Child and Adolescent Development

UConn HDFS faculty consider the development of children and adolescents in the context of a range of social settings, including families, peers, schools, and culture. Across faculty, we study development during infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, and the transition to adulthood. Faculty conduct theory-driven research, using sophisticated quantitative and qualitative research methods, to address critical issues of developmental outcomes. Across researchers, the goal is to understand optimal development for children and adolescents, and how to translate this research into practice to improve the lives of children, adolescents, and families. Several HDFS faculty have leadership roles in societies on the study of children and adolescents, including the Society for Research in Child Development, and the Society for Research on Adolescence.

Strengths of UConn HDFS research in this area include:

  • An overarching lifespan perspective: Faculty study individuals during infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, across adolescence, and into the transition to adulthood. Faculty also consider precursors of development during childhood and adolescence, and adult outcomes of development during this period
  • The study of development in context: Faculty examine child and adolescent development in a range of contexts, including families, parent work environment, friends and peers, childcare and schools, housing, culture, juvenile justice and child welfare systems, and economic status
  • The consideration of multiple domains: Faculty study peer relationships; bullying, aggression, and peer victimization; intergroup stereotypes and attitudes; multiracial child development; math, spatial, and verbal learning during early childhood; moral reasoning; emotion regulation; mental health; social and emotional development; prosocial development; romantic relationships; sexuality; communication about sexuality and other topics; risk behaviors; substance use; child maltreatment and foster care; youth mentoring and positive youth development
  • The study of diverse populations: Faculty study Latino American and immigrant children; multiracial youth; children in the United States, Bangladesh, Botswana, Germany, Guatemala, Israel, Kenya, Netherlands, and Philippines; children in low-income families; children involved with juvenile justice and child welfare; deaf children; and sexual/gender minority youth.
  • Theory-driven research: Faculty test existing theories and develop new theories to address unanswered questions
  • A focus on improving children’s and adolescents’ lives: Faculty develop real world interventions for children, adolescents, families, and schools. Specific interventions include mindfulness and compassion-based social emotional programs to reduce stereotyping in Israeli-Jewish school children; peer mentorship in the child welfare system; interventions for behaviorally challenging students in kindergarten through high school; family-centered interventions for parents of adolescents with chronic pain; home visiting programs for improving maternal, infant, and early child wellbeing; supportive housing for families with children in child welfare; higher education preparation and support for youth in foster care

HDFS students also have access to a number of other health and prevention related resources both in and outside of the department, including the Center for Applied Research in Human Development, the Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance & Rejection; the Center for the Study of Culture, Health and Human Development; the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy, the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity; the Collaboratory on School and Child Health, and the UConn Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. Students can also concurrently pursue a range of relevant certificate options, including, Culture, Health, and Human Development or School-wide Positive Behavior Support. The Graduate School website has a full list of all available Certificate Programs for Master's and Doctoral students.