Childhood

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Ralph Hedley, The Tournament, 1898

Childhood is the age span ranging from birth to adolescence.[1] According to Piaget's theory of cognitive development, childhood consists of two stages: preoperational stage and concrete operational stage. In developmental psychology, childhood is divided up into the developmental stages of infancy and toddlerhood (learning to walk and talk, ages birth to 4), early childhood (play age covering the kindergarten and early grade school years up to grade 4 (5-10 years old)), preadolescence, around 11 and 12 (where puberty could possibly begin in early developers but could equally be in early childhood if the child has not reached puberty), and adolescence (puberty (early adolescence, 13-15) through post-puberty (late adolescence, 16-19) ). Various childhood factors could affect a person's attitude formation.[1]

The concept of childhood emerged during the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly through the educational theories of the philosopher John Locke and the growth of books for and about children.[2] Previous to this point, children were often seen as incomplete versions of adults.

Time span, age ranges[edit]

The term childhood is non-specific in its time span and can imply a varying range of years in human development.[citation needed] Developmentally and biologically, it refers to the period between infancy and adulthood.[citation needed]

In common terms, childhood is considered to start from birth,[citation needed] and as a concept of play and innocence, which ends at adolescence.[citation needed]

In the legal systems of many countries, there is an age of majority when childhood legally ends and a person legally becomes an adult, which ranges anywhere from 15 to 21, with 18 being the most common.[citation needed]

A global consensus on the terms of childhood is the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).[3] Childhood expectancy indicates the time span, which a child has to experience childhood.[4]

Eight life events ending childhood have been described as death, extreme malnourishment, extreme violence, conflict forcing displacement, children being out of school, child labor, children having children and child marriage.[4]

Developmental stages of childhood[edit]

Early childhood[edit]

Children playing the violin in a group recital
Children in Madagascar
Teenage boys in India

Early childhood follows the infancy stage and begins with toddlerhood when the child begins speaking or taking steps independently. While toddlerhood ends around age three when the child becomes less dependent on parental assistance for basic needs, early childhood continues approximately through age nine. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, early childhood spans the human life from birth to age eight. At this stage children are learning through observing, experimenting and communicating with others. Adults supervise and support the development process of the child, which then will lead to the child's autonomy. Also during this stage, a strong emotional bond is created between the child and the care providers. The children also start to begin kindergarten at this age to start their social lives.

Middle childhood[edit]

Middle childhood begins at around age ten approximating primary school age. It ends around puberty, which typically marks the beginning of adolescence. In this period, children are attending school, thus developing socially and mentally. They are at a stage where they make new friends and gain new skills, which will enable them to become more independent and enhance their individuality.

Adolescence[edit]

Adolescence is usually determined by the onset of puberty, usually 12 for girls and 13 for boys. However, puberty may also begin in preadolescence. Adolescence is biological distinct from childhood, but it is accepted by some cultures as a part of social childhood, because most of them are minors. The onset of adolescence brings about various physical, psychological and behavioral changes. The end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood varies by country and by function, and even within a single nation-state or culture there may be different ages at which an individual is considered to be mature enough to be entrusted by society with certain tasks.

History[edit]

Playing Children, by Song Dynasty Chinese artist Su Hanchen, c. 1150 AD.

During the European Renaissance, artistic depictions of children increased dramatically, which did not impact the social attitude to children much, however.[citation needed]

During the 1600s, the concept of childhood began to emerge in Europe.[citation needed] Adults saw children as separate beings, innocent and in need of protection and training by the adults around them. The English philosopher John Locke was particularly influential in defining this new attitude towards children, especially with regard to his theory of the tabula rasa, which considered the mind at birth to be a "blank slate". A corollary of this doctrine was that the mind of the child was born blank, and that it was the duty of the parents to imbue the child with correct notions. During the early period of capitalism, the rise of a large, commercial middle class, mainly in the Protestant countries of the Dutch Republic and England, brought about a new family ideology centred around the upbringing of children. Puritanism stressed the importance of individual salvation and concern for the spiritual welfare of children.[5]

