Conception of childhood as a social and historical category

  • 5000 BCE

    Classic period-Egypt

    Classic period-Egypt
    From marriage conception, children were considered the fruit of the union of two bodies. The education of the children depended on the social class, their formation was for the insertion in the society: the upper classes (pharaohs and nobility), children were successors of the father and in the case of the lower classes (peasants, artisans, and slaves) were considered as reproducers of office.
  • Period: 5000 BCE to 301

    Infanticidal Mode

  • 1800 BCE

    Western culture-Greece

    Western culture-Greece
    The child was considered as an adult project, that has great deficiencies of character, virtue and lack qualities to develop to be a virtuous citizen. For this, were developed intellectual and classical education that tried to give knowledge of the moral laws through the legislation of the obligations.
  • 1200 BCE

    Western culture-Greece&Rome

    Western culture-Greece&Rome
    Growing up in those cities often included being used in a sexually way by older men. Copulation with younger children was not considered a sexual act and was punishable only by a whipping, “as a matter of public discipline” and the penalty for sodomy with children over 9 years of age was death by stoning.
    Children were under the fullest control of their parents, who had to agree to give them over to their abusers.
  • 950 BCE

    Western culture-Greece&Rome

    Western culture-Greece&Rome
    Children were educated with violence, severe punishment, and other savage methods. Children of lower classes were taught to be soldiers with extremely violent methods to abolish in them fear.
  • 350 BCE

    Western culture-Greece&Rome

    Western culture-Greece&Rome
    Philosophers began to think that childhood was a crucial stage for knowledge and education for the development of "human nature".
    Children began to appear in theater and in Rome they adopt another form to educate their children in oratory rather than sports.
  • 100


    Infanticide was practiced profusely with both legitimate and illegitimate children: deformed children or with some physical defect; Illegitimate children or the product of adulterous relationships of women. Children were thrown into rivers, flung into dung-heaps and cess trenches, “potted” in jars to starve to death, and exposed on every hill and roadside, also because of lack of economic resources to maintain them chosen to "donate" the newborn to neighbors or relatives.
  • Period: 301 to 1300

    Abandoning Mode

  • 374

    Law against infant murders

    Law against infant murders
    The opposition to infanticide by the Church Fathers often seemed to be based more on their concern for the parent’s soul than with the child’s life. So, the law began to consider killing an infant as a homicide.
  • 476

    Christianity and Middle Age

    Christianity and Middle Age
    The idea of liberal education disappears altogether. The goal of education is to prepare the child to serve God, the Church, and his representatives, with a complete subjection to the authority of the Church. It is no longer a question of forming "freethinkers" and physical education is eliminated since the body is considered to be a source of sin.
  • 501

    VI Century

    VI Century
    The Catholic Church banned infanticide ​and was replaced by abandonment as a peculiar form of a paternal-filial bond, together with the surrender the nurses, the transfer in adoption and the internment in convents or monasteries. The law applies correctives to the people who attack the infants. They leave them in charge of wet nurses, being their parents who instill in them obedience.
  • 601

    Child selling

    Child selling
    The oldest and most extreme form of abandonment was the outright sale of children. In Babylonian times child sale was legal and may have been quite common among many other nations. The church tried for centuries to stamp out child sale. Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, ruled a man might not sell his son into slavery after the age of 7.​
  • 1201

    Middle Age

    Middle Age
    Children were considered small men who must become real men quickly, the child was conceived as a homunculus (man in miniature). Consequently, the child must be educated to be "reformed". Educating and raising involves physical care, discipline, obedience, and love for God but there are no references to the need of love for good child development.​ Children were moved to the crusades by the military and religious organizations.
  • 1230

    Children as a shapeshifter

    Children as a shapeshifter
    People used to believe infants were capable of taking diverse shapes so they were bound with bandages, tied up or swaddled to avoid would not be evil shaped. Some church fathers declared that if a baby merely cried it was committing a sin.
  • Period: 1301 to

    Ambivalent Mode

  • 1400


    Swaddling was the central fact of the infant’s earliest years, the child was so full of dangerous adult projections that they believed if it were left free it would scratch its eyes out, tear its ears off, break its legs, distort its bones, be terrified by the sight of its own limbs, and even crawl about on all fours like an animal, so tying the child up in various restraint devices was a near-universal practice.
  • 1501

