The Early Years: The Effects of Nurturance During Childhood on Development

The Early Years: The Effects of Nurturance During Childhood on Development

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“Although experience may affect human brain structure and function throughout the entire life span, evidence…..suggests that early experience may be particularly critical” (Rao et al., 2010). During the childhood years, adequate nurturance by parents has a large impact on optimal biological and psychological development. This includes neurological, social, emotional, and cognitive growth. Rao et al. (2010) broadly define nurturance as including “warmth, affection, and acceptance” (p. 1145). Like nurturance, many researchers have looked at the importance of similar issues such as attention, attachment, and bonding. Conversely, issues such as stressful environments and unstable relationships have been shown to have negative consequences on childhood development. The importance of this early childhood nurturance is evident in the story of Michel Oher as described in the movie The Blind Side. Due to his neglectful upbringing, Michael has many academic deficits including language problems as well as having limited social and stress management skills. However, when taken in by the Tuohy family Michael begins to thrive and flourish due to the encouraging attention he receives and the positive environment in which he now lives. Although Michael’s case is atypical, not every impoverished child gets a second chance, it does illustrate the effects that improper, and later adequate, nurturance has on a child and his or her development.
From the time of conception, a child’s brain begins to develop and the nurturing or neglectful experiences that parents provide the child can dramatically influence his or her neurological development. As Farah et al. (2008) and Lupien et al. (2000) found, a high stress environment often leads to the develop...


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...cEwen, B.S. (2000). Child’s stress hormone levels correlate with mother’s socioeconomic status and depressive state. Biological Psychiatry, 48(10), 976-980.
Pungello, E.P., Iruka, I.U., Dotterer, A.M., Mills-Koonce, R., & Reznick, S. (2009). The effects of socioeconomic status, race, and parenting on language development in early childhood. Developmental Psychology, 45(2), 544-557.
Rao, H., Betancourt, L., Giannetta, J.M., Brodsky, N.L., Korczykowski, M., Avants, B.B., Gee, J.C., Wang, J., Hurt, H., Detre, J.A., & Farah, M.J. (2010). Early parental care is important for hippocampal maturation: evidence from brain morphology in humans. NeuroImage, 49, 1144-1150.
Skuban, E.M., Shaw, D.S., Gardner, F., Supplee, L.H., & Nichols, S.R. (2006). The correlates of dyadic synchrony in high-risk, low-income toddler boys. Infant Behavior Development, 29(3), 423-434.




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