The Age of Innocence c.1785/8. Reynolds emphasized the natural grace of children in his paintings

The modern notion of childhood with its own autonomy and goals began to emerge during the 18th century Enlightenment and the Romantic period that followed it.[citation needed] Jean Jacques Rousseau formulated the romantic attitude towards children in his famous 1762 novel Emile: or, On Education. Building on the ideas of John Locke and other 17th-century thinkers, Jean-Jaques Rousseau described childhood as a brief period of sanctuary before people encounter the perils and hardships of adulthood.[6] Sir Joshua Reynolds' extensive children portraiture demonstrated the new enlightened attitudes toward young children. His 1788 painting The Age of Innocence, emphasizes the innocence and natural grace of the posing child and soon became a public favourite.[citation needed]

With the onset of industrialisation in England in 1760, the divergence between high-minded romantic ideals of childhood and the reality of the growing magnitude of child exploitation in the workplace, became increasingly apparent. By the late 18th century, British children were specially employed in factories and mines and as chimney sweeps,[7] often working long hours in dangerous jobs for low pay.[8] As the century wore on, the contradiction between the conditions on the ground for children of the poor and the middle-class notion of childhood as a time of innocence led to the first campaigns for the imposition of legal protection for children.

British reformers attacked child labor from the 1830s onward, bolstered by the horrific descriptions of London street life by Charles Dickens.[9] The campaign eventually led to the Factory Acts, which mitigated the exploitation of children at the workplace.[10][11]

Modern concepts of childhood[edit]

Children play in the fountain in a summer evening, Davis, California.
Nepalese children playing with cats.

The modern attitude to children emerged by the late 19th century; the Victorian middle and upper classes emphasized the role of the family and the sanctity of the child, – an attitude that has remained dominant in Western societies ever since.[12] The genre of children's literature took off, with a proliferation of humorous, child-oriented books attuned to the child's imagination. Lewis Carroll's fantasy Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, published in 1865 in England, was a landmark in the genre; regarded as the first "English masterpiece written for children", its publication opened the "First Golden Age" of children's literature.

The latter half of the 19th century saw the introduction of compulsory state schooling of children across Europe, which decisively removed children from the workplace into schools.[citation needed] The market economy of the 19th century enabled the concept of childhood as a time of fun of happiness. Factory-made dolls and doll houses delighted the girls and organized sports and activities were played by the boys.[13] The Boy Scouts was founded by Sir Robert Baden-Powell in 1908,[14] which provided young boys with outdoor activities aiming at developing character, citizenship, and personal fitness qualities.[15]

In the 20th century, Philippe Ariès, a French historian specializing in medieval history, suggested that childhood was not a natural phenomenon, but a creation of society in his 1960 book Centuries of Childhood. In 1961 he published a study of paintings, gravestones, furniture, and school records, finding that before the 17th-century, children were represented as mini-adults.

In 1966, the American philosopher George Boas published the book The Cult of Childhood. Since then, historians have increasingly researched childhood in past times.[citation needed]

In 2006 Hugh Cunningham, published the book Invention of Childhood looking at British childhood from the year 1000, the Middle Ages to what he refers to as the Post War Period of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.[citation needed]

The concept of childhood appears to evolve and change shape as lifestyles change and adult expectations alter. Some believe that children should not have any worries and should not have to work; life should be happy and trouble-free. Childhood is usually a mixture of happiness, wonder, angst and resilience. It is generally a time of playing, learning, socializing, exploring, and worrying in a world without much adult interference, aside from parents. It is a time of learning about responsibilities without having to deal with adult responsibilities.[citation needed]

Childhood is[when?] often retrospectively viewed as a time of innocence,[by whom?] connoting an optimistic view of the world, in particular one where the lack of knowledge stems from a lack of wrongdoing, whereas greater knowledge comes from doing wrong.[citation needed] A "loss of innocence" is a common concept, and is often seen as an integral part of coming of age. It is usually thought of as an experience or period in a child's life that widens their awareness of evil, pain or the world around them.[citation needed] This theme is demonstrated in the novels To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies. The fictional character Peter Pan was the embodiment of a childhood that never ends.

