Child Psychology

Study this in-depth course in child psychology, discover how infants and children develop (socially, cognitively, sexually, morally), how they acquire language, and different types of learning. Develop knowledge towards a career working with children.

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

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Develop a Career Working with Children

Children are fascinating to work with. At no other time in our lives do we change so much as we do during childhood. Those fortunate to work with children are able to witness these changes, and those with an understanding of child psychology are able to predict how children of different ages will behave as well as how their current behaviour and situation might influence their future development.

Why Study Child Psychology?

Child psychology is one of the cornerstones of psychology. An understanding of child psychology informs many other areas of investigation in the field of psychology. Knowledge of child psychology is therefore the perfect foundation for further studies in psychology, and is one of the best study choices if you want to pursue a career working with children.  

Study our Child Psychology course to find out the answers to questions such as "How do parenting styles influence childhood behaviour?", "At what age can I expect a child to speak?", "Why do children form attachments with their mothers?", "How much of a child's behaviour is due to genetics?", or "How do children learn?" 

This course will help you to think critically, to make observations of behaviour, and to analyse information in ways which will encourage you to approach your studies like a social scientist.

Students of counselling or psychology who include this course as part of their qualification will be better prepared to understand the significance of childhood influences on later adult behaviour.

 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 and Bowlby.  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. 

Temperament - Nature or Nurture

The effect of 'nature' and/or 'nurture' on development is something which has been debated in the study of psychology for decades.

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.

Benefits of Studying 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.

If you work with children you will gain valuable insights into child behaviour and be able to apply your knowledge to real-life situations. 

Career Pathways

Knowledge of child psychology is most relevant to careers in psychology, counselling and teaching. However, professionals in many other fields benefit from a deeper understanding of childhood development. 

The Child Psychology course is aimed at people working in, or aspiring to work in, the following fields: 

Youth work
Child and adolescent counselling
School counselling
Teaching, teacher aides & school employees
Child psychology
Social work
Child care
Children's services
Medical and health professions

The Child Psychology course can be used as a foundation towards further study and qualifications, or for personal development.

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 headstart you need, and fill you with the inspiration you desire to push on with your future plans.  


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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 fo
Jacinda Cole

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psycholo
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,
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