Typical, normal and pathological behaviours in childhood and adolescence



The growing of the person from babyhood to adolescence has been the topic to much research in many academic subjects. Behaviour throughout the first several old ages of life can be observed to determine how good the person is developing and whether he is maturating and interacting successfully with his environment. But what exactly is development? Human development is by and large thought of as a series of alterations get downing at birth and go oning throughout life. This development takes topographic point in different countries within the person. There is biological development ( alterations in the organic structure ) , emotional development ( alterations in feelings and how experiences are understood ) , cognitive development ( alterations in thought ) and societal development ( alterations in relationships with other people ) . To a important extent, development is measured by detecting the behavior of a kid or stripling. This is particularly true in the behavioristic school of idea, because behaviorists believe that replies to inquiries about human development should come from detecting external behavior alternatively of seeking to pull decisions about subconscious thrusts and other intangible phenomena.

In add-on, those who use Piaget’s theories step development partly through detecting the usage of behavioral strategies, which kids and striplings use to interact with their experiences. Behaviour strategies are schemes used to respond to events in life. [ 1 ] So, analyzing behavior is of import for understanding development in kids and striplings. Bing able to sort that behavior into classs utilizing universally accepted descriptions of behavior is important to the survey of behavior, and hence important to understanding the development of the person.

There is much argument among experts as to what development is on a more elaborate degree. Some developmental psychologists believe that development is some sort of alteration that happens inside a individual that helps them to work better. Others think that development is any kind of alteration within an being that happens over clip. When there are arguments over the significance of development, it can be even more complicated to specify what is “normal” development and “abnormal” or “pathological” development. Piaget defined normal development as patterned advance through a series of phases, each with its ain undertakings for the kid to finish. Although his theory is still an of import one, it has been regarded as excessively stiff to supply a comprehensive account for human development. Although recognizing a certain criterion may be utile as a measurement rod for intents of survey, theories with stiff thoughts of what is normal and what is non do non account for differences among persons. On the other manus, when differences among kids of the same age are identified it is impossible to nail the cause or causes of the differences without utilizing some sort of criterion. Psychologists are interested in utilizing criterions of normalcy to happen out what factors affect development and the differences in rates of development.

The word “abnormal” literally means “away from the norm, ” where the norm is a peculiar criterion. One job with words such as normal and unnatural is that it is frequently ill-defined what is normal and what is unnatural. For illustration, jobs with behavior in kids, while disputing for parents and carers, could be considered normal. Surveies of child behavior show that a high per centum of kids display assorted behavioral jobs throughout their turning old ages. So in one sense, it is normal for kids to be unnatural. Sometimes it is non the behavior itself that tells us whether it is normal or unnatural. We have to look at how frequent or how utmost the behavior is to state whether it qualifies as abnormal.

Some experts choose to reserve words like “abnormal” for certain medically defined conditions, such as depression or behavior upset. One job with utilizing the word at all is that it carries so many negative intensions that it can be damaging to utilize it. It can be particularly damaging when working with kids, who can endure from wounded self-pride if they internalise it as a label for themselves. Besides, if kids are led to believe that they are unnatural in one facet, they may generalize the construct and get down to believe of themselves as unnatural in many or all facets. Some theoreticians do oppugn the usage of such footings wholly. The usage of nomenclature in work with kids is a sensitive and frequently a really political issue. Wordss like “problematic” and “challenging” may be excessively general, while footings like “mentally defective” or emotionally disturbed” will probably be frowned upon by those who feel they are damaging to the kid.

In the hopes of happening in-between land that is acceptable to as many people as possible, some bookmans promote the usage of the term “atypical” . These research workers believe that it is a more impersonal alternate with less negative associations, while at the same clip being descriptive plenty to give information about the status of the kid. It is besides utile for denoting the grade of the aberrance and taking into history the manifold differences between kids with a typical sequence of development and kids and striplings with disablements.

The World Health Organisation ( WHO ) has adopted its ain attack to covering with the niceties of the footings normal and unnatural. The WHO uses the words “impairment” , “disability” and “handicap.” Impairment here means that there is a bound to normal operation. A disablement is the extent of the bound placed on an individual’s personal actions compared to normal human activity. Handicap describes the disadvantage that comes as a consequence of an damage or disablement that inhibits playing normal functions. [ 2 ] We can see that though the WHO seem to hold gone to great lengths to avoid the usage of footings like normal and unnatural, they still have to utilize the word “normal” in their definitions. This reinforces the thought that regardless of what word is used, there must still be mention to some kind of criterion for survey, description and diagnosing.

Ideas in psychological science about what is normal and what is unnatural are widely used in speaking about behaviors, despite the jobs associated with them. One illustration of the usage of these constructs is the work done by Bates. The construct of normalcy was adopted by Bates, who tried to bring forth an incorporate construction for understanding the ways that environmental factors affect human development and behavior. He recognised that there are physiological and environmental influences that exist for certain age groups, such as pubescence. He called these influences “normative age-graded influences” . Bates besides recognised that the events that occur in the universe during childhood influence development. These influences are called “normative history-graded influences” and illustrations of these include wars and other sorts of utmost political alterations.

