Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

New study: lack of secure attachment during early childhood harms children

This is from the leftist Brookings Institute, a respected think tank I usually disagree with.

They write about a new study:

Attachment theory is founded on the idea that an infant’s early relationship with their caregiver is crucial for social and emotional development. It is an old theory, born during the 1950s. But it can bring fresh light on issues of opportunity and equality today, as a three-decade longitudinal study of low-income children from Alan Sroufe, Byron Egeland, Elizabeth Carlson, and W. A. Collins, all University of Minnesota psychologists, demonstrates.

[…]Small infants are heavily dependent on caregivers, who must respond to their needs. But counter-intuitively, the infants who have a reliable caregiver are also most likely to become self-efficacious later.

Infants (aged 9 to 18 months) with responsive parents learn how their own behavior can impact their environment. This “call and response” process builds the infant’s sense of self-efficacy— one reason parents should pick up the sippy cup, especially for the hundredth time! But this virtuous learning cycle breaks down if the caregiver fails to respond adequately.

Here are the definitions:

  • Secure attachment: When the caregiver (mom, in this study) is present, the infant explores the room and interacts with the experimenter, occasionally returning to the caregiver for support. When the caregiver leaves, the child becomes sad and hesitates to interact with the experimenter, but upon their return, is visibly excited.
  • Anxious/resistant attachment: Regardless of the caregiver’s presence, the infant shows fear of the experimenter and novel situations—these infants cry more and explore the room less. They become upset when the caregiver leaves, and while they approach upon return often resist physical contact, as a form of “punishment”.
  • Anxious/avoidant attachment: No preference is shown between a caregiver and a stranger— infants play normally in the presence of the experimenter and show no sign of distress or interest when their caregiver leaves and returns. The experimenter and the caregiver can comfort the infant equally well.

And here the results:

The Minnesota study found that attachment makes a difference later in life. Without knowing students’ attachment history, preschool teachers judged those who had secure attachments to have higher self-esteem, to be more self-reliant, to be better at managing impulses, and to recover more easily from upsetting events. When teachers were asked which students, among those with serious struggles in class, nonetheless had “a core of inner self-worth, an indication that… maybe they could get better,” they picked students that had secure attachments as infants.

In contrast, children with anxious/resistant attachments:

  • tended to hover near teachers
  • became easily frustrated
  • were more likely to be seen as “dependent” by blinded observers
  • were less competent and patient with puzzles and other cognitive challenges

Children with anxious/avoidant attachments:

  • tended to be apathetic towards other children
  • failed to ask for adult help when stressed
  • were “often self-isolating”

Both groups had higher rates of anxiety and depression as teenagers.

So again, we are seeing that when it comes to parenting, you have to think about what you are doing. That doesn’t mean that you have to be slaves to your kids, or spoil them or hover over them. It means that what you are doing with your kids matters. It means that you need to make a plan to have enough time and money to be able to care for them. I think that the right time to talk about such things is during the courtship.

Also, one more point. If you meet people with some of these short comings, (I had most of the anxious/avoidant ones growing up), then try not to draw lines in the sand where you reject them over these shortcomings. Instead, do what I do. Recognize that these people have value and that if you take responsibility to care for them and supply for their needs, you might be able to guide them to do some pretty amazing things. Don’t be so self-centered that you expect people to be perfect so they don’t need anything from you. Nobody is perfect. Everybody has a story. If you want to be like Jesus, why not start by recognizing the effects of a disrupted childhood through study, and then make a plan to grow people – even difficult ones like me.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , ,

New study: separating from mother causes children to have higher anxiety and fear

The Wall Street Journal reports on a new study.

It says:

We learn to be afraid. One of the oldest discoveries in psychology is that rats will quickly learn to avoid a sound or a smell that has been associated with a shock in the past—they not only fear the shock, they become scared of the smell, too.

A paper by Nim Tottenham of the University of California, Los Angeles in “Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences” summarizes recent research on how this learned fear system develops, in animals and in people. Early experiences help shape the fear system. If caregivers protect us from danger early in life, this helps us to develop a more flexible and functional fear system later. Dr. Tottenham argues, in particular, that caring parents keep young animals from prematurely developing the adult system: They let rat pups be pups and children be children.

Of course, it makes sense to quickly learn to avoid events that have led to danger in the past. But it can also be paralyzing. There is a basic paradox about learning fear. Because we avoid the things we fear, we can’t learn anything more about them. We can’t learn that the smell no longer leads to a shock unless we take the risk of exploring the dangerous world.

Many mental illnesses, from general anxiety to phobias to posttraumatic-stress syndrome, seem to have their roots in the way we learn to be afraid. We can learn to be afraid so easily and so rigidly that even things that we know aren’t dangerous—the benign spider, the car backfire that sounds like a gunshot—can leave us terrified. Anxious people end up avoiding all the things that just might be scary, and that leads to an increasingly narrow and restricted life and just makes the fear worse. The best treatment is to let people “unlearn” their fears—gradually exposing them to the scary cause and showing them that it doesn’t actually lead to the dangerous effect.

