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A child’s development encompasses many codependent spheres, including sensory-motor, cognitive, as well as socio-emotional. Background research indicates that healthy socio-emotional development is linked to a nurturing, sensitive, and positive family environment. Family dynamics and social environments can sometimes be negatively impacted in developing nations due to their complex social, economic, and political problems. For instance, a father may not be able to provide a nurturing family environment to his child if socio-economical factors are negatively impacting him in his workplace, contributing in lack of household income, and in some cases, poverty. Lack of appropriate sensory, motor, and language stimulation can also have detrimental effects on the infant’s developmental outcome, sometimes caused by lack of time or resources available to the parent.
If a healthy family environment is disrupted in this manner, it can prevent sensitive and responsive parenting, and negatively impact an infant’s cognitive, motor, and social-emotional development. What are the impacts of family environment on an infant’s developmental outcomes in developing nations? What causes these family environments to become altered, and how is the infant’s developmental outcome altered? This research paper will specifically focus upon how family environments in developing nations can impact an infant’s developmental outcome by making specific references to case studies conducted on the subject. Three distinct family environments from developing nations will be analyzed to identify how an infants’ development is impacted socially, physically and/or cognitively.
This topic is new because although there has been substantial research pertaining to infants’ developmental outcomes linked to being raised in a developing nation, little research has concentrated on family environments per se. Exploring these researches will be integral in facilitating an understanding of how family dynamics differ in developing countries. It will also aid in clarifying any misconceptions on the subject. In the end, results from the three researches will be synthesized to identify any social, physical, or cognitive developmental hindrances that occurred amongst the infants’ in the scenarios. Moreover, the associations between infant, family dynamics and developmental status will be examined in this research paper. Analyzing case studies stemming from three distinct family environments in three distinct developing nations will help obtain a well-rounded view on the subject. Identifying these factors will prove integral in the facilitation of additional research on how future interventions can help reduce hindrances in developmental outcomes for infants in developing nations.
Family Environment and Early Development in Low-Income Nicaraguan Children
At present, there are 51 million children from the age of birth to four living in Latin American and Caribbean nations. A significant portion of these infants live in highly impoverished environments. The relationship between infant and family environments pertaining to developmental status was studied in a sample of 95 impoverished Nicaraguan children between the ages of two months and five years. The study paid special attention to the interaction of child and family traits on development of the infant in various domains (such as language and motor). Results concluded that developmental delays were significant, particularly in the older years, demonstrating the complicated competencies expected of children in the preschool years that would have been difficult to obtain in a developing country and a more or less underprivileged family environment (Raikes, 2005, p.399).
Foster-care Institution Environments
Several infants that are raised in developing nations are sometimes placed in foster-care institutions due to their parents’ inability to care for them. Most of the time, the primary reason behind this is lack of sufficient financial resources to care for the child. These children grow up in a substantially different environment from the typical family household. In a recent study, Van den Dries et al. (2010, p. 144) compared the physical, cognitive, and motor development of former fostered infants and post-institutionalized infants shortly after international adoption to identify any substantial difference in developmental outcomes (if any). Forty-two previously fostered and fifty post-institutionalized girls adopted from China, between the ages of 11 and 16 months on arrival, were visited 2 and 6 months post-adoption. To determine physical developmental outcomes, the children’s height, weight, and head circumference were measured. Cognitive and motor developmental outcomes were assessed through the use of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development – second edition (Van den Dries et al., 2010, p. 144).
The results concluded that the mental and motor skills of formerly fostered children from China were not detrimentally affected, which was attributed to a more normative family-type rearing arrangement within the foster-home environments in the study. That being said, a presence of growth delays was noted amongst the Chinese adoptees, for height, weight as well as head circumference. This particular study provides an important reflection of how foster-care environments impact children’s developmental outcomes. The participants of this study stem from a developing nation (China), and despite not having been raised in a typical family environment, display an insignificant level of impact when it comes to mental and motor skills. However, when it comes to physical developmental outcomes, a delay in growth was noted amongst the participants (Van den Dries et al., 2010, p. 145).
To summarize, then, three distinct family environments from developing nations were scrutinized in this research paper to identify if developmental outcomes in the infants’ was indeed affected.
Raikes, H. A. (2005). Family Environments and Early Development in Low-Income Nicaraguan Children. Interamerican Journal of Psychology, 39, 3.
Van Den Dries, L., Juffer, F., Van Ijzendoorn, M. H., and Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J. (2010). Infants’ Physical and Cognitive Development After International Adoption From Foster Care or Institutions in China. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 31, 2.