Child Development Theory

The Thrive Approach is underpinned by child development theory in order to optimise children and young people’s social and emotional development.

Learn more below. 



How does it work?

The Thrive developmental model explains how children and young people change and grow throughout childhood and adolescence.

Why is it important?

The Thrive Approach uses this model to focus on how to support healthy social, emotional and cognitive development as the young person grows. The model also provides a lens through which to look at and interpret behaviour and determine how best to respond.



Thrive has created a developmental model, grounded in child development research, that identifies the social and emotional learning experiences required from birth through to adulthood.

Organised into six stages, the model helps us to understand what healthy child development looks like in terms of behaviour and learning at each stage. The model also explains how the role of the adult in facilitating a child’s development changes at each stage.

When combined with attachment theory, the Thrive developmental model provides a lens through which to look at and interpret children and young person’s behaviour. When, for whatever reason, the adults in a child/young person’s life are not able to meet the child/young person’s needs and are unable to provide the necessary support and experiences for the child/young person’s optimal development, the child/young person will have interruptions or gaps in their development.

These developmental interruptions, which all of us have to varying degrees, can mean that children and young people find it difficult to cope with events in their daily lives, and are more likely to display distressed behaviours as a result. The Thrive model enables us to identify the particular developmental gaps signalled by children and young people’s behaviours and to choose appropriate, targeted interventions designed to meet their needs and fill the gaps.

The Thrive Approach provides you with knowledge and understanding, coupled with easy-to-use tools and techniques, that will equip you to respond sensitively and appropriately to the varying needs of children and young people. This in turn will enable you to help them build their resilience so that they can thrive in both life and learning.

Key Information
  • The Thrive child development model explains how we develop socially and emotionally from birth through to adulthood.
  • The model uses a framework of sequential stages that clarifies the connections between social and emotional development, behaviour and learning.
  • Although the developmental stages are sequential, it is always possible to revisit earlier stages to address any gaps that arose as a result of missed experiences or unmet needs.
  • By drawing on this developmental model, the Thrive Approach can be used to facilitate optimal social and emotional development for all children and young people and to provide targeted support for those with additional needs.
  • Thrive’s developmental model offers adults who support children and young people the opportunity to make a positive difference to children and young people’s futures.



Case studies

While it is important to understand the model behind The Thrive Approach, what really matters is the impact that it can have in practice for the development of an individual child or young person.

View case studies

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If you would like to discuss more about Thrive and what opportunities are currently available in your area, please click the link below or call the Thrive team direct on 01392 797555.

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