Child psychology is one of the many branches of psychology and one of the most frequently studied specialty areas. This particular branch focuses on the mind and behavior of children from prenatal development through adolescence. Child psychology deals not only with how children grow physically, but with their mental, emotional and social development as well.
Historically, children were often viewed simply as smaller versions of adults. When Jean Piaget suggested that children actually think differently than adults, Albert Einstein proclaimed that the discovery was "so simple that only a genius could have thought of it."
Today, psychologists recognize that child psychology is unique and complex, but many differ in terms of the unique perspective they take when approaching development. Experts also differ in their responses to some of the bigger questions in child psychology, such as whether early experiences matter more than later ones or whether nature or nurture plays a greater role in certain aspects of development.
The Different Contexts of Child Psychology
When you think of development, what comes to mind? If you are like most people, you probably think about the internal factors that influence how a child grows, such as genetics and personal characteristics. However, development involves much more than the influences that arise from within an individual. Environmental factors such as social relationships and the culture in which we live also play essential roles.
Some of the major contexts that we need to consider in our analysis of child psychology include:
• The Social Context: Relationships with peers and adults have an effect on how children think, learn and develop. Families, schools and peer groups all make up an important part of the social context.
• The Cultural Context: The culture a child lives in contributes a set of values, customs, shared assumptions and ways of living that influence development throughout the lifespan. Culture...