Development of children across the world is continually being threatened by political
violence, pandemics, disasters and other adversities, which can have consequences that are life-
altering for families, individuals and future generations (Masten, 2013). Most of the recent
adversities have raised worldwide concerns about the dangers posed to children and the
societies’ future, which also highlights the lack of preparedness in handling such adversities.
Such concerns have spurred improved attention to resilience across various fields of research.
International agencies and governments are searching for guidance and evidence on what assists
in promoting resistance or recovery and mitigating risk when these become threats to human life.
Although talks on early childhood policy mainly focus on educational objectives, science
suggests that investments in interventions, which reduce adversity, are likely to toughen the
foundations of mental and physical health. This paper will explore the impacts of early adversity
and how to handle the situation.
As the twentieth century came to an end, parental substance abuse, exposure to violence,
and mood disorders, among other conditions started receiving increased attention in pediatric
clinics (Shonkoff et al., 2011). Most recently increasingly complicated mental health concerns;
the adverse impacts of television watching; epidemic increases in obesity; persistent ethnic and
racial disparities in health status, and the influence of new technologies are the main concerns.
Childhood adversity can have considerable effects on a child’s developmental trajectory, and
have lifelong consequences for longevity, economic productivity, health status and educational
achievement. These adversities cause stress in a developing brain and can probably cause
permanent on various functions like learning new skills, developing the ability to make healthy
adaptations when faced with future adversities and regulating stress physiology.
THE IMPACT OF EARLY ADVERSITY 3
One of the contextual factors that can be used to improve development and learning
outcome is improving the quality of interactions between the parent and the child. From a
behavioral standpoint, it is reasonable to state that parental scaffolding, which might involve
externally guided problem-solving, can contribute to shaping the problem-solving skills, which
children require when performing tasks (Bernier, Carlson, Deschênes & Matte-Gagné, 2011).
Therefore, a good caregiving environment can be good for a child’s learning and development.
Secondly, safe and supportive physical, built and chemical environment that provides emotional
and physical spaces, which are free from fear and toxins. This allows for active exploration
without much risk of harm thus enhancing the process of learning and development (Shonkoff et
Finally, play is the other thing that can improve learning and development outcomes.
Playing is vital to developing emotional and social ties. Even in an academic setting, play assists
children adjust to the setting of the school thereby fostering engagement in the school and
enhances children’s learning behaviors, learning readiness and problem-solving skills.
Additionally, recess and play may increase the capacity of children to store new information
since a child’s cognitive capacity is enhanced once he/she is offered an extreme change in
activity (Milteer, Ginsburg & Mulligan, 2011).
Resilience is the capacity of an active system to adapt successfully to disturbances, which
threaten system viability, function or development (Masten, 2013). Research has suggested that
it is important to promote resilience in early childhood. Positive environments and relationships,
which support healthy cognitive, emotional, physical and social development, provide the basis
for children to develop the skills and resources necessary for coping and adapting to adversity
from childhood to adulthood. Providing the above environment for children is the strategy that
THE IMPACT OF EARLY ADVERSITY 4
can reduce the impact of adversity since the more the resilience, the lesser the impact of
According to Shonkoff, early childhood adversity can cause impairment in behavior,
learning and affect both mental and physical wellbeing (2011). He also claims that it can have
lifelong consequences for economic productivity, health status, educational achievement, and
longevity. Various studies have linked childhood adversity, such as familial dysfunction and
child maltreatment to negative psychosocial outcomes and later life health. However, despite the
many negative impacts of childhood adversity, these experiences can also initiate the
advancement of stress-related development in some individuals (Landes, Ardelt, Vaillant &
One of the contextual factors of the children whom I expect to work with is the quality of
the neighborhood. Research has shown that stability and satisfaction in the neighborhood may
act as protective factors for child and adult health outcomes. The level of childhood adversity can
also be determined by the quality of the neighborhood where that child lives. The other
contextual factor is a history of witnessed violence. Research suggests that a one-time stressful
event or uncontrollable stress such as witnessing violent acts can have severe impacts on health
outcomes. Violent acts include; slaps, arrests, gun violence, shots, knife violence, murder and
sexual abuse. This can be experienced in schools, at home, in the neighborhood or even among
Children living in poor neighborhoods are mostly poor. Therefore, one can support such
families by connecting them with various services that they need or qualify in the community.
Additionally links to various health departments can provide access to resources, which can help
THE IMPACT OF EARLY ADVERSITY 5
such families. Finally, community support services can be critical interventions for families and
can have positive effects on the health and development of the child. Finally, those exposed to
violence would require one to receive specific training for experts working with families
experiencing shock. Although this training is important, the child who has been exposed to
violence need counseling so that to eliminate the trauma undergone.
THE IMPACT OF EARLY ADVERSITY 6
Bernier, A., Carlson, S., Deschênes, M., & Matte-Gagné, C. (2011). Social factors in the
development of early executive functioning: a closer look at the caregiving environment.
Developmental Science, 15(1), 12-24. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-
Landes, S., Ardelt, M., Vaillant, G., & Waldinger, R. (2014). Childhood Adversity, Midlife
Generativity, and Later Life Well-Being. The Journals Of Gerontology Series B:
Psychological Sciences And Social Sciences, 69(6), 942-952.
Masten, A. (2013). Global Perspectives on Resilience in Children and Youth. Child Dev, 85(1),
Milteer, R., Ginsburg, K., & Mulligan, D. (2011). The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy
Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bond: Focus on Children in
Poverty. PEDIATRICS, 129(1), e204-e213. http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.2011-2953
Shonkoff, J., Garner, A., Siegel, B., Dobbins, M., Earls, M., & Garner, A. et al. (2011). The
Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress. PEDIATRICS, 129(1),