From birth, children look to their parents first to help them interpret the world around them. It should be no surprise then that how parents interact with their children shapes their children’s emotional, cognitive and social skills. These first relationships serve as a reference point for all future relationships, and also influence problem-solving abilities, peer relationships and basic coping skills.We know that positive parenting can help a child tremendously by encouraging healthy brain development and emotional well-being. Researchers have found that parenting behavior explains 40 percent of the income-related gaps for children at age four, and maternal sensitivity explains one-third of the math and language skills gaps at the beginning of kindergarten. Nurturing from a parent in early life notably contributes to actual physical differences in the development of the brain that carry all the way through childhood and adulthood.A young child who feels secure within her home environment will more readily explore language, learn how to express emotions safely and be more prepared to learn so that she can grow into a secure, high-achieving individual. On the other hand, if a child is exposed to a stressful home environment in which parents or caregivers are not nurturing and not responsive to her needs, that child will lack the basic emotional and physical support needed to foster her complete development.Different parenting styles affect how children develop these skills, but all types of families can still practice engaged parenting and create stable, supportive home environments. Parents who talk often to their children, listen to their attempts at communication and who respond in a supportive way will best prepare their children for a successful future.
- The National Center for Parent, Family and Community Engagement offers information about engaged parenting and tips for success.
- Various parenting styles and their results on children’s learning, from Education.com.
In the news:
- “Can emotional intelligence be taught?”, New York Times, September 15, 2013.
- “Parenting classes tailored for Latino families show promise in closing achievement gap”, EdSource, June 23, 2013.