Read these child development ideas to become familiar with the conceptual framework that will be used in Well Being training



Child Development is:

  • Ongoing: For every person development begins in utero and continues until our death. Developmental theorists used to believe development stopped at adulthood but now the prevailing wisdom is that humans continue to develop across the lifespan.
  • Dynamic: Development involves continuous change; this change is referred to as growth.
  • Directional: Most development evolves in a predictable, defined direction; typically proceeding from simple to complex; physical development, for example is from the head down; language development in sounds and response patterns, then receptive language, then expressive language.
  • Involves stages: At certain predictable times in the developmental process, particular tasks or activities emerge; after the emergence of a new skill, there is typically a leveling off, when the new skills are practiced, mastered, and integrated into the child’s behavior.
  • Is cumulative: Early developmental tasks form the foundation for the development of later, more complicated tasks. Disrupted or incomplete development at any of the stages can cause difficulty in the continued healthy development of any of us.



Types of Attachment

This images is a brief review of types of attachment based on the work of Ainsworth and Bell and the strange situation experiment. Credit for the image to Public Health Agency of Canada.


Want more? Watch the strange situation experiment video here, and check out Dr. Dan Siegel talking about Attachment here.





















Nature Vs. Nurture

While historically there has been considerable debate about this topic, most child development experts agree that development is shaped by the extremely complex interaction between the individual’s genetic predisposition and the environment in which the individual lives and grows.



Every child has a unique biological make-up that contributes to their development. Inherited physical traits such a height and body type, hair color, skin color, eye color all also contribute to development. We may also describe this as heredity.  Even if a child is particularly attractive or not can contribute, because it may have an effect on how and how often others interact with the child. Predisposition to many illnesses, both physical and mental illness have been linked to genetic markers.  Much of our development in early life is impacted more by these factors, in particular the rate and progress of our physical development and characteristics. A child's temperament is an internal characteristic that is greatly influenced by genetic predisposition and traits of temperament are seen at birth.



This is described as every outside factor that contributes, acts upon or interacts with a child to influence development. This can range from the home the child grows up in, the food they eat


Want more? Read this! The Nurture of Nature by Peter Tyson



The Five Domains of Development

 1. Physical Domain

This domain is concerned with the growth and maturation of a child and their movement, balance and coordination. Evaluation of this domain includes inquiring how a child is developing their bones, muscle,  organs etc. and how those developments are impacting their life and functioning.  Development in their motor skills, both fine (small) and gross(large) are contained in this developmental aspect.  This domain encompasses how a child uses their five senses and how  they respond to stimuli in these areas.


2. Cognitive Domain

May include intellect or mental abilities. This domain would encompass how a child processes information. This domain is focused on when presented with stimuli what does a child do with that information or problem. This would monitor how a child reasons, or works through something and what processes do they follow.


3. Social/Emotional

This is how a child relates to another person. Can they make and maintain relationships with other humans and what is their process for doing so? This also is concerned with the emotions, feelings, and behaviors a child may exhibit. This domain would relate to attachment development and concepts.


4. Communication/Language

This domain is all about how does a child make and respond to spoke word. Can they effectively interact with others using words, sounds, utterances. This is related to a child's ability to receive language, process that language and understands its meaning, then respond in such a way that is appropriate or expected.


5. *Adaptive

This is sometimes referred to as the "self help" domain. How does a child bath themselves, get dressed. This is an additional domain listed outside of the four domains because some theorists argue that this domain is a function of other domains such as social, cognitive, and physical.


Development in one area is impacted and can impact development in any other area, this relates to the concept of cumulative development.






Well-being Needs Home

Portland State University

Child Welfare Partnership

626 High Street NE, Suite 400

Salem, OR 97301


(503) 315-4267

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For more information about Portland State University's Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services, please click here.