Here's Why You Should Let Kids Be Kids

A recent study shows that kids who were not given the opportunity to be a kid and were given burdensome caregiving roles tend to be less sensitive to their own children's needs as parents.

A recent study published online in the Journal of Family Psychology has found that when kids are given the burdensome roles of caregiving at home alongside their parents, and not given the opportunity to just "be a kid," they might become less sensitive to the needs of their own children when they become parents themselves.

The findings suggest that kids who do not grow up understanding appropriate child development behavior end up parenting in a similar manner in which they were raised in.

“If your childhood was defined by parents expecting you to perform too much caregiving without giving you the chance to develop your own self-identity, that might lead to confusion about appropriate expectations for children and less accurate knowledge of their developmental limitations and needs as infants,” said study lead author Amy K. Nuttall in a press release.

Nuttall is assistant professor in Michigan State University’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

Burdensome caregiving may involve behaviors normally intended for adults: routine parenting, applying discipline to one's siblings, and having too many responsibilities around the house. It may also include being the main emotional support for one's parents.

“If mothers don’t understand their children’s needs,” said Nuttall. “They’re not able to respond to them appropriately.”

The study involved surveying more than 370 pregnant women in four US cities, all from low-income households. They were asked about their upbringing. After giving birth, their parenting techniques were observed several times within an 18-month period.

It was found that moms who were engaged in burdensome, adult-like caregiving responsibilties as children were less likely to respond warmly and positively to their babies' needs and interests. They also tend to put their own personal agenda over the infants' needs for exploration and independence.

In an earlier study, Nuttall found that kids of mothers who engaged in burdensome caregiving during childhood also tended to display behavioral problems. The findings of both studies might help the development of parent-education programs.

“Prenatal parenting classes may be particularly useful for teaching accurate knowledge of child development and appropriate expectations about children’s abilities even before mothers give birth and begin parenting,” said Nuttall.

Childhood, according to, is a time marked by playing, making friendships, getting messy, creativity and exploration. It also happens quite quickly.

"Lets get back to basics and bring back childhood!" said Karen, blogger.

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