Child development refers to the “sequence of physical, language, thought and emotional changes that occur in a child from birth to the beginning of adulthood.” There are a wide variety of factors, both environmental and biological, that can influence child development. Environmental factors include both the physical environment in which children live and the social and cultural influences they experience. Some of the environmental factors that are known to affect the growth and development of a child include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Home environment: The physical environment (e.g., space and location) in which the child grows impacts their health, learning, and behavior. Research shows that effects of the physical environment, such as housing, exposure to pollution, and neighborhood quality, all affect the psychosocial aspect of the child.
- Family relationships: When family relationships are stable and supportive, they can have positive effects on one’s mental health and development, as they can provide resources that can help a child learn to cope with stress, engage in healthier behaviors, and cultivate improved self-esteem. Research indicates that a deprived family environment and fractured family relationships during a child’s early years has been related to developmental delays including poor linguistic skills, behavioral issues, and a lack of school preparedness.
- Exposure to early life stress and adverse events: Stressors (e.g., physical abuse, family instability, unsafe neighborhoods, poverty, etc.) can contribute to developmental delays and cause children to have inadequate coping skills, difficulty regulating emotions, and reduced social functioning compared to other children their age. Healthy brain development depends on constant and varied exposure to responsive, nurturing, positive experiences.
- Socioeconomic status: Academic achievement is linked to socioeconomic status. Children from low socioeconomic communities and disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to repeat grades and drop out of high school. Whereas research shows that children from communities with higher socioeconomic status and more resources experience safer and more supportive environments and better early education programs.
- Early childhood education programs: These programs are a critical outlet for fostering the mental and physical development of young children. Research suggests that the quality, length, and intensity of early education programs impacts the physical and mental health of children. One study, for example, concluded that children enrolled in low-quality schools with limited health resources, safety concerns, and low teacher support were more likely to have poorer physical and mental health.
Further Information and Support
For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.