Geographies of childhood[edit]

The geographies of childhood involves how (adult) society perceives the idea of childhood, the many ways adult attitudes and behaviors affect children's lives, including the environment which surrounds children and its implications.[citation needed]

The geographies of childhood is similar in some respects to children's geographies which examines the places and spaces in which children live.[citation needed]

Nature deficit disorder[edit]

Nature Deficit Disorder, a term coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods, refers to the trend in the United States and Canada towards less time for outdoor play,[16][17] resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems.[18]

With increasing use of cellphones, computers, video games and television, children have more reasons to stay inside rather than outdoors exploring. “The average American child spends 44 hours a week with electronic media”.[19] Research in 2007 has drawn a correlation between the declining number of National Park visits in the U.S. and increasing consumption of electronic media by children.[20] The media has accelerated the trend for children´s nature disconnection by deemphasizing views of nature, as in Disney films.[21]

Healthy childhoods[edit]

Children dancing ballet – picture by the French painter Edgar Degas.

Role of parents[edit]

Children's health[edit]

Children's health includes the physical, mental and social well-being of children. Maintaining children's health implies offering them healthy foods, insuring they get enough sleep and exercise, and protecting their safety.[22] Children in certain parts of the world often suffer from malnutrition, which is often associated with other conditions, such diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria.[23]

Child protection[edit]

Child protection, according to UNICEF, refers to "preventing and responding to violence, exploitation and abuse against children – including commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labour and harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage".[24] The Convention on the Rights of the Child protects the fundamental rights of children.

Play[edit]

Harari girls in Ethiopia.

Play is essential to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children.[25] It offers children opportunities for physical (running, jumping, climbing, etc.), intellectual (social skills, community norms, ethics and general knowledge) and emotional development (empathy, compassion, and friendships). Unstructured play encourages creativity and imagination. Playing and interacting with other children, as well as some adults, provides opportunities for friendships, social interactions, conflicts and resolutions. However, adults tend to (often mistakenly) assume that virtually all children's social activities can be understood as "play" and, furthermore, that children's play activities do not involve much skill or effort.[26][27][28][29]

It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers.[25] Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills. However, when play is controlled by adults, children acquiesce to adult rules and concerns and lose some of the benefits play offers them. This is especially true in developing creativity, leadership, and group skills.[25]

Play is considered to be so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.[30] Children who are being raised in a hurried and pressured style may limit the protective benefits they would gain from child-driven play.[25]

The initiation of play in a classroom setting allows teachers and students to interact through playfulness associated with a learning experience. Therefore, playfulness aids the interactions between adults and children in a learning environment. “Playful Structure” means to combine informal learning with formal learning to produce an effective learning experience for children at a young age.[31]

Even though play is considered to be the most important to optimal child development, the environment affects their play and therefore their development. Poor children confront widespread environmental inequities as they experience less social support, and their parents are less responsive and more authoritarian. Children from low income families are most likely to have less access to books and computers which affects their development as they do not have access to resources that would enhance their development.[32]

Street culture[edit]

Children in front of a movie theatre, Toronto, 1920s.

Children's street culture refers to the cumulative culture created by young children and is sometimes referred to as their secret world. It is most common in children between the ages of seven and twelve. It is strongest in urban working class industrial districts where children are traditionally free to play out in the streets for long periods without supervision. It is invented and largely sustained by children themselves with little adult interference.

Young children's street culture usually takes place on quiet backstreets and pavements, and along routes that venture out into local parks, playgrounds, scrub and wasteland, and to local shops. It often imposes imaginative status on certain sections of the urban realm (local buildings, kerbs, street objects, etc.). Children designate specific areas that serve as informal meeting and relaxation places (see: Sobel, 2001). An urban area that looks faceless or neglected to an adult may have deep 'spirit of place' meanings in to children. Since the advent of indoor distractions such as video games, and television, concerns have been expressed about the vitality – or even the survival – of children's street culture.

