Childhood experiences and traumas leave traces for life. What about love? How does parental love affect our lives?
Studies have shown that children they love become healthier mentally and physically, more successful adults, more self-confidence, better learners, and easier to connect with others. On the contrary, children who have not received such love often suffer from anxiety, stress, depression, low self-esteem, are more hostile to the world and people, and are aggressive.
The power of parental love
Research in recent years has proven the relationship between parental love and children’s health.
In 2010, researchers at Duke University found that children of loving and caring mothers grow up to be happier, more mentally resilient, and less anxious adults.
The study involved approximately 500 people who were followed from infancy to 30 years of age. When the children were eight months old, psychologists monitored their interactions with their mothers and conducted developmental tests in parallel.
They rated the mothers’ love and attention on a five-point scale – from negative to very strong. About 10% of mothers were not very fond of their children. 85% loved it within normal limits. And about 6% loved it very much.
Thirty years later, these same people were asked questions about their emotional health. Adults whose mothers loved more than others and gave children more tenderness and attention were less prone to stress and anxiety. They also experienced less hostility and fewer complaints of psychosomatic-related health problems.
Psychologists have concluded that the hormone oxytocin is responsible for the link between parental love and children’s mental health. It is he who influences the emergence of attachment to children, stimulates trust and support between parent and child and, as a result, makes the child happier and more calm.
According to a 2013 study by the University of California Los Angeles, the unconditional love and warmth of a parent helps a child deal with anxiety more easily. Moreover, tenderness, affection, attention physically changes his brain. On the other hand, violence and indifference negatively affect children. A child who is not loved develops physical and psychological illnesses.
According to a 2015 study by the University of Notre Dame, children who were loved by their parents grew up to be happy adults.
More than 600 people answered questions about how they grew up. Adults who were more loved were less prone to anxiety and depression, had a high level of empathy, and treated themselves and others with understanding and empathy.
And those participants who were not loved, devalued, humiliated, even beaten, suffered from health problems, from difficulties with communication. It was also more difficult for them to take the other’s place.
Hug more often
Participants in the study were also asked how often their parents hugged them. Ultimately, it has been shown that physical interaction between mother and baby helps to calm the infant, resulting in babies crying less and sleeping more. It has been found to also speed up brain development.
According to an article in Scientific American, children living in socially disadvantaged environments such as an orphanage had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those living with loving parents. Psychologists believe that the lack of physical contact in shelters is a major factor in adverse physiological changes.
Research has also shown that massage reduces anxiety in children. This is a good way for parents to connect with their child both physically and emotionally. Children and adults who have received massage are easier to cope with stressful situations and are less prone to anxiety.
How can you show your children that you love them, make the relationship warm and trusting? Here are 4 tips to help you establish and maintain contact with your child:
1. Hug, kiss the child from the first days of life. Any child, even if he was just born, needs tenderness, affection, hugs. Take the children in your arms, calm them down, stroke the head, and press the newborn to you, “skin to skin.”
2. Play with it. Do something funny together – dance, come up with funny and even stupid games, inhabit a magical land with “hugging monsters” and “kissing fairies”.
3. Don’t forget to show your child your tenderness. Set a reminder to remember to hug your child. Or hug him at certain times of the day — for example, when he leaves for school, returns home, or goes to bed. Better do it when you want, for no reason.
4. Raise with love. When you explain to your child what he did wrong, place your hand on his shoulder and hug him at the end of the conversation to show that although you are unhappy with his behavior, you still love him. If your child hits a sister or brother, explain that cuddling is more enjoyable than fighting.
Finally, do not smother the child with love. Respect his personal boundaries and remember that he will mature and your relationship will change.