Child Psychology: Everything You Should Know

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June 30, 2020

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Never try to teach a child what to think, as parents we need to help kids understand reasoning and logic. Teach your child how to think and control their emotions without suppressing them. An understanding of child psychology will help you immensely with your parenting approach. The concept of child psychology behavior and development was devised in a way to understand kids without dismantling their own identity. 

We will explore what is child psychology, why it is important. Once we have established a basic understanding of child psychology, we will dig deeper into the factors and contexts which influence your child’s psychology. By the end of this article, we will discuss a few tips to help you understand your child better. 


What is child psychology 

It is the branch of psychology that studies the conscious and subconscious mind of a child, beginning from natal stages to adolescent years. Factors affecting a child’s mind and factors differentiating a child’s mind from an adult also form a part of child psychology

Your kid’s behavior, temperament, focus, development are all parts of child psychology.


Importance of Child Psychology

As a parent, it might be difficult for you to identify your kid’s minor developmental anomalies. Though most of these anomalies fade over time, certain problems may become a part of their life. These problems may later translate into learning disability, hyperactivity, or anxiety. The importance of child psychology has been emphasized by pediatricians time and again. Parents often visit child specialists to treat ailments occurring due to behavioral problems that need to be addressed by Child Psychologists.

If you find your kid struggling with speech and language or mathematics, we suggest you consult professionals as there may be an underlying developmental issue that needs to be addressed.


Five Aspects of Child Psychology

The four major aspects of child psychology are Physical, Cognitive, Emotional, Social and Mathematical Development. We will look into each of these to understand the importance of child psychology.

  1. Physical Development

The journey of a child from natal stages to adolescent years will follow a stipulated pattern. This predictable sequence includes crawling, walking, and running in the aforementioned order. Parents need to be careful when the order gets delayed or disrupted as this might indicate major or minor developmental problems in kids. Pediatricians may require a detailed report on child psychology to identify and treat physical developmental problems in children.


  1. Cognitive development

Cognitive development is just another word for brain development. Kids’ thought process is built while growing up. During this stage, kids will start observing their surroundings and people. Speech development and language learning processes are part of cognitive development. Any problems or discrepancies in this process may lead to incomplete sentence formation by kids or stammering in extreme cases. If a child is facing trouble in decision-making or logical reasoning, we suggest you seek medical attention. Such problems may cause learning disability and concentration issues. Monitor your child closely as they are extremely vulnerable during this period of cognitive development and may not be able to identify threats leading to child abuse. 


  1. Emotional development 

A child’s feelings and expressions are dominated by their emotional development and transformations. It takes time for kids to process and understand their own emotions. The capability of feeling emotions and expressing them are developed throughout childhood. Basic emotions of anger, joy, sadness, and fear are experienced by children of all ages. As a child grows up, they feel a plethora of complex emotions like confidence, hope, pride, greed, and jealousy. However, parents need to be observant as younger kids often get lost within complex emotions and find it extremely difficult to navigate through them. Children also need to learn how to control their emotions to avoid sudden outbursts. These outbursts can hamper the emotional development of a child in multiple ways. If you find your child unable to contain their own emotions, you need to talk to them and seek professional help if violent expressions occur.


  1. Social Development

Emotional development and social development are inter-related or associated developmental indexes. Understanding child psychology is a complex process but the social development of a child is even more composite in nature as it intertwines a multitude of factors. Emotional expressions of a child will ultimately define his or her social persona. Based on these characteristic traits, your child will make friends and mingle with relatives. Social emotions are a result of behavioral tendencies within a child and his surroundings. If a kid is surrounded by out-laws, he or she will exhibit cunning nature. Similarly, your child will pick up the social habits of their surroundings. Parents need to help kids with age-appropriate social behavior and teach them how to understand the trustworthiness of a person. Other important skills include friendship and conflict management that need to be developed in a child.


  1. Numerical and Mathematical Development

Cognitive development and Mathematical development are intertwined and may merge to a certain extent. Both the developmental indexes need to be addressed by parents separately since cognitive development is a natural process but mathematical development needs to be induced in children. Kids need to learn numbers and basic mathematical operations at an early age to avoid quantitative learning disabilities at a later stage. You can introduce numbers and shapes to kids before enrolling them for preschool. This will help your child become more comfortable and confident about mathematics. Start teaching basic mathematics in a fun and relaxed way to help your child develop mathematical and analytical skillsets. 



Physical, Cognitive, Emotional, Social and Mathematical development are equally important aspects of child psychology. Observe your child and understand their needs and requirements. All problems are not permanent and certain issues can be resolved by talking to your child. However, if an issue persists, seek medical attention to avoid greater risks.


Difference Between Child Psychology and Child Development

As we dig deeper into child psychology, we come across the term child development. The term itself is not a stand-alone term but an integral part of child psychology. When we talk about child development, it encompasses both anatomical as well as psychological development. Any physical birth defect can have a severe impact on the psychological health or development of a child and vice versa. This happens due to the very intertwined nature of both factors. Child psychology on the other hand revolves around many factors and child development is only a part of the discipline. Contexts and causes are also a part of child psychology but do not come under child development.

