Physical development in children refers to their physical and motor development. Physical growth refers to the growth rate in height and weight, and motor development refers to the development of their bones, muscles, and ability to move and manipulate their environment (1).
Each child develops at their own pace; nevertheless, it is essential to monitor your child’s physical growth to ensure that they grow to their full potential. Sufficient physical development in early childhood helps ensure the child’s good long-term health and well-being.
Read this post to learn about the various factors that may affect physical development in children, different physical development milestones, and ways to boost physical development in your children.
Factors That Affect Physical Development In Children
Knowing the factors that affect children’s physical development can help you provide the best care to your child. Here are some important factors that are known to affect children’s physical development.
Children can lose developmental potential and suffer long-term health problems due to poor nutrition and early learning opportunities (2). A nutrient-rich diet containing ample fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals aids the physical growth of your child. When a child or adolescent’s diet has an excess of high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt foods, nutritional deficiencies can emerge. Overconsumption of unhealthy foods and beverages can lead to ill health and weight gain.
The parents’ genes influence the physical characteristics of a child. The interplay of genes and environmental factors, such as toxic stress and poor nutrition, can significantly impact a child’s physical development (3).
3. Low socioeconomic status
4. Physical activity
Children should be encouraged to take part in physical activities during the day for better growth and development. Physical activity levels among children and parents are known to be linked; hence, inactive parents are more likely to produce inactive children. Encourage your children to participate in sports and spend time outdoors as lack of physical activity is linked to several health problems, including obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes (5) (6).
A child’s environment has a significant influence on their well-being. Some environmental factors that can influence children’s physical development include toxins and pollutants, noise, crowding, chaos, and housing, school, and neighborhood quality (7).
Infections such as diarrhea and pneumonia can disrupt a child’s normal growth. As per a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, “Infections may decrease food intake, impair nutrient absorption, cause direct nutrient losses, increase metabolic requirements or catabolic losses of nutrients and, possibly, impair transport of nutrients to target tissues.” ” By altering the nutritional status, such infections can reduce linear growth in children. Children born in emerging countries are highly susceptible to these infections (8).
Physical Developmental Milestones In Children
Physical developmental milestones refer to a variety of changes in a child’s motor abilities. As their gross motor and fine motor skills improve, most children exhibit increased independence and self-control.
Gross motor skills: Gross motor skills involve the major muscles in the arms, legs, and torso. Walking, running, throwing, lifting, kicking, and other daily physical tasks require gross motor skills. These skills are also associated with body awareness, reaction speed, balance, and strength. (9).
Fine motor skills: Fine motor skills include the movement and use of the small muscles in the hands, wrists, fingers, and upper extremities. The skills include reaching, gripping, and manipulating objects with your hands (10).
|Age||Gross Motor||Fine motor|
|Age||Gross motor and fine motor|
Ways To Boost Physical Development In Children
Children are adventurous and curious. Here are some ways in which you can assist your child’s physical development.
- Get your children some toys that can help with their physical development and make them keep physically active.
- Let them express themselves via art. Allow your child to spend time doing crafts, drawing, painting, etc.
- Jumping rope, riding bikes, rollerblading, jogging, and running are all excellent activities to improve motor skills, and thus, should be encouraged.
- Provide them with building blocks and other materials to develop their fine motor skills and problem-solving skills.
- Enroll them in sports to improve their motor skills and balance.
- Encourage your child to assist you with easy and enjoyable household tasks. You could also help them with putting their toys away and making their beds.
- Physical development in children should be accompanied by good nutrition and a well-balanced diet since this enables proper muscle and bone growth.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the characteristics of physical development?
Physical development takes place mainly during childhood. It is a crucial time for body coordination and brain development. Physical development is rapid during adolescence when the bones and muscles develop, along with different body parts. Adolescence is also the stage when puberty occurs in boys and girls.
2. Why is physical development important?
Physical development is important because it impacts an individual’s physical ability and performance. It also helps maintain a healthy weight and develop strong bones, muscles, and the heart.
Although every child develops at their own pace, keeping track of your child’s physical development is critical to ensure that they reach their maximum potential. The parameters for measuring a child’s physical development are height, weight, and motor skills. However, genetics, low socioeconomic level, nutrition, medical conditions, and other factors may impact your child’s development. Therefore, understanding a child’s physical development and demands is important to appropriately involve them in physical activities and give them a balanced diet that will help boost their physical growth.
- Nutrition, genetics, socioeconomic status, physical activity, etc., are the factors affecting physical development in children.
- Exposure to environmental toxins and other infections such as pneumonia can also have a negative impact on the little one’s physical development.
- Giving children toys that would keep them physically active such as jumping ropes and riding bikes, helps boost your child’s growth.
2. Nutrition – school-age to adolescence; The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne
3. Aline Jelenkovic et al.; Genetic and environmental influences on height from infancy to early adulthood: An individual-based pooled analysis of 45 twin cohorts; Scientific Reports (2016).
4. N Sabturani; The Relationship Between Socioeconomic Status and Fine Motor Skills Among Six-Year-Old Preschool Children; Universiti Teknologi MARA (2013).
5. How Much Physical Activity Do Children Need? How Much Physical Activity Do Children Need?; CDC
6. Mitchell, Jonathan; Physical Inactivity in Childhood from Preschool to Adolescence; HHS Author Manuscripts (2019).
7. Ferguson, Kim T et al.; The physical environment and child development: an international review HHS Author Manuscripts (2013).
8. Stephensen, Charles; Burden of Infection on Growth Failure; The Journal of Nutrition (1999).
9. Gross Motor Skills: Birth to 5 Years; Children Hospital of Richmond at VCU
10. Fine Motor Skills: Birth to 2 Years; Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU
11. Positive Parenting Tips; CDC
12. Normal growth and development; MedlinePlus
13. Physical Development in Children and Adolescents; Child Development Institute
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Dr. Jessica Madden(MD, FAAP, IBCLC)
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