What Factors Affect Physical Development in Early Childhood?

Genetics play a key role in physical development in early childhood.
Some child development research focuses on understanding the physical changes that affect toddlers and young children.
Whether a young child has sufficient nutrition can play a large role in her physical growth and development.
Children exposed to air pollution may be more likely to develop breathing problems.
Proper nutrition promotes physical and mental development during early childhood.
Children who do not receive childhood immunizations may develop disease.
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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 08 December 2014
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Several factors can affect physical development in early childhood. Participating in physical activities such as running, climbing, or playing ball will promote normal physical development in early childhood. Proper diet and nutrition during infancy and toddler years will also promote normal growth and physical development. Illness or disease can influence the physical development of a child. Most medical experts and scientists believe that hereditary factors also affect growth and development during early childhood years.

Genetics play a key role in physical development in early childhood. Some children grow at a seemingly fast pace, while others are smaller than average. A child who is considered small for his age may have parents who are shorter than average. In many cases, the rate of physical development in children correlates to the rate of development his parents achieved at the same age.

The environment in which a child is raised may play an important role in childhood development. Children who are exposed to air pollution may develop chronic lung disease or bouts of pneumonia. A child exposed to extremely loud noise on a daily basis may suffer from hearing loss, which may become apparent when starting school. Children who live in a stressful environment may develop poor eating habits that may contribute to obesity.

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Children who are malnourished will typically experience abnormal physical development. This may include soft bones from lack of calcium, or a weakened immune system. Malnutrition may also lead to early tooth decay in children.

In addition, children who do not receive childhood immunizations may develop disease. Some childhood disease can negatively affect a child's physical development, or cause serious health complications, such as heart disease. According to medical experts, a child who has been vaccinated against various diseases stands a better chance of developing normally.

Physical development may also be impaired when young children do not receive adequate physical exercise on a regular basis. Experts recommend that parents encourage children as young as three years old to participate in physical activities every day. Regular exercise may strengthen bones and muscles, as well as improve coordination in very young children.

Chronic illness or serious disease, such as cystic fibrosis, cancer, or asthma may also affect physical development in early childhood. Some medical conditions such as cerebral palsy may impair fine motor skills and coordination in young children. In many cases, physical rehabilitation therapy may improve or develop a child's fine and gross motor skills.

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burcidi
Post 3

@literall45-- You might want to see his pediatrician to make sure that there aren't any underlying health conditions. If not, then don't worry about it. This is actually an age range where children experience different growth rates. Some grow faster than others, and girls usually are taller at this age. It's highly possible that your son will experience a growth spurt sometime soon.

You can encourage him to be more active and play sports. All sports are beneficial for physical development, it doesn't have to be basketball, it can be baseball, soccer, martial arts, even dancing.

What's probably more important than his physical development right now is his emotional state, especially if he's feeling self-conscious about his height and size. Make sure he knows that he still has a long time to grow and he will probably pass all his peers soon.

My son was also a late bloomer, he was shorter than everyone else until he was ten and then had an immense growth spurt and passed everyone else. He was feeling down about it for a while though and I did all I can to make sure he felt better. Once, I even shortened his pants overnight to make him feel that he had grown the next morning. He was so happy!

literally45
Post 2

My son is nine and he's shorter and thinner than most of his class-mates. He eats well and I make sure that he gets plenty of vitamins and calcium. His father and I are both tall, so I know that it can't be genes.

Is this temporary? Will he catch up to kids his age in a few years? Can I do anything to encourage his growth?

bear78
Post 1

When I was a child, I was told that if I drink a lot of milk and play basketball, I would be very tall.

I used to drink two to three glasses of milk every day and I also played basketball. I'm 25 now and I'm only 5'3''. If I didn't get enough calcium and didn't do sports, I might have been shorter. But the truth is, we all have a maximum height determined by our genes. No matter what we do, we can't go beyond that.

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