A series focused on why early intervention is so important for mental health.
An integral part of early childhood mental health services is parental support. Parents don’t know what they don’t know, and that’s okay. The majority of moms and dads parent the way they were parented. And don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic parents out there! The truth is, most of us had parents that did the best they could with what they knew, but could have done better with some help. Personally, I come from a family that would “give you something to cry about” if you didn’t dry up your tears immediately. Now, I love my parents and I am grateful for every opportunity afforded me as a result of their love and guidance. But they did things the way their parents did things. As a result, I struggled as an adult with managing my emotions, and had to learn how to understand and process my feelings in a healthy way. I often wonder how many personal relationships suffered as a result of my lack of emotional intelligence.
A study published in the journal Child Development sheds light on the long-term effects of early childhood parenting on late childhood brain development during emotion perception and reward processing. The study observed and measured maternal hostility with regard to behavioral regulation of their three-year-old children. Follow-up functional MRI results suggest parenting heavily impacts emotion and reward processing 7-8 years later. When we lose our composure and parent with hostility, we essentially create stressful environments for our children. This stress prevents healthy neural connections from developing, and our children suffer long-term damages as a result.
Please don’t go it alone, figure it out as you go, or allow the internet and a multitude of random parenting books to be your compass. Find qualified health professionals with proven program results and parenting philosophies that align with what’s important to you! It’s too important and the stakes are too high to not get it right.
Kopala-Sibley, D.C., Cyr, M., Finsaas, M.C., Orawe, J., Huang, A., Tottenham, N. and Klein, D.N. (2020), Early Childhood Parenting Predicts Late Childhood Brain Functional Connectivity During Emotion Perception and Reward Processing. Child Dev, 91: 110-128. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13126
Reason #2 coming soon!