The importance of parental responsiveness

My daughter and her first encounter with the periodic table

My daughter is already one year old.

She is really curious about the world around her and we try to stimulate her in any way.

So, I became curious, about how the learning process is affected by the active role of parents.

Several studies highlighted the importance of parents’ responsiveness for the language development in children. Parental responsiveness supports children’s understanding of the use of language as a way to communicate and have social interactions. Contingency, multimodality and didactic content of parents’ responsiveness help children to map their surroundings and growth their vocabulary.

Parental responsiveness has an impact not only on language acquisition, but also on psychological, social and emotional development and physical growth.

A study from Asok and collaborators suggested that parental responsiveness has a role even on the length of telomere.

Telomeres are the final part of the chromosomes. They protect the chromosome from deterioration, but at every cell cycle, they shorten a bit. When we are old our telomeres are significantly shorter than when we were young.

Telomeres and their function

Asok studied the length of telomeres of children who had or had not responsive parents. Children with responsive parents had longer telomeres, suggesting important implications of paternal responsiveness for children’s health.

The link between childcare, development and health is very strong. The better the responsiveness, the better the outcomes.

So, my humble suggestion to all parents and caregivers out there is to be responsive. Observe what your children do and stimulate them.

They will thank you in a few years.

References:

Asok et al., “Parental Responsiveness Moderates the Association Between Early-life Stress and Reduced Telomere Length”, (2013), 10.1017/S0954579413000011

Eshel et al., “Responsive parenting: interventions and outcomes“, (2006), https://www.scielosp.org/article/bwho/2006.v84n12/991-998/en/

Landry et al., “Responsive parenting: Establishing early foundations for social, communication, and independent problem-solving skills”, (2006), https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.42.4.627

Tamis-LeMonda et al., “Why Is Infant Language Learning Facilitated by Parental Responsiveness?”, (2014), https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721414522813

Published by Martina Bodner

Biotechnologist, PhD Candidate in Food Chemistry, Science Teacher, STEM and autism advocate, mother.

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