Centuries ago, child psychology was a completely strange concept, since during the Middle Ages, for example, children were seen as nothing more than little versions of adults, they were treated in the same way as adults, and even dressed the same way. Today we know that childhood is a very influential moment in a person’s life, events that occur when we are young, even small, seemingly insignificant ones, can have a direct impact on how we feel and behave as adults.
What is child psychology?
Also called 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 a child to another. The topic is sometimes grouped with childhood, adulthood, and aging in the category of developmental psychology .
Child psychologists work with children and adolescents to diagnose and help resolve emotional or behavioral problems, such as learning disabilities , attention deficit disorder , hyperactivity, anxiety , obsessive compulsive disorder , phobias , adjustment disorder, and depression . children for developmental delays, signs of autism spectrum disorder, and other problems that affect development.
They evaluate and treat children and adolescents, helping them cope with stresses such as divorce, death, and family or school transitions. Your clientele can include children with a variety of developmental problems, from learning disabilities to serious mental illness. A part of the job is to arrive at the best diagnosis when a complex set of symptoms is present, more than other mental health professionals, psychologists are experts in conducting psychological tests.
Child psychology is one of several specialties that focuses on the formative years. Clinical psychologists generally receive more training to provide long-term mental health therapy than school psychologists, their programs are more clinically focused than those of developmental psychologists. Clinical child psychologists are considered health service providers but their training also prepares them for indirect roles, such as consultants or researchers.
A closely related specialty is pediatric psychology; pediatric psychologists work in medical settings. Child psychologists may work in outpatient centers, government agencies, or hospitals. Some are in private practice.
Areas of child psychology
Child psychology studies the interaction of a few major areas of development:
Physical development in children is usually a predictable sequence of events. Your child raises his head, rolls over, crawls, walks, and runs, in that order, your child psychologist can help your pediatrician to observe your child’s physical development, and if there are any abnormalities that may indicate irregularities, they will observe the progression toward developmental milestones to ensure they are normal. Large delays in physical development can reveal other underlying problems that can then be addressed early on.
Medical understanding of childhood cognitive development has changed a lot in recent years, we now know that even newborns are aware of and interested in their environment, even before they have the language to express it.
Cognitive development refers to the intellectual processes of learning and thinking of a child, which includes observation and understanding of the world around them, language learning, memory , decision-making , problem solving, how the child uses his imagination and how he uses basic reasoning, all of these factors are influenced by genetics and the environment.
Emotional development (Social)
Emotional and social development are deeply intertwined, since emotional development refers to how the child feels, understands and expresses their emotions and emotional development is expressed in very young children through the expression of basic emotions such as fear, joy, anger and sadness. As it develops, more complex emotions such as trust, hope, guilt, and pride emerge. Emotional development also includes the child’s ability to feel and understand the emotions of other people through empathy, learning to regulate and express emotions appropriately is difficult for many.
Helping children understand their emotions can have a powerful impact on current and future emotional development. The way a child feels, understands and expresses his feelings has a direct impact on the way he interacts with other people. Social development is about how the child develops the values, awareness and social skills necessary to relate to the people around them such as their parents, peers, authority figures and animals. Early relationships can have a great impact on his development of age-appropriate social skills.
Why is child psychology important?
Everyone wants their child to have a healthy development, but it is not always clear whether a child’s behavior is a symptom of a normal stage of development or a sign of abnormality. Child psychologists can help you understand the difference, understanding normal and abnormal psychological patterns can help parents understand how to better communicate and connect with their children, teach their children to manage the mechanisms for managing emotions, and help them progress and thrive in each new stage of development.
Child psychologists can also identify abnormal behaviors, help pinpoint the root cause of common behavior problems, such as learning disabilities, hyperactivity, or anxiety , and help children overcome early childhood trauma , they can help prevent, assess, and diagnose developmental delays or abnormalities such as autism .
Tips to better understand your child’s psychology
The well-known child psychologist Jean Piaget says: From the moral point of view as from the intellectual point of view, the child is born neither good nor bad, but the owner of his destiny ».
Raising children is more than just providing comfort, being there for the child emotionally provides them with a sense of security. Here are some basic child psychology tips to help you better understand children:
Observation is key
One of the simplest, but most effective, ways to learn about child psychology is by observation, show interest in what your children do or say, observe their actions, expressions, and temperament when they eat, sleep, and play. Keep in mind that your child is unique and may have a personality that stands out even as he grows older, so avoid comparing him to other children as that not only adds stress to parenting but also makes feel inferior.
Ask yourself some questions that can help you understand the psychology of children.
- What else does the child like to do?
