The distinction between "Developmental Psychopathology" and "Child Abnormal Psychology" is incredibly important. Developmental Psychopathology is an approach that considers behavior in the context of developmental stages. .
Certain behaviors that may be considered "normal" when dealing with a two-year-old are not socially acceptable in a teenager. For instance, a two-year-old child throwing a temper tantrum for not getting what he asks his parents for is considered normal for his developmental stage. However, a fifteen-year taking part in the same act would be thought of as socially unacceptable and a deviation from the norm for that developmental stage. Using the developmental approach when dealing with problematic behavior helps determine whether certain behaviors are normal for that developmental stage. Instead of looking at normality versus abnormality, a developmental approach examines adaptive behavior that is contextualized chronologically.
The term developmental psychopathology umbrellas different theoretical perspectives, ones that deal with such aspects as cognitive, social and emotional development, to create an understanding of one person's entire trajectory of normal development.
The developmental approach, however, is not limited merely to children. This approach can be used when assessing behaviors at any age. As human beings we are continuously developing, and events that occur during that development can cause deviations from the norm that is emotional health.
Therefore using the terms "Developmental Psychopathology" and "Child Abnormal Psychology" interchangeably is incorrect due to the fact that the approaches are different. In a nutshell, Developmental Psychology focuses primarily on where the individual is in development to determine whether or not the behavior in question is in fact abnormal. .