A recent study, released by Sutton Trust, has found that nearly 40 percent of babies are missing out on the early parenting that is needed to succeed in life. These children, who are lacking what psychologists call “secure attachment,” have a higher tendency to face educational and behavioral problems when they grow older.
While researchers have long suspected that the bonds that children form with their parents early on can have a fundamental impact on their development, this study demonstrates how damaging lacking “secure attachment” can be. As the issue is widespread, it is a problem that affects families in all social classes.
Susan Stiffelman, a family therapist, said that the bonding these babies are missing comes from parents not being attuned to them. As the crucial ages the Sutton Trust study pointed to were from birth to three years old, it is important for parents to bond with their children as early as possible.
“That means relating and responding and interacting with them in such a way that says ‘I’m with you,’” Stiffelman said in a news interview. “’We’re connected. Your needs matter. They can be understood and acted upon.’ And it sort of sets a template for a child going through life.”
According to the study, the later affects that can develop are poorer language and behavioral skills before school age. Continuing on into life, those children display a higher rate of leaving school before graduation, or training. Eventually, the outcome is often a higher chance of poverty, instability, and depression.
Meanwhile, children who form the needed bonds with their parents in those crucial years, appear to be more resilient, as well feel more sure about themselves.
“Better bonding between parents and babies could lead to more social mobility, as there is a clear link to education, behavior, and future employment,” Conor Ryan, Directer or Research at the Sutton Trust said in a press release. “The educational divide emerges early in life, with a 19 month school readiness gap between the most and least advantaged children by the age of five.”
The study stated that those children who do not form these strong bonds with either their mother or father are also more likely to suffer from aggression, defiance, and hyperactivity. Stiffelman also links the lack of a loving bond to other impacts on a child live, including health and education achievements.
“Children are very distracted by emotional events that are in their home life or between them and their parents,” Stiffelman said in a new interview. “So, a child who is sent off to school by a parent who criticizes and berates them and there’s no sense of warmth, these kids don’t do well in school because they’re distracted all day long.”
While lacking these strong bonds can have major averse affects on a child, the development of these bonds has the potential to help a child to succeed. Boys who grow up in poverty were shown to be two and a half time less likely to display behavioral problems if they had formed these bonds with their parents.
The Trust, in light of these findings, is urging the government to do more in regards to supporting parents with babies and toddlers.