Child Psychology

Course CodeBPS104
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Want to increase your understanding of children?

Study this Child Psychology course to learn how children develop psychologically and what factors (such as learning, parenting styles, reinforcement, and genetic makeup) influence their behaviour and thinking. Anyone who lives or works with children will gain valuable insights into child behaviour. Students of counselling or psychology will be better prepared to understand childhood influences on later adult behaviour.

This course is beneficial for:

  • Counsellors
  • Social Workers
  • Childcare Workers
  • Teachers and School Staff
  • Workers in the Medical Field 
  • People who work in Children's Services
  • Psychology Students wishing to broaden their knowledge
  • Parents who would like to understand their children better
  • Foster carers and guardians
  • Those who are interested in becoming involved in a career working with children

Particular benefits for parents, guardians and foster carers who take this course may be to:

  • Gain insights to help you be a better parent.
  • Learn skills to help your child grow and develop.
  • Better understand your child's thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.
  • Learn how to interact with children better.
  • Learn to identify what is 'normal' behaviour and what is not.
  • Learn more about yourself - how has your childhood shaped the person you are now?

An awareness of how children develop can help parents, teachers, and childcare workers to provide the kind of environment that nurtures children's emotional, cognitive and moral development.

 ACS Student feedback
: "It's very interesting. I am always fascinated by children's behaviour. Helps in my work and with my own children, to have a clear understanding of their nature/nurture. I made the right choice (in choosing) my course. The credit goes to ACS." Judy Augustine, Childcare Worker, Child Psychology course, Australia.


Lesson Structure

There are 12 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Child Psychology
    • Levels of development, nature or nurture, isolating hereditary characteristics, cause versus correlation, continuity versus discontinuity, cross sectional and longitudinal studies, reliability of verbal reports
  2. The Newborn Infant
    • The interactionist approach, range of reaction, niche picking, temperament, stimulus seeking, emotional disturbances during pregnancy
  3. States and Senses of the Infant
    • Sensory discrimination, infant states (sleep, inactivity, waking, crying, etc.), why psychologists are concerned with defining and describing infant states, habituation, soothing a distressed baby, sensory discrimination, depth perception, oral sensitivity
  4. Learning
    • Habituation, vicarious learning, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, reinforcement, the importance of learning control, etc.
  5. Emotions and Socialisation
    • Producing and recognising emotional expression, smiling, biological explanation, perceptual recognition, mother-child attachments, Freudian approach, Bowlby's approach, social learning approach, Harlow's approach, role of cognition in attachment formation, day care
  6. Cognitive Development
    • Developing the ability to reason
  7. Language Development
    • Is language ability learned or innate? Social learning approach, hypothesis testing approach, under-extending and over-extending
  8. Intelligence
    • Measuring intelligence, cultural bias, IQ, testing intelligence as a tool
  9. Socialisation ... Part A
    • Social cognition, self-awareness, awareness of others, development of empathy, taking turns, having a point of view/perspective, social scripts, pretend play
  10. Morality
    • Moral development, aggression and altruism, Freud, Piaget and Kohlberg on moral development
  11. Sexuality
    • Freud's psychosexual stages of development (oral phase, anal phase, phallic phase, latent phase, genital phase), gender and role identity, psychosocial development
  12. Socialisation ... Part B
    • Family influence, discipline, siblings, family structures, school influence, peer influence, acceptance and rejection, modelling, reinforcement.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Identify environmental and social aspects required for the ideal environment for a developing child.
  • Explain how genetic and environmental factors operate together in influencing the child's personality development.
  • Provide evidence that a particular personality characteristic may be genetically determined.
  • Explain how genetic and environmental factors operate together in influencing the child's personality development.
  • Identify the type of learning in which a stimulus which usually produces an unconditioned response is manipulated to produce a conditioned response, and give an example.
  • Discuss exactly how you would use operant conditioning to encourage a child to socialise.
  • Apply the perceptual recognition approach to explain smiling and fear in infants.
  • Evaluate how Freud’s, Harlow’s and Bowlby’s explanations of the formation of mother-child attachments differ.
  • Explain reflection-impulsivity and its significance in cognitive development.
  • Explain the strengths and weakness of social learning theory in explaining language acquisition.
  • Explain why you think that intelligence is or is not overall genetically determined.

About Child Psychology

Child psychology is a fascinating area of study. In fact, it has consistently ranked as one of the most popular subjects of enquiry at colleges and universities around the world for some time. This is perhaps because learning about children's behaviour can also help us to understand ourselves. After all, we were all children once.

Child psychology is concerned with how children grow and develop from infancy through to adolescence. Whilst some of these developments are associated with physiological changes, others are brought about by experiences and environmental influences. Although children are all unique, research has helped us to recognise mechanisms of development which influence all children.

In this course you will learn to examine and understand normal patterns of childhood growth and how they are applied to areas such as language development, learning, and cognitive development. You'll encounter the theories of some of the great thinkers who have worked in this field like Piaget, Freud, Bowlby and Vygotsky.  Upon completion you will have a much broader understanding of why children of different ages behave the way they do, and how you might expect them to behave.  

