Positive Parenting: Lingering Harm of Absence

The human brain takes about 25 years to fully mature, but it’s the first few years of life that are developmentally critical.

According to new research, a traumatic upbringing or a separation from a parent can be very harmful.

In Positive Parenting, we have more details about early intervention that can help benefit kids. 

Jody Castro and her 5-year-old granddaughter Scarlett spend a lot of time together, just as she did with her own daughter.

“One of the things that I realized now that I’m a grandparent is when you’re raising your children, you’re also teaching them how to raise your grandchildren,” said Jody.

But what happens when parents are absent or children are separated from them?

According to research, separation from a parent or caregiver is one of the biggest threats to early development and that includes the separation of migrant families.

“If they’re not getting the emotional responsiveness they need or the cognitive stimulation they need, then regardless of whether the parent is there or not, that is still going to have a negative effect on the brain and behavioral development,” explained Dr. Johanna Bick with the University of Houston.

Professor Bick says the trauma experienced by children who have been separated can manifest itself in later life, as adults who have trouble expressing emotions, difficulty relating to others, or anxiety.

Bick says caregivers should realize the impact neglect or separation can have on the brain, teach their children coping skills for stress, and always pay close attention to their kids’ signals.

It’s that back and forth between caregiver and child that can help kids develop the skills they need later in life.

Researchers add that parental interaction often helps the child develop the internal regulation that they need to succeed in life, when they are all grown up.

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