What is the single most effective thing I can do for my child?
The answer might come as a surprise to some. According to Psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner,
“…in order to develop normally, a child requires progressively more complex joint activity with one or more adults who have an irrational emotional relationship with a child. Somebody’s got to be crazy about that kid. That’s number one. First, last and always.”
The quality, stability and reliability of an infant’s primary relationship is key to that child’s development throughout life. How can that be?
Individualized give and take (serve and return) interaction between an infant and a caring adult is growth promoting as it stimulates the development of the child both emotionally and intellectually. Babies learn to rely on the feedback they receive as they smile, cry, babble and otherwise interact with the people in their environments. As caring parents mirror and respond to affirm the infants’ emotions and experiences and to nurture their abilities and growing competencies children learn that they are valued and capable.
A secure attachment formed as a result of quality interactions between infants and their caring parents forms the foundations for future learning, relationship building and emotional stability. This interactive relationship between babies and caregivers leads to the development of a child’s understanding of other people’s thoughts, emotions and points of view.
The single most important thing a parent can do for their child in order to provide him or her with healthy successful development is to form a strong bond based on responsive interactions. This will set the stage for healthy brain development and social, emotional and cognitive learning throughout his or her lifespan.