Child psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on children from infancy through adolescence. A wide variety of topics within psychology are encompassed by this discipline, including abnormal psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology, and so forth. A specialist who focuses on children is known as a child psychologist, and he or she may work as a counselor, a researcher in studies designed to help people understand children better, or as an adviser to academic and social programs which deal with children.
A huge scope of issues is addressed in child psychology. Psychologists study how children learn, how various behaviors develop, the impact of environment on developing children, and many other topics. Children make difficult and sometimes controversial study subjects, because they cannot grant consent in the same way adults do, and studies must be carefully constructed as a result.
There are many forms of applied child psychology, in which a psychologist actively works with children. The professional might provide services to special needs children, helping kids with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and other issues, for example. Child psychologists also assist children who are psychologically troubled with counseling, therapy, and recommendations to psychiatrists who may be able to prescribe medications and other treatments. Others may develop instruction plans designed to help children learn effectively, or work with those who are experiencing psychological trauma like the loss of a parent, a sudden move, a war, or a natural disaster.
Topics in psychiatric research are equally diverse. Many people are interested in how humans mature, from infancy through old age, and many of these researchers study child psychology. Looking at when children acquire language, how children learn about the world, and how they develop personal morals can provide interesting clues into human nature. The emotional development of children is as interesting as their physical development, and many people are intrigued by the breakthrough moments in child development, like the moment when children become self-aware, or the time at which they start to distinguish between right and wrong.
Someone who wishes to study this field usually starts at the undergraduate level, taking basic introductory psychology classes and moving into the field of child psychology specifically. Depending on whether the student wants to pursue applied psychology or research, he or she may take graduate courses and pursue certification that allows the student to work with patients. Employment in this field is very diverse, and compensation tends to be quite favorable.
Most people in this field also pick a specific age range to focus on, such as adolescent psychology or infant development. Because children grow and change so rapidly, selecting a specific range to study allows for a greater depth of knowledge. People can also choose to delve into specific topics, like abnormal psychology, psychopharmacology, educational psychology, and psychopathology, among others.