Concepts and beliefs that we adhere to today lay the groundwork for the societies of tomorrow. Modern families face challenges unique to our era and often parents are overwhelmed by contradictory advice and information that is readily available, especially in the vast warehouse of knowledge that is the internet, today.
Children, like photographs, develop over time
The term ‘child development” is a popular one, but it has a generally vague definition. Essentially, it is the period in which cognitive, social and physical growth between birth and adulthood occurs. This developmental period’ in a child’s life is believed by most psychologists to be the most formative time in a person’s life. The lessons learned in our early childhood stay with us throughout our entire lives.
Every single thing we learn from our families, our outside influences such as school or religious associations, and all of the various knowledge that we gain throughout our early childhood years molds and shapes the adults we become. This is the theory of child development’s basic premise, but virtually every field of sociological and psychological study takes this concept and further breaks it down.
Nature or nurture? A psychological conundrum of the modern age
Over the past 100 years or so, the study of children and how they behaved has expanded and evolved in countless way. Psychologists shifted their focus from abnormal or taboo behavioral correction to a wider scope of understanding how children learn the behaviors that lead to both positive and negative outcomes in life.
Each generation of researchers and mental health professionals revisits the original tenets of child development and tallies the known data to gauge how social trends, physical environments, mental health concerns, and how recreation affects the lives of children. Many case studies span decades following children into their adult lives to more accurately record and analyze these data points over the course of time.
Monkey see, monkey do; or how kids learn through repetitive play
Ask any parent and they will tell you that little children are like sponges; they tend to absorb everything around them. From patty-cake to the viral videos of plucky preschool girls offering advice about coffee consumption there’s no shortage of evidence that children incorporate the world around them into their own understanding of the world at large.
Most child development theories are put to the test on the ultimate proving ground, where they spend most of their formative years: school. Day to day, average school aged children participate in ongoing studies concerning various aspects of child development disciplines. The tests they take, the facts they learn, and the games they play all contribute to the comprehensive collection of clues and markers that further help researchers refine what we understand about how children learn and grow.
Children teach us more than we realize
We adults can learn much from our younger generations, however. It’s often the perception of their youth that lets us truly see our amazing world.