It’s doubtful that your child is developing inside a bubble. From the media to other kids, and everything in between and around, there are more than enough things out there to affect your little one’s development. If the thought of these (and the many other) influences causes you to fret, take comfort in the fact that not all influences will hinder your child’s development; some can actually move it along.
While there are more outside influences on your child’s development than you can count, the inside (or family) influences are typically the first and foremost. From birth, your child has been watching and learning from you (as well as your husband and other children). The things that are important to you and your family are likewise important to your child, and can equally impact her development. For example, if you are an avid reader and stock the house with books, chances are she will show an early interest in literacy. While there’s always the possibility that she’ll be the book-hating black sheep, most likely she will want to do what mommy does and read from the start.
Sure, some of you can keep your child away from the TV, movies and the Internet, but for those who can’t, various forms of media can greatly affect the growing child’s development. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 83 percent of all kids under 6 watch or use some type of media, such as a TV or computer. With all this media use going on, many moms wonder what it means for their child’s development. Sure, there are plenty of negatives when it comes to watching TV or playing video games. There’s the violence and certainly the passive nature of media watching (it certainly doesn’t help physical development or large motor skills). That said, educational programs and interactive computer games can help young children develop a variety of skills, such as early literacy and math.
Healthy nutrition is a key part of your child’s development. Can you imagine how your little one would turn out if you fed him a steady diet of candy, cookies and soda? Not only would his physical health go downhill, but he would most likely (short of having a tape worm) end up overweight. On the other hand, underfeeding your child simply won’t do either. Without adequate nutrients such as calcium, bones can’t grow, and believe it or not, babies and toddlers actually need fat. While that doesn’t mean you can go crazy with the full-fat ice cream, giving your child healthy fats is necessary for nerve and brain development.
From the start, your child learns about his world through other people. For example, without hearing spoken words, he wouldn’t have a clue what language is. While babies and young toddlers aren’t the most social when it comes to peer-peer play, they still enjoy a good companion. By the time your little one reaches his preschool years, friends become a much larger factor and can shape his interests and play-time activity choices. Young children may also look to adult interactions (this doesn’t only mean family socialization, but also daycare teachers and other caregivers) for cues on how to behave or what emotions are and aren’t appropriate.