A Mother’s Love Is Vital to Childhood Development, Study Finds

Moms, your love is not only important but necessary to the mental and physical growth of your children.

So says a new study out by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of Ameria (PNAS). The research shows that motherly love and nurturing during the preschool years significantly impacts the growth of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain connected to learning, memories and regulating emotions.

The study also showed the negative impact on children whose mothers were less nurturing and loving in their preschool years. These kids who were more neglected couldn’t catch up to their peers, even if their parental relationship became more confident in later years.

Researchers believe that the plasticity of the brain of a child is more sensitive in the early years, making and receiving impressions and memories that are longer lasting than in later years.

Dr. Joan Luby, a child psychiatrist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, emphasized the necessity of parental support. “The parent-child relationship during the preschool period is vital, even more important than when the child gets older. [It’s] vital that kids receive support and nurturing during those early years.”

The study was conducted on 127 children from preschool into early adolescence. Mothers and their children were observed in an environment where researchers could observe their interactions. Mothers were given different activities to do and tasked with paying attention to interruptions made by their child. These disruptions were intended to reflect everyday situations moms and children face together.

The interactions were videotaped, and researchers scored and measured the mother’s response and level of nurturing in it compared to how the child reacted. If a mother was able to help her child, and complete her assigned task without lashing out, she was rated as more nurturing and supportive.

The researchers would then examine the brain scans of the children, and they found that mothers who were more nurturing and supportive had more positive impact on the brain of their child. In fact, the increase in growth in the hippocampus was two times more than on children whose mothers were less supportive than average. The impact of nurturing and support lasted well into a child’s teen years.

Research and society have shown that a stable home life significantly improves the way a child develops, this new study provides valuable insight into just how much impact love and support truly have on young children.

So moms, if you’re ever tempted to feel like you’re failing your kids or you’re having a rough day, remember that science has proven what your kids have known all along: your role, love and nurturing matter and significantly impact their lives.

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Carrie Kintz
Carrie Kintz is a freelance writer and communication strategist. She works with ministries and individuals across the country, helping them figure out what to say and how to say it in the digital space. Carrie has also spoken at conferences such as the Best of Social Media Summit and That Church Conference. When she's not writing (or tweeting), she enjoys hiking, time with friends and a good cup of coffee