Lead Author(s): George Hollich
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Child Psychology Primer is the anti-textbook for developmental psychology: providing just the bare essentials—the key concepts, methods, and findings that you simply have to know to usefully apply child psychology in your own life. This primer gives you the essence of what child psychology is all about and what you can do with it.
Introduction - A Tale of Two Children
This is a story about two children who could not be more different if they tried. While one was good and sweet, the other was mean and spiteful. While one was caring, considerate, and respectful of others, the other was selfish, thoughtless, and aggressive. It should come as no surprise that their trajectories in life were very different: the sweet one grew up to be healthy and socially well adjusted, and became a productive member of society. The other grew up to be twisted and unloved and was ultimately incarcerated to the end of days for crimes so appalling that I won’t turn your stomach by describing them in detail here.
So how did this happen? How did two beautiful babies from a similar time and place come to such very different ends? Was it their parents or their teachers? Was it a doctor, psychologist, or clinician who made all the difference? Maybe it was some combination of all of these mixed with cultural influences, a dash of media exposure, and a confluence of circumstances impossible to escape for either child. Perhaps.
Or maybe it was you! Maybe it was something you did or said. Have you ever thought about that? Not to be alarmist, but all of us come into contact with children at one time or another and their older—hopefully more mature—incarnations. What difference did you make? If life is the sum total of all our interactions, then it is very possible that the cumulative total of your interactions with children are slowly changing their lives. Is the difference you're making a positive one?
Do you even know what to do? Children are not like us. They don't think the same way; they don’t react in the ways we expect. In fact, sometimes the most logical, sensible reaction is the worst possible in terms of long-term outcomes. You might be screwing up children’s lives without even knowing it!
Do you think you know how to handle kids?
Relax. This course aims to help. It will give you essential knowledge and help you master the key things you need to know to understand from a scientific viewpoint why children turn out the way they do. In the process, you will get practice figuring out what to do based on what actually works according to the data (rather than what people think works). This course will put you on the path to asking the right questions and give you an empirical foundation for figuring out what really works and what doesn’t.
This course aims to give you just the bare essentials: the key concepts, methods, and findings that you simply have to know to usefully apply child psychology in your own life. It will give you the essence of what child psychology is all about and then give you some suggestions for how you might apply it. Each chapter starts with a short summary of what you will learn, dives into the foundational concepts (the terms and ideas you must know) and the critical methods and findings (the research that you’ll want to tell your friends about), and then finishes with a section on why this matters, which includes discussion of practical applications of this knowledge in the home, the classroom, and health care settings as well as cross-cultural differences and similarities.
You will discover that you will not take this journey alone. Others are taking this path with you, and together you will learn more than you would individually. Through shared examples, discussions, and activities, together you will make tomorrow’s children sweet, caring, considerate, happy, healthy, well-adjusted members of society—at least that’s the idea. Good luck.
In this discussion, you share one question you have regarding child psychology - something you hope to have answered in the course.
 - Photograph taken and provided by author George Hollich.