WHO ARE WE? FACTORS THAT AFFECT CHILD GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT

One thing that I am interested in is what shapes us: the people? The place we live? It’s both of those and more- Sharon Creech

Have you ever visited a Kindergarten or a pre-school? Once you have, you’ll observe that at such tender age itself, each child is so different. One might be academically bright while other may be a sport star. One might be tall as compared to the other or even skinnier than the other, while one may be more polite and shy than others. How come kids differ in so many parameters simultaneously, despite being of the same age? Let’s explore this intriguing question.

There are several factors that determine what a child is going to be as a grown up individual what traits it exhibits now. These factors can be tangible, nontangible, external, internal, economic, social, peer-related and what not. Phew!! To simplify, here are the 5 most common and broad factors that determine child growth and development as well as why they are different from one another:

  1. Heredity and environment: What your child inherits from you in terms of  physical and mental traits via genes comprises heredity. If you have good genes, the child is born healthy. One can’t do much about good genes internally as they are also inherited. But to maintain good genes is in one’s hands. As a parent, non smoking, non-alcoholic ways, not using illicit drug are a few examples of maintaining good genes. It also creates a healthy external environment for the child once born. Parents with conditions like diabetes, CAD may pass them on to the kid but still curb it to a level via good nurturing and child’s diet /lifestyle regulation. Being parents, it is in your hands to give your child a secure environment and character that adds to its growth and development. Nurturing it with ill-practices in place is detrimental in the long run. Individuals can behave differently if they are exposed to different (secure vs threatening) environments as a child.
  2. Nutrition: A new-born infant is fed with colostrum(mother’s first milk) rich in antibodies. Subsequently, as the child grows to about a few months, mother’s milk is its complete diet, after which, it is fed with micro and macro-nutrients from external environment.  All these three stages are pivotal in development of a healthy mind and body. As parents, one should emphasise on quality nutrients in child’s life throughout life. Failing this can lead to malnutrition and other chronic ailments that can hamper child’s growth and development. Good nutrition can build good muscles in a child and bad nutrition can even make it anorexic!
  3. Endocrine and gender: The endocrine glands located in the body regulate hormones that are crucial for a child’s growth and development. Any level goes up or down, a child may develop thyroid issues, diabetes, obesity and a lot more. Endocrine glands also regulate sex hormones which are responsible for puberty and different characteristics exhibited by boys and girls differently. A slight discrepancy in their levels, a child may have issues like stunted growth, mental retardation, gynecomastia in boys or male characters in girls.
  4. Socio-economic status, influence and learning through family: A child born in a financially sound family has a lot less to worry about education, nutrition and money. Such families are generally well cultured and capable to raise socially aware kids by providing a civilised environment at home. Child’s development in such environment via the  sound opportunities of learning is dynamic and multifaceted. However, in poor families, due to lack of nutrition and opportunities, a child may not be able to reach its full potential.
  5. Exercise and activities: A healthy body resides a healthy mind. A child who is active enough via any activity like swimming, dancing, gymnastics or even simple 1h play time of any game once everyday develops better than those with idle lifestyle. Exercises provides brain the oxygen to develop well and makes the child acquire skills like team building, critical thinking, leadership unknowingly. Idle lifestyle attracts diseases like obesity. Encouraging your child to go out and play is a must.

As a parent, it is your responsibility to augment and introduce good practices in your child’s life as much as you can for better growth and development. So get working!

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