Children's rights[edit]

Children's rights are the human rights of children, with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to minors, and provision of basic necessities. Children's rights are not respected in all countries. Globally, millions of children are subjected to exploitation, including deprivation of education, child labor, forced military service, or imprisonment in institutions or detention centers where they endure poor conditions and violence.[33]

Research in social sciences[edit]

In recent years there has been a rapid growth of interest in the sociological study of adulthood. Reaching on a large body of contemporary sociological and anthropological research, people have developed key links between the study of childhood and social theory, exploring its historical, political, and cultural dimensions in Ethiopia.

See also[edit]

Older teenagers at the Bannu jail in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

In Popular Culture[edit]

According to Larry Page Original Founder of Google that YouTube More Comments More than 75,000,000 Comments Far Away with the Word "Childhood" Spending $300,000 on Videos other than Brings Back Memories (is 86,000,000 views about) If Seeing the Nolstalgic Youtube videos Through the 70s the 80s and 90s bringing the YouTube Sales decreased

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Macmillan Dictionary for Students Macmillan, Pan Ltd. (1981), page 173. Retrieved 2010-7-15.
  2. ^ Eddy, Matthew Daniel (2010). "‘The Alphabets of Nature: Children, Books and Natural History, 1750-1800’". Nuncius. 25: 1–22. 
  3. ^ UNICEF The State of the World’s Children, 2005
  4. ^ a b End of Childhood Report 2017 Save the Children, retrieved 12 August 2017
  5. ^ Vivian C. Fox, "Poor Children's Rights in Early Modern England," Journal of Psychohistory, Jan 1996, Vol. 23 Issue 3, pp 286–306
  6. ^ David Cohen, The development of play (2006) p 20
  7. ^ Laura Del Col, West Virginia University, The Life of the Industrial Worker in Nineteenth-Century England
  8. ^ Barbara Daniels, Poverty and Families in the Victorian Erahiddenlives.org
  9. ^ Amberyl Malkovich, Charles Dickens and the Victorian Child: Romanticizing and Socializing the Imperfect Child (2011)
  10. ^ "The Life of the Industrial Worker in Nineteenth-Century England". Laura Del Col, West Virginia University.
  11. ^ "The Factory and Workshop Act, 1901". Br Med J. 2: 1871–2. PMC 2507680Freely accessible. PMID 20759953. 
  12. ^ Thomas E. Jordan, Victorian Child Savers and Their Culture: A Thematic Evaluation (1998)
  13. ^ Howard Chudacoff, Children at Play: An American History (2008)
  14. ^ Woolgar, Brian; La Riviere, Sheila (2002). Why Brownsea? The Beginnings of Scouting. Brownsea Island Scout and Guide Management Committee. 
  15. ^ Boehmer, Elleke (2004). Notes to 2004 edition of Scouting for Boys. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  16. ^ For more children, less time for outdoor play: Busy schedules, less open space, more safety fears, and lure of the Web keep kids inside by Marilyn Gardner, The Christian Science Monitor, June 29, 2006
  17. ^ U.S. children and teens spend more time on academics by Diane Swanbrow, The University Record Online, The University of Michigan.
  18. ^ Are your kids really spending enough time outdoors? Getting up close with nature opens a child's eyes to the wonders of the world, with a bounty of health benefits. by Tammie Burak, Canadian Living.
  19. ^ Outside Agitators by Bill O'Driscoll, Pittsburgh City Paper
  20. ^ "Is There Anybody Out There?", Conservation, 8 (2), April–June 2007, archived from the original on 2008-12-01 
  21. ^ Prévot-Julliard, Anne-Caroline; Julliard, Romain; Clayton, Susan (2014). "Historical evidence for nature disconnection in a 70-year time series of Disney animated films". Public Understanding of Science. 24: 672–680. doi:10.1177/0963662513519042. 
  22. ^ http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/childrenshealth.html
  23. ^ http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/80/1/193.abstract
  24. ^ http://www.unicef.org/chinese/protection/files/What_is_Child_Protection.pdf
  25. ^ a b c d Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MSEd. "The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds" (PDF). American Academy of Pediatrics. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-10-11. 
  26. ^ Björk-Willén, Polly; Cromdal, Jakob (2009). "When education seeps into 'free play': How preschool children accomplish multilingual education". Journal of Pragmatics. 41 (8): 1493–1518. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2007.06.006. 
  27. ^ Cromdal, Jakob (2001). "Can I be with?: Negotiating play entry in a bilingual schooln". Journal of Pragmatics. 33: 515–543. doi:10.1016/S0378-2166(99)00131-9. 
  28. ^ Butler, Carly (2008). Talk and social interaction in the playground. Aldershot: Ashgate. 
  29. ^ Cromdal, Jakob (2009). "Childhood and social interaction in everyday life: Introduction to the special issue". Journal of Pragmatics. 41 (8): 1473–76. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2007.03.008. 
  30. ^ "Convention on the Rights of the Child. General Assembly Resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989.". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved 2006-06-22. 
  31. ^ Walsh, Glenda. "Playful Structure". Council of University Libraries. 
  32. ^ American Psychologist (March 2004), 59 (2), pg. 77–92
  33. ^ https://www.hrw.org/topic/childrens-rights

