5 Reasons to Study Human Development

Developmental psychology courses are required for many college majors, including those going into psychology, education, and nursing. There are plenty of great reasons to learn more about human development.

Why are such classes so important? Some background knowledge of how people grow and change throughout life is essential if you are majoring in a field such as:

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Social work

While people in these fields can benefit, understanding human development can be helpful for anyone. Here are five reasons you should consider studying human development.


Appreciate Development Through Life

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When we think of human development, it's easy to think of it as a process that is largely complete once we hit early adulthood. It is important to realize, however, that development is an ongoing process that continues all throughout life.

As you enter adulthood, navigate middle age, and face the onset of old age, having a greater understanding of how people continue to grow and change as they get older can help you appreciate and manage all the stages of your life.


Better Understand Yourself

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Learning more about how children develop and grow can provide additional insight into how you have become the person you are. What experiences shaped your personality and preferences? How did your upbringing affect who you are today?

It can also help you learn more about your future. By understanding the aging process, you'll be better prepared when you face issues associated with growing older. It may also help you:

  • Address end-of-life concerns
  • Cultivate supportive relationships
  • Make healthier choices
  • Plan for your future needs

Aging doesn't always follow a defined path. There are also a wide variety of factors that can influence the path that your life follows. Looking at these influences can help you make choices today that may influence your life in older age.


Learn More About Your Children

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Parents can benefit from learning more about how kids develop. A lot happens in the years from infancy to adulthood, so it's important to understand what happens at each stage of life.

By learning more about how kids grow, parents can help their kids grow in healthy ways and address challenges that might arise. In addition to learning things that can help make you a better parent, you can gain greater insight into how your children behave, think, learn, and feel.

Development is a complex process, so learning more about how kids grow physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively can lead to a deeper understanding of kids of all ages.


Learn to Interact With Kids

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If you plan on having children or working with them at some point, studying human development can greatly improve your ability to interact with kids. Some factors to consider when interacting with kids include:

  • Communicating in ways that are age-appropriate
  • Encouraging appropriate play
  • Helping children express and understand emotions
  • Reinforcing positive behaviors

Once you better understand the stages of development and what makes kids tick, you will feel more comfortable talking, playing, and working with them. This is particularly important if you plan on working with children.


Learn to Spot Problems

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Another important reason to study development is that you can gain a greater understanding of what's normal. While every person is a little bit different, human development tends to follow a remarkably predictable pattern. Once you have studied development, you'll know what's typical at certain ages and stages.

Perhaps most importantly, studying human development makes it easier to spot possible signs of trouble. From problems with cognitive, ​social, or emotional development in early childhood to struggles later in life, being able to identify potential problems is important.

The earlier developmental problems are detected, the sooner intervention can begin. No matter what the situation, early detection, and treatment can lead to better outcomes.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hartshorne JK, Germine LT. When does cognitive functioning peak? The asynchronous rise and fall of different cognitive abilities across the life span. Psychological Science. 2015;26(4):433-443. doi:10.1177/0956797614567339

  2. Costello EJ. Early detection and prevention of mental health problems: Developmental epidemiology and systems of support. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. 2016;45(6):710-717. doi:10.1080/15374416.2016.1236728

By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is the author of the "Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition)" and has written thousands of articles on diverse psychology topics. Kendra holds a Master of Science degree in education from Boise State University with a primary research interest in educational psychology and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Idaho State University with additional coursework in substance use and case management.