    Children as property

    Children as property
    There was a marked debate among the aristocrats, theologians, and philosophers that gave the opinion that the child was a property or an economic resource.
    Child labor is an important contribution to the family economy but is not considered a reward for the child.
  • Renaissance-Century XVII

    Renaissance-Century XVII
    The parents indulge children with severity in their homes and schools. Many of the classic ideas about early childhood education were revived and there was a boom in the observations of children that revealed a new interest in child development.
    The child was conceived as trying to educate future men, citizens, Christians, spouses, ​and parents at the same time. Also, the mother was recognized as the principal source of education for their children.
  • Contribution to childhood education

    Contribution to childhood education
    John Locke made a strong contribution to early childhood education, in "Thoughts Concerning Education" he stated that students needed to receive better treatment as well as a more diverse syllabus. In "Essay Concerning Human Understanding," Locke stated that he believed educating children was not only a concern of the parents of the children​ but also of the state and that the status of the state will always depend upon the training of its youth.
  • Period: to

    Intrusive Mode

  • Industrial revolution

    Industrial revolution
    Many children stop having to go to work and have "too many hours of leisure" to occupy with some activity because of the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the bourgeoisie that drastically reduced the need for child labor. Therefore, the need to enroll them became a primary objective. On the other hand, changes in social life like the emergence of cities and family life promoted closer contact between parents and children.​
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    He rejected the doctrine of Original Sin, he stated that children only becoming corrupted through an experience of the world but maintained that children are innately innocent.
  • Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi

    Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi
    Pestalozzi’s believed that children should learn by doing rather than dealing with words, and they should be free to pursue their own interests and draw their own conclusions. This was in marked contrast to the typical pedagogy of the time, in which the children learned entirely from books, lecture, repetition, ​and memorization, often without understanding what they were repeating.
  • Period: to

    Socializing Mode

  • Friedrich Fröbel

    Friedrich Fröbel
    He was an early pioneer of the reformation of childhood education, supported the idea, that every child from birth had educational potentiality, and that an appropriate educational setting was imperative to help the child to continue to grow and develop his or her optimal potential. He coined the term Kindergarten in 1840.
  • Children's charter

    Children's charter
    The Children's charter was the first act of Parliament for the prevention of cruelty to children. For the first time, it enabled the state to intervene in relations between parents and children. Police could arrest anyone found ill-treating a child and enter a home if a child was thought to be in danger. The act included guidelines on the employment of children and outlawed begging.
  • Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child

    Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child
    The League of Nations adopted the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which enunciated the child's right to receive the requirements for normal development, the right of the hungry child to be fed, the sick child to receive health care, the backward child to be reclaimed, orphans to shelter, and the right to protection from exploitation.

    The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund is a United Nations program headquartered in New York City that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 25(2) recognized the need of motherhood and childhood to "special protection and assistance" and the right of all children to "social protection."
  • Contemporary Age

    Contemporary Age
    The society recognizes​ the child as being important with stages that must be respected in the process. It starts with the concept of the family as the most important entity of society, sociologists and philosophers inquire into childhood. There is no attempt at all to discipline or form habits, so both parents involve in the child’s life as they work to empathize.
  • Period: to

    Helping Mode

  • Convention on the Rights of the Child

    Convention on the Rights of the Child
    They stablished childhood as a separate space from adulthood and recognized that what is appropriate for an adult may not be suitable for a child. Also, Childhood was defined as the time for children to be in school and at play, to grow strong and confident with the love and encouragement of their family and an extended community of caring adults.
  • XXI Century

    XXI Century
    The child is taken as a social subject of law with the emerge of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
    Children as a social being with rights and duties, the society and the State must provide protection, education, ​and care for the satisfaction of its basic needs and achievement of its overall wellbeing. The result is a child who is gentle, sincere, never depressed, never imitative or group-oriented, strong-willed, and unintimidated by authority.
  • How these changes are closely linked to the social moment we live now days

    How these changes are closely linked to the social moment we live now days
    The conception of childhood has been changed over time to promote an ideal development condition with which the newborn child can build up their physical, scholarly, emotional and intellectual limits and capacities. Despite all the murders, abandons and bad treating, finally,​ thanks to the creation of children's rights, allows to give it the importance that children deserve and recognized childhood as the most vulnerable stage of growth, and give them the opportunity to enjoy it.​