For convenience, a distinction is often made between the cognitive, emotional and social aspects of behaviour. However, this distinction is simply to help us learn and understand. In reality, the different causes of behaviour interact with each other. When problems develop in any area of development they usually become rapidly evident in other areas as well. The study of child psychology is partly concerned with identifying such interrelationships.

Child psychology is not just something which appeals to psychologists but impacts in the daily work of a range of different professionals, as well as anyone who has children or who cares for them. Many people find themselves in situations where they would like to have a better understanding of the thoughts and behaviours of children so they can be of greater help to them. 

The area of child psychology is an evolving and multi-faceted one. One very small part of the study of child psychology looks at the effects on temperament of 'Nature' and/or 'Nurture'.

Temperament - Nature or Nurture
Most adults have witnessed the considerable differences in temperament between different new born babies. Some babies seem to cry or become irritable at the slightest provocation, causing many sleepless nights for parents. Others seem much more amiable, always smiling and hardly ever crying. Many mothers tell you that they have raised both types. Is this evidence of an inborn hereditary personality trait; or is it merely coincidence?
If such personality tendencies are stable - that is, they continue to exist throughout the child's development - then it is often assumed that the characteristic is hereditary. Investigations have found that 70 per cent of adults with behaviour disorders were described as difficult babies by their parents. This can be interpreted in two ways:
•    A difficult temperament is inborn and remains stable throughout life, eventually leading to behavioural problems (nature).
•    Difficult babies are treated differently by their parents, who perhaps elicit negative responses, which cause these to children have socially related difficulties later. The later behavioural disorders are a response to negative treatments which in turn resulted from the difficulty they caused as babies.

It has been found that mothers do not generally rear difficult babies very differently to others, but as children get older, parents do often respond more with negative behaviours such as shame, anxiety, or guilt, if these difficulties persist. The temperament of difficult babies has been found to be relatively easy to modify under appeasing parental care and conditions. Children’s temperaments moreover, were found to often change considerably during their early years. It can be concluded that while temperament may be genetically influenced, it is easily modified by environmental factors.

There has been evidence however that certain personality traits may be largely influenced by genetic factors. These are sociability, stimulus seeking and activity.

Why Study This Course

Through mastering child psychology you can learn how children develop psychologically as they mature from infancy through to adolescence, and what factors (such as learning, parenting styles, reinforcement and genetic makeup) influence their behaviour and thinking.

Anyone who lives or works with children will gain valuable insights into child behaviour and be able to apply their knowledge to real-life situations. Students of counselling or psychology will be better prepared to understand childhood influences on later adult behaviour.

Career Pathways
Psychologists and teachers know only too well how knowledge of child psychology is pertinent to their work. Increasingly other professionals are expected to develop awareness and appreciation of children's behaviour. It may be to help improve your interactions with children on a daily basis or so as to determine whether a child is perhaps experiencing developmental delays.

This course is also of value to people who are looking to upskill. Maybe you are already involved in working with children in some capacity but do not have any formal qualifications to show for your experience. It may be that you have never quite been satisfied with your level of understanding and you still have unresolved questions.

This course may also be a useful stepping stone for those who are considering becoming involved in working with children - whether as a first career or as a career change. Studying this course could give you the head start you need, and fill you with the inspiration you desire to push on with your future plans.  

Benefits of Distance Learning

The wonderful thing about our distance education courses is the flexibility. There are no set start times or end dates, and you can work at your own pace. It's ideal if you are juggling a hectic work, study and family life.

Our courses are not just about theory and reading. We also include practical components so that students are able to develop a better contextual understanding of what they learn. Through this experiential learning, what you retain is reinforced.  
Another major plus is that employers look favourably upon those who fund their own learning. It shows passion and initiative. The more strings you have to your bow, the more valuable an asset you will be. 

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ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development
ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development

ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association
ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association

Member of Study Gold Coast, Education Network
Member of Study Gold Coast, Education Network

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

ACS is recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council
ACS is recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council

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  Gavin Cole

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Gavin has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. He has co-authored several psychology text books and many courses including diploma and degree level courses in psychology and counselling. Gavin has worked for ACS for over 10 years.
  Lyn Quirk

M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.
  Miriam ter Borg

Youth Worker, Tutor, Author and Natural Therapist. Miriam was previously an Outdoor Pursuits Instructor, Youth Worker, Surfing College Program Coordinator, Massage Therapist, Business Owner/Manager. Miriam's qualifications include B.Sc.(Psych), DipRem.Massage, Cert Outdoor Rec.
  Tracey Jones

B.Sc. (Psych), M.Soc.Sc., Dip.Social Work, P.G.Dip Learning Disability, Cert Editing, Cert Creative Writing, PGCE. Member British Psychological Society, Member Assoc. for Coaching, Member British Learning Assoc. 25 years industry experience in writing, editing, education, psychology, and business. Tracey has several books and hundreds of articles published; in both fiction and non fiction.
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