Child Development

Child Development

Children differ from adults. They are undergoing a process of change and development from immaturity to maturity. The development process is usually divided into the following four aspects: PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, COGNITIVE, and SOCIAL

Features of Child Development


Physical development

This is the development of body, brain, health and movement. A growing child will experience changes in his or her body during the development period. The sexual development of the child has physical manifestations, including hormonal changes that can greatly affect the child’s emotional state.

Cognitive development

Cognitive development relates to processes such as thinking, remembering, problem solving, assessment and comment, as well as to what children know and understand.

Emotional Development

This aspect includes establishing children’s relationships and confidence. As children mature, they learn to control their feelings and impulses. Through interaction with others they determine what are appropriate and inappropriate feelings and responses in a range of situations, according to their particular cultural context.
Emotional development forms the foundation for cognitive and social developments with most of information collected by children coming from those closest to them – their families and immediate community – who act as role models for children in the first years. Models for awareness and social developments are provided through communication and interaction between children and those that are emotionally close to them during this time.

Social development

Social development enables children to determine between right and wrong in their social relationships. As children mature, their understanding of social knowledge increases greatly and depends significantly on their environment – family, school and society – as well as the models they chose to emulate. Social development includes communication, relationship building, attitudes, social skills, and integration into the social environment, including norms, limitations and codes of conduct.

0-1 year old

Children at this age are learning to trust their parents and caregivers. · They establish the secure attachment that is very important for later years. · To obtain trust and feel safe, the child must continuously receive love, care, attention and interaction – such as holding, cuddling, ‘talking’, smiling and so on – from his or her parents and caregivers. Without this loving interaction, he or she may become anxious, scared, doubting and distrustful.

1-3 years old

Clear and focused orientation: The child can now recognize and experience anger from being physically hurt or through emotional outrages. Many childhood behaviors are seen as problems by adults but are actually part of their important and normal development; a way for children to test their boundaries and to explore the world through investigating everything within their reach.


Source: Positive Disciplines-Training Manual, Plan-Vietnam


They do not yet have control of their emotions and may be prone to tantrums and uncontrollable
This is a stage where children are capable of doing many things by themselves – such as talking, walking, going to the toilet, getting dressed and exploring the world around them – and, importantly, they want to do these things by themselves.
Children consider their peers as either ‘competitors’, who may take their material possessions or compete for attention and emotional support, or ‘providers’, who serve their needs. Children begin to develop the ability to consider things from another’s perspective. Children now have the ability to recognize cause and effect and have relatively concrete cognition. Clear, simple rules and guidelines are very important in teaching children to control their impulses and emotions. Telling them, for example, “I will give it to you later” or “after the meal” rather than immediately capitulating to their demands is an important way to instill self-con troll.

3-6 years old

During the first five years, children are predominantly egocentric; they still want to focus on their own ideas and opinions. They may appear selfish and develop a tendency to say ‘no’ in order to experience their own power. When in conflict with adult requests and demands, children may appear ‘stubborn’ or ‘naughty’. At this stage, children continue to extensively explore the physical and social world, developing preferences for and against particular people, activities and situations. An increasing sense of independence is expressed through an attitude of ‘I can do it’ and an insistence on following their own ways of doing things. The child is often punished at this stage due to breaking or damaging things during their explorations. Saying ‘no’ to children in an appropriate manner at this stage helps to enable them to develop emotional and behavioural self-control. Step by step, children increase their ability to accept disappointing events and outcomes as well as the postponement of eagerly anticipated events. Occasional deliberate quarrel picking is natural.
Play is critical: virtual and imaginary friends, such as teddy bears, pets, and so on, are natural and useful. The ability to adjust to different situations gradually increases over this phase.
During this period, children learn behaviors that are considered appropriate by their society,according to their own cultural context. Language development continues rapidly through this phase. · Children become aware of their sex as male or female.
Creating firm and consistent behavioral boundaries at this stage helps children to better learn to control their actions.
At around five years of age, children may become very sensitive to making mistakes. They are easily emotionally hurt if scolded or beaten by parents and teachers when they make a mistake.

6-12 years old

Children are still sensitive about being punished when making mistakes. During this stage, children are adapting to the school environment. If punished when making a mistake, many children may tend to shrink into themselves and feel insecure. They may show reduced interest in and motivation to study and may even start to dislike going to.

12-18 years old

Hormonal changes result in changes of temperament. Children in this cohort may become more emotionally charged – more tearful, more sensitive, more easily giving way to expressions of anger. They tend to be enthusiastic but easily discouraged. Social and moral development. Peers are very important: they may even influence development and behavior more than parents or teachers, at this stage. During this stage, children may experience confusion over what their adult roles should be. They may become rebellious, defining themselves in opposition to the adult role models around them. In seeking avenues for self-expression, may easily find themselves in conflict with adults.

Strong emphasis may be placed on independence and self-reliance. Defiance of adults -arguing or talking back – is normal. It is important to realise that negative behaviors exhibited during this and other stages are rarely directed maliciously against parents, teachers or other caregivers. At this stage, children seek independence and responsibility although they may not yet be fully able to wield it effectively and may still rely on the guidance of adults. Adults should recall their own childhood, when they faced the same situations, in order to empathize with their children. At this stage, many children find themselves at a crossroad; they want to be trusted to make good decisions. Parents and adults should help them to define their goals and objectives, and assist them in determining their direction and position in life.