External factors are the experiences, events and relationships that affect a child’s development. There are a lot of external factors but there are main key factors which contribute to development (Tassoni, Burnham, 2017).
Environmental influences play a big part in child development. There is a saying that “A nurtured child will do better than a deprived child.” But this is not always the case. It is the little things that make a difference. It is not always correct that a rich child will automatically thrive more than a child living in poverty (Johnson, 2016). The main factors are family, living conditions and economical status. These factors are often related and so will cross-over and blend together.
A supportive, loving and caring family environment is extremely important for the healthy development of a child. If they feel safe, secure and loved it will aid their self-esteem and well-being. Children who receive positive attention from their parents and other close family members will learn to talk and communicate with others and learn acceptable ways to behave in different social settings. Stimulation and play are very beneficial to a child. Visiting places, playing with adults and other children enable them to learn to talk more quickly and develop social skills, coordination and intellect (Tassoni, Burnham, 2017).
Children who live in a warm, safe home with room to move and explore are less likely to become unwell or injure themselves. With plenty of space to play and explore, their physical development will be greatly improved along with their intellectual development as they explore and learn about new things in the environment. Having a good healthy diet and nutrition will give children the ability to grow well, giving them energy to explore and learn about their surroundings. They are also less likely to become ill or overweight with a balanced diet and good eating pattern (Tassoni, Burnham, 2017).
These are all positive influences on the development of a child but these are also a number of negative influences that can be of detriment to development. As we already know, family is very important to a child but if there is a breakdown in the family dynamic, such as a bereavement or separation, the child’s social and emotional development could be very much affected as they learn to cope with the change. This may make a child very withdrawn or shy making it difficult for them to socialise and make friendships. This is also the case if a parent is struggling, whether it be depressions, drug or alcohol abuse or illness. The physical needs of a child may be neglected and don’t receive the love, attention or physical care they require to flourish in their development.
Poverty is also a negative influence on a child’s development for a number of reasons. When a family as little or no money, they will find it difficult to provide financially for a child. They may not have many toys to play with affecting their intellectual development and also physical development such as not having a bike to ride or ball to kick around in the garden, all of which help gross motor skills. Days out and after school clubs will also be very limited, meaning a child cannot socialise with other children of similar age or explore and learn about the environment around them. Lack of money may also mean a child could be living in inadequate dwellings which are either unsafe or space limiting. The inability to also buy healthy food for a child means that they are more likely to become unwell more frequently or overweight, which can then lead to fatigue, inability to concentrate in school or lack of interest (Lafortune, 2014).