What Is the Family Impact on Early Childhood Development?

Happy mother and father kissing their daughter in the park
A supportive family can have a positive impact on early childhood development. (Image: Osuleo/iStock/Getty Images)

During early childhood, a parent's attitudes and values can be passed on to the child. During this time their self concept is forming, and can be heavily influenced by their parents, according to Heather Weiss, Founder and Director of the Harvard Family Research Project. They can acquire skills that are the basic foundation for learning throughout childhood. Therefore, a strong support system in early childhood can greatly affect their development.

Supportive, Loving Family

Nurturing relationships in a family are critical for the healthy development of a child. If a child feels safe, secure, and loved in their family, it helps with the formation of their self-esteem and well-being. It can also lead to a child who is more socially competent and has better communication skills than a child who does not feel these family connections, according to Weiss.

Parental Involvement

Parental participation in children's activities, like outdoor exploration or reading books together, has been shown to lead to a more social child, says Weiss. Children who engage in play activities with their parents jump right into games when they start school and show more independent behavior in those situations. Having their parents show an interest in their activities develops a strong sense of self in the child.

School Readiness

Parents and other family members can also influence early childhood development by supporting literacy and other childhood lessons. By encouraging the practice of math and reading skills, parents can increase school readiness in their child, according to Weiss. Even early lessons, such as singing the alphabet or counting objects, can lead to more successes in the classroom.

Risk Factors

On the other hand, family risk factors can also influence the path of early childhood development. Maternal risk factors, in particular, can have a great impact on a child's development. For example, drug abuse, poverty, and an environment of domestic abuse can lead to behavioral issues in children as young as 3, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP). Parents can help children in at-risk situations by seeking out trained providers in health, mental health, early care and education settings, according to the NCCP.

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