Further reading[edit]

  • Ariès, Philippe. Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962.
  • Boas, George. The Cult of Childhood. London: Warburg, 1966.
  • Brown, Marilyn R., ed. Picturing Children: Constructions of Childhood between Rousseau and Freud. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002.
  • Buckingham, David. After the Death of Childhood: Growing Up in the Age of Electronic Media. Blackwell Publishers, 2000. ISBN 0-7456-1933-9.
  • Bunge, Marcia J., ed. The Child in Christian Thought. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001.
  • Calvert, Karin. Children in the House: The Material Culture of Early Childhood, 1600–1900. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992.
  • Cleverley, John and D.C. Phillips. Visions of Childhood: Influential Models from Locke to Spock. New York: Teachers College, 1986.
  • Cannella, Gaile and Joe L. Kincheloe. "Kidworld: Childhood Studies, Global Perspectives, and Education". New York: Peter Lang, 2002.
  • Cunningham, Hugh. Children and Childhood in Western Society since 1500. London: Longman, 1995.
  • Cunnington, Phillis and Anne Buck. Children’s Costume in England: 1300 to 1900. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1965.
  • deMause, Lloyde, ed. The History of Childhood. London: Souvenir Press, 1976.
  • Higonnet, Anne. Pictures of Innocence: The History and Crisis of Ideal Childhood. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1998.
  • Immel, Andrea and Michael Witmore, eds. Childhood and Children’s Books in Early Modern Europe, 1550–1800. New York: Routledge, 2006.
  • Kincaid, James R. Child-Loving: The Erotic Child and Victorian Culture. New York: Routledge, 1992.
  • Knörr, Jacqueline, ed. Childhood and Migration. From Experience to Agency. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2005.
  • Müller, Anja, ed. Fashioning Childhood in the Eighteenth Century: Age and Identity. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006.
  • O’Malley, Andrew. The Making of the Modern Child: Children’s Literature and Childhood in the Late Eighteenth Century. London: Routledge, 2003.
  • Pinchbeck, Ivy and Margaret Hewitt. Children in English Society. 2 vols. London: Routledge, 1969.
  • Pollock, Linda A. Forgotten Children: Parent-child relations from 1500 to 1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
  • Postman, Neil. The Disappearance of Childhood. New York: Vintage, 1994.
  • Schultz, James. The Knowledge of Childhood in the German Middle Ages.
  • Shorter, Edward. The Making of the Modern Family.
  • Sommerville, C. John. The Discovery of Childhood in Puritan England. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1992.
  • Steinberg, Shirley R. and Joe L. Kincheloe. Kinderculture: The Corporate Construction of Childhood. Westview Press Inc., 2004. ISBN 0-8133-9154-7.
  • Stone, Lawrence. The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500–1800. New York: Harper and Row, 1979.
  • Zornado, Joseph L. Inventing the Child: Culture, Ideology, and the Story of Childhood. New York: Garland, 2001.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Toddlerhood
Stages of human development
Early childhood, Childhood
Succeeded by
Preadolescence