While there are many causes of childhood obesity that are outside parent's control, this behaviour is one area they can address.
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While there are many causes of childhood obesity that are outside parent’s control, this behaviour is one area they can address.
Both parents affect your personality, but rejection by one parent could be more critical for long-term development.
Optimism is a very attractive trait and is probably another reason that younger children are so charming in their happy naivety.
Childhood adversity experienced between ages 0-11 associated with a smaller cerebellum.
Early life stress has this worrying effect on the brain.
Stress in childhood can put you at greater risk of depression later on, research finds.
Early life stress can affect how DNA is expressed and make an organism more susceptible to stress in adult life.
The conclusions come from an epigenetic study of mice.
The study looked at the effect of molecules that regulate our DNA.
Researchers found that mice exposed to stress early in life were more likely to show signs of depression when stressed as adults.
These changes were also linked to genetic differences.
Dr Catherine Peña, who led the study, said:
“Our work identifies a molecular basis for stress during a sensitive developmental window that programs a mouse’s response to stress in adulthood.
We discovered that disrupting maternal care of mice produces changes in levels of hundreds of genes in the VTA that primes this brain region to be in a depression-like state, even before we detect behavioral changes.
Essentially, this brain region encodes a lifelong, latent susceptibility to depression that is revealed only after encountering additional stress.”
The critical transcription factor is called orthodenticle homeobox 2 (Otx2).
A transcription factor helps to control the way our genes are expressed in our body.
This transcription factor did not just influence the mice in infancy, Dr Peña said:
“We anticipated that we would only be able to ameliorate or mimic the effects of early life stress by changing Otx2 levels during the early sensitive period.
This was true for long-lasting effects on depression-like behavior, but somewhat to our surprise we could also change stress sensitivity for short amounts of time by manipulating Otx2 in adulthood.”
Professor Eric J. Nestler, who led the study, explained the ultimate aim of the research:
“This mouse paradigm will be useful for understanding the molecular correlates of increased risk of depression resulting from early life stress and could pave the way to look for such sensitive windows in human studies.
The ultimate translational goal of this research is to aid treatment discoveries relevant to individuals who experienced childhood stress and trauma.”
The study was published in the journal Science (Peña et al., 2017).
Self-esteem could be set at a surprisingly young age — so what influences it?
At the age of just five, children have developed a sense of self-esteem as strong as adults, a study finds.
Self-esteem tends to remain stable over the lifespan.
This suggests self-esteem could be set very early on.
Professor Andrew Meltzoff, one of the study’s authors, said:
“Some scientists consider preschoolers too young to have developed a positive or negative sense about themselves.
Our findings suggest that self-esteem, feeling good or bad about yourself, is fundamental.
It is a social mindset children bring to school with them, not something they develop in school.”
Until now it has been difficult to test the self-esteem of young children.
Dr Dario Cvencek, the study’s lead author, explained:
“Preschoolers can give verbal reports of what they’re good at as long as it is about a narrow, concrete skill, such as ‘I’m good at running’ or ‘I’m good with letters,’ but they have difficulties providing reliable verbal answers to questions about whether they are a good or bad person.”
Researchers used a newly developed test which examines implicit self-esteem.
In other words: it doesn’t directly ask children, rather it looks for associations.
For example, an adult test might look for links between the word “self” and the words “pleasant” or “unpleasant”.
The test was adapted for children that can’t read using the same principle.
Researchers examined the self-esteem of over 200 5-year-old children.
Dr Dario Cvencek, the study’s lead author, explained the results:
“Our work provides the earliest glimpse to date of how preschoolers sense their selves.
We found that as young as 5 years of age self-esteem is established strongly enough to be measured and we can measure it using sensitive techniques
Self-esteem appears to play a critical role in how children form various social identities.
Our findings underscore the importance of the first five years as a foundation for life.”
The question now, explained Professor Meltzoff, is what influences self-esteem at this young age:
“What aspects of parent-child interaction promote and nurture preschool self-esteem?
That’s the essential question.
We hope we can find out by studying even younger children.”
The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (Cvencek et al., 2015).
This parenting strategy leads to children with IQs 6 points higher.
Children raised by nurturing parents develop higher IQs, research finds.
Many of the children in the study, who were raised in Brazil and South Africa, had faced considerable adversity, such as poverty and low birth weight.
But when they experienced responsive caregiving and the opportunity to learn, it was possible for them to reach their full potential.
Responsive caregiving involves being sensitive to the needs of the child and knowing how to respond to them.
Typical nurturing activities include reading to the child, playing games with letters and numbers as well as singing songs together.
Professor Maureen Black, study co-author, said:
“We found that adolescents who were raised in nurturing environments had IQ scores that were on average 6 points higher than those who were not.
This is a striking difference that has profound implications by increasing the intelligence of entire communities.
A nurturing environment also led to better growth and fewer psycho-social difficulties in adolescence, but it did not mitigate the effects of early adversities on growth and psycho-social difficulties.”
The research included over 1,600 children who were tracked from birth to their teenage years.
Both prenatal and early life adversity tends to lower IQ and is linked to problems adjusting psychologically.
However, a nurturing environment created by caregivers counteracts the disadvantages of early adversity.
Professor Black said:
“I think our findings could apply to communities here in the U.S. where children are hungry, living in poverty or lacking in access to medical care.”
Getting involved with children is the key, said Professor Black:
“Get children involved in friendly activities as much as possible rather than parking them in front of a screen.
Children love to learn and in a nurturing environment they can grow into adolescents and adults with the abilities to care for themselves, their families, and their communities.”
The study was published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health (Trude et al., 2020).
Typical callous-unemotional traits linked to psychopathy include cheating, lying and a lack of remorse.
Parents who mistreat their offspring are more likely to raise children with psychopathic traits, research finds.
Both girls and boys who are subject to harsh and negative parenting are at a greater risk of developing callous-unemotional traits