Cuddling Is Good for Your Child’s Brain

As reported in The New York Times:

One University of Minnesota study that began in the 1970s followed 267 children of first-time low-income mothers for nearly four decades. It found that whether a child received supportive parenting in the first few years of life was at least as good a predictor as I.Q. of whether he or she would graduate from high school.

This may illuminate one way that poverty replicates itself from generation to generation. Children in poor households grow up under constant stress, disproportionately raised by young, single mothers also under tremendous stress, and the result may be brain architecture that makes it harder for the children to thrive at school or succeed in the work force.

Yet the cycle can be broken, and the implication is that the most cost-effective way to address poverty isn’t necessarily housing vouchers or welfare initiatives or prison-building. Rather, it may be early childhood education and parenting programs.

What does this mean? It shows that the brains of all children are not equal. Physical, environmental, and emotional stressors (which are common in cultures of poverty) can affect the brain’s structure, which in turn affects cognitive and emotional maturity.

But these scientific truths are not fatalistic. There is solution.

I encourage you to read the full article. This topic (of how stresses can affect the brain) has really got my interest, and you can be sure you’ll hear more from me in the future.

And in the mean time, cuddle with your children!

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