Neuroscientists have explored the biological basis for this learned fear. It involves the coordination between two brain areas. One is the amygdala, an area buried deep in the brain that helps produce the basic emotion of fear, the trembling and heart-pounding. The other is the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in learning, control and planning.

Regina Sullivan and her colleagues at New York University have looked at how rats develop these fear systems. Young rats don’t learn to be fearful the way that older rats do, and their amygdala and prefrontal systems take a while to develop and coordinate. The baby rats “unlearn” fear more easily than the adults, and they may even approach and explore the smell that led to the shock, rather than avoid it.

If the baby rats are periodically separated from their mothers, however, they develop the adult mode of fear and the brain systems that go with it more quickly. This early maturity comes at a cost. Baby rats who are separated from their mothers have more difficulties later on, difficulties that parallel human mental illness.

Dr. Tottenham and her colleagues found a similar pattern in human children. They looked at children who had grown up in orphanages in their first few years of life but then were adopted by caring parents. When they looked at the children’s brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging, they found that, like the rats, these children seemed to develop adultlike “fear circuits” more quickly. Their parents were also more likely to report that the children were anxious. The longer the children had stayed in the orphanages, the more their fear system developed abnormally, and the more anxious they were.

Whenever I read books about daycare, the word “anxiety” is the one that seems to be the most common.

It’s important for the mother to stay at home, and plans should be made before the marriage to make that financially feasible. The plans should start for each parent when they are deciding what the study, where to work, and so on. A working mother who puts her child in daycare will have to exercise extra care to make sure that the child is OK. And this becomes even harder to do when her stress levels go up from work. You can’t bond with a child if you can’t stop screaming obscenities and/or being violent because of work stress.

Another risk factor for anxiety is demanding a lot from a child (say, academically) but not taking the steps to monitor daily progress and provide daily assistance. Think of it as a scale from report-card-day tantrums all the way to daily monitoring and helping with homework. The closer the parents are to the report card day tantrums side of things, the more anxiety if is going to cause the child. Yes, it’s important for children to do well in school so that they can get jobs later. But tantrums don’t achieve anything except to scare them away from learning. Daily monitoring and listening is a better way to create the connection that reduces the child’s anxiety.

Filed under: News, , , , , , ,

Study: non-family daycare linked to anti-social behavior in children

From the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

Academics at Oxford University discovered that exposure to some forms of early education contributed to bad behaviour and could be linked to emotional problems.

The study, based on an analysis of infants from almost 1,000 families, showed that the strongest influence on children came from within the home itself.

Children raised in poor families with high levels of parental stress or mental health problems were most at risk of developing emotional problems by the time they started school, it emerged.

The research also uncovered trends relating to children who were in formal child care — away from their parents.

The disclosure will revive debate over the best way to raise children amid a surge in the number of under-fives enrolled in nurseries and with childminders in the past 20 years. Figures from the Department for Education show that 441,000 children under five are in day nurseries while another 272,000 are being looked after by childminders.

[…]In the Oxford study, researchers recruited 991 families with children aged three months. Mothers had an average age of 30.

Researchers assessed children at the age of four through questionnaires about their behaviour and emotions completed by teachers and parents. They also observed care provided by mothers and observed non-parental care for at least 90 minutes for those children placed in formal childcare settings.

The report, published in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development, said that “children who spent more time in group care, mainly nursery care, were more likely to have behavioural problems, particularly hyperactivity”.

The study, led by Prof Alan Stein, of Oxford’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found that “spending more time in day care centres, over the total period was a predictor of total problem scores”.

“Children who spent more time in day care centres were more likely to be hyperactive,” it said. “Children receiving more care by childminders were more likely to have peer problems.”

The authors added: “The findings in relation to childminding suggest that it might be out of home care rather than group care that raises the risk of behavioural difficulties.”

The researchers also tracked other forms of early years care and found benefits to different approaches.

They found that children who spent more time in pre-school playgroups – normally for a few hours a day, rather than a full-time nursery – had fewer problems.

More time with a nanny in parents’ own home predicted higher levels of “pro-social behaviour”, showing willingness to help others, it emerged.

The study said: “These findings suggest that interventions to enhance children’s emotional and behavioural development might best focus on supporting families and augmenting the quality of care in the home.”

A study like this will be useful when debating people with open minds, but hardcore feminists and socialists, who want women to work in order to fund bigger government, will not be moved. Because for them, it’s not about evidence. It’s about ideology. That’s why we have to be careful about letting people like that get elected.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , ,

Study: non-family daycare linked to anti-social behavior in children

From the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

Academics at Oxford University discovered that exposure to some forms of early education contributed to bad behaviour and could be linked to emotional problems.

The study, based on an analysis of infants from almost 1,000 families, showed that the strongest influence on children came from within the home itself.

