Child development is a stage that every child will go through―this is the process that helps the child learn how to sit, walk, talk and tie their shoelaces even. The 5 main areas of child development are:
- social and emotional development
- speech/language development
- cognitive development
- fine motor skill development
- gross motor skill development
Child development is important for the general development of your child―and this is something that will have an effect on their entire lives. Your child's development (biological and psychological development) are mainly influenced in the first five years of his or her life and greatly influenced by the child's environment and interactions. With over 200 million children under the age of 5 failing to reach their full cognitive and social potential, you need to make sure you have your child in the best possible environment where he or she can develop fully.
Significance of Child Development
Child development are the natural changes that occur to a child as he or she grows older and develops (physically, biologically, mentally, emotionally, socially and more). The first 5 years are possibly the most critical and extremely important in child development. These are every child's "foundation years" which shape and impact the child's future in regards to growth, health, development, happiness, learning ability and more.
Research indicates that while the first five years of a child's life are very important, it' the first three years that help build and structure the brain the most. While most people think a child is too young at that age, it's these three years that fundamentally impact how a children develops learning skills.
Factors Affecting Child Development
1. Genes and Environment
Human development occurs after significant interaction between your body (your biology/genes) with every experience you go through (this is based on the environment you're in). So this is between nature and nurture.
Your genes will always play a role with how you respond to your environment; it's sort of like nature via nurture, as opposed to nature vs. nurture. What this means is that your child's behavior cannot be blamed on solely his or her genes, nor can it be blamed on the environment he or she is being raised in. Both of these factors affect child development equally.
2. Early Nutrition
When considering development of health and disease, early nutrition is essential to your child's developmental outcomes later in life. However, early nutrition isn't the only factor at play here, as health outcomes are also a result of different experiences and conditions. The main key is the duration and intensity of these experiences/conditions which makes the biggest difference.
Also, it's important to remember that not only is your child's early nutrition essential for his or her well-being, but parents' nutrition and levels of activity are just as important to encourage your child leads a healthy life as well.
3. Early Attachment
Relationships are extremely important, there's no denying that. Relationships also affect other relationships, some good some bad, and these are some of the healthy building blocks of child development.
There are quite a few factors within a family (a child's relationship with him/herself, parents and other family members) that can affect and slow down a child's development of healthy early attachment between parents and their child.
It's important to remember that each child will react and respond differently, where some children form an attachment quickly, others don't. The main point however is that regardless of how early the attachment is formed, later experiences can affect that attachment.
Parents and their children need to ensure they are on the right track towards forming early attachments with one another, but more than that, they need to be prepared to handle any difficulties or obstacles which may cut the attachments. So forming an attachment is only one aspect, it's holding onto it and regaining it after it's lost that makes a huge difference in child development.
Culture (including family values, practices and norms of other family members) is important and SHOULD be there influencing how your child grows, and it comes from observing how others in his or her family and environment behave. What do you believe and what do you practice?
It's imperative that parents are aware of what they are showing their children, which may indirectly push them towards customs that are different from their own, inappropriate or simply bad for them.
5. The Balance of Risk and Protective Factors
When a parent hears the word risk, he or she goes straight into Parenting Mode and wants to protect their child from every single danger. This in itself can be harming your child's development as it is largely formed by being experienced to enough risks and protective factors. If a child is not naturally allowed to experience risk, this is where trouble starts to form by the time he or she is of an age to go to school.
Risk includes biological, psychological and environmental factors that may end up causing negative or poor outcomes. Protective factors are all the factors a child develops to respond to those risks.
Sometimes a parent has to let go and let their child understand what a natural risk is otherwise they are at risk of sheltering their children too much and then releasing them into the world unprepared.
Parenting is important―you want to be a good role model and be able to set down rules and standards for your children to follow. If they don't know what is expected of them in the first place, how can they be expected to be what you want them to be?
However, it's important to really construe what good parenting covers. There are good programing programs and then there are shady programs that claim to speed up your child's development by possibly giving him or her more than they can chew. This has an adverse effect on your child's development which is why ample research is necessary to ensure you have the best plan for your child's development as possible.
7. Specialist Services
Sometimes, a child will need outside help to be able to develop well. This doesn't mean that you as a parent have not done your job well enough nor does it mean that you or your child is to blame in any way. Some children simply need extra attention, like children with special needs.
There are some early intervention programs which have proven to be quite effective in the results area and are also cost-effective.
The implication here is that parents need to be better aware of their children and get them the help they need as soon as they appear to need it. This increases their chances of recovering from any issues without any long-lasting or permanent damage.