Positive childhood experiences have greater impact than the bad
From an article by Contemporary Pediatrics
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, published a study revealing that positive childhood experiences are just as important as negative ones, and can actually help offset the fallout from adverse events.
Professor Christina Bethell says, "We found that even among adults with multiple adverse experiences in childhood, those that also had positive experiences-such as caring, warm, and nurturing relationships with friends and a sense of belonging in school and the community-fared much better,".
Researchers used data from a 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Survey, which polled adults by phone on their memories of their positive and negative childhood experiences, as well as their current mental health. Adults were defined in the study as having poor mental health if they had ever been diagnosed with depression, or if they felt depressed or in poor mental health for more than 14 days in a month.
According to the report, the research team found that higher numbers of positive experiences in childhood were associated with 72% lower odds of having depression or poor mental health as an adult. Positive experiences were over 3 times more likely to have strong social and emotional support systems in childhood.
Professor Christina Bethell continues, “The findings were more striking than we expected. Whereas about 13% of adults with higher levels of positive childhood experiences still went on to experience depression and/or poor mental health as an adult, the rate was 48.2% for those with fewer than 3 such experiences."
"A large body of basic science research has given us unequivocal evidence about the importance of consistently caring and responsive parenting to the brain, body, and social and emotional development of children. Without this, a child’s stress hormones can get stuck on high and this has cascading effects on how their brains develop and introduces a wide array of negative effects to a child’s nervous system, hormones, and immune system, as well."
"As a child gets older, the stress introduced by a lack of positive childhood experiences accumulates and can show up as problems with motivation, optimism about life, focus, problem solving, getting along with others, developing a positive self-image and stable sense of self-worth, and managing normal daily stress."
"For children, we can promote positive experiences by working with children and in our communities to foster nurturance. This requires building a society-wide caring capacity, which is strongly connected to our well-being. When a child is met with loving, attuned, and responsive relationships on a moment-by-moment basis, they are literally learning that life is safe; that they matter; that others can be trusted,"
"A parents’ well-being is critical to the well-being of their child. To help children we have to help adults so they, in turn, can offer the caring, support, responsiveness, and love children require. A parent who has a poor self-image, struggles to manage stress, and did not experience positive relationships in their own life will have a harder time and needs extra support. Building positive social norms for healthy parenting and removing stigma from parents seeking help to heal their own early life challenges is critical."
Read the full article here.
How can we help parents create positive experiences for their children?
Raising awareness in the community is a start. Why not consider running the Resilience Challenge locally once we can hold meetings?
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