CHILD, the common term for the offspring of human beings, generally below the age of puberty; the term is the correlative of "parent," and applies to either sex, though some early dialectical uses point to a certain restriction to a girl. The word is derived from the A.S. cild, an old Teutonic word found in English only, in other Teutonic languages kind and its variants being used, usually derived from the Indo-European root ken, seen in Gr., Lat. genus, and Eng. "kin"; cild has been held to be a modification of the same root, but the true root is kilth, seen in Goth. kilthei, womb, an origin which appears in the expressions "child-birth," "to be with child," and the like; the plural in A.S. was cild, and later cildru, which in northern M.E. became childre or childer, a form dialectically extant, and in southern English childeren or children (with the plural termination -en, as in "brethren"). There are several particular uses of "child" in the English version of the Bible, as of a young man in the "Song of the three holy children," of descendants or members of a race, as in "children of Abraham," and also to express origin, giving a description of character, as "children of darkness." During the 13th and 14th centuries "child" was used, in a sense almost amounting to a title of dignity, of a young man of noble birth, probably preparing for knighthood. In the York Mysteries of about 1440 (quoted in the New English Dictionary) occurs "be he churl or child," obviously referring to gentle birth, cf. William Bellenden's translation (1553) of Livy (ii. 124) "than was in Rome ane nobill childe ... namit Caius Mucius." The spelling "childe" is frequent in modern usage to indicate its archaic meaning. Familiar instances are in the line of an old ballad quoted in King Lear, "childe Roland to the dark tower came," and in Byron's Childe Harold. With this use may be compared the Spanish and Portuguese Infante and Infanta, and the early French use of Valet (q.v.).
Child-study. - The physical, psychological and educational development of children, from birth till adulthood, has provided material in recent years for what has come to be regarded as almost a distinct part of comparative anthropological or sociological science, and the literature of adolescence (q.v.) and of "child-study" in its various aspects has attained considerable proportions. In England the British Child Study Association was founded in 1894, its official organ being the Paidologist, while similar work is done by the Childhood Society, and, to a certain extent, by the Parents' National Educational Union (which issues the Parents' Review). In America, where specially valuable work has been done, several universities have encouraged the study (notably Chicago, while under the auspices of Professor John Dewey); and Professor G. Stanley Hall's initiative has led to elaborate inquiries, the principal periodical for the movement being the Pedagogical Seminary. The impetus to this study of the child's mind and capacities was given by the classic work of educationists like J.A. Comenius, J.H. Pestalozzi, and F.W.A. Froebel, but more recent writers have carried it much further, notably W.T. Preyer (The Mind of the Child, 1881), whose psychological studies stamp him as one of the chief pioneers in new methods of investigation. Other authorities of first-rate importance (their chief works only being given here) are J. Sully (Studies of Childhood, 1896), Earl Barnes (Studies in Education, 1896, 1902), J.M. Baldwin (Mental Development in the Child and the Race, 1895), Sigismund (Kind und Welt, 1897), A.F. Chamberlain (The Child, 1900), G. Stanley Hall (Adolescence, 1904; he had from 1882 been the leader in America of such investigations), H. Holman and R. Langdon Down (Practical Child Study, 1899), E.A. Kirkpatrick (Fundamentals of Child-study, 1903), and Prof. Tracy of Toronto (Psychology of Childhood, 5th ed., 1901); while among a number of contributions worth particular attention may be mentioned W.B. Drummond's excellent summary, Introduction to Child Study (1907), which deals succinctly with methods and results; Irving King's Psychology of Child Development (1906, useful for its bibliography); Prof. David R. Major's First Steps in Mental Growth (1906); and Miss M. Shinn's Notes an the Development of a Child (1893) and Mrs Louise E. Hogan's Study of a Child (1898), which are noteworthy among individual and methodical accounts of what children will do. In such books as those cited a great deal of important material has been collected and analysed, and a number of conclusions suggested which bear both on psychology and the science of education; but it must be borne in mind, as regards a great deal of the voluminous literature of the subject, that it is often more pertinent to general psychology and hygiene than to any special conclusions as to the essential nature of a child - whatever "a child" generically may be as the special object of a special science. The child, after all, is in a transition stage to an adult, and there is often a tendency in modern "child students" to interpret the phenomena exhibited by a particular child with a parti pris, or to exaggerate child-study - which is really interesting as providing the knowledge of growth towards full human equipment - as though it involved the discovery of some distinct form of animal, of separate value on its own account.
Growth. - Into the psychical characteristics and development of the child and all the interesting educational problems involved it is impossible to enter here, and reference must be made to the works cited above. But a knowledge of the more important features of normal physical development has a constant importance. Some of these, as matters of comparative physiology or pathology, are dealt with in other articles in this work. One of these chief matters of interest is weight and height, and this is naturally affected by race, nutrition and environment. But while the standard in different countries somewhat differs, the British average for healthy children may here be followed. At birth the average weight of a baby is a little over 7 lb and the length about 20 in. The following are the averages for weight and height, taking the age in years of the child at the last birthday: -
Height, in inches.
Age. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Girls 28.7 32.5 35 38 40.5 42.8 44.5 46.6 48.7 51 53.1 55.6 57.7 59.8 60.9
Boys 29 32.5 35 38 41 44 46 47 49 51.8 53.5 55 57 59.3 62
Weight, in pounds.
Age. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Girls 19.8 25.5 30 34 39.2 41.7 47.5 52.1 55.5 62 68 76.4 87.2 96.7 102.7
Boys 20.5 26.5 31.2 35 41.2 44.4 49.7 54.9 60.4 67.5 72 76.7 82.6 92 106
See also Children, Law Relating to; Children's Courts; Children's Games; Infant; etc.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)