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A child’s development is influenced by a wide range of factors that are governed by both nature and nurture. Understanding some of these factors can help parents address their child’s needs. The environment your child grows up in – affection given by parents, daily life, diet – can be a major influence on his life. Learn more about the role of the environment in child development and how you can provide the right kind.
Factors Affecting Child Development
Some of the factors that affect child development are:
1. Family and Bonding
The single most important influence on your child’s development is his family. Irrespective of who your child is raised by – you and your spouse, older siblings, or relatives – the bonding provided within a family home helps nurture and protect your child physically and emotionally. This includes taking on different parenting roles – disciplinarian, easygoing, or something in between. The time you invest in nurturing your child will show in his positive development and growth. There are several things you can do to bond better with your child. You can make it a point to read to him regularly, thus establishing a routine and helping both of you bond with each other. Playing with your child is important as well, both in establishing a close relationship as well as in helping him develop their motor skills. You can also simply talk to your child, be it about your day or theirs, showing them that his inputs and opinions are valuable to you.
In contrast, children who are abused or neglected by their families suffer in terms of their mental and emotional well being. These things include corporal punishment and verbal insults, and also indifference. Leaving a child to watch TV the whole day without the opportunities for genuine human interaction will prevent him from getting the required experience required to develop.
Finally, it is important to know that maintaining a good relationship with your child is not enough. The entire family needs to be cohesive and protective of each other. For instance, children raised by parents who argue or fight consistently grow up having problems building friendships and relationships. Also, caring for all your children equally and paying them the same amount of attention will make them develop a sense of fairness and camaraderie.
2. Physical Environment
The effect of the environment on child development cannot be understated, and this includes the physical surroundings they are raised in. If your living environment is cramped, noisy and filled with aggression, your child’s personality can be affected. If you have too many people living at home and if the attention towards him is divided, he may seek out alternative forms of attention which can lead to an emotional distance between him and you. Similarly, unpleasant surroundings often cause children to block out or bury negativity, making them more introverted.
School is an important part of a child’s life considering how much time he spends there every day. As a parent, it is your responsibility to identify which school is most suited to your child’s needs. Further, keeping yourself updated with your child’s school activities, meeting his teachers regularly and interacting with his peers and their parents is the mark of a good, concerned parent.
You can also enrol your child in enrichment courses like martial arts programmes, meditation, music classes, and so on, depending on your budget. Many community-specific organisations offer these programmes at affordable rates. This is even more important in today’s time owing to the dependence on technology and the internet.
3. Financial Situation
Unsurprisingly, money is a deciding factor when it comes to living comfortably. It has been well established that the privilege of wealth is real and that it has a greater impact on childhood development than education. For instance, rich parents can afford to spend more time with their children and poorer parents are too caught up in making ends meet to have the privilege of quality time. Wealth also helps secure better academic training, opportunities for travel, extra classes, and so on.
It’s easy to forget that it is not sufficient to provide for a child; you have to be deeply involved in his life. You can start by explaining to your child how money and budgets work in a way he can understand. Tell your child that he will always be taken care of, even if things are rough.
Children can thrive in a less well-to-do family as long as they are loved and wanted. Remember that children are more influenced by the quality of time you spend with them and not the quantity. Your child may not remember how much money you spent on his education, but he will remember if you turned up to his annual school functions or supported him when he won a prize or celebrated when he came first in class. You don’t have to do much to show your child you care; simply sharing a meal with him every night is enough for your little one to feel secure and happy.
4. Health and Nutrition
Nutrition is crucial for the physical and mental growth of a child. A balanced diet is also required by pregnant women as malnutrition can lead to problems like low birth weight, miscarriages, stillbirths, slowed development, and so on. In children, habits like unhealthy or excessive eating can lead to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, stunted growth, lethargy, and a host of other complications.
Infants thrive on breast milk – the ideal food consisting of carbs, fats, proteins, minerals, vitamins, antibodies, and everything else a growing newborn needs. Breastfed babies are less likely to become obese, have low levels of cholesterol, and improved cognition. After the first six months, you can complement your child’s diet with solid foods. Ensure that your child is getting micronutrients such as vitamin A, iodine, and iron, as the lack of these can cause serious problems like vision defects, goitre, cretinism, anaemia, and so on. These problems have been linked with reduced motor skills and social development of toddlers and young children.
In addition to learning at school, make sure that your home environment also stimulates your child’s mental development. This includes cognitive, linguistic, emotional, and motor skills. The best environment for this is a calm and loving home that allows your child to focus on improving his abilities. The absence of such a stimulating environment can have a negative impact on your child’s language and speech development. Not having a positive environment for learning can cause anxiety, absence of stimulation, not wanting to stay in one place for too long, and so on.
You should make the effort of creating opportunities for your child to explore his interests, especially at home. Instil a sense of curiosity in your child, encourage him to question everything, and teach him to find solutions by himself.
Some important ways you can create a positive atmosphere for your child are:
- Use positive words of affirmation.
- Go for critique instead of criticism.
- Always apologise for your mistakes, and allow your child to do the same.
- Solve the problem at hand immediately, and don’t let it fester.
- Show affection, physically.
- Limit electronics at least for an hour each day and spend quality time.
- Practice what you preach, and your child will follow.
As a parent, it is your duty to expose your child to the right kind of environment as that will have a direct impact on his behaviour, learning, and personality. It may not be easy or even possible to provide the perfect set of opportunities for your child, but you must try as much as possible to take care of him. The key thing to remember is to keep your home environment peaceful and loving, bond with your children, and provide them with the things needed to grow and thrive.