Cognitive physical growth and development refers to the lifelong process that begins when a child is born. Many factors influence a child’s cognitive development and physical growth. Specific developmental milestones should occur as a child progresses from early infancy through adolescence. Parents should schedule regular appointments with the child’s pediatrician so he can assess the child’s physical, cognitive, and psychological development. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that can affect a child’s development.
<strong></strong>If a pregnant woman smokes cigarettes, drinks alcohol, uses recreational drugs, or abuses prescription drugs, her baby can be born with a number of physical or cognitive impairments. Women should refrain from engaging in these behaviors while they are pregnant. Poor nutrition and an unhealthy lifestyle can also have a negative effect on the unborn child.
Genetic factors are also significant when assessing a child’s development. There are certain diseases and genetic disorders that are inherited. Although genetic predisposition to diseases cannot be changed, addressing these issues as early as possible can assure a better outcome for the child.
<strong>Illness and Disease</strong>
<strong></strong>Children who develop an acute or life-threatening illness in infancy or early childhood often have a multitude of subsequent problems with physical and cognitive development. When children have diseases such as cancer, or heart disease, they are often hospitalized for long periods and can become isolated and socially stunted. Physical disabilities can affect a child’s cognitive and social development. Physical impairments often prohibit a child from interacting with his peers, which can be a detriment to social and cognitive progress.
<strong></strong>A child’s first teacher is his parent. Some parents respond to a child’s needs immediately, while others do not respond at all. Children need to feel loved, nurtured and safe. Parents can foster those feelings by being attentive and supportive. Cognitive development will flourish if a child is given opportunities to learn new things, and encouraged to achieve academic success. Parents can help their children be all they can be if they embrace a parenting style that affirms their child’s worth and capabilities.
<strong></strong>Children need social influences if they are to be successful in life. Their first social interactions are with parents and siblings. As a child learns to play with his parents or interact with his siblings, he is developing his ability to learn. When he goes to school, he builds cognitive skills by interacting with his peers and learning to problem solve. As the child gets older, his social and cultural experiences will help him build confidence and gain independence he will need to become a successful and productive adult.