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.
Major Contexts in Child Psychology
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.
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 may play a role in how children relate to their parents, the type of education they receive and the type of childcare that is provided.
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.
Social class can also play a major role in child development. Socioeconomic status (often abbreviated as SES), is based upon a number of different factors including how much education people have, how much money they earn, the job they hold and where they live.
Children raised in households with a high socioeconomic status tend to have greater access to opportunities, while those from households with lower socioeconomic status may have less access to such things as health care, quality nutrition, and education. Such factors can have a major impact on child psychology.
Remember, all three of these contexts are constantly interacting. While a child may have fewer opportunities due to a low socioeconomic status, enriching social relationships and strong cultural ties may help correct this imbalance.
Child psychology encompasses a wide range of topics, from the genetic influences on behavior to the social pressures on development.