The type of parenting children receive at an early age may have a long-term effect on their social skills and school success, a new study indicates.
Providing a secure base
The study included 243 people from poor families in Minnesota who were followed from birth until age 32. Those who received more sensitive parenting early in life had better social skills – including romantic and peer relationships – and higher levels of academic achievement into adulthood. However, the study did not prove that sensitive parenting causes social and academic success.
Sensitive parenting includes responding promptly and appropriately to a child's signals, being positive in interactions with a child, and providing a secure base for a child to explore the environment, according to the study published in the journal Child Development.
"Altogether, the study suggests that children's experiences with parents during the first few years of life have a unique role in promoting social and academic functioning – not merely during the first two decades of life, but also during adulthood," study leader Lee Raby, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Delaware, said in a journal news release.
"This suggests that investments in early parent-child relationships may result in long-term returns that accumulate across individuals' lives," Raby said. "Because individuals' success in relationships and academics represents the foundation for a healthy society, programmes and initiatives that equip parents to interact with their children in a sensitive manner during the first few years of their children's life can have long-term benefits for individuals, families and society at large."
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