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What Influences Child Development?

Updated on June 9, 2016

There are many factors that influence child development, and for most of them, we do have some control. If we have a good understanding of what children need to grow, we are better able to address the needs. Every child deserves the opportunity to blossom.

This article will discuss environmental influences on child development, as opposed to genetic influences which are not in our power. The world around us has a major part in shaping the child.

Five Areas of Child Development

  • cognitive (thinking and learning)
  • social and emotional
  • speech and language
  • fine motor skills (small muscle control)
  • gross motor skills (large muscle control)

Environmental Influences

A child's environment - for example, his family or school - plays a huge part in his development. Simply stated, a nurtured child will do better than a deprived child. That may seem like common sense, but you may not realize the little things that make a difference. Some assume that a rich privileged child will automatically thrive more than a child living in poverty. That is not always the case.

Some of the main factors that influence a child's development are his family, where he lives, and socio-economic status. These factors often cross over and blend as they are often related.

Ways to Help a Child Grow

  • good nutrition
  • keep active
  • spend quality time together
  • ensure enough sleep
  • consistent and fair discipline
  • limit time on electronic devices
  • read, read, read!

Familial Influences

The child's family is the most important factor in his development. Whether he is raised by parents, grandparents, or others, the family provides bonding and first relationships. The successful family preserves the innocence of the child by nurturing and protecting him, or on the flip side, allows him to be exposed to negative experiences which can harm his development. Styles of parenting have a big affect on child development, as well.

The family that invests time, energy and love in raising a child will see the most positive growth. Read to the child and with the child. Spend time playing with the child, from floor time with babies to throwing a ball with older children. Talk to the child and let him know that his opinion matters. All of these measures can be taken in any household, no matter the socio-economic status.

Obviously, the family that abuses or neglects a child will be detracting from his natural development. But the indifferent family has a negative effect as well. The child left playing video games or watching television all day will not gain the experiences and interactions needed to further his development.


Geographical Influences

Where a child lives is an important factor in his development. How are the schools? What types of services and opportunities are there in the community? Is there access to good health care?

Children often spend a large part of the day in school, and can gain much or not, depending on the quality of the school. If there is a choice for schools, parents should do as much research as possible to find which will serve the child best. If there is only one school available to the family, parents can still be active in making sure their child is getting the most from the school. Meet the principal, join the teacher/parent organization, and volunteer at the school.

Does the community have a library, parks, and community centers for sports and other activities? When your child is old enough, consider getting him a library card. An early love of reading will go far. Parks and community centers offer space to run and play. This is a critical pastime in today's world of electronic gaming and television.

Does your community have good health care? Are there reputable hospitals, clinics and doctors in the area? You may be surprised to hear that a state capital city in the US did not have adequate health care for my disabled child, so we had to drive to another city for services and eventually moved to that city.

Check your local library, newspaper, and hospital for child development or enrichment classes. You may find that many are free and open to the public.

Socio-Economical Status and Its Influence

There are socio-economic trends that can influence child development. It is true that poorer families are at a disadvantage when it comes to providing the richest environment for a child to grow. Many families must rely on public education that may not be the best in their area. What if a child needs special services to aid development? What if the parents spend most of their time working multiple jobs just to keep a roof over their heads? Children living in poverty may also have poor nutrition, limiting their ability to reach their potential.

Get involved with your child's schooling. Check and see if your local school has a child development program. Your community may even have an early intervention program for little ones who qualify. Head Start is a national program in the US that provides developmental assistance to low-income children from birth to age five. When my children were toddlers, we took free classes designed to help child development and parenting skills. It was a county program I happened to hear about from another parent.

For the parents who must spend a lot of hours at work, remember it is the quality of time spent with the child that counts. Make the most of your time off with the family. Be sure to eat meals together and really listen to each other. Good nutrition can still be found on a budget. Watch sales and stock up on meat when the price is at the lowest. Consider growing a garden which is a double bonus -fresh produce and a rewarding fun family activity.

Even if times are tough, children will thrive in a close-knit loving family.


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Great information and a well written topic on this subject. All things to have influence on a child's development and will shape his/her character. I believe that the best influence is the home as the parents are the first and most impressive teacher. Voted up!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, teaches12345. I agree completely.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Chaplin - this is a fantastic hub. I'm not a parent myself, but I work in a high-poverty school district. You can ALWAYS tell if a child is lacking in attention. It doesn't matter the income - like you said. It's when the parent doesn't pay attention to his or her child that the child often acts out to get attention. There are parents who work a lot, but you know that what time they spend with their children is high-quality time. Other parents work a lot, but let their children roam the neighborhoods and left to fend for themselves. You have called attention to an important issue. Your hubs often do that and I LOVE it! :)

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thank you so much, cclitgirl! I did not realize you taught in a high-poverty school district. Will have to pick your brain one day. I am an educational advocate/activist for parents and teachers. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • savanahl profile image

      savanahl 5 years ago

      Very informative hub. You provide some really great tips. I will definitely bookmark this for further reading. Thank you for sharing.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, savanahl! Child development is a complex matter, but I just wanted to touch on some issues there. Thanks for reading.

    • carriethomson profile image

      carriethomson 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      thanks for the informative hub to share with us and explaining clearly how a child grows with develop......i will surely tell my sister to read also which would helpful for her......

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, carriethomson!

    • purnimamoh1982 profile image

      purnimamoh1982 5 years ago

      It's a complicated issue and your hub addresses the issue substantially. Thanks a lot for sharing such an interesting analysis.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Agreed, purnimamoh1982 - child development is very complicated, and I am sure there are lots of things we do not even begin to understand.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hi, naimishika

      It sounds like your daughter looks up to you and that you have good communication with her. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Kathryn L Hill profile image

      Kathryn L Hill 4 years ago from LA

      Great words of wisdom for all to hear... read.


    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 4 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hi, Kathryn. Maybe the more we know about the environmental effects of child development, the better we can help/prepare our children.

    • Kathryn L Hill profile image

      Kathryn L Hill 4 years ago from LA

      Well, yes... and the more we know about the Inner Spirit of the child, as to how we can help facilitate their abilities to concentrate, focus and conduct themselves.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 4 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Yes, Kathryn, though it can be quite a challenge!

    • Kathryn L Hill profile image

      Kathryn L Hill 4 years ago from LA

      Hint: Boundaries, properly set.

    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Good points, I personally believe time together plays most important role of all. By default kids spend large amount of time in school and parents at their jobs, so many families measure time together in mere minutes!

      I have read somewhere (I won't find it, probably, so I will not start) the most successful kids (not only grades, but as personalities) come from families where they eat lunch together...

    • profile image

      houes 3 years ago

      i have read somewhere the most successful kids come from families where the eat lunch together.

    • Jacquelyn fuller profile image

      Jacquelyn fuller 2 years ago from Woonsocket, Rhode Island

      Love reading educational information that can influence us to do better in our lives. Every parent need to be encouraged in reading this because no one is the perfect parent and it take a village to raise a child. Our children need to be treated with love and kindness this disciplines them and shows them the right way to be to others.

    • profile image

      wili 6 months ago

      unfortunately without references this kind of article has no value (anymore)

    • profile image

      Rani Nair 5 weeks ago

      Thanks for the great information you have written very well.

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