- How do you react when you have to do something you don’t like, like eat vegetables, sleep early, or do homework?
- How social is he? Are you willing to share or try new things?
- How long does it take for the child to become familiar with his environment? Are you able to adapt to changes in the environment?
As you answer these questions, remember not to judge the child, just watch to be aware.
Spend “quality” time with your children
Today’s parents are busy juggling work and home. Multitasking, as they call it, allows them to take care of many things at once, one of the things is the child, if you have been spending time with your child in this way, it is time for a change.
The time you spend with your children at the dining room table or driving them to and from school is not enough, you may have to take time to talk and play with them, and spend quality hours that allow you to understand their psychology. Conversations with them let you know what’s going on in their life at school and home, what their favorite music or TV show is, and what excites them and what doesn’t.
Quality time doesn’t necessarily mean talking or doing something together, sometimes you can just sit back and silently watch them to gather some ideas about their personality.
Pay attention to your child’s environment
Research has shown that a child’s behavior and attitudes are highly dependent on the environment in which they grew up, to get to know the child better, you need to pay attention to the environment in which they are. The environment can affect the development of the brain, which in turn affects the development of your language and your cognitive abilities, the link speaks specifically about the home environment compared to any other.
Behavior is highly dependent on the type of people around you and how they interact with you, take the time to assess the type of environment that has been created at home and your school. For example, if your child is being aggressive or withdrawing from socialization, you may want to know what or who has influenced him to behave that way.
Understand how a child’s brain works
Parents can often know the physiology of their children, but they do not know how the brain works, which is shaped by experiences and this in turn affects the way it responds to different situations. Understanding how a child’s brain works can help you learn about behavior, decision-making, social, logical, and cognitive skills.
Wrong experiences can result in negative responses imprinting on the mind, which has an adverse effect on your overall development.
Listen – Let Your Children Tell You Their Stories
Talking is good, but listening is important when you have a conversation with your child, start a conversation so that he speaks and then listen to what he is trying to say. Children may not be able to express themselves clearly, so you need to pay attention to the words they use and their non-verbal cues as well.
You should focus on:
- Tone: The way they accentuate a word or phrase.
- Expressions: That tell you how they feel. Try to measure their emotions when they talk about something to understand if they like it, if they are afraid of it or if they are stressed about it.
- Body language: Be careful with eye contact, how they use their hands and posture.
You should not only listen, but also let your child know that they are being listened to and that you take them seriously. Acknowledge what they are saying and respond to let them know that you understand what they are saying, if you do not understand, ask questions for clarity but be careful not to talk too much or ask too many questions as that can shut your child off completely.
Ask the right questions
If you want your child to speak, it is important to ask the right kinds of questions. Start conversations by asking open-ended questions, which would encourage the child to share details.
Instead of asking “Do you like this song?”, Which guarantees a “yes” or “no,” ask her “What do you think of this song?” Which will allow her to say more. Instead of asking who they played with, ask them what they played and let them explain it in detail, and don’t cut them off.
Also, never dodge the questions your child asks. If you don’t have an answer to your child’s question, park and come back with an answer later.
Educate yourself on child development
Be proactive in understanding the different stages of child development to see how well your child is doing. Take the time to read books, online publications, and talk to a specialist who can give you insight into psychology and development. When you don’t know what to expect, anything can seem right or vice versa.
Watch other children
Sometimes observing other children who are the same age as yours can also help you better understand your child, this can allow you to understand how he behaves in a social environment and identify his strengths and weaknesses that determine his personality, this does not mean Let him compare your child to every child his age and judge who is better.
Parents tend to determine their children’s performance abilities by comparing them to other children. However, this can have a negative impact on the child, in the long run. While the comparison isn’t always bad, it can be dangerous when you overdo it.
Don’t assume you know what your child wants or how he or she is feeling at any given time. If he does not complain, you can assume that he is happy, you assume that he is a great father because your son behaves well in public and does not get angry.
When you assume, you are closing yourself to understanding your children with precision, therefore, making bad choices, asking for them should help clear up any doubts and you will know for sure what it is about.
Important things to consider
Child psychology covers a wide range of topics, from genetic influences on behavior to social pressures on development. The following are just some of the main topics that are essential to the study of child psychology:
- Environmental influences.
- Prenatal development.
- Social growth.
- Personality development.
- Gender roles.
- Cognitive development.
- Sexual development
Child psychologists may specialize in helping children cope with specific developmental concerns, or they may take a more general approach. In either case, these professionals strive to help them overcome potential problems and grow in ways that lead to healthy results. For example, they can see which child care settings and practices lead to the best psychological outcomes, or they can work with children to help them develop a growth mindset.
Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.