Children raised in poor families with high levels of parental stress or mental health problems were most at risk of developing emotional problems by the time they started school, it emerged.

The research also uncovered trends relating to children who were in formal child care — away from their parents.

The disclosure will revive debate over the best way to raise children amid a surge in the number of under-fives enrolled in nurseries and with childminders in the past 20 years. Figures from the Department for Education show that 441,000 children under five are in day nurseries while another 272,000 are being looked after by childminders.

[…]In the Oxford study, researchers recruited 991 families with children aged three months. Mothers had an average age of 30.

Researchers assessed children at the age of four through questionnaires about their behaviour and emotions completed by teachers and parents. They also observed care provided by mothers and observed non-parental care for at least 90 minutes for those children placed in formal childcare settings.

The report, published in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development, said that “children who spent more time in group care, mainly nursery care, were more likely to have behavioural problems, particularly hyperactivity”.

The study, led by Prof Alan Stein, of Oxford’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found that “spending more time in day care centres, over the total period was a predictor of total problem scores”.

“Children who spent more time in day care centres were more likely to be hyperactive,” it said. “Children receiving more care by childminders were more likely to have peer problems.”

The authors added: “The findings in relation to childminding suggest that it might be out of home care rather than group care that raises the risk of behavioural difficulties.”

The researchers also tracked other forms of early years care and found benefits to different approaches.

They found that children who spent more time in pre-school playgroups – normally for a few hours a day, rather than a full-time nursery – had fewer problems.

More time with a nanny in parents’ own home predicted higher levels of “pro-social behaviour”, showing willingness to help others, it emerged.

The study said: “These findings suggest that interventions to enhance children’s emotional and behavioural development might best focus on supporting families and augmenting the quality of care in the home.”

A study like this will be useful when debating people with open minds, but hardcore feminists and socialists, who want women to work in order to fund bigger government, will not be moved. Because for them, it’s not about evidence. It’s about ideology. That’s why we have to be careful about letting people like that get elected.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , ,

Obama proposes new tax on stay-at-home moms in SOTU speech

Brad Wilcox writes in the Wall Street Journal about the new tax on stay-at-home mothers that Obama proposed in his State of the Union speech.

He writes:

Guess which kind of family was left out in the cold by President Obama as he unveiled his plan to help middle-class families in his State of the Union address? The traditional two-parent family with a single breadwinner.

The president pitched his plan as part of an agenda in which “everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules” in part by “lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.” But by design or omission, his plan does virtually nothing for married families with a parent at home, usually the mother.

The president’s plan would triple the existing child-care tax credit to $3,000 for two-earner families with children under 5 and a combined income of less than $120,000, and it would establish a new $500 credit for families in which both spouses work. The plan would provide tax relief—which would no doubt help with the cost of child care, commuting, etc.—to middle-class families with both parents in the workforce. But families who choose to have a parent at home would see none of this tax relief.

Terry Jeffries explains in CNS News why Obama would want to penalize stay-at-home moms.

He writes:

The perversely logical corollary to Obama’s desire to structure the tax code to the disadvantage of stay-at-home mothers is his desire to use tax dollars to replace working fathers with the government itself.

As this column has noted before, in each of the last six years on record — 2008 through 2013 — at least 40 percent of the babies born in the United States were born to unmarried mothers. By contrast, in 1940, only 3.8 percent of the babies were born to unmarried mothers.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ annual report on “Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors” it is a fact that “historically a high proportion of welfare recipients first became parents outside of marriage.”

In 2013, according to the Census Bureau, there were 105,862,000 full-time year-round workers in the United States — including 16,685,000 full-time government workers. These full-time workers were outnumbered by the 109,631,000 whom the Census Bureau says were getting benefits from means-tested federal programs — n.b. welfare — as of the fourth quarter of 2012.

Every American family that pays its own way — and takes care of its own children whether with one or two incomes — must subsidize the 109,631,000 on welfare.

Perhaps if we started rolling back the welfare state — and reduced the burden of government on all families that rely on themselves and not the government — more mothers would choose to stay home even if that meant Obama and his ideological heirs would discriminate against them in the tax code.

So if you make it impossible for a woman to stay home, then she goes to work. If she goes to work, she pays taxes to the government. The government turns around and distributes that money to people who will vote for them in exchange for the money – like single mothers on welfare. The more money they make, the more money they have to buy votes with. And they get the votes of all the child care workers, too – because if mothers stayed home, they wouldn’t have jobs. Only the parents and the children suffer, as the children get torn away from their parents to be raised by strangers. Often, child care workers are unionized, and work based on government specifications. Parents lose the ability to care for their own children and watch over them, teaching them their beliefs and values. Instead, the values of these strangers are given to them. Instead of a mother’s love, they get fed and handled by strangers.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the party that aborts unborn children treats born children like this. It amazes me that people who claim to be pro-marriage and pro-family keep voting for politicians who want to raise taxes, forces women to leave their children in the hands of strangers in order to make ends meet.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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