The concept of “development”, which is often emphasized in Child Psychology studies, is often confused with the concepts of “growth” and “maturation”. While the concept of growth includes the numerical changes taking place in the body, the concept of maturation is an indication that the forces at the base of the organism have reached a ready-to-work state. However, the concept of development includes the quality of the changes as well as the quantity. It expresses an orderly, harmonious and continuous progress.
Considering the development of the individual in terms of emotional development, important names such as Erikson and Freud appear. Freud argues that the faces of personal and emotional development are formed in the first seven years. It states that the child passes through the Oral Stage (0-18 months), the Anal Stage (1.5-3 years), and the Phallic Periods (3-7 years) until the age of 7 years. According to Freud, the oral period is the period when the baby is most dependent on his mother and most in need of her care. In the anal period, the child begins to control his muscles and stool. The mother’s attitude in this period and her own feelings about the defecation function significantly affect the character traits that the child will have in the future. In the phallic period, feelings of sexuality and aggression gain importance. Again, with the Oedipus complex experienced in this period, sexual feelings towards the parent of the different sex and hostile feelings towards the parent of the same sex are experienced. After the fifth age, this influence disappears or is suppressed and remains a lifelong force influencing personality.
According to Erikson, another name, the human infant must analyze the psycho-social tasks of development until it becomes an adult. The psycho-social task of the baby in the first year of life is to learn to trust. The feeling of trust arising from the relationship between the baby and its mother forms the basis of the interpersonal relationships that a person will establish in the future. In the second stage, which lasts from 1 to 3 years of age, children need independence and want to be freed. In the period that lasts until the end of the age of five, the child begins to examine everything around him with curiosity. During this period, what parents need to do is to satisfy the child’s curiosity and support their initiatives. On the contrary, if the child is criticized for his attempts, he can create a sense of guilt. In the school age period, which corresponds to the ages of 6-11, children are constantly active. If these efforts of the child are opposed, the child may believe that his actions are worthless and feel inferior. In the adolescence period, which starts at the age of 11-13, the individual tries to search for his identity.
When the cognitive development of children is considered, in the 0-2 age period, which is called the sensory-motion period, the baby’s learning consists of organizing and developing his perceptions and movements in the form of organized movement, sense-movement scheme. In the pre-operational period, which covers the ages of 2-7, children have egocentric thinking. In addition, they cannot reverse operations, their logical thinking skills are not developed, they are under the influence of the appearance of objects. They begin to use objects as symbols of other things, different from their real functions. In the concrete operational period, which corresponds to the age of 7-11, social behavior takes the place of egocentrism in children. Limitations on focus, reversibility and conservation are eliminated. Sorting and classification skills are developing. Solving the problems depends on the concrete objects being in front of the child’s eyes. In the abstract operational period following this period, the child can think abstractly even though objects and events are not in sight, make generalizations about the results achieved, and systematically test abstract situations.
Considering the social development of the individual, it can be said that the socialization process begins when the baby sees the difference between people and objects around 3 months and shows different reactions. With the onset of age 2, children learn that they are expected to be independent beings rather than egocentric, dependent individuals. In the first childhood stage, the child begins to learn how to establish a social relationship, how to be with people outside the home, especially with their peers, and harmony and cooperation develop. In the last period of childhood, the child finds himself in the class, friends and playgroup, which leads him to participate in all the activities of the group of his own gender and to communicate with his friends. In addition, children in this period are easily influenced by those around them, who are usually in their own age group, they resist the opinions of adults, and they like competition.
When examined in terms of sexual development and education, questions about gender difference in children are at the 2nd age, and those about birth are at 3-4. It appears to start at age. The child’s sexual curiosity is appropriate and healthy like other interests. This arises from the need to know the world. These questions should be answered in accordance with the character and development of the child. Leaving the questions unanswered and acting as topics that should not be talked about may cause the child to meet this curiosity in unhealthy ways. The aim of sexual education is not only to ensure that the child abides by some social rules, but also to enable people to develop freely in love, to regulate their sexual powers as much as possible, to keep them consciously and to benefit from them for the happiness of themselves and others.
Various behavioral and adaptation problems are seen during adolescence. However, this period differs from previous periods. Examples of these are running away from home, running away from school, breaking the rules. If a teenager believes in his own worth, he will be able to hold others on the same level as himself. Will be a respectful, thoughtful and helpful individual. He will be loved and sought after in his circle of friends. These, in turn, will prevent him from breaking the prohibitions and displaying wrong behaviors.
At every stage, parents’ attitudes are of great importance. Many problems can be prevented when parents give children the right to speak and express their opinions honestly when it’s their turn, when their words and behaviors are consistent, when they manage to set limits when necessary, when they set an example with their behavior and approach them as accepting. Because children and adolescents act in line with the messages they receive from the environment, like every human being. Therefore, the behavior of children is a mirror of the behavior of their parents.