Love And Affection: How They Impact Brain Development

As parents, we guide our children daily and help them navigate these new skills to aid their development.

As a parent, your goal is always to ensure that your child is developing as they should be. When milestones are reached you experience an intense feeling of joy and pride.
These milestones may relate to your children’s physical, cognitive or emotional development. Many parents put a huge effort into the way that they teach and help their children explore topics such as colours, shapes and numbers. They will encourage activities that improve their pincer grip and communication skills so that when it’s time to go to school they have a solid foundation.
The same can be said for those magical moments when your child learns how to eat solid food, walk on their own, brush their teeth and sleep in a “big” bed. As parents, we guide our children daily and help them navigate these new skills to aid their development.

Have you ever consider the impact that love and affection can have on brain development? According to doctors and psychologists, it’s pretty huge. From the moment your baby is born they show you unconditional love and affection and the way they experience affection is an important tool in their brain development.
As they respond to your smiles, reciprocate a cuddle and become less fussy when you cuddle them you can notice the direct impact that your affection has on their happiness levels. In the background, it is also having a huge effect on the way their brain is functioning and developing.

Communicating with our children in a loving way is really important. The way that they respond to you helps them to develop skills that will serve them for a lifetime. The feelings that they experience along with their response (vocally and physically) help them to learn communication skills which affect their future intelligence in a really big way. It is their first means of communication long before words are part of their experience of the world.
When your baby experiences love and affection they feel safe and loved. It is incredibly important for your baby to be held and soothed when they are crying. It has been proven to reduce the stress and upset your baby is feeling and sends a loving signal to your baby.
That signal tells them that as their parent you are uncomfortable with them feeling this way and you will always help them to feel better. In terms of brain development, this helps your child see a connection between actions and consequences which is a skill we must all acquire.

Being affectionate and displaying love can also impact the way the body functions physiologically and this has a great impact on brain development also. For example, skin to skin is your baby’s first experience of love and affection. While it serves to create a bond between parent and child (as well as stimulating milk supply) it also helps your baby regulate their body’s temperature.
A recent study showed a link between the size of certain parts of a child’s brain with respect to the way their parent showed affection and nurtured them. In many cases, the children who experienced a more nurturing caring parenting style had a significantly larger “hippocampi”. Having a smaller hippocampi can increase a person’s chance of experiencing mental health and emotional disorders like depression.

So when it comes to your child’s development love and affection really matter.

Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.

 

Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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