Environmental Influences on Human Growth & Development
All components of human development are interwoven and are influenced by environment. Home, community, physical and school environments influence the way humans behave, think, engage one another, grow, and process emotions. Nurturing environments contribute to positive health outcomes and fewer developmental challenges 12. When circumstances like poverty is factored in, it's clear that its impact on environment poses a threat to individuals' growth and development (see ref 1). It's suggested that a nurturing environment can help promote healthy growth and development (see ref 2) 1.
Infants and children from low income environments are often underweight and experience stunted growth (see ref 2). Poverty poses a developmental risk in that impoverished environments pose threats to individuals' mind, body, and spirit (see ref 1). Poverty also increases the likelihood of poor academic performance, physical health problems, like malnourishment, obesity, high rates of depression, child abuse, physical injuries, and more. Under these conditions, children often underperform in school and many find it challenging to graduate form high school when they're older, which limits individual progression within society.
School & Community Environment
In a 2012 study published by the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found that children exposed to homicides within their neighborhood, they found it more difficult to focus on their work in the classroom. It was also difficult for them to control their impulses. The closer the crime occurred to their homes, the harder it was for the 3-4 year-olds to focus or pace themselves (see ref 3).
The manner in which parents treat their children influences the way in which children interact with one another within and outside of the home. Children raised in a home riddled with discord, parental stress, and excessive discipline, typically exhibit challenges in processing emotions and controlling their behaviors. It's also possible for children to absorb and take ownership of mistreatment (see ref 4). Parental depression is another environmental challenge posed to children's growth and development, as it often leads to difficulty adjusting, and other problems beginning at a young age (see ref 5). In both cases, though, awareness can help bring about positive change.
Nurturing environments help children learn to regulate and verbalize their emotions in a manner appropriate to their ages. They're better prepared to cope with stressful situations and positively interact with peers. School performance improves as well. Active parental involvement helps improve a child's thought process and self-perception; they're also more successful in school. When parents set limits within reason, children feel loved and trusted. Aggression declines, as does the practice of underage drinking, drug use, delinquency, and violence. (see ref 1)
- Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review: Creating Nurturing Environments: A Science-Based Framework for Promoting Child Health and Development within High-Poverty Neighborhoods
- National Institutes of Health: The Critical Role of Nurturing Environments for Promoting Human Wellbeing
- National Institutes of Health: The Effect of Local Violence on Children’s Attention and Impulse Control
- National Institutes of Health: Economic Disadvantage and Young Children’s Emotional and Behavioral Problems: Mechanisms of Risk
- National Institutes of Health: Raised by Depressed Parents: Is it an Environmental Risk?
- National Institutes of Health: Social Stratification, Classroom Climate, and the Behavioral Adaptation of Kindergarten Children