
This is a book with very attractive title. It is clear from the name itself that you can understand your child by properly listening and communication.
This book can be used by the parents as well as the teachers. It is easy to read and understand, and has some of the crucial lessons of life.
Real life examples and simple cartoons are used with other illustrations as well. It provides huge help in parenting and establishes a good relationship between you and your child.
- There are various encyclopaedias which constitute the major portion of the technical information on Child psychology.
“The Psychoanalytic study of the child” is an annual journal which has the overall summarised information. Updated articles and research work is constantly added every year so that latest information regarding the development and disorders of children, and their influence on the treatment is delivered to the people.
- The Feeling Child
This is a book which relates parenting and child growth. You can always download an e-book for a quick reading.
- The Psychology of a Child (Paperback) by Jean Piaget
- Bring out the Best in your Child and Yourself (Paperback) by Ilene Val-Essen
- Kindergarten is too Late by Masaru Ibuka
- Brain rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina
And the list of reference books for child psychology is endless! You can order books online or go to your nearest library. Gather what you are searching for!
Abnormal child psychology
This is a field of study in which the reactive behaviour of the children is observed and recorded. A developmental approach is carried out in order to understand the childhood disorders and scientific aspects are taken into consideration as well.
For an abnormal child, the child psychology follows a slightly different pattern, but the basic protocol remains the same. The disorders are studied, the causes are identified and the treatments are devised.
Abnormal Child Psychology is also a Journal which has all the latest research work done on psychopathology in childhood and adolescence.
In this journal, major childhood disorders are highlighted along with the causes and the proper treatment. You can get the full information on the important well debated subjects and this will provide a better insight towards the abnormal child psychology.
The disorders are mentioned in an organised manner and summarised form. The accuracy is very apt and the readers can truly trust upon the information.
The journal signifies all the current research work and articles published recently, with proper attention given to the delicate issues.
A comprehensive and holistic approach helps the reader to identify with the abnormal child psychology, and help the child as a whole, not taking disorder as the target.
The editions are available in form of PDF files on the internet. Have a look at them!
Child psychology courses online
If you wish to pursue child psychology as your career option and want to go for a course, then internet provides you the accessibility in form of online courses.
A graduate degree from online course may lead you to become eligible for some colleges for getting enrolled in advanced programs.
You don’t need to be present on the campus and also give your full time to the education. You can study at your own comfort level with suitable timings of your choice.
The programs are offered at affordable rates and the degree you receive is considered as a reputed academic qualification.
Here is a list of the best online courses available for child psychology.
- Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Program: Online Master of Arts in Psychology: Child and Adolescent Development
Cost: $982 per hour
- Walden University
Program: Online Bachelor in Psychology: Child and Adolescent Development
Cost: $290 per hour
- Southern New Hampshire University
Program: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology: Child and Adolescent Development
Cost: $320 per hour
4. Capella University
Program: Online Master of Science in Psychology: Child and Adolescent Development
Cost: $430 per hour
5. Florida Tech University
Program: Online Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology: Child Advocacy
Cost: $495 per hour
In our country, online courses are of diploma and certificate level. However, these are still not regarded as reputed as the regular degree.
Careers in child psychology
Are you interested in devoting your occupational life in child development and welfare? Do you like to study how children grow and develop from birth to adolescence?
Do you have the skill and a mind involved in psychology subject? If yes, then why not take child psychology as a career.
Choosing this as a career, you will study various aspects of child development. This will include the physical, social, psychological and emotional aspects. Various courses are available to specialise in this field.
What a child psychologist does is work with children and their parents or families in order to assist them in parenting and helping the child overcome his/her developmental issues.
This does not mean that the psychologists work with the abnormal children only. The working depends upon the individual cases. A child psychologist handles the issues a child might face and resolve them.
The child might have mental, emotional or social problem. You need to be patient enough and very sincere towards your work. You may have some severe cases where you will have to work in adverse situations.
You may witness violent behaviour and outrageous breakouts. No matter what the case might turn out to be, you have to fulfil your duty at your best. Be careful while handling children and be compassionate about your work.
In your training, you will be taught the handling and treatment methods. The needs of a child are different from that of an adult. Involve interactive sessions and fun activities to make the child comfortable. Colouring books, toys and video games are the best to lure children and get them feel comfortable.
If we talk about the demand of child psychologists in the present world, then the ones with the good academic qualifications and license is always considered prior.
The employment is easily found in schools, orphanages and child welfare offices. They can work as counsellors or clinical psychologists. Clinics and hospitals often have demands for child psychologists. You can also begin with your own practice work.
The salary is determined by experience and the place where you practice. Licensed practitioners are given an upper hand. Child psychologists make better earnings in metropolitan cities and well developed cities.
Earnings range from median salary as $64000 a year in US and western states. The potential still needs to be released to the maximum extent in our country!