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The Influence of the Environment in Early Years of Childhood Development

Updated April 17, 2017

There are many environmental factors that influence a child's early years of development. Some factors can be within the environment itself, like chemicals and pollution. Other factors can be parental, societal and economical. A child's behaviour and personality is dependent upon the world around him. The interaction between heredity and the environment can also play an important role in the growth and development of a child.

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Chemicals and Pollution

Chemicals in the environment can affect a child's performance in school, growth and development, health, and overall well-being. According to Chemical Kids by Dan Orzech, children are exposed to toxins in various ways--diesel exhaust from school buses, pesticides in foods, lead paint and mercury.

Parental Factors

A child's growth and development in the early years are primarily shaped by parents. The amount of parental interaction with a child can negatively or positively affect a child. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, the state of the parents also plays a role in the developmental process. Factors such as whether both biological parents are in the home or if the child is raised by a single parent come into play. In a single-parent home, there is often less of a support system, which increases the odds a child will grow up in poverty.

Societal Factors

Societal factors, such as peer interaction, may also influence the child. Children with poor language skills may have a difficult time interacting with other children. However, interaction with children can be useful in child development due to imitation--the child learns to imitate the behaviour of peers. This can aid in motor skills and language development. Social isolation can negatively affect a child's ability to play normally, due to the lack of imitation. According to Laurie A Couture, denial of social interaction can be a form of abuse.

Economical Factors

According to National Center for Children in Poverty, poverty can affect brain development in early childhood, due to the lack of proper nutrition and quality of care. Poverty can also increase risk factors in parents, such as depression, substance abuse and social isolation. Stressors placed on poor families increase occurrences of child abuse and neglect. Abuse affects a child's ability to form healthy attachments and can lead to depression, anxiety and a propensity for violence. In addition, poor families tend to live in dangerous neighbourhoods and cannot afford proper child care.

Other Factors

Other factors that can impact a parent's ability to effectively assist in the growth and development of a child are physical illness, problems in the marriage, death of a family member and loss of a job.

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About the Author

Marie Liberty has been writing since 1998. She is the author of "Little Miss Right Now" and her articles have appeared in the "Blackwater Review," "Voices" and "Northwest Florida Daily News." Liberty is certified in elementary education and has a Master of Science in psychology from Troy State University.

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