External factors are what happen to a child after birth. Also known as environmental factors. More times than not, they do not have a choice regarding their external factors.
External factors include: Poverty & deprivation; Diet; Housing; Education; Play & leisure opportunities; Aspirations & expectations; Family environment & background; Family circumstances; Personal choices and Looked After Children (LAC).
Poverty & Deprivation, Diet, Housing – It is highly likely that poverty will have a significant effect on a Child’s development. Statistics have shown that children from a poorer background are less likely to achieve well in school. Parents may struggle financially to provide necessary resources for their child’s studies such books or internet access. Children can miss out socially, being unable to participate in activities with their friends/peer as they cannot afford it. Children from lower income families may live in poorer quality conditions, for example: a cold house due to having insufficient money to afford heating or living with damp. Their diets may consist of processed foods with little or no nutritional value as this is cheaper to buy. This all impacts a child’s development.
Education – As mentioned above, children from low income households may not do well academically. This could be because they may not be able to attend the ‘best’ school or have access to much needed resources. They can also become the target of bullies resulting in not attending regularly, concentrating less in classes and losing confidence and/or self-esteem. It is important to remember that children also learn at home and from participating in groups/clubs. Education helps a child’s cognitive development. They learn to read; write; solve problems and develop talents and interests. It can also help them to socialise; have fun; know & understand themselves as well as understand other people’s feelings. Without good opportunities and experiences, a child may not be able to realise their own potential.
Play and Leisure – Play is important in a child’s cognitive development and this happens throughout their life. As above, a child who misses out on opportunities and experiences may not be able to realise their own potential. Families on low incomes may not be able to finance activities such as swimming or joining a club. They may also have limited or no access to transport.
Aspirations and expectations – A child from a poorer background can develop a negative outlook on their life, they may feel like things will never change and lose motivation to do want to achieve and do well in life. Without realising, parents who may suffer depression impact important areas of their child’s development.
Family Environment ; Background and Family Circumstances – Whilst most parents do an extremely good job of nurturing and providing for their children, with reasonable diets, providing them play ; leisure and socialising opportunities unfortunately some parents are not able to cope as well. Those parents who suffer from mental ill health, alcoholism or drug addiction will have an inability to fulfil their parenting role properly.
Families can suffer stress at times. This stress can be temporary or in some situations, more permanent. Examples of stress triggering events are: ill health; a disability; unemployment/redundancy; divorce or bereavement. These all impact a child’s development. The child can become anxious, lose motivation and feel isolated.
Personal Choices – As children grow, they gain more independence and can be in situations where they must make their own decision for example: whether to have sex or drink. The decision to use drugs, such as cannabis, during teenage years can impact the healthy growth of the brain. What they choose to eat also affects physical development.
Looked-After Children – Children with care status or even those who still reside with their parents/family but are the responsibility of the Local Authority can lack the feeling of stability and consistency. They can struggle to make attachments or build positive relationships.
Research has proven that a Looked-After Child who has a positive relationship in their life can have a positive impact of their development academically; socially; cognitively and most importantly, emotionally.