The Kinds of Influences That Affect Children and Young People’s Development

Table of Content

Background and family environment

Children and young people will come from a range of cultures, environments and circumstances and many families will go through significant changes during the time a child is at school. Such changes may include bereavement, family breakdown, arrival of new sibling, moving house or moving country.

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Any one of these may affect a child’s emotional and/or intellectual development. For example, a child whose parents are going through a break up can find the event particularly confusing and stressful and may become emotionally withdrawn and due to the upheaval they may lose focus at school and suffer intellectually as they find it difficult to concentrate and work to the teachers expectations.


Developmental opportunities of a child or young person may be restricted due to poor health or a physical disability or impairment. For example, a child with a medical condition may be less able to participate in some activities than other children which may initially affect physical development but subsequently may also affect social development as they are unable to take part in activities.

Depending on the extent to which the child is affected and their own awareness of it, the child may feel excluded or incapable leading to a lack of self esteem, affecting their emotional development. It is important that children are supported to include them as much as possible whilst being aware of how these factors may affect a child or young person.

Poverty and deprivation

A child or young person’s development will be significantly affected by poverty and deprivation. Statistics show that children from deprived backgrounds are less likely to thrive and achieve in school as parents find it more difficult to manage. Physical development can be affected by a lack of good quality food and simple things like breakfast or the lack of it can affect a child’s intellectual development as they struggle to concentrate during the morning.

The lack of expendable income for families may also limit opportunities such as school trips or after school activities which will affect the child’s social development as they miss out and feel isolated. A child that feels isolated through this may feel angry or upset and this may have an effect on their behavioural development.

Personal choices

Children’s personal choices such as friendship groups, extra-curricular activities and academic involvement will affect their development as they grow older. They may need guidance and advice from adults to enable them to make the right choices for themselves. For example a young person will be free to make their own choice as to what they eat with the lunch money they have.

Although advice should be offered by adults as to the benefits of healthy eating a child may choose to ignore this through their own choice. Such a choice may lead to negative health impacts such as being overweight or obese which in the long term may lead to diabetes or other health problems and affect their physical development but also their emotional development as they struggle to participate in activities or are targeted by other children for name calling.

Looked after/care status

Children who are looked after or in care may be affected in their development in different ways. Some children may have suffered abuse, physical, emotional or both in the past leaving them scared, angry or confused which may affect their emotional and behavioural development as well as their social development as they may not be open to and trusting of others.

Children who are moved constantly will suffer intellectually as they miss out on school but socially as well as they are unable to form lasting friendships. Schools will usually have regular meetings and closely monitor such children to ensure they are making expected levels of progress.


In some cases children may come from a background of home schooling or a different method of schooling so the way in which they have been taught is different and this could affect intellectual development if they are unable to respond to the new method they find in a school.

Some children who have arrived from another country where formal education begins later may also find their intellectual development affected as they have had no previous education but could also affect their emotional and behavioural development if they feel they are incapable of doing what other children are now able to achieve due to their early years learning. Children in such situations may require additional support until they are settled.

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The Kinds of Influences That Affect Children and Young People’s Development. (2016, Oct 11). Retrieved from

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