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Environmental Factors That Influence 5 Areas of Child Development

There are many things you can do to make sure your child grows to their fullest potential! Environment absolutely plays a significant role.

There are many things you can do to make sure your child grows to their fullest potential! Environment absolutely plays a significant role.

There are many factors that influence child development. While there are some factors, such as genetics, that are out of our control, environmental factors are within our control. There is an ongoing debate about which factor is more influential—nature or nurture—but there is no denying that the world we live in plays a major role in shaping who we become.

How Does a Child's Environment Impact Their Development?

The environment in which a child grows up—the family, the home, the neighborhood, the school—all play a big role in how the child develops. During these early years, the child learns mainly through interactions with their environment and with other people. This is how they learn to solve problems, socialize, adopt good habits, and develop the necessary motor skills and strength to function properly. We'll go over ways environmental factors can influence each of the five main areas of child development.

5 Areas of Child Development

  1. Physical (size, strength, and motor control and coordination)
  2. Intellectual (thinking, learning, and problem solving)
  3. Emotional (learning appropriate responses to events, recognizing one's own and others' emotions, expressing feelings)
  4. Social (skills needed to successfully interact with others)
  5. Moral (developing a conscience, differentiating right from wrong, and understanding the impact of actions/words)
The child's family can impact all areas of their development, so find ways to spend quality time together.

The child's family can impact all areas of their development, so find ways to spend quality time together.

The Importance of Family for the Growing Child

Family is arguably the most important contributor to a child’s development. Growing up, they will observe everything from behaviors to relationship dynamics and internalize these observations as examples of how to behave. In this way, how they socialize with others stems largely from how they see their parents, siblings, and other relatives interacting with each other.

Positivity and love in the family can in turn help the child be positive and loving towards others in their life. This extends to their emotional and moral development as well. Their sense of right and wrong closely mirrors the family’s moral compass. They can learn what behaviors are appropriate/inappropriate and what consequences can come from those behaviors.

Parenting Style

Parenting style can also have a big impact. The family that invests more time and energy will see more positive growth, even in intellectual development. Read to the child and with the child. Spend time playing with them. Talk about their day. Give them advice, but also ask for their advice and opinion. This gives them an opportunity to reflect and think on their own, improving their problem-solving skills.

The key here is to spend time with them and give them your attention. Obviously, the family that abuses a child will severely stunt all aspects of their growth. But indifference or neglect can have a damaging effect as well. Letting the child do whatever they want, not reprimanding them when they do something wrong, or not praising them when they do something right—this will only promote bad habits.

Getting your child involved in extracurricular activities can help them immensely with developing their social skills.

Getting your child involved in extracurricular activities can help them immensely with developing their social skills.

The Importance of the Child’s Community

The child’s community is also an important factor. 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, so it will serve the child best to carefully choose the best school for them. Do your research. What is the school’s teaching philosophy? Who are the administrators and teachers? Are there enriching extracurricular activities? If possible, plan a visit to the school with your child to see if it will be a good fit. If there is only one school available in your district, there are still things you can do to make sure your child is getting the most from their time at the school. Meet with the principal, join the parent/teacher 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 them their own library card. Getting them passionate about reading early on will jumpstart their academic career. Parks and community centers will provide them with ways to stay active and socialize with others. Instead of internet and video games, encourage them to participate in recreational sports or other community activities. 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.

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.

Ways to Help a Child Grow

  • Promote good eating habits.
  • Keep active.
  • Spend quality time together.
  • Ensure they get enough sleep.
  • Be consistent and fair with discipline.
  • Limit their time on electronic devices.
  • Read, read, read!

Socio-Economic Status Can Have a Huge Impact

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, which may not be the best option 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 full 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.

Quality Time Is Key

For 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 for a double win—fresh produce and a rewarding, fun family activity. Even if times are tough, children will thrive in a close-knit loving family.

Is There a Factor That's Most Important?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Sarah Johnson


azan rao on August 06, 2020:

tell me about developmental factor that affect reading

Audrey Maria on January 10, 2020:

Sarah, I know I'm late to this article, but it is very well-written and informative. I'm the mother of three youngish adults. When we were raising them, video game consoles were just getting big. I thank the good God that the world of the Web as it is now didn't yet exist, particularly in the palm of the hand.

Even though my husband and I were very intentional, present, loving, supportive parents, and our family was loving and close, I underestimated the eventual influence of the broader culture/society on my children, especially my sons. Parents should realize that there is no guarantee in this most important work.

I would also suggest that under "familial" and "geographical" influences you could add "nurturing faith/spiritual growth" and living near enough to a house of worship to allow the family to be active participants.

Happy new year!

fezeka on March 29, 2019:

Please help what influence of early childhood development on learners when they reach secondary school

JOAN on March 23, 2019:

it is good and precise because it gives parents with clear information which encourages them for our benefits may GOD BLESS YOU

nambundunga eliaser on March 03, 2019:

Very informative

bongiwe on February 22, 2019:

what influence of early childhood development on learners when they reach secondary school in south Africa?

mariama on September 02, 2018:

Please can you help me understand what influences does genetics and environment has on development. thank you

ik on July 16, 2018:

no oko

Ram B KC on June 28, 2018:

Good educational and learned essential information about child development.

Shova Gurung on June 28, 2018:

Very good source for learning.

Sheerly Zhou on April 27, 2018:

Good and educational

Lads on March 15, 2018:

Was able to use this for an assignment, very good read, has a lot of points which you can relate to so many different things

Hamid hussain channa on February 27, 2018:


paureilynn on January 24, 2018:

thanx so educational

Yasir bashir on October 30, 2017:

Wow very rewarding thanks

Rani Nair on June 13, 2017:

Thanks for the great information you have written very well.

wili on January 11, 2017:

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

Jacquelyn fuller from Woonsocket, Rhode Island on January 21, 2015:

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.

houes on March 06, 2014:

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

Tolovaj on February 10, 2014:

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...

Kathryn L Hill from LA on July 28, 2012:

Hint: Boundaries, properly set.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on July 28, 2012:

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

Kathryn L Hill from LA on July 28, 2012:

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.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on July 28, 2012:

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 from LA on July 28, 2012:

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


Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on June 11, 2012:

Hi, naimishika

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

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on June 10, 2012:

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

purnimamoh1982 on June 10, 2012:

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

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on May 15, 2012:

Thanks, carriethomson!

carriethomson from United Kingdom on May 14, 2012:

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......

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on March 26, 2012:

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

savanahl on March 26, 2012:

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

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on March 25, 2012:

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!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on March 25, 2012:

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! :)

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on March 25, 2012:

Thanks, teaches12345. I agree completely.

Dianna Mendez on March 25, 2012:

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!