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“Studies show that responding to a baby’s needs (not letting a baby “cry it out”) has been shown to influence the development of conscience; positive touch affects stress reactivity, impulse control and empathy; free play in nature influences social capacities and aggression; and a set of supportive caregivers (beyond the mother alone) predicts IQ and ego resilience as well as empathy.”

To read the rest of this article (found at Science Daily), click here.

I’m glad to see that more research is coming out about the importance and benefits of breast-feeding, responsiveness to a baby’s cries, positive touch, multiple adult caregivers, and making sure that children have unstructured free-play in nature. The importance of children’s early development and how their first few years set a neurological and social-emotional foundation that carries throughout their entire lives is a fact. I’m grateful that this kind of information is starting to become common knowledge.

Regarding multiple adult caregivers, I had a friend who recently made a comment to me about how people used to live more communally, with extended family all under one roof (or at least nearby). This made for a very different environment when raising children, because the parents never had sole responsibility to manage everything and instead had constant help and support from other adults.

Nowadays, parenting usually happens in private; each nuclear family has their own space, and it’s much less of a community effort. This puts the onus on parents to actively reach out for help and support, which for some people can be hard to do. This increased isolation and responsibility can lead to huge amounts of stress and frustration, which of course will have an impact on children’s physical, cognitive and social-emotional development.

Does it take a village to raise a child?

Are nuclear families at a disadvantage if they are relatively isolated from their larger family community?

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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