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Factors that influence growth and development

i. During the different stages of development in children, there are different factors that influence their growth. Such factors are good nutrition, love, good care, conducive home environment, good schools, society and the absence of growth retarding diseases.

Good nutrition –
This has to do with a balanced diet, which is important for good health and growth.

Love –
Love is an essential factor of growth and development in that when children know that they are loved and encouraged, they strive to achieve all that is meant to achieve in order to please their parents.

Good care –
When children are properly taken care of and their needs met, they develop very fast.

Conducive home environment  –
When the home is conducive for learning and comfortable, the child develops faster than a child that does not have a warm and comfortable home.

Good schools –
The early stage in children is when they learn faster. A good school is very necessary in that it provides them with an environment which stimulates their abilities physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.

Society –
This provides many opportunities which help to broaden children’s cultural outlook and helps them to learn those things which the home and school do not teach.

Disease –
Disease if not promptly treated could affect the normal development of a child.

ii. Bringing up children in the Nigerian culture
Culture is the totality of a way of life of the people. It is passed on from generation to generation. The process of bringing up a child in the culture of the society is called socialisation. There are agents of socialisation that assist in bringing up a child in the tradition and custom of his/her own society. Such agents are:

a. The family – Here, the child learns the family culture such as salutation and respect for elders.
b. The school – Here, a child is being taught how to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes and the interaction with other people.
c. The church or mosque – Here, a child is being taught about religious beliefs, morals and matters relating to religion.
d. Society – The society gives the child a wider horizon of ethnic groups and families.

iii. Good habits and character training
A person’s habit is said to be his/her way of doing something often and almost without thinking. His/her character is the aggregate of his/her behaviours, personal qualities and traits, which are responsible for the way he/she goes about his/her business or activities.

Good habits are the foundation of good character and it is very important that children learn good habits and character in the formative years of their lives; because it would be very difficult for such children to change later on.

The most probable place to help the child develop good habits and character is in the home. For example, it is in the home the child can learn good eating habits and respect for elders.

The children learn to be trustworthy especially if they are following the examples set out for them by the parents. When they do something good at home and they are praised, they are encouraged to do more of what they had done.

The school should also work together with the family to train the child on good habits and character as the school has its own role to play.

iv. Toys and play materials in early childhood
Young children get enough play or stimulation when they are held, bathed, talked to, being fed, etc.. They enjoy playing with things when they get older. There are many reasons why children should play and be given play materials. Some of them are as follows:

a. They help the children to develop their imagination.
b. Through play, a child learns much about work.
c. Play helps the children exercise their muscles and also express themselves in different ways.

When selecting toys, it is important for a parent/guardian to consider the type and usefulness of the toys. For example:

a. The toys selected for children should have no sharp points or edges, and they should be large enough, so that the children cannot swallow them;
b. The toys should have no loose parts that can come off to prevent the children from putting them into their mouths.
c. The toys should be suitable for their age, that is, one that is not too advanced, which may cause frustration, and one that is not too far below their age level, to avoid boredom.

Other Factors are:

a. Physical development – This has to do with sitting, standing, walking, loss and cutting of teeth. Physical growth and development is rhythmic and not in regular patterns. A child has a period during which he/she grows and gains weight rapidly and a period when the speed of growth is reduced. From birth to age two, growth is rapid followed by a period of slow growth until puberty.

b. Mental development – This, refers to activities involving thinking, understanding/perceiving, etc (intellectual activities). Maturity is the basis for mental development. It involves the unfolding of traits already present in children as a result of their hereditary endowments.

c. Social development – This involves the interaction and relationship with others. Children must be aware of the behaviour approved by the society, roles that are expected of them in the society and the appropriate social attitudes, so that they can participate in and enjoy social activities. Social development prepares a child for active group participation.