In the daily workflow, early childhood professionals encounter various issues primarily conditioned by the diversity of children and their families who have different backgrounds, problems, and values. Thus, the professional should possess profound knowledge and practical skills to provide timely and appropriate help to all children, irrespective of their social or other affiliations, thereby ensuring the healthy and comprehensive individual’s development. This paper aims at discussing the influences of socioeconomic status (SES) and poverty, traumatic life events, and communities of support on young children and their families. Furthermore, the paper will give insights into healthy families’ characteristics and explain how knowledge of all these influences will empower early childhood professionals to play a meaningful role in children’s and their family’s support.
The Impact of Socioeconomic Status
First, SES can play a critical part in a person’s cognitive development since they determine the opportunity of families to provide adequate education of children and even their healthy physical growth. In their study, ElHassan et al. (2018) directly indicate that social factors are crucial determinants of academic performance due to the lack of educational materials and support. Moreover, the researchers add that SES increases the prematurity rate that is correlated with poor performance in school as well (ElHassan et al., 2018). It is worth noting that cognitive development is specified not only by access to education but also by the educational level of parents, which, in the case of poverty, may be inadequate.
Second, SES can considerably influence an individual’s psychological development because the shortage of essential resources, including food, clothes, and home, places significant stress both on families and their children. At an early age, the child begins expressing apparent signs of excessive distress with high anxiety levels, which results in problematic behavior and sometimes antisocial actions. The worst point is that such children and their parents may fail to realize the problem and its adverse consequences, which leads to severe mental disorders. In this context, early childhood professionals should understand these aspects because these children acutely need close attention and assistance in their studies to achieve better outcomes in school.
The Impact of Trauma
The effect of neglect, violence, abuse, discrimination, parental divorce, and other negative childhood impressions affect an individual’s physical health. From infancy to adolescence, the body develops actively, and its normal biological function is significantly determined by the home and social environment. The child’s growth under permanent fear and anxiety inflict substantial harm on the immune, hormonal, and nervous systems. These children are more inclined to physiological reactivity manifested by heart-pounding or rapid breathing. Moreover, the stressful or neglectful environment can impair many organs, such as the brain and adrenal glands, limiting the mental potential and increasing the risk of chronic or recurrent physical conditions, especially headaches and stomachaches.
On the other hand, children who have been subjected to complicated trauma often have problems in controlling, expressing, and identifying emotions and have limited language for expressing feelings. Precisely, before the age of two, such children can possess alarming behavior signs, namely fierce and violent temper, inclinations to over screaming, crying, or other intense emotional reactions, and regressive or reserved mood (“How trauma affects,” n.d.). Later, in the age between 3 and 6, they may have verbally abusive or excessively active language, abrupt changes in mood, distracted attention, and a loss of interest in daily life activities (“How trauma affects,” n.d.). Hence, early childhood educators should be aware of the trauma influence to identify the types of children’s negative experiences timely, help children to overcome their mental problems and minimize trauma-related consequences.
Strong social-emotional support has many tangible effects on young children and their families, the primary of which are the development of behavioral skills and improvement of school achievement. Specifically, through various social activities and close interactions, early childhood professionals help children engage in good conduct and interpersonal relationships with their peers and manage uncomfortable feelings, especially baseless anxiety and fear. Additionally, in the favorable environment of the class, children can develop robust friendships and gain different useful character traits, such as perseverance, purposefulness, tolerance, sincerity, and generosity. Moreover, social-emotional support promotes a child’s academic success since educators aid children in adapting to the school environment and standards, addressing diverse internal and interpersonal concerns, and acquiring reading and writing skills.
To develop a healthy home atmosphere, strong families should be able to exhibit affection and appreciation, possess a genuine commitment to each other, and manage crisis situations productively. In particular, concerning affection, familial members should apply appreciative and supportive language and gestures showing meaningful attitudes toward one another. Real commitment implies the shared contribution to family wellbeing and happiness by spending personal energy and time in family activities. Finally, the strong familial resistance to crisis times assumes the collaborative development of relevant strategies allowing for rallying and working together.
In conclusion, it is worth noting that the understanding of influences indicated above can assist early childhood professionals in the formation of a conducive environment for the sustainable emotional development of children. Possessing practical knowledge, educators can give children a sense of belonging and help them develop interactive and cognitive skills. In addition, the professionals can give useful advice for parents regarding educative approaches to foster a healthy relationship between familial members and prevent or address the psychological conditions of a child. Lastly, professionals can cultivate the attributes and values of strong families, including the demonstration of affection and appreciation, genuine commitment to each other, and effective management of crisis situations.
ElHassan, N. O., Bai, S., Gibson, N., Holland, G., Robbins, J. M., & Kaiser, J. R. (2018). The impact of prematurity and maternal socioeconomic status and education level on achievement-test scores up to 8th grade. PloS One, 13(5), e0198083. Web.
How trauma affects child development and behavior: What childhood educators need to know. (n.d.). Web.