Dealing with and raising children is a complex process that requires a lot of knowledge and experience. This includes both the school and home environment. Just as parents need to understand the stages of a child’s psychological development, teachers also need to be well-versed in the science of child development, including the stages of psychological and psychomotor growth, and how each stage differs from the others.
What is child psychological development?
Child psychology is greatly concerned with studying all the behavioral changes that a child goes through in different stages of life from birth to adolescence and adulthood, and the extent to which these behavioral, physiological, and psychological changes in children differ from those in adults.
Therefore, when we talk about the stages of growth in child psychology, we mean cognitive, motor, sensory, and perceptual development, as well as reactions to external changes and behavioral changes accompanying a child’s growth in different age stages.
Stages of child psychological development include various other forms of growth, such as emotional growth, motor development, cognitive development, and other forms of growth that children experience together.
Stages of child psychological development
From birth, humans go through several stages that help shape their personality, achieve independence, and develop an interaction with the environment during their growth process.
Consequently, psychological development plays a significant role in shaping a child’s personality and helps in social, physical, intellectual, and mental growth.
Undoubtedly, a child relies entirely on their parents in the early stages of life until they achieve independence in their youth. Several theories have been developed in child psychological development, divided into stages of psychological development set by psychology specialists, education experts, and family relations experts in children’s growth stages.
The stages of psychological development according to psychologists:
- Sensory and motor development: The first stage of children’s development begins at the age of two when the child starts to recognize all their senses and motor skills and begins to interact more broadly with the surrounding environment.
- Pre-operational stage: Children’s development stages begin here as the child starts learning to speak, walk, and think. This stage may be related to the cognitive development of the child’s mind since they heavily rely on imagination to satisfy their curiosity about the surrounding world.
- Concrete operational stage: The stages of a child’s psychological development continue with the expansion of the child’s surrounding environment and the beginning of the primary educational stage, where the child learns abstract and logical thinking and begins to acquire new behaviors and greater knowledge.
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Psychological stages of child development according to positive education experts:
- Trust stage:
The child gains trust from those around them. In their early years, the child receives love, warmth, and a sense of security from their parents, which makes the child feel that the world is safe and there is no danger in it, thus increasing their confidence.
- Independence stage:
As the child develops, they move from a stage of complete dependence on their parents to developing themselves through stages of physical movement, exploration, and mental development to increase their independence and reliance on themselves.
- Struggle or attempt stage:
This stage begins at the age of five when the child enters the educational stage, which increases their efficiency, and productivity, and develops their relationships with those around them, helping them to adapt to the environment and interact with it.
- Identity affirmation stage:
This may be one of the longest stages of growth in a child, as it continues from childhood to adolescence. In this stage, the child’s psychological growth occurs through many changes related to physical and physiological growth. The stages of psychological growth for the child here consist of acquiring an independent personality, feeling responsible for those around them, their strength, reliance on themselves, and interacting with friends and others away from the family, making them more aware of their true identity.
What are the psychological characteristics of a child?
Child psychology examines the behaviors and feelings of children intensively and with great focus, making it easier to understand the behaviors of children at different ages and answering many basic questions about understanding the psychology of the child, such as: What are the factors influencing mental health? How do differences in behavior develop between children? What factors affect a child’s growth? And other questions.
To understand the main psychological characteristics of a child, we can focus on the following aspects:
- Dependence on others: In childhood, the child needs to rely on others, especially parents, to meet their basic and emotional needs.
- Curiosity and exploration: The child is characterized by their strong curiosity and love of exploration, trying to explore the world around them and experience new things.
- Wide imagination: The child has a wide imagination and the ability to play and imagine, which helps to develop their creative and social skills.
- Strong emotions: The child’s emotions can be strong and fluctuating, as they may suddenly burst into fits of anger or feel sad or fearful.
- Need for protection and care: The child in this stage needs protection, care, and attention from parents and responsible individuals.
- Continuous acquisition of skills: The child is constantly learning life, social, linguistic, and motor skills, which greatly affects their psychological, emotional, and social development.
Since child psychology is a vast field that requires familiarity with many educational and behavioral theories, the ideal starting point is to understand how a child’s psychology differs from that of an adult and the extent to which this difference affects the child’s behavior.
What are the characteristics of emotional growth in children?
Children’s emotions are intense:
Children’s emotions are intense, even if the situation triggering emotional reactions is trivial. Children find it difficult to control their emotional expressions, whether they are fear, anger, or joy.
Children’s emotions are short-lived and transient:
A child’s emotions may last for a few minutes and then suddenly end. Emotional reactions in adults are usually long-term. A child begins to show “moodiness,” expressed as ignoring and grumpiness at the age of four, reaching its peak during adolescence.
Children express their emotions more frequently than adults:
Dr. Krishnan says, “In a single day, a child goes through a wider range of emotions compared to adults.” As they grow older, their ability to adapt to situations that require emotional reactions improves. They learn to deal with these situations using non-emotional responses, which leads to a gradual decrease in the frequency of emotional reactions.
Children’s emotional reactions are highly flexible:
This refers to the fact that children of the same age react differently to similar situations. Age is a criterion for adjusting the intensity of emotion. Some emotions increase while others weaken. It all depends on the strength of needs, motivations, and goals. Whether a child will become emotionally excited or not, and how much they will be excited depends on what is important to them in light of their needs, motivations, and goals – i.e., facing obstacles or hindrances in fulfilling their needs.
In general, we must remember that there is a difference between a child’s stages of growth and aspects of healthy development. Aspects of development refer to the different forms of a child’s growth, manifested in various skills or new behaviors such as motor development, cognitive development, sensory-motor development, and psychological development reflecting the child’s psychological needs.
Throughout their childhood years, a child goes through different stages in all aspects, and their personality is a product of this growth and development in various interactions with the surrounding environment. Developmental psychology is concerned with studying the impact of all other aspects of growth on a child’s personality, ensuring that children receive careful monitoring and healthy psychological growth that supports the holistic development of their personality.