Bates besides recognised, nevertheless, that non all development is normative and non everything that happens in the life of an person can be described as “normal” . “Non-normative life events” are events that are considered to be unusual and have a great consequence on the life of an person. These events are non connected with any peculiar period in history, but are alone to the life of the person and act upon the manner that they behave. They can non be described by a general class. Even their impact on single development can non be predicted. Examples of these sorts of events include the loss of a important relation or undertaking a serious disease. [ 3 ] Non-normative life events force developmentalists to profess that explicating development is a multi-faceted and complex procedure that requires scrutiny of all influences that are moving on the life of a kid while he/she is developing. The behaviors displayed by one kid may be rather normal given the life fortunes of that kid ; nevertheless, the same behavior may look unnatural for another kid in a different state of affairs.

Despite some unfavorable judgments about utilizing the word “normal” , there are by and large recognised norms associating to the growing and development of kids and striplings. These norms are concerned with the chronological order of alterations that happen in all human existences. The behavior that consequence from this sequence has to make partly with our cistrons and partly with external factors. This is the get downing point for the nature/nurture argument, which will non be addressed here.

The ultimate end for developmentalists is to seek to explicate human development in order to advance the best quality of development in people of all ages. Developmentalists observe the behaviors of all sorts of people and seek to offer accounts for the alterations that occur in people as they grow. It can be said with assurance that people develop in peculiar ways at peculiar times, while at the same time stating that no two kids are likewise and each develops in its ain alone manner. For developmentalists to be able to depict development they need to hold a standard linguistic communication which addresses normative development ( the typical ways kids grow ) every bit good as ideographic development ( the ways kids grow that are alone for each kid ) . Experts want to be able to depict typical development and place when and why some kids deviate from typical development forms. The ultimate end is for developmentalists to assist better development, but this can non go on until they can speak about when and why kids mature in a certain manner. [ 4 ]

While more traditional theories, such as depth psychology and the sociological position have something to lend to the treatment about development, they can besides be used in a different manner. Some believe that what these theories truly contribute is a footing for larning about the jobs that immature people face during while they mature, that is, their pathologies. Despite this evident utility, they are mostly unequal for explicating normal development. The basic premiss that a theory of pathology is needed as a starting point for explicating behavior is flawed. The turning kid foremost needs a theory about normal development in order to compare and contrast normalcy with the assorted pathologies that may originate during childhood and adolescence. [ 5 ] For illustration, it is widely recognised that adolescents need to set up healthy independency from their parents to accomplish successful adulthood. Without being excessively restrictive, this thought provides a background of normalcy against which pathology may be established. By comparing the behavior of one adolescent with the normal behavior of adolescence, we can see that a adolescent may go excessively independent and suffer from a deficiency of fond regard, or he may still be excessively dependent and be unable to research his sense of ego.

A basic account of the term pathology is that it is normal development gone incorrect. From this simple thought the subject of developmental abnormal psychology has evolved. Developmental abnormal psychology efforts to understand the relationship between pathology and normal development. In a sense, developmental abnormal psychology is the survey of developmental psychological science plus all of the things that can travel incorrect with development. One developmental expert indicated that in order to larn about normal development, a research worker demand to research the lives of kids who are prone to developing a pathology but for some ground do non. [ 6 ] For kids prone to a peculiar pathology, it would be normal for them to develop an abnormalcy. But someway, they manage to go on down the way of traditionally normal development. If experts can larn why it is possible for them to get the better of their pre-dispositions, they may be able to assist other kids overcome their pathologies in the same manner.

Alternatively of speaking approximately behavior as either strictly normal or strictly pathological, developmental psychopathologists think of behavior on a continuum At one terminal are behaviors that would be considered wholly normal. At the other terminal are behaviors that are clearly dysfunctional. The remainder of the continuum is a gray country, where behaviors can be considered partly normal and partly unnatural in different steps. The thought of the continuum means that experts can give general indicants about what is normal and what is non in most fortunes, alternatively of being purely forced to set behaviors in one box or the other.

The usage of the continuum can be illustrated by discoursing the issue of fond regard. It is necessary for kids to organize fond regards in order for them to maturate in a healthy manner. But developing in a manner that leads to over-attachment may be damaging to the child’s development. He may stop up with separation anxiousness and stunted societal growing. [ 7 ] So, while fond regard is a good thing if it manifests itself in a normal manner, fond regard can non be talked about as being either entirely normal or entirely unnatural. It is the grade, strength and result of the fond regard that determines whether it is normal or unnatural. The continuum can be used to mensurate more complex elements of behavior in this manner.

As mentioned above, one ground that it is necessary to utilize footings like “normal” and “pathological” is that in order to name pathology scientists need a cosmopolitan definition. A job with the thought of the continuum mentioned above is that it is still hard to find where normal behavior begins or ends. Many experts disagree on the definition of what is pathological and therefore many systems of categorization have emerged. The different systems utilise different steps of what is normal and what is pathological, and changing definitions of the assorted psychological upsets.

