Kids not close with parents prone to educational and behavioral problems

By Jenna Iacurci, Parent Herald April 05, 07:59 pm

Children who aren't close with their parents are prone to educational and behavioral problems, a recent study shows.

The report found that out of 14,000 U.S. children, 40 percent lacked strong emotional bonds with their parents, which researchers say can hinder them later in life.

"When parents tune in to and respond to their children's needs and are a dependable source of comfort, those children learn how to manage their own feeling and behaviors," Sophie Moullin, a joint doctoral candidate studying at Princeton's Department of Sociology, said in a statement.

"These secure attachments to their mothers and fathers provide these children with a base from which they can thrive."

Researchers from Princeton University, Columbia University, the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Bristol found that kids under 3 years old who don't develop "secure attachments" with their mothers and fathers are more likely to be aggressive, defiant and hyperactive when they're adults. They will also have poorer language skills and behavioral problems.

Parents can form strong relationships with their kids by picking them up when they cry or holding them more. About 60 percent of children benefit from these kinds of attachments, and their social and emotional development profit, which in turn strengthens their cognitive development, according to the scientists.

"When helpless infants learn early that their cries will be responded to, they also learn that their needs will be met, and they are likely to form a secure attachment to their parents," said Susan Campbell, a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.

The study adds that middle class parents are likely to struggle the most in forming close bonds with their kids and thus need more support to provide proper parenting.

"Targeted interventions can also be highly effective in helping parents develop the behaviors that foster secure attachment. Supporting families who are at risk for poor parenting ideally starts early -- at birth or even before," co-author Jane Waldfogel said.

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