Child development psychology is the study of why and how children change over time. Researchers who study child development issues are called developmental psychologists. In child development psychology there is an attempt to identify and describe a child’s behavior and explain why a child develops in a particular way.
Child development psychology also uses behavior intervention in an attempt to direct a child’s behavior in a positive way.
One of the important goals of child development psychology is to identify and explain certain behavior patterns of children, as well as describe the most probable way that child is most likely to grow and develop. Child development psychology makes it possible to identify if a child is not meeting his developmental milestones, and then suggest ways to get the child back on the right track.
As Helene Goldnadel says a major goal in child development psychology is to explain why developmental changes take place in children. Child psychologists use three types of explanations to explain a child’s behavior, which are behavior explanations (a child’s genetic inheritances) psychological explanations (involving a child’s personality, and their wants, needs and motivations) and social explanations (the impact a child’s environment has on his development.)
Once a child development psychologist has described and explained a child’s behavior they compare this with information gathered from descriptions of other children. This allows the professional to determine if a child is growing and developing at a normal rate.
It also allows professionals to recognize and identify developmental delays in a child, and intervene so that a child is supported and given the intervention she needs to support her unique growth and development.
The scientific method that is used to study child development involves five steps. Child development psychologists observe a child’s behavior, and then predict the outcome of that behavior based on past studies. They test their hypothesis through observations, interviews and case studies, and then they draw a conclusion based on the results of their test results. The final step is to publish their findings, so that others can analyze the results.
In an attempt to understand a child’s growth and development there are some ongoing theoretical and philosophical controversies in child development psychology. One of those controversies is the nature/nurture controversy. This is a debate centering on which influence has the most effect on a child’s behavior; nature (their genetics) or nurture (their environment).
Another controversy in child development psychology is the maturation/ learning controversy. This is a debate that questions whether a child’s behavior has changed because he has biologically matured or because he has learned a new skill. A behaviorist is a child development psychologist who believes that learning is the most important influence on a child’s development.
The activity/passivity controversy debates whether a child learns in a passive way, as a result of the environment they are presented with, or because they actively seek out learning experiences.
Research is done in child development psychology for different reasons. Basic research in child development psychology is research done in order to add to our knowledge of child behavior.
Applied research in child development psychology is done in order to solve a particular child development problem. Both of these forms of research are essential so that we can continue to understand how our children grow and develop.