Children’s Developmental Domains

Developmental domains of childhood development are interdependent. Development in one domain influences, and is influenced by the development in the other domains.

Development in children is tracked by their progress in each domain of childhood development; charted as developmental milestones.

It always goes hand in hand with child growth from newborn through the teens development as they progress from complete dependency to autonomy of adulthood.

The interaction between the process of maturation and learning brings about the changes of childhood development.

The mnemonic "SPICE"

The mnemonic SPICE stands for Social, Physical, Intellectual, Creative & Emotional elements that contribute to overall childhood development; divided in to 4 main domains.

The Four Domains of Childhood Development

Physical developmental domain

The domain of physical developmental refers to the development of physical skills, known as motor skills. Motor skills give children the ability to make purposeful movements and learn the physical characteristics of self and the environment.

It is through physical developmental domain that a child develops gross movements, fine controls, hand to eye co-ordination, balance and kinaesthetic sense.

Motor development depends in part on child's growth as assessed by weight, height and body proportions along with physical health. Poor nutrition and frequent illnesses can jeopardize the physical development of a child.

Role of senses in childhood development

Perception capacities are essential for good motor control.

Perception is an outcome of complex functions of the nervous system and therefore is dependent on normal brain growth and development of the sensory nervous system.

Ability to recognize and interpret the sensory stimuli serves as the basis for understanding, learning, and knowing a particular action or reaction, which plays a major role in social and cognitive development of a child.

Furthermore, this domain of development is strongly affected by the opportunities child gets to practice, observe, and be instructed on fine and gross motor skills.

Atypical motor development may be a sign of developmental delays or problems such as autism or cerebral palsy.

Cognitive developmental domain

Cognitive developmental comprises “I” - intellectual development and “C” - creativity of SPICE.

Intellectual development of childhood

  • Capability to processes the thoughts

  • Hold adequate attention

  • Remember the events

  • Understand the environment

  • Capability to plan, predict, regulate and evaluate any given task or situation experienced.

Childhood creativity

Creativity is the outcome of intelligence acquired, events experienced and imagination applied constructively in academic and everyday knowledge.

Children’s creativity is not limited to the use of materials. It is seen in their games when they use fantasy to mold their identity and create wonderful opportunities for self-expression in different situations.

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Domain of language development

Usually language development is taken for granted as an inherent capacity of human child, but it has several essential components of development. Language development and effective communication capabilities are highly dependent on other developmental domains.

  • Communication capability includes wide range of social behaviors and skills.

  • Effective verbal ability is dependent on.

    i. Phonology: correct sound production to express the words.

    ii. Semantics: correct use of words.

    iii. Syntax: grammatically correct language.

    iv. Thought processing: ability to link thoughts to maintain a topic of conversation.

    v. Pragmatic abilities: verbal and non verbal skills to facilitate the exchange of ideas. It includes appropriate choice of language, tone, gestures and body language for a given situation.

Social and emotional domain

Social and emotional developmental domain deals with children’s ability to understand the expressions of emotions, form attachments, play with others, and handle peer pressures.

It gives children the capacity to understand the feelings of others and control their own feelings. Social interaction demands that children are able to cooperate, follow directions, have moral reasoning and demonstrate self-control. Click here for more on "Children’s Capacity To Self-Regulate"  Parenting style during middle childhood also influences children's self regulatory skills..

Self-knowledge, which includes high self-esteem, meta-cognition, sexual identity, and ethnic identity, goes a long way in children's personality development and therefore in their healthy social relations. However, children’s inherent temperament plays a major role in their ability to interact socially and handle emotional reactions.

Each child differs in the inherent potential and the environmental stimulation exposure. The expected age specific normal childhood development has broad limits. Yet it is important to know these limits to evaluate childhood development process. Charting developmental milestones in the developmental domains helps follow the progress of child's development.

It is interesting to note that in spite of influences of the external environment and the inherent biology on childhood development, human children learn to walk/sit independently at similar ages all around the world. This has helped us to set lower age limits for the emergence of most abilities, and thus set the guidelines in evaluation of childhood developmental disorders.

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Childhood Development

Neuronal plasticity

Development Stages

Developmental Domains

Physical Domain

Cognitive Domain

Language Development

Social and Emotional 

Early Development
conception - 2 years of age


Neonatal Period

Infancy and toddlerhood

Early Childhood Development,
2-6 years of age

Infant Attachment

Child of Rage

Middle Childhood Development

Logical thinking

Intelligence development

Information processing

Attention span

Memory strategies

Communication capabilities

Teens Developmental Stages

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Motor Skills Development

Motor skills development process

Gross motor skills

Fine motor skills

Cognitive Development

Influencing Factors

Nativism versus empiricism

Types of Intellectual structure

Stages of cognitive development

Milestones of cognitive development

Cognitive disorders

Language development

What is language development

Building communicative abilities

Language development pg.2



Receptive language

Expressive language

Milestones of language development

Patterns of learning language

Factors affecting language development

Developmental Milestones

Milestones charts

Causes of delay & deterioration


Speech Fluency

Components of Stuttering

Developmental Dysfluency

Causes of Exacerbation

Psychological Implications



Cerebral Palsy

Disability Benefits

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