Human Brain and Poverty

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Poverty is one of the issues among many others that affects the development and growth of children. There are ways in which the development and growth of children have been affected over the years. Learning about this issue will help parents to come up with an effective solution to prevent poverty or handle it for the benefit of their children. Some children are raised in poverty and this makes them feel like a failure and lose hope in having a better future due to the many hardships they face. Due to this, there is a higher possibility that they may health problems that are mental. The mental health of young people is at risk because of the quality of houses they live in and low income. Living in low incomes houses keeps the child from having motor skill development. The childcare of children raised in low income families is poor. Low quality daycare offer poor quality services to children. Most of these children do not have access to sports and recreational opportunities. Participating in sports helps a child to improve his or her social skills. Poverty causes malnutrition to the poor children because they do not have access to nutritious foods. There are many ways in which poverty affects the development of a child.

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Literature Review

In Hair’s article the data makes an estimation of effects of family income on the lives of children. Unlike non poor children in the United States, poor children as measure by a number of indicators of health experience diminished physical health. In addition, children that have been raised in poverty are likely to suffer from behavioral and emotional problems frequently. Emotional problems make them get involved in fights and act out any time there is an issue. Notably, this keeps these children from emotional growth.

Ultimately, the main aim of Hair was to prove that poverty affects the growth of the brain in children and young people. Children growing up in poverty experience traumatic and stressful life events that are mostly associated with hippocampus. Notably, the impact of poverty on a child’s brain structure is reduced when one has nurturing parents and increased exposure to things such as musical instruments, books and trips at home. Living in a poor and stressful environment damages the brain (Hair 2015).

According to Treanor in his article ‘poverty impacts on young people and children’, poverty of many people has effects that are negative on the behavior, social and also the emotion development of a child. Additionally, the impact of birth starts before birth maybe from the previous generation and accumulate within the course of life. Treanor claims that not only does poverty ruin the future outcome of the children but also cause detrimental effects on children as they grow older. These children are not satisfied and hence they will feel inferior to other people which might later lead to mental health problems.

Other children live a lifestyle of moving from one house or place to another and this is very stressful for a child. When a child is stressed his or her development will be affected. Poverty also affects the health of children. Many disadvantages are faced by children growing up in poverty. Most of these children were born of low birth weight which in future might lead to mental outcomes and deter their growth. Unfortunately, their mothers will also have poor health behaviors (Treanor 2012).

Eric Jensen claims that poverty affects the class engagement in his article. He says that many families that are poor are unable to afford food with a higher nutritional value so they settle for the ones with a low value of nutrition. Parenthetically, it becomes very difficult for children to listen, concentrate and learn in class when children experience poor nutrition and diminished health practices. Poor working memory and weaker ability to link effect and cause is correlated with exposure to lead. The behavior of the children is also affected by poor diets. Jensen claims that students who take poor diets have low energy. Children are unable to grow due to the above reasons as listed by Jensen.

Most students from poor families do not have access to materials like books and these causes them to be weak in grammar. When other students in classrooms use vocabularies these poor students are unable to tell the meaning and this leads to poor grades in some subjects. Children from these poor families should be motivated and not put down. Some teachers think that poor parents are lazy but this is not the case. Efforts that upper class or middle parents put in are also the same effort that the low class parents use. Lack of motivation for the poor students can lead to falling into depression especially when one is made fun of by other fellow students about their financial status (Jensen 2013).

In his study, Yoshikawa explained the recent advances on poverty of families and behavior of children, emotional and mental health. In addition, Yoshikawa argues that it is important to understand the ways that children are affected by poverty for describing strategies of reducing poverty and design preventive interventions of how the strategies would have an effect on the prevention. Yoshikawa has described poverty as ‘lack of means to provide material needs or comforts’. Family structure, education and achievement can be determinants of whether the next generation will lead a poor. Physical health, cognitive development and academic achievement have been focused on by a lot of work that has been done by poor students and parents (Yoshikawa 2012).

Chronic Stress is caused by poverty that affects the growth and development of children according to Gary Evans. Developmental impacts throughout life of poverty at an early age can be understood using coping and chronic stress that may occur in poor families. Two pathways have been focused on by Gary in his article. One of the reasons that children’s development is affected by poverty is less cognitively stimulating environments, which have fewer educational digital materials, less print media that is available and more exposure on television.

