Characteristics of Childhood Developmental Periods

Characteristics of Childhood Developmental Periods

Five Developmental Periods of Childhood.

There are five developmental periods in childhood with each period marked by both physical and cognitive changes. The five periods of child development include: infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, early adolescence, and late adolescence.

Infancy is the period from birth to two years of age. During this time, children develop cognitively through their dependency on other people. They begin by developing,

…basic human traits-emotional bonds to other human beings, nonverbal communication and language expression, motor exploration of the physical environment, and systematic approaches to learning about people, places, and things (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 18).

Infants will physically grow during this period and begin crawling and moving more and more. As they physically develop, infants will try to explore their surroundings with greater frequency. Physically, the infant will become stronger but will still be highly dependent on people.

The early childhood period is from ages two to six. This period is characterized by cognitive developments including increased communication and language skills. During this time, children will begin to talk more frequently and begin understanding more grammar and vocabulary. Cognitively speaking, “Early childhood is a period of incredible creativity, fantasy, wonder, and play” and “more prone to “self-centered impulses “(McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 19).

Middle childhood is the period from six to 10 years of age. During this time, children focus on building strong social bonds with their peers. Friendships are an important part of the learning process. According to McDevitt and Ormrod (2004) “Children also begin to compare their performance to that of others” at this period of development (p. 19).” Physically, children’s athletic skills increase and they become increasingly more active and may take up sports.

Early adolescence is the period between the ages of 10 and 14. During this period, many physical changes occur as the result of puberty. This brings about physical maturation of sex organs and children begin taking on more adult features such as breast development in females. Cognitively, adolescents become very focused on how their peers perceive them. There are also thought processes that become heightened such as “expansion in abilities to think logically, abstractly, and exhaustively” (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 21). This period is marked by the change in thinking in which children consider the world around them more critically and develop more self-efficacy.

The final phase of development, ages 14 to 18, is late adolescents. This period is characterized by decision making and peer relationships. “individual differences in academic achievement are substantial” and this can create many issues with children (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 22). Peer pressure is a substantial issue during this time as children vie to be independent yet conform to the expectations of others.


McDevitt, T., & Ormrod, J. (2004). Child Development: Educating and Working with Children and Adolescents (2nd ed.). : Prentice Hall

Photo by Jessica Rockowitz on Unsplash


Triola Vincent. Wed, Jan 06, 2021. Characteristics of Childhood Developmental Periods Retrieved from

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