Early Childhood in India: Factors Influencing Early Childhood

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Factors Influencing Early Childhood

  • Childhood means much more than just the space between birth and the attainment of adulthood. It is a period of rapid physical, cognitive, emotional, social and language development of children. There are many social issues that affect children, such as education, bullying, child poverty, dysfunctional families, child labor, hunger, and child homelessness.

  • Childhood is usually a mixture of happiness, wonder, anxiety and resilience. It is generally a time of playing, learning, socializing and exploring in a world without much adult interference, aside from parents. It is a time of learning about responsibilities without having to deal with adult responsibilities.

Factors Affecting Childhood

Two major factors are nature or heredity and nurture or care. Let us study about these in brief.

Factors Affecting Childhood

Factors Affecting Childhood

Heredity

Physical characteristics are transmitted from parents to children through their genes. Children’s physical appearance such as height, weight, body structure, the color of the eye, the texture of the hair and to some extent intelligence and aptitudes depends on the parents. Children can also inherit diseases and condition from the parents. Intervention and environmental support can bring out the best in children.

Environment

Physical and psychological stimulation can play a significant role in the development of children. A good school and a loving family build in children strong social and interpersonal skills, which will enable them to excel in academics and aspire to be useful citizens. This will, of course, be different for children who are raised in stressful environments.

Other factors which affect childhood are:

Exercise

Children need play and exercise to grow physically. Children need activity for their limbs and gain muscular strength and bone mass. Appropriate exercise keeps children fit, healthy and helps them reach proper milestones.

Sex of the Child

Boys and girls grow differently. Much of their physical characteristics are through heredity but the rate of growth varies according to sex specially nearing puberty. Temperaments of boys and girls may also vary, making them show interest in different things.

Nutrition

Balanced diet and the required quantity of food are required for children to grow, ward off disease and stay healthy. Nutritious food is crucial for children as they need energy to grow and repair. Malnutrition, especially absence of protein, can cause stunting. Overeating can cause obesity. A balanced diet that is rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats is essential for the development of brain and body.

Familial Influence

  • Love and responsive care are needed for social and emotional health. Adults whose presence is continuous and consistent encourage attachment and bonding. This interactive relationship contributes to psychological and social stability among children. Too much attention with little freedom to explore also makes children submissive and dependent.

  • It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child. Families with an informal network of community or family assistance experience less child maltreatment. Parental aggression, lack of maternal warmth and stressful events may cause behavioral problems.

Geographical Influences

  • Neighborhoods play an important role in shaping children’s interests and competence. Peers and community facilities are part of the everyday environment. Neighborhood parks make outdoor play possible. Libraries or facilities for cultural activities develop skills and talents.

  • Lack of child-oriented play spaces can force children to stay indoors and play video games. Thus, it is no surprise that children living in rural areas are often fast runners. Children living near forests are competent in describing local flora and fauna.

Socio-Economic Status

  • Well-to-do families can access better schools with the possibility of providing support materials. Often, poverty is accompanied by illiteracy and absence of education can make families stick to less constructive beliefs. Poor working parents may not have access to quality childcare. It is the onus of the community to ensure good facilities for children.

  • Children experiencing long-term poverty exhibit poor attention span, poor retention power and more developmental delays compared to developmental delays in children experiencing short-term poverty.

  • Although nature contributes much to the growth and development of children, nurture contributes by how it interacts with nature. Besides working on gaps as caregivers, ensure that children get enough rest every day, as development is heavily dependent on the amount of sleep and rest. Give attention to nutrition and exercise levels, as these too play an important role in promoting timely and healthy growth and development in children.

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