Most people who were not properly taken care of when they were in their early childhood years have faced enormous difficulties ranging from poor health to poor mental development.
Early Childhood Development (ECD) is the way the child grows during the early stages of life and the activities that follow in the process. Such activities include what the child learns, what the child eats, the development of the ability to have complex thinking and reasoning skills, to communicate with people in their way, to socialize, take control of their emotions and also learn by imitation or observation. The learning by observation and imitation are some of the most important factors in the Early Childhood Development. That is why most children grow up believing in and practicing most of the things they observe their parents, family and those around them or their communities do. Parents should be very careful with handling their children at this stage and after.
Reaching optimal levels of physical, cognitive, language, and social-emotional development does not just happen during the early years of a child. For these potential to be met, children must live in a healthy and supportive environments. The issue of healthy and supportive environments has been one of the fundamental problems in Early Childhood Development especially in developing countries such as Nigeria.
Since early childhood is considered to be from prenatal period to eight years of age and the most rapid period of development in a human life, parents must handle their children within this period more carefully.
As a child begins to grow, they start developing physical, cognitive, language and social-emotional growth. The basic factors that influence child development are: heredity, family and community. Certain things a child does are inherited from the parents through the genes. That is why in most cases, children turn to behave like either their father or mother in intellectual ability, moral and social life. The family can influence the child by certain norms and values. A functional family turns to influence the child positively while a dysfunctional family turns to influence the child negatively. The community is where the child is born, bred or based. If the community is violent, the child might most likely grow up to be violent. If the community is peace-loving, the child might most likely grow up to be peaceful.
The experience children have in their early stages in life will affect them now and in the future. For children to develop, learn and become better now and in the future, their basic needs must be met, feel safe, and feel valued by their parents, families and communities.