Childhood is the period between infancy and adolescence and adolescence refers to the period between childhood and adulthood. Understanding how the two periods are perceived in different cultures and societies is important.

Concept of Childhood

Until the end of the 20th century, childhood was a concept to which little attention was paid. Generally, childhood is seen as a natural biological developmental state and is perceived to be a modern invention. The pre-school or school period is usually considered to be the childhood period. Social constructivist theories believe that childhood is a social construct. Social constructivism is a theory based on the need for social interaction in learning.

They believe that human learning is a social construct in which learners gain new knowledge based on their previous knowledge to create new knowledge and experiences. The 18th-century philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, noted that childhood is a period occurring between birth and 12 years. The Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner stated, “childhood was a state of physical and spiritual being roughly between the ages of seven and fourteen years, indicated initially by certain physiological changes such as the loss of the milk teeth.”

Concept of Adolescence

Adolescence comes from the Latin word ‘adolescere’ meaning ‘to grow up‘. Adolescence was a concept introduced during the end of the 19th century before which, adolescence and childhood were not differentiated concepts. G. Stanley Hall is mostly credited with the introduction of the concept of adolescence.

He believed that adolescence was a concept arising from the social changes during the 20th century. He referred to the concept of adolescence as a “process of physical and psychosocial rebirth.” The Industrial Revolution brought about many changes in the concept of adolescence and prior to it, children and adolescents were viewed as miniature adults. Psychology perceives adolescents as the period between childhood and adulthood.