Early childhood is a stage of development that involves children from ages two through six. There are several factors that can affect physical development in early childhood. A child’s physical and cognitive development can be influenced by genetics and the environment.
Genetics can play an important role in the physical development of early childhood. A child considered small for his or her age may have parents who are small in weight and height. The parent’s physical development as a child may be similar to that of the child’s development. A child’s growth rate can be determined by his or her inborn traits. Every child carries genes from both parents. The balance of these genes can determine weight, height, hair color, eye color, and skin color. The dominant gene will determine the resulting factors. Parents can pass down genes to the child through DNA that can affect the child’s physical development. There are several disabilities and disorders that can affect the child such as Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, and Cystic Fibrosis.
The environment plays an important role in physical development as well. A child will promote physical development by participating in physical activities. These activities can include running, climbing, and playing sports. A child’s physical development may suffer if he or she does not receive the proper amount of exercise. This can help to improve coordination. Children who live in a stressful environment may develop inadequate eating habits. These eating habits can lead to diseases such as Obesity, Bulimia, and Anorexia. According to Mayer-Davis, Rifas-Shiman, Zhou, & Hu (2006), children who are breastfed have fewer chances of becoming overweight or obese. A malnourished child may develop a weakened immune system, which can make him or her more susceptible to other diseases or illnesses. A child, who is introduced to air pollution, may develop severe colds, pneumonia, or lung disease.
Cognitive development is an important factor in a child’s overall development. This development affects how a child thinks, makes decisions, solves problems, and remembers information. A child’s genetics and environment can affect his or her cognitive development. Children with genetic diseases such as Down Syndrome will not be able to do the same activities as other children. This can cause a child to fall behind in terms of exceling or knowing how to do regular activities. If the parents suffer from mental diseases, this can affect the child to where he or she has to be put into special education programs. The child’s brain may not be fully developed. This will cause the child to be behind in his or her cognitive skills.
The environment can affect the child’s cognitive development. A pregnant mother can affect her child by the choices she makes during pregnancy. If the child is exposed to toxic chemicals, the child’s cognitive development can be altered. A child can be at risk for developmental delays if the mother smokes, drinks, or consumes unhealthy foods during pregnancy. According to Clark, Demers, Karr, Koehoorn, and Lencar (2010), a child who has exposure to environmental tobacco smoke before and after birth, will have an increased risk of developing asthma. A child will have a healthy cognitive development if the mother eats healthy and does not engage in harmful substances while pregnant.
Parents can expose their children to books, music, and other learning exercises to help with cognitive development. A parent can talk to his or her young child frequently to help progress the child’s learning abilities. A malnourished child will have slower brain development with cognitive difficulties. According to De Alwis, Myerson, Hershey, & Hale (2009), a child’s memory and cognitive skills will improve with age. When a child is exposed to violence, inadequate learning, or inadequate eating habits,...
References: Clark, N. A., Demers, P. A., Karr, C. J., Koehoorn, M., Lencar, C., Tamburic, L., & Brauer, M. (2010). Effect of early life exposure to air pollution on development of childhood asthma. Environmental Health Perspectives, 118(2), 284-90.
De Alwis, D., Myerson, J., Hershey, T., & Hale, S. (2009). Children 's higher order cognitive abilities and the development of secondary memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (Pre-2011), 16(5), 925-30.
Mayer-Davis, E., Rifas-Shiman, S., Zhou, L., Hu, F. B., & al, e. (2006). Breast-feeding and risk for childhood obesity: Does maternal diabetes or obesity status matter? Diabetes Care, 29(10), 2231-7.
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