Parents should learn child psychology

How you can use child psychology to understand your kid better

I’ve just finished child psychology studies and received Level 4 Diploma via distance learning from the UK. I studied it so I could understand my child better. It gave me a good foundation and further interest to keep exploring some subjects deeper.

Instead of training children to meet the expectations of adults, we should be training adults to meet the psychological, emotional, and developmental needs of children.” – Zoe Tolman

I was this newborn mum who Googled all her symptoms and worried about everything when awake during breastfeeding in the night. I needed to understand why she was or wasn’t doing something. The Wonder Weeks app was very helpful and explained all the developmental leaps and why they might be fussier during certain periods. I followed it religiously and became slightly obsessed, dreading the cloudy weeks and desperately waiting for the sun to return (the app uses these icons to point out certain phases). But I felt like I understood her and could empathise better and watching her develop new skills was always a wonderful bonus after a few hard days or weeks.

Then, naturally, I became interested in child psychology and decided to do a year-long online diploma. Whether I see a career change in it, I’m not sure, but for now this is just for educating myself and trying to be a better parent through it. Thanks to all the materials I’ve gone through I now recognise the normal and abnormal psychological patterns better and try to understand how best communicate and connect with our daughter, also help her progress and thrive in each new developmental stage.

There’s no doubt many child psychology topics can be very beneficial for parents, especially when it becomes difficult to interact with a child who is going through different stages of development, learning new skills or entering another transitional period. I found the following topics intriguing and did a lot more further research that was required as part of the assignments.

  • Erik Erikson’s theory – a famous child psychologist who came up with eight stages of psychosocial development. During each stage, the person experiences a crisis that can have a positive or negative outcome for personality development. A successful completion of each stage results in a healthy personality. Read more from here. I think his theory provides a really useful framework for understanding what (potential) stages we all go through, a bit similarly to Wonder Weeks developmental leaps.
  • Language development in bilingual children. Because we’re raising one I’ve been reading up about it and I’ve heard that bilingual children might experience speech delay but apparently bilingualism itself isn’t the cause. The idea that two languages causes language delays in children has actually been a long-standing myth. Children are able to learn two languages at the same pace as other children who are learning only one language.
  • Emotional development depends on two things. I found this topic really interesting because there are certain things we are born with and they’re intrinsic to us but how a child is brought up and in what environment is also extremely important.
  • Parenting styles and how they affect child development. There are four main styles, which are authoritative, authoritarian (or disciplinarian), permissive, neglectful. Read more from here. The infographic on this link explains them and the effects on children really well. Research has shown that authoritative style is the most effective having the best outcomes in kids. This has come to me the most naturally and I’m also a big fan of gentle parenting techniques that fall into this parenting style too. 
  • How is sleep linked to child development. Why do infants and toddlers still need so much of it? Sleep is essential for their development and it is imperative to make sure they get enough of it. A sleep deprived child may not develop or learn to their full potential and their physical health could be affected too because the body doesn’t have enough time to recharge and that can lead to a weakened immune system. This was very simplified but you can see how it’s all connected and here’s something to think about:

For older children, loss of sleep has been associated with a number of negative cognitive and behavioral outcomes (Durmer and Dinges, 2005) such as:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Behaviour problems
  • Reduced educational attainment
  • Impaired short and long term memory
  • Exacerbation of conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Physically, shortened sleep can impact a child’s growth and reduce their immunity
  • Higher rates of diabetes and obesity

While our babies are so little that they cannot speak, our toddlers don’t know how to express themselves very well or our teenagers don’t know how to analyse their feelings yet, then child psychology can give us some very important and valuable information so we could understand better what they might be going through. I would urge every parent, if they have the time, to do some digging on internet or why not purchase some books on child psychology and get a bit of an insight into their offspring’s brain. The worse that can happen is that you will feel more empowered, confident and one step ahead. 🙂

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