Ask Dr. Jean: Outcomes of Parent-Child Relationship

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(Arti Freeman) #1

Dear Dr. Jean,

I’ve read that the parent-child relationship is a strong predictor of school success. Can you explain this and why relationships are so important during the early years?

Anonymous (Service Provider)


In Case You Missed It - Ask Dr. Jean
(Dr. Jean Clinton) #2

Parent child relationships are in fact a powerful predictor of not only school, but life success. Many, many, years of research has shown that when children have warm, responsive, and predictable caregivers/parents they develop a view of the world that is positive and encourages exploration, which leads to learning and growth etc. It has been called secure attachment, and it has been shown that even in the presence of adversity, like poverty, if there is that secure attachment children are protected from the full brunt of the problem.

We know now that the brain of a newborn is not fully grown and it is the experiences that they have, being soothed, rocked, talked to, fed read to and nurtured, that builds those brain connections. It is relationships, the serve and return of everyday experiences that are the building blocks of these encounters and brain development.

Things like parental depression, or not knowing how important responding to a babies cues are, can severely interfere with this brain development and lead to development problems. Luckily we know lots about this so doctors and nurses are routinely asking how parents are doing and providing needed supports including talking about Early Years resources such as Early ON or preschool speech and language programs.

How does this relate to school success? Well as mentioned before, the best predictor of adult success is not IQ but rather a child’s social and emotional development in the Early Year-end. This is developed through relationships. Initially with the primary caregiver(s) and then as the children develop they interact and develop relationships with their peers. They then also learn how to become the boss of their feelings, learning how to recognize, manage, and express them and finally learn to grow and explore the world. All this in the context of close nurturing family and cultural relationships.