Childhood Development Is Complicated. Here’s What Parents Need To Know

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Childhood development is a complex process that takes years to complete. It depends on a variety of factors, each of which is unique to the circumstances of the child. The environment determines part of the trajectory, but it is also partly to do with biology. 

In this post, we’re going to take a look at all the things that parents need to know about their child’s development as they age. Please take note of the following: 

Relationships Should Form The Bedrock Of Resilience

Resilience is an important life skill – and something you want your kids to begin to develop early on in life. Science suggests that relationships might be the bedrock of people’s ability to bounce back from difficult circumstances.

Kids shouldn’t, therefore, be told to “tough it out” and make their own way in life. Instead, they should be given a secure platform from which they can flourish. While there are stories of people who lost it all making success of their lives through sheer strength of character, episodes like these are not the norm. Most people who don’t have at least one secure relationship in their lives wind up spiralling out of control. Parents should be mindful of this fact. 

Eliminating Danger Can Stall Development

As humans, we’ve always lived in the presence of danger. Until recently, the majority of people did not make it past their fortieth birthday. 

The modern world, however, eliminates many of the significant risks that we face as individuals. Children in western countries are much less likely to contract cholera from contaminated drinking water, for example. And even if they do, there are medicines available to make them better. 

Risk, though, is baked into developmental psychology. Children need to contend with it to develop into responsible adults who know how to respond appropriately when faced with a threat. 

Parents, therefore, should be mindful of this. Removing children from dangerous experiences might hurt them in the long run by denying them the opportunity to develop suitable psychological tools. 

Children should feel safe the vast majority of the time. But parents shouldn’t shy away from exposing them to danger in controlled environments. 

Severe Neglect Is A Bad As Physical Abuse

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All modern parents know that physically abusing children is a bad thing. But the issue of neglect – where parents fail to meet the emotional and physical needs of a child – may be just as bad. 

Kids who are neglected, for instance, tend to have profound academic difficulties, problems with language, and difficulty concentrating on tasks. As they grow up, they struggle to form healthy relationships with their peers, leading to depression and loneliness. 

Development Outcomes Depend On Lifestyle And Genes

Kids aren’t merely a product of their genes. Lifestyle and nurturing also make a big difference. The reason pediatric therapy works, for instance, is because early interventions change brain networks, leading to more positive outcomes. The way a person eventually turns out, therefore, is malleable. 

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Family traits obviously do play a role. But parents can also coach their children to help them move beyond their biology and become the best people they can be. Things like impulse control and delayed gratification can all help secure a brighter and more prosperous future. 

Stress Can Affect Infants, And The Effects May Last A Lifetime

Infants can experience significant levels of stress early in their lives, even if they can’t understand a situation in the same way as, say, an adult can. Things like lack of food or absence of attention can all increase the risk for a variety of health conditions as the child gets older. 

For instance, early experiences can affect multiple organ systems and lead to poor health outcomes in the future. Epigenetic changes induced by old traumas can lead to increased risk of heart disease and problems with mental health. Many infants, for instance, can go on to develop depression in the teenage years and early adult life. 

Children Can Benefit From Relationships With Caregivers Outside The Family

While parents are a child’s primary relationship during the first few years of life, they can still benefit from the input of other adults during their development. In fact, close bonds with grandparents, uncles and even family friends can all make a big difference in how they grow up. 

Parents should take note, though: high caregiver turnover might be a bad thing. Constantly switching daycare providers prevents kids from forming bonds with adults in their environment. And this, in turn, can undermine the ability to provide secure expectations. 

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