Loving your kids to “Smarter”

3 Ways your love and affection help your child’s brain development

Children’s brains develop rapidly from ages birth through three. Brain development affects all areas of a child’s growth. Every parent wants what’s best for their child. But the wealth of advice on how to guide them to be happy, healthy, successful adults can be overwhelming!
Fortunately, there’s only one simple thing that we need to do to give them the best start that they need in life: we need to love them. Here are 3 ways your love and affection can help your child’s brain growth.

1. Your affection will reduce your child’s chances of developing behavior problems. A parent’s warmth and affection towards their child has lifelong positive outcomes for the child (and we imagine for the parent as well). Child Trends, a non-profit research organization in the United States, found that children who are shown affection have higher self-esteem, improved academic performance, better communication with their parents, and fewer psychological and behavioral problems.

2. Your early attentiveness will relieve your child’s stress for the rest of their life.
Responding to your infant’s cries will mean they become less stressed adults with better coping mechanisms.
Michael Commons and Patrice Miller, researchers from the Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry examined childrearing practices in America and in other cultures. They concluded that parenting practices that include breast feeding on demand, extensive holding of babies and rapid response to infant crying help babies regulate their feelings of distress, anger, and fear. These parent practices help babies form ‘secure attachment’ which promotes healthy brain development and builds their capacity to effectively meet developmental tasks including peer relationships and schooling.
3. Your loving touch will help your child’s brain develop, promote self-confidence, and build skills associated with social interaction. Researchers in Germany and Singapore used brain imaging to see whether receiving fond caresses (touching) affects the human brain positively. The researchers asked child-and-mother pairs to play with toys for ten minutes and then counted how many times mothers touched their children during the game. A couple of days later, they scanned each child’s brain while they were at rest and found that the brain activity across the networks that control social behavior was far stronger in children who received more tactile attention from their mothers.

As always, if you have additional questions, please call our 24/7 Parenting HelpLine at 1-800-243-7337.


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