Today, psychologists recognize that child psychology is unique and complex, but many differ in terms of the unique perspective they take when approaching development. Experts also differ in their responses to some of the , such as whether early experiences matter more than later ones or whether nature or nurture plays a greater role in certain aspects of development.
Because childhood plays such an important role in the course of the rest of life, it is little wonder why this topic has become such an important one within psychology, sociology, and education. Experts focus on only on the many influences that contribute to normal child development, but also to various factors that might lead to psychological problems during childhood.
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Adolescence: The teenage years are often the subject of considerable interest as children experience the psychological turmoil and transition that often accompanies this period of development. Psychologists such as Erik Erikson were especially interested in looking at how navigating this period leads to . At this age, kids often test limits and explore new identities as they explore the question of who they are and who they want to be. Developmental psychologists can help support teens as they deal with some of the challenging issues unique to the adolescent period including puberty, emotional turmoil, and social pressure.
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To determine if a developmental problem is present, a psychologist or other highly trained professional may administer either a developmental screening or evaluation. For children, such an evaluation typically involves interviews with parents and other caregivers to learn about behaviors they may have observed, a review of a child's medical history, and standardized testing to measure functioning in terms of communication, social/emotional skills, physical/motor development, and cognitive skills. If a problem is found to be present, the patient may then be referred to a specialist such as a speech-language pathologist, physical therapist, or occupational therapist.
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Middle Childhood: This period of development is marked by both physical maturation and an increased importance of social influences as children make their way through elementary school. Kids begin to make their mark on the world as they form friendships, gain competency through schoolwork, and continue to build their unique sense of self. Parents may seek the assistance of a developmental psychologist to help kids deal with potential problems that might arise at this age including social, emotional, and mental health issues.
Receiving such a diagnosis can often feel both confusing and frightening, particularly when it is your own child who is affected. Once you or your loved one has received a diagnosis of a developmental issue, spend some time learning as much as you can about the diagnosis and available treatments. Prepare a list of questions and concerns you may have and be sure to discuss these issues with your doctor, developmental psychologist, and other healthcare professionals who may be part of your treatment team. By taking an active role in the process, you will feel better informed and equipped to tackle the next steps in the treatment process.
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Piaget's second stage, the pre-operational stage, starts when the child begins to learn to speak at age two and lasts up until the age of seven. During the Pre-operational Stage of cognitive development, Piaget noted that children do not yet understand concrete logic and cannot mentally manipulate information. Children's increase in playing and pretending takes place in this stage. However, the child still has trouble seeing things from different points of view. The children's play is mainly categorized by symbolic play and manipulating symbols. Such play is demonstrated by the idea of checkers being snacks, pieces of paper being plates, and a box being a table. Their observations of symbols exemplifies the idea of play with the absence of the actual objects involved. By observing sequences of play, Piaget was able to demonstrate that, towards the end of the second year, a qualitatively new kind of psychological functioning occurs, known as the Pre-operational Stage.