Welcoming a newborn has always set family and friends abuzz — visitors’ bringing gifts, congratulatory remarks, baby pictures posted on Facebook are just a few parts of the excitement. But the real experience of parenthood starts right after the mother and her newborn are discharged from the hospital: Beyond feeding and changing diapers, parents must also ensure the cognitive and affective development of their children.
Babies’ not only rapidly develop in their physical features but also in their thought processes. Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child noted that one’s first few years of life are very influential, as 700 neural connections are created every second. With “significant adversity” during the first three years of life, the Center noted, children can face a 90% chance of experiencing developmental delays.
Parents, your actions directly affect your kids’ development. Here are some ways we think you can support your child’s development:
1. Talk to them
Some parents often underestimate their newborn babies’ ability to comprehend languages; however, studies have shown that such ability begins to develop from birth. A 1995 study by Betty Hart and Todd Risley found that children’s vocabulary depend on the environment they are brought up in. Three-year-olds whose parents are college-educated tend to have twice or thrice the amount of vocabularies than those with parents who had not completed high school, the study found. Thus, reading a book as you put your baby to sleep or talking while changing his or her diaper could be a productive first-step to educating your child.
2. Keep that mood up
Are you working parent who just happened to have a long day at work? Cheer up — your baby and his or her smile is waiting for you! If you’re happy, your baby will be happier too. Studies have shown that at around three months of age, babies have already developed moods. “Babies this young are extremely responsive to the emotions and the reactivity and the social interaction that they get from the world around them,” said University of Massachusetts–Boston professor Edward Tronick.” Your child’s cheerfulness starts with you.
3. Keep him or her away from displays of violence
It has been well known that violent actions viewed on various platforms, such as television, can directly affect a child’s behavior. But on a smaller scale, violent actions can at times occur within the child’s vicinity. Some parents resort to assertive and coercive methods when scolding their children for mischief. Such harshness to children can affect their emotional well-being detrimentally, according to University of Minnesota professor emeritus of psychology Alan Sroufe. Threatening a child of abandonment, for instance, can leave a lasting impression of a parent’s nonchalance and lack of care, he said to Time. Hence, friendly and supportive means of education can be healthier for parent-child relationships.