Childhood and adolescence refer to the periods of time representing early development. Most typically, childhood refers to the period from birth to the teen years, whereas adolescence refers to the period from the teen years to adulthood. Determining the precise timing of onset and transitions between these periods is difficult, as they vary across historical periods and cultures. Child and adolescent development is the result of dynamic interactions between the child and his or her environment. Development typically progresses in accordance with the maturational stages and moves through a series of increasingly complex and challenging tasks that prepare the child for independent functioning within the larger community. This entry begins with a brief review of historical and modern notions of childhood and adolescence, followed by ...

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