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A child (plural: children). Precise definitions vary; is the offspring, of any age, of two people. The American Heritage Dictionary[1] defined a child as an individual who has not yet reached puberty.

The term "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.

Legal definition of child

The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as "every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier".[2]


Tamil girls in Tiruvanamalai

Two little girls.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - A Calling (1896)

Bouguereau's A Calling.

Child tongue

Boy showing tongue.

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.

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

Cognitive development

Notable child prodigies

Main article: Child prodigy

Human development

Alice Liddel - Beggar Girl

Alice Liddell at 7.

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. A contemporary example is Tiger Woods and his early training in golfing.

Children are often targeted at for advertising, as many people, including Eric Schlosser, have told the world via books.

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.


  1. Definition of child. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company.
  2. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Ratified by 192 of 194 member countries.

External links

See also

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Look up Child , Children , Prepubescent in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

List of child related articles

Preceded by:
Stages of human development
Succeeded by:

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