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A female child

A child (plural: children) is a young human. Depending on context it may mean someone who is not yet an adult, or someone who has not yet reached puberty (someone who is prepubescent).

Child is also a counterpart of parent: adults are the children of their parents despite their maturation beyond infancy; for example "Benjamin, aged 46, is the child of Tobias, aged 73". Similarly in a generalized sense, see child node.


A female child is called a girl and a male child is called a boy.


Child development is the study or examination of processes and mechanisms that operate during the physical and mental development of an infant into an adult.

Pediatrics is the branch of medicine relating to the care of children. It encompasses ages from prenatal to teenagers and even young adults (ages 0-21 years).

Terms for stages of age-related physical development are listed below. Approximate age ranges are shown, but conceptions about the boundaries between different stages of life vary between cultures and periods. The age ranges and terms listed reflect 21st century conceptions in the developed world.

Boy showing tongue.

Also sometimes used are terms that specify one's age in decades, such as:

  • Twenty something (20-29)
  • Thirty something (30-39)
  • Forty something/Quadragenarian (rarely used since 1980)(40-49)
  • Quinquagenarian (50-59)
  • Sexagenarian (60-69)
  • Septuagenarian (70-79)
  • Octogenarian (80-89)
  • Nonagenarian (90-99)
  • Centenarian (100-109)
  • Supercentenarian (110+)

Cognitive development

Notable child prodigies

Hupa mother and child, by Edward S. Curtis, 1924

  • Christian Friedrich Heinecken (The Infant of Lübeck)
  • Isaac Albeniz
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Sarah Chang

See also: Child prodigy

Human development

Main article: Human development

Human development refers to all forms of development above, often in the context of clinical or developmental psychology, or as human development theory (in economics, an outgrowth of welfare economics).

Both the psychological and economic fields share a special concern with education and language fluency including literacy and numeracy, and with identification and development of more unique talents into the economic variable known as individual capital.

Earlier branches of economics see humans in terms of labour for production, means of persuasion or protection, which tend to be skills acquired only in adolescence and adulthood. The human development view is more evident in sports, music and other performing arts, such as acting where the child begins training often as early as three years of age. Think of Tiger Woods and his early practice golfing.

While there are problems with such early "streaming", child murder, child abandonment, military use of children and other major social ills are thought to be reduced by a human development approach – as there is a high value assigned to children by the state.

The UN Human Development Index is a means of measuring well-being used to rank states by these criteria. Although child abuse is thought to be lower in countries with a high ranking on this Index, that is not easily proven.

See also

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Wiktionary: Childhood

Look up Children in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Look up Prepubescent in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

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