As a parent, both the parameters are extremely important for the well being of a child. You can identify what is going wrong with your child physically but psychological anomalies often go unnoticed. Understanding the difference between child psychology and child development will help you address your kid. 


Different Contexts of Child psychology 

We have seen the developmental parameters of child psychology that act as internal factors. While understanding child psychology, one must look into the circumstances or surroundings of a child. Sometimes anomalies in behavior can be best explained with reference to their environment. These circumstances, surroundings, or environment of a child form context. Cultural, Social and Socio-economic contexts are some of the major extrinsic factors that affect child psychology.

  • Cultural Context

We live in societies with customs, traditions, and practices defining our lives.Just like us, our kids are deeply affected by our traditions. Child psychology takes cultural context into account for analyzing a child’s behavior. Kids living in localities with higher crime rates are more likely to get involved in illicit activities. Parents need to adopt traditions and cultural practices in a more flexible manner to avoid negative influence on their children. Try to avoid superstitious practices around your child as kids pick up these activities and become psychologically dependent on such practices. 

Stereotypes and prejudices of any society can harm kids beyond repair. Let them be themselves and do not try to fit them into boxes. Cultural limitations can break down your child’s natural creativity and self-confidence. Promote self-love and self-expression to nurture your kids. 


  • Social context

Social context refers to the set of people present in a child’s life. Kids often pick up their behavior or mannerisms from the people around them. It is important to make sure that your child is in a safe environment at all times. Children who are bullied at a very young age may turn into bullies at a later stage in life. As a parent, you will not be able to change the conduct or mindset of people around your child. In such circumstances, keep a close eye on your child’s interactions and stay alert for any suspicious behavior in your kid. Do not panic if you feel your child has been mingling with the wrong people and try to explain things calmly. Do not get too involved in your child's life as you might come across being overprotective about their freedom. 


  • Socio-economic Context

The financial status of a family is really important in determining a child’s upbringing. Families with high socioeconomic status can provide more opportunities and benefits to their children as compared to underprivileged children. Kids need nutritious meals, a healthy environment, and constant support to grow. These resources are scarce in poor families that sometimes result in stunted growth rates. Higher educational qualification of parents is often associated with a good socio-economic status. They can help their kids with not just homework but pep talk in general. However, a lack of socioeconomic status might not mean stunted growth as other contexts may help them grow. If a child is surrounded by honest and generous people, he or she will overcome financial obstacles with will power. 

The surroundings or context of a child are not just dependent on Cultural, Social, or Socio-economic factors. However, these three factors are the major extrinsic factors that shape a child’s personality. As parents, you need not oversee every parameter but we suggest you look out for signs when a specific context hinders your child’s overall development. 


How to understand child psychology?

Adult psychology is very different from child psychology and therefore it might be difficult to make sense of child psychology at the first go. We tend to look at child psychology only when we realize something unusual. But as parents, it is important to note down your child’s behavior to explicitly differentiate transformation from an anomaly. Identifying behavioral problems is a complex process as kids tend to change their behavior over growing years and it is normal. We have listed down a few ways for you to understand your child’s psychology.

  1. Observe

Observation is important but parents need to avoid interfering in their children’s life. Try to observe your child’s behavior from a distance without making them conscious of their behavior. Not being careful will defeat the purpose of this activity. Try to maintain a baby book for kids below 5 years of age as this will help you with developmental challenges with your child.


  1. Spend time

Try to help your child with homework, work out maths problems together, or watch a cartoon. These activities will help your child get comfortable with your presence. This way you can analyze their social and emotional behavior towards people around them. Kids feel more confident and safe with their parents and doing these activities together will bring a lot of positivity in your kid’s life.


  1. Listen

Hear out your kids every once in a while, this will help you understand their perspective and viewpoint. This way you can also figure out if your child is facing difficulty with academics, homework, school, or friends. 


  1. Have an open mind

No matter what your child shares with you, do not judge them. Be kind, supportive, and comforting even at times when you realize your child is getting in trouble due to his or her nature. Avoid any impositions and try to reason actions to help them correct their behavior. You can also seek professional help if the situation does not improve with your intervention.


  1. Pay attention

While speaking, listening, or talking to your child, keep focusing on the minor details that will help you analyze the situation. For instance, kids who harm smaller animals lack empathy and tend to be cruel at times. This detail can help you understand your child’s extreme behavior towards you or any other family member.

If your kid is sharing details about their life and experiences, it will be easier for you to understand their problems. Stay connected with your child throughout his life to build trust and safety in your relationship. The sudden urge of attachment can alienate your children further away.



Understanding child psychology behavior and development is not an easy task for most parents but slowly and gradually, you will grasp the basics of child psychology. Try to observe and understand your child and don’t worry if you observe any changes in behavior over some time. The difference between a child’s behavioral abnormality and transformation can be difficult to analyze. Sudden changes or erratic behavior patterns are a concern that parents must address at the earliest. Once you understand what is child psychology, you can try to understand the various factors and contexts that can affect your child’s psychology and overall development.


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