Many parents express concerns that they are not doing enough to help their young children develop. The fact is, that one of the most important things that parents can do to support healthy development in their children is to express their love and affection towards their children. Studies have shown connections not only between love and healthy attachment and emotional development, but also between love and healthy brain development.
Children need to form healthy attachments early in their lives to help them create a strong foundation for emotional well-being throughout their lives. Young children need repetition of positive, warm experiences with their caregivers to help them develop. Playing peek-a-boo, singing songs, reading books, and playing silly games that are enjoyable for the child and for the parent will help support the child’s healthy development.
Expressing love and affection is one of the most important things parents can do for their children. For many parents this may come naturally, but this can be challenging for some parents if they are facing challenges with their own mental and/or physical health or if the children are displaying challenging behavior or do not express love and affection toward their parents the way the parents hope they will. This can happen if the children are experiencing mental and/or physical health challenges, or if they have developmental differences that impact how they experience or express affection. Early experiences of trauma can also impact a child’s brain development. Children who experience a lot of stress as infants, even if they do not have explicit memories of these events, have high levels of cortisol secreted into their brain which negatively impacts brain functioning.
If you would like support forming healthy connections with your children, or if you have concerns about your child’s ability to form healthy connections with you, contact Northwestern Counseling & Support Services or speak to your child’s pediatrician. The contact at the NCSS Family Center is Heather Wilson, Children’s Integrated Services, Intake Coordinator, at 802-393-6601.
Submitted by Annie Corrigan, CIS Early Intervention Developmental Educator, NCSS Children, Youth & Family Services Division.