The most well-known diagnostic system is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, more normally known as the DSM-IV. The DSM-IV emphasises the behavior of the single alternatively of seeking to set people in a peculiar class. The purpose behind underscoring behavior is to avoid seting negative labels on people. Alternatively of naming person “druggie” , for illustration, he would be referred to as a individual with a substance dependence. The DSM-IV is the premier illustration of an effort to supply a diagnostic tool for psychological science without seting people in rigorous classs from which they can ne’er get away. Despite this, some feel that the DSM-IV does non cover good with the behavior of kids and striplings, as there are many alterations that occur during this period of life and behavior may be fickle.

There are other tools used to sort the behavior of kids and striplings, such as the Child Behaviour Checklist ( CBCL ) . The CBCL approaches upsets in a dimensional manner. It merely gives information about how much disfunction the individual’s behavior shows. It views abnormalcy as on the continuum talked about earlier. The CBCL provides certain norms that take into history both the age and gender of the kid. Comparisons can be made that state how close to typical the behavior of the kid is, so that the extent of their pathology can be determined. The job with the CBCL is that it fails to discourse several important childhood pathologies, like autism. The ground for this is that the CBCL looks at the extent of normalcy in the kid, and autism does non have on the normalcy continuum ; harmonizing to the CBCL either the kid has it or he does non. [ 8 ]

So, developmental abnormal psychology has impacted thoughts of “normal” and “pathological” in of import ways. The of import parts of this attack are its scrutiny of normal behavior in naming pathologies, and the thought of the continuum, runing from normal to abnormal. This manner of thought acknowledges single fluctuations and that a peculiar behavior can non ever be classified as strictly normal or strictly unnatural.

In the thick of the argument about how utile the footings discussed supra are, there is the fact that the really thought of childhood and childhood development is altering dramatically. Disciplines that tended to pretermit the importance of kid development are now acknowledging its importance and giving it greater attending. Even in Fieldss like anthropology and geographics, kid development is going more and more of import. Peoples are get downing to believe that the phenomenon of childhood is a outstanding portion of every civilization alternatively of being simply a foreword to adult society. Theories that assert the growing of the kid is pre-determined by certain factors or is merely the consequence of one influence are going less and less believable. Childhood is now regarded as a kaleidoscope of influences, images and constructions. Talking about assorted childhoods or the childhood of a peculiar society instead than merely ‘childhood’ seems more appropriate. [ 9 ] Puting all kids into a generic childhood fails to take into history the assorted elements of childhood, such as race, sex and socio-economic position.

Added to this is the emerging construct that kids should be studied in their ain cultural and societal context. That is, that their relationships, both with important grownups in their lives and their equals, should be examined. The thought that the civilizations of kids should be studied in and of themselves is supported by the impression that kids are non merely passive in the socialization procedure, but that they are active participants in their societal groups. Finding out what is normal societal interaction for a kid and what is the normal composing of a equal group can assist research workers to farther understand childhood experiences. Though it is improbable that research on kids outside of their relationships with grownups would be really helpful, it is teaching to see kids as societal histrions in order to set up forms of normalcy.

Taking this thought one measure further, some experts are even get downing to sort kids as a minority group. While at first this may look a spot unneeded, it is helpful for several grounds. First, it assists us in understanding the defeats kids may see as a consequence of their inability to materially alter the character of their lives. Second, it may assist us to get down to place the things in the lives of kids which hold them back. While this benefit is non purely a political one, it can enable us to come up with a list of rights for kids that optimise their development. Third, by understanding the societal life of kids it can assist us to larn how to break communicate with them. If we can larn to utilize their input better, we can larn more about normal and unnatural agencies of development.

Footings such as “normal” or “typical” are normally used because it is easy to speak about the things that people have in common as normal. Elementss of growing that are shared by about all people rapidly become taken for granted and can frequently be assumed. But the singularity of all kids is evident from the clip that they are babies. It should non be assumed that kids and striplings should develop in merely one purely prescribed manner. It is teaching for parents to cognize that the development of every kid contains normative developments and idiosyncratic developments, or alterations that do non purely adhere to what is considered normal. In fact, it is of import for the individualism of the kid to turn in ways that are non straight out of a text edition. Even from a immature age, kids must be allowed to turn and research their personalities in their ain manner and non be hampered by the restraints of what is deemed to be normal.

At the same clip, a cognition of what normal development is is important for experts who need to be able to separate between and discourse typical and pathological behavior. While admiting that all kids develop as persons, some definition of what is normal development for a peculiar age group must be. Knowing what is normal can bespeak the best clip for and type of intercession, if intercession is necessary. Overall, the footings “normal” and “abnormal” are a necessary immorality and can decidedly do positive parts to analyzing the behavior of kids and striplings.


Coleman, John and Hendry, Leo ( 1990 )The Nature of Adolescence, London: Routledge

Herbert, Martin ( 2003 )Typical and Atypical Development: From Concept to Adolescence, Oxford: Blackwell

James, Allison and Alan Prout, Eds. ( 1997 )Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood, London: RoutledgeFalmer

Keenan, Thomas ( 2002 )An Introduction to Child Development, London: Sage Publications

Schaffer, David ( 2002 )Developmental Psychology: Childhood and Adolescence, California: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning



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