. Babies do not have the capacity to meet their own needs; they rely on their caregivers. Attempting to allow them to "self-soothe" will do more harm than you may be aware of. Loving your child will physically translate into a larger, healthier brain than children who suffer from extreme neglect, abuse and trauma. It’s true that children need to be loved and supported and not just so they can feel good about themselves, but so they can physically develop the way they are supposed to. This is important information for parents to know, especially as there has been a debate over whether or not children, especially babies, should be attached with their mothers or if they should be left to ‘cry it out’ on their own, or ‘self-soothe.’ This goes beyond the child being independent and emotionally strong; it will impact how the child will develop physically into a healthy adult, and whether they will encounter mental health problems and addictive behavior as they grow up. Click here to listen! The following image is a depiction of the brains of two children; the one on the left had an attentive caregiver who consistently loved, cared for, responded to and interacted positively with him.
The brain of the child on the right was neglected, ignored and abused. “The child on the right will grow into an adult who is less intelligent, less able to empathize with others, more likely to become addicted to drugs and involved in violent crime ... and to develop mental and other serious health problems,” says an article published in The Telegraph in 2012. According to UCLA Psychiatry Professor Allan Schore. a leading neurologist in the study of how the development of a child is affected by the amount of love given by its caregiver, “the growth of the baby’s brain literally requires positive interaction between mother and infant, the development of cerebral circuits depend on it.” From the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy, up until the 24th month of life the baby’s brain will more than double in size, but that is only if it gets the proper love, care and affection that children actually require. “There is something the human brain needs in terms of contact with other humans for it to grow.
The connections that are not used die off,” he says. “It’s a use it or lose it situation. Cells that fire together wire together and do not die together.” “The brain does not continue to grow and grow and grow. It organizes, then disorganizes, then reorganizes.
The disorganization of the brain — the massive death of billions of neurons and disconnection of synapses — is part of how the brain is growing as it’s reorganizing,” says Schore. To some this may seem obvious, but there are many caregivers that don’t understand how important this is and believe that in order to raise independent children that they must be left to soothe themselves. Unfortunately what they don’t realize is that infants are not equipped with any means to do this, and when they cry out, even if they are not hungry, don’t need to be changed, or don’t seemingly need anything, what they do need is love, care, and attention. In the following video, Dr. Schore explains some of the findings from his research in more detail. “Parents who, because their parents neglected them, do not have fully developed brains, neglect their own children in a similar way: their own children’s brains suffer from the same lack of development,” according to the same Telegraph article. Because the damage that is done is typically believed to be permanent, one might think there is no hope as generations will keep repeating the same cycles of what is often unintentional abuse. However with this knowledge and awareness we can practice early intervention. That involves identifying mothers who are “at risk” of neglecting their babies, and having a nurse check up on them often to instructs them on how they should be caring for their newborn child. Early intervention has been tried in the US for more than 20 years. Data from the city of Elmira in New York State, where these programs have been in place for the longest have shown that children whose mothers had received guidance did much better compared to children with similar circumstances but without assistance.
These children whose mothers were identified as “at risk” grew up to have about 50 percent fewer arrests, 80 percent fewer convictions and a significantly lower rate of drug abuse, according to the Telegraph article. Hopefully soon this information will be such common knowledge and our children will be raised with the utmost care, love, and affection. But until then, it’s important to spread the word! If you found this information useful or know anyone who would, please share.
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