No two children are exactly similar, and each can be recognized as different from his or her unique appearance and character and each child is different. The way a child grows and develops depends on three main factors:
- The genetic factor inherited from the parents
- The situation in which the child grows up
- The child’s health
Each child differs from all others because each has a different set of genes and has a different environment. From the moment of conception onwards, the genes and environment both act continuously to produce a person who is unlike anyone else. Identical twins have identical genes. Nevertheless, they will develop differently because the environmental factors will differ. For example, they will be in different positions in the womb and are likely to have different birth weights, they will have different friends, illnesses, and so on.
- 1 Effects of environment on the development of why the child is different
- 2 Effects of health on growth and development
- 3 Position in the family child is different
- 4 Development of self-image (self-concept)
Effects of environment on the development of why the child is different
Environment means the surrounding conditions. Environmental factors that affect a child’s development include the following.
The influences of family and home on a child’s development include.
- The home where the child lives
- Who looks after the child?
- Whether or not the child is loved and wanted
- The child’s companions
- Whether the child is encouraged to learn, or is ignored, or is prevented from learning by over-protection.
The results of these influences are unpredictable, and they help to produce a rich variety of personalities.
The cultural life of the family to which a child belongs will affect his upbringing. So too will the national culture of the country in which the family is living, and ethnic group to which they belong.
The development will be affected by the family’s attitude towards education, the use made of pre-school groups, and the teachers and beginners the child meets through school life.
Effects of health on growth and development
Health is a physical and emotional well-being. Good health helps to ensure the proper development of a child. The following factors affect a child’s health.
A child essential to a balanced diet in order to grow properly. Malnutrition (poor diet) stunts growth and maybe the result of poverty, famine, or simply lack of parental care of knowledge. The brain grows fastest during the last weeks of development in the uterus and the first three years of life, and malnutrition during this time may affect brain development and reduce the level of intelligence. On the other hand, over-feeding a child leads to obesity fatness and the possibility of health problems.
Severe illness may slow down growth, and the younger the child, the greater the risk of illness having a permanent effect. If a child’s rate of growth is only temporarily slowed down by illness, he will afterward adapt with a period of catch up growth. Severe or prolonged illness may also affect emotional development.
Exercise strengthens and develops muscles. Lack of exercise makes muscles flabby and, when it is coupled with over-feeding, encourages the growth of fatty tissue.
Happy healthy children flourish. But those who are under severe stress for a long period of time, may not grow to reach their potential height and often become very thin, or over-eat and get fat. Stress may result from unhappiness, worry, loneliness or illness.
Parents who smoke
There is some evidence that heavy smoking by parents may slow down their children’s rate of growth and development both before and after birth. One investigation found that 7-year-old children whose mothers were smokers were, on average, shorter in height and three to seven months behind in reading ability when compared with children of non-smoking mothers. The children of parents who smoke a great deal at home may be more prone to lung disorders than children who do not live in a smoky environment.
Position in the family child is different
The position of a child in the family may have an effect on the development of his character. Children in a large family are likely to be influenced by:
- Learning to share and give and take at an early age
- Having little privacy
- In the case of the older children, being involved in bringing up the younger ones
- In the case of the younger children, receiving less individual attention from parents.
- Having fewer material benefits because the family income has to support more people, possibly resulting in hand-me-down clothes and toys
- Always having someone to play with
- Interaction with siblings (brothers and sisters).
The only child in a family is likely to have:
- Fewer opportunities for sharing
- Considerable privacy
- Little involvement in the upbringing of other children
- A great deal of adult attention
- A greater proportion of material goods
- Much time in which he plays on his own
- No siblings to interact with.
The middle child of three or more lacks the status of being the eldest, and any special treatment of being the youngest. How a middle child reacts will vary greatly, and maybe a factor in the development of character. Twins may have to fight to be recognized individuals, especially if they look alike, are dressed alike, treated the same, and are always referred to the twins. The early language development of twins is often slower than that of other children because they may develop their own private means of communicating with each other which does not require real words. Also, there is likely to be less individual attention from adults.
Development of self-image (self-concept)
As a baby grows and develops, he gradually becomes conscious (aware) of his
- Own family
- Age, and of growing up.
The child gradually forms a mental image (concept) of himself and becomes aware that he is unlike anyone else. As the child begins to relate to a wider environment, he comes to understand his:
- Physical capabilities and limitations
- Intellectual (mental) capabilities and limitations
- Dependence on others-and to realize that others depend on him
- Place in the family and community-where he fits in.
By the time adulthood reached the child should:
- Have experience of coping with success and failure
- Know how to receive and give life
- Have learned self-discipline
- Be self-reliant and feel confident to take charge of his life.