Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Parenting
Child Development and Parenting: Infants
Child Development and Parenting: Early Childhood

An Overview of Child Development Theories

Angela Oswalt, MSW

This topic center provides a review of theories of child development. For information on parenting and child development of infants aged 0 to 2, please visit our Infant Parenting and Child Development topic center. For information on parenting and child development of preschool children (early childhood aged 3 to 7, please visit our Early Childhood Parenting and Child Development topic center. For information on parenting and child development of middle childhood children (ages 8 to 11), please visit our Middle Childhood Parenting and Development center. For information on parenting adolescents (ages 12-24), please visit our Child Development Theory: Adolescence topic center.

When babies arrive in the world, they are tiny, helpless people who depend entirely on adults to take care of all their needs and wants. Somehow, with the proper loving nurturing and care over the next 22 years, they grow to become independent adults who can take care of themselves and others. The journey from infancy to adulthood is an amazing time when children soak up everything in the world around them and mix it with the qualities they are born with in order to mature bit by bit, in every way.

children on a benchOver the years, people who study children have created theories to explain how children develop. While these theorists realize that every child is special and grow in his or her unique way, they also have recognized that there are general patterns children tend to follow as they grow up, and they have documented these patterns in their theories. This introductory document, which is the first in a series, which will cover child developmental theory and applications such as parenting skills, will attempt to explain these fascinating but detailed theories so as to make them more understandable. Specifically, this document will outline the various areas, or channels, of child development that have been recognized, to explain how children tend to develop through each of these channels over time, and to state in simple language the observations of the child development field's most important theorists.