Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting: Nurturing improves your kid's brain

Jennifer Campbell puts high priority on time with her children: 5-year-old Amy, 3-year-old Thomas and newborn Jack.

"Nurturing them in a way that they can trust that I'm there for them when they need me is the biggest thing I can do for them for the long road," Campbell said.

Child psychiatrist Joan Luby says nurturing kids at the right time has a positive impact on brain development.

"It's as essential as your child getting vitamins and nutrients," Luby said.

Luby looked at brain scans of children from preschool through early adolescence and found children who were nurtured in preschool had a significantly larger hippocampus at school age than kids with less-supportive parents. 

"It really sort of shows us that there's a key ingredient toward growing healthy children," Luby said.

The preschool period is a very sensitive time. Researchers say this is when a loving nurturing relationship with a child, has the most impact, even more so than later in childhood. But they add it's never too late to start.

"They really need the support, attention, validation, guidance from their parents," Luby said.

Luby says: Put yourself in your child's shoes, think about what their life is like and empathize. Ask them what they're worried about. Ask how they feel about themselves and really listen to what they say.

Campbell sets time aside every day to do just that.

"I hope that they have that strength and self-confidence to do their own thing and find their own way," Campbell said.

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