Notably, in the environments where poor children stay parents never bother to explain to the children what they do not understand in their homework. One pathway that is linking children development to poverty is how parents interact harshly to their children whereas others do not communicate at all. When a parent is unable to support the emotional needs of the child she or he will lack self drive and give up on having a better future. There is more conflict and hostility in low income homes than in middle and high class homes. Ultimately, the environment that the child has been raised in can also affect the growth of the child. A child being subjected to always watching the family argue and fight will be stressed and she or he might even end up depressed.

Children need a lot of attention and social support in order to grow well emotionally, mentally and physically. There are clear results from the research done by Gary those children who suffer from chronic stress due to poverty damage their psychological and biological regulatory systems due to straining a lot. Poor children are more exposed to crimes, noise and pollutants. They do not have places where they can engage in physical activities since most of them live in the streets or rented small houses (Gary 2013). Involving one self in physical activities not only makes the body healthy but also improves the thinking capacity of a person.

Just like Jensen, Lacour claims in his study that physical, psychology and environmental factors hugely make an influence on poor children’s academic careers. He notes that factors like exposure to toxins and quality of prenatal care significantly have an impact on the development and growth of a child. For optimal brain development children need consistent human contact. A child is unable to build life strong social skills when he or she is raised in an environment where there are health issues. Parents from low income families do not follow up on the performance of their children. Sometimes the children have to fend for themselves because the parents are working long hours.

Poor parents usually spend more time watching television rather than playing with their children outside because most times they are tired and overworked. The parent’s ability to build a trusting environment for their children is hindered by poverty. Poor children lack access to music, toys, sport games and other activities that can contribute to their cognitive development. Poor sleeping patterns and malnutrition can hinder growth and development as they cause poor conduct and mental illness. Many parents who are poor overwork their children since they are not home to do the chores or work in the house. When children are overworked they do not find time to study nor do their homework and this leads to low grades. In families that are well off, house helps are employed and do the chores while the children are reading and parents are at work (Lacour 2011).

Notably, the research study by Claro, Jensen and Lancour covered education achievements of children being hindered by poverty. Claro performed a research on 168,000 Chilean high school students. He found that children who were poor as well as those who were wealthy performed the same. Some children in poor families do not focus on the problems that they have at home. They do their best to improve so that they can have a better life than their parents. On the other hand, others use education as a distraction from all the hardships they go through. Notably, it is very difficult for a child to concentrate with all the problems they go through at their homes. These children work hard than average students and they find a way to get the materials that are needed including books. In addition, they know that only education can help them get the life they want and to avoid their children from going through the hardships they have to endure (Claro 2016). A lot of research has been done on what hinders the growth and development of poor children and the above reasons have been found.

In conclusion, growth and development of poor children is hindered by not having enough food to eat, having parents who do not care about one’s well being, Stress and other many problems that are there at home. Poor children should work hard even if they go through hardships so that they can be able to provide their children with a better life than they have been given. Parents and families that are poor should do their best and support their children in education so that he or she can be motivated to do better. They should pay attention on what the child is doing and follow up on the performance. These parents should work hard to ensure that their children have food while they are going to school to ensure they are keen and attentive in class.


Treanor, M. (2012). Impacts of poverty on children and young people. Scottish Childcare and Protection Network Research Briefing, Edinburgh.

Jensen, E. (2013). How poverty affects classroom engagement. Educational Leadership, 70(8), 24-30.

Yoshikawa, H., Aber, J. L., & Beardslee, W. R. (2012). The effects of poverty on the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of children and youth: implications for prevention. American Psychologist, 67(4), 272.

Hair, N. L., Hanson, J. L., Wolfe, B. L., & Pollak, S. D. (2015). Association of child poverty, brain development, and academic achievement. JAMA pediatrics, 169(9), 822-829.

Evans, G. W., & Kim, P. (2013). Childhood poverty, chronic stress, self-regulation, and coping. Child development perspectives, 7(1), 43-48.

Lacour, M., & Tissington, L. D. (2011). The effects of poverty on academic achievement. Educational Research and Reviews, 6(7), 522-527.

Claro, S., Paunesku, D., & Dweck, C. S. (2016). Growth mindset tempers the effects of poverty on academic achievement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(31), 8664-8668.

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Human Brain and Poverty. (2020, May 14). Retrieved December 8, 2022 , from

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