Introduction to Child Development
Child development is the scientific study of the growth, stability, and changes that occur from childhood through adolescence. However, many generations ago, children were not considered significantly different from adults. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, children were dressed like adults and expected to behave as such, regardless of his age.
Until the acceptance of child development research in the twentieth century, different thoughts (e.g., John Locke’s concept of “tabula rasa”) shaped our views on childhood. Fortunately, as centuries have progressed, our conceptualization of childhood and adolescence has expanded, becoming more scientifically oriented. For example, many years ago, it was assumed that children who displayed symptoms of autism (e.g., head banging, body rocking, delayed speech) were possessed by demons. These children were treated with extreme exorcisms and sometimes killed to drive the “demons” out of their bodies.
In our culture today, the scientific study of child development is a well-recognized area of study. Unlike the children of the previous generations, children are treated as individuals with skills and abilities distinct from adults.
Child Development Phases based on age We will discuss each of these types of development in relation to three distinct phases based on age. The preschool period ranges from three through six years, middle childhood ranges from six through twelve years, and adolescence ranges from twelve through twenty-one years. Physical Development A great deal of physical development occurs from age three through twenty-one. Chris will grow taller and heavier, his nervous system and muscles will grow, and his ability to engage in certain physical behaviors, such as sports, will improve. Cognitive Development Children and adolescents also experience significant cognitive development. Chris will increasingly acquire the ability to learn, solve problems, and form memories. Social Development Chris will also undergo social development as he experiences changes in his relationships with his family, peers, culture, and society.