Understand the stages of Psychological Development in Children

Topic of Content

  1. Introduction
  2. Here are the 5 stages of psychological development in the child
  3. Conclusion


As human beings , we constantly grow and this change is inevitable. Psychological development enables us to interact with other people, make life choices, and come up with solutions to problems by thinking logically.

Some psychologists also say it is our Psychological Development that helps us develop self-esteem, make plans for the future, and understand what motivates us. Parents need to guide children who will soon be adults into making informed decisions about their personality awareness, career knowledge, physical appearance, etc. Knowing how Psychological Development occurs in children can help parents do this effectively without having too much peer pressure or societal pressures take over.


Psychological Development in children is a complex process that involves the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional changes that occur throughout childhood.



Here are the 5 stages of psychological development in the child:

1. Newborn: At birth, infants are extremely dependent on others. Their main means of knowing the world is through their senses. They can only see the things that are within arms'' reach and hear what is within earshot. The newborn baby''s senses continue to develop quickly in response to experiences with the outside physical environment. The ability to notice the contrast between colors for example would help them tell objects apart from one another - especially important when distinguishing their mothers'' faces from all other people around. Additionally, infants also learn about themselves through differentiating between their body parts and understanding how they relate to feeling hungry or tired. Through this process, children begin building up their own identity which is then shaped by parents later on as they grow older.

2. Infant: Birth - 9 Months- At birth, a child is very reliant on the cooperation of others for survival. The infant must be able to recognize that their needs can only be met by their mother and not any other caregivers. Their senses are still developing so they rely on what they hear from her as well as smell and touch. By learning which cues to respond to, they begin establishing a sense of trust in those around them, but it is also important for them to know when this is not appropriate. During times of upset or distress, infants have been shown to have difficulty interpreting facial expressions. 


This will become particularly evident when negative feelings arise from interacting with a parent who does not share a positive relationship with them. As infants grow, they begin to develop an increased sense of independence, but this is not necessarily seen as positive. Although the child''s ego seems to be growing, there are many times when parents will find themselves needing to step up and help their child cope with these new feelings. Psychological theorists note that at around the age of 3, children become more aware of the specificities-those things that make them different from others. At this point, it becomes important for parents to encourage healthy competition through games like patty-cake or hide-and-seek. This gives the child a stronger feeling of self while still allowing them to understand that being part of a group can have its advantages.


3. Toddler (2-5 years old): They become aware that they have a special relationship with their parents and may feel torn between spending time with them and discovering new things or people. Parents should continue to encourage their child''s curiosity while also introducing the idea of sharing. Children this young typically do not understand the concept of ''mine'' and ''yours'', so they need to know that most toys can be shared. While encouraging your child''s exploration, always keep an eye on him or her to prevent any potential dangers from temporary immaturity brought about by growing independence. For example, during this stage children may become curious about household items and should be kept away from any harmful substances or objects. Once a child reaches the age of two years old, he or she may start to develop more awareness and understanding of his or her own body and behavior. This is called object permanence and it represents the first steps towards the realization that things continue to exist even when they cannot be seen.

4. Pre School: School Age: The school-age is the period of psychosocial development when children are learning how to interact with their peers, acquire academic knowledge and skills according to their developmental level. This stage begins when your little one is around  5-6 years. The school-age may last up until puberty begins which takes place somewhere at 10-11. During this stage of life, children rely on adults for guidance even though they also want to become more independent by using some of their newly acquired skills such as reading or writing. Various circumstances may affect this transitional process including the child''s personality traits, family background, and living environment among many other factors.

5. School-age: This stage can be further divided into two sub-stages: 6-8 years and 8-11 years. Those who are 6-7 years old typically experience what is called ''Pretend Stage'' or ''Play Stage''. The behaviors observed during this time include learning, imitating, and copying others'' behavior, pretending things exist even though they do not (such as having conversations with stuffed animals), and believing in fantasy-like imaginary creatures such as fairies and dragons. During the second substage which begins at around age 9-10, children''s abilities to think critically begin to develop. Their imagination becomes more realistic and less focused on make-believe figures.




For children, conquering each milestone of their psychological development is very crucial. The way your little one feels, understands, and expresses their emotions and feelings has a direct impact on how they interact with people around them.Throughout the years in a child''s life, they go through different stages of development which can be observed by parents and others who deal with them often in their daily lives. By having a thorough understanding of the stages of their development, their thought process and behavior. Psychological development does not replace physical or mental growth but comes alongside it.

You can also read 

11 Simple Ways to Build Resilience in Children

Toddler learning activities and games

12 Must Have Activity Books for 5 Year Olds

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