Until the 1980s, doctors regularly performed operations on newborns without anaesthetics, because they were assumed to lack awareness.
To what extent are prosociality and mental health fixed traits, or do they change with circumstances?
The largest household panel survey reveals how parents raise happy children.
Children grow up happier when their mother is happy in her relationship.
Fully 73 percent of people whose mothers were ‘perfectly happy’ in their relationship say they are ‘completely happy’ with their family situation.
This is just one of the factors in a family that predicts which children grow up to be happier.
The others are: avoiding regular arguments and eating at least three evening meals together a week.
Arguing more than once a week with parents was linked to much lower levels of happiness among children.
The researchers also found that having no younger siblings was also beneficial for later happiness.
Older siblings, though, had no effect on happiness.
Dr Maria Iacovou, a study author, said:
“At a time when there is widespread political concern about ‘Broken Britain’, these findings show that family relationships and the happiness of parents are key to the happiness of young people.
Contrary to the popular belief that children only want to spend time playing videogames or watching TV we found that they were most happy when interacting with their parents or siblings.”
The conclusions come from a long-running UK study called ‘Understanding Society’.
It is the largest household panel survey in the world, which will follow over 40,000 households over a number of years.
These findings are based on a sample of over 10,000 men, women and children.
Dr Iacovou said:
“Together these findings reveal the complex influences of different family relationships on a child’s happiness.
Over the years, as Understanding Society follows the lives of families in the UK, we’ll build up an even better picture of how children’s lives are affected by all kinds of factors.
Understanding Society is really set to become a fantastic resource for anyone interested in the well-being of children.”
The study was published by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) (Ermisch et al., 2011).
Why are children so depressed? Are modern parenting practices to blame? How has children’s play been ruined?
Children may be more depressed now than ever before.
For example, children were 5 times more likely to meet the criteria for a depressive or anxiety disorder in the year 2007 than they were in 1938.
Is the cause to be found in abuse, whether emotional or physical, or are parents damaging their children through what they believe are the ‘right’ practices?
Perhaps it is changes in technology, such as screen time, or in how children play that has affected them negatively?
Maybe the world is just a grimmer place than it was in 1938.
These and more subjects are touched on in these 9 essential child psychology studies from the members-only section of PsyBlog.
(If you are not already, find out how to become a PsyBlog member here.)
- Why Children Are More Depressed Than Ever Before
- The Worst Thing About Childhood Abuse Is The Memories
- Why Parents Should Show Children Their True Feelings
- What Happens When Parents Favour One Child Over The Others
- How Reading For Pleasure Affects Your IQ
- The Personality Trait Linked To Childhood Maltreatment
- This Much Screen Time Linked To Child Development Problems
- These Parental Personality Traits Are Linked To Children’s Success
- How Modern Parenting Has Ruined Children’s Play
The study may help to explain the weakening interest in politics in democracies around the world.
Parents are now expected continuously to watch, notice and respond to their children — which has changed how they play.
Around half of children were bullied by a sibling, sometimes with serious consequences, a study finds.
How parental favouritism affects cohesion within the family.
The brain is very sensitive in early childhood.
Exposure to maltreatment or trauma early in life is linked to lower IQ, research finds.
Being abused, physically or emotionally, neglected or witnessing domestic violence, was linked to an IQ score 7 points lower, on average.
Abuse that occurs before the age of two-years-old is particularly damaging to intellectual development.
The brain is very sensitive in this early period, neuroscience has revealed.
Trauma and adversity early in life has repeatedly been linked to changes in the structure and circuitry of the brain.
The conclusions come from a study of 206 US children enrolled in the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.
The study started in 1975 and tracked the children from birth.
Children and mothers were assessed and interviewed at regular intervals and the children were given IQ tests.
The study revealed that one in three children had been maltreated and/or seen their mothers subject to violence.
This happened in infancy to 5 percent of children, in the pre-school period to 13 percent and in both periods to 19 percent.
Maltreatment — including witnessing violence and being neglected — was linked to lower intelligence scores every time it was measured.
The study’s authors write:
“The results suggest that [maltreatment and witnessing domestic violence] in early childhood, particularly during the first two years, has significant and enduring effects on cognitive development, even after adjusting for [other risk factors].
Because early brain organisation frames later neurological development, changes in early development may have lifelong consequences.”
The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health (Enlow et al., 2012).
Higher risk of depression and anxiety from this parental behaviour.
People with critical parents pay less attention to the emotions on other people’s faces, researchers have found.
Looking at and reading emotional expression in other people’s faces helps us build rewarding relationships.
Avoiding these expressions could help to explain how critical parenting can lead to depression and anxiety in later life, since relationships are so critical to well-being.
Ms Kiera James, the study’s first author, said:
“These findings suggest that children with a critical parent might avoid paying attention to faces expressing any type of emotion.
This behavior might affect their relationships with others and could be one reason why children exposed to high levels of criticism are at risk for things like depression and anxiety.”
The results come from a study in which parents talked to their 7 to 11-year-old children for five minutes.
The researchers looked to see how much criticism there was in this segment.
Subsequently, children subject to more criticism avoided looking at pictures of faces showing any type of emotional expression.
Ms James said:
“We know from previous research that people have a tendency to avoid things that make them uncomfortable, anxious, or sad because such feelings are aversive.
We also know that children with a critical parent are more likely to use avoidant coping strategies when they are in distress than children without a critical parent.
Given this research, and our findings that children with a critical parent pay less attention to all emotional facial expressions than children without a critical parent, one possible explanation is that the children with a critical parent avoid looking at any facial expressions of emotion.
This may help them avoid exposure to critical expressions, and, by extension, the aversive feelings they might associate with parental criticism.
That said, it may also prevent them from seeing positive expressions from others.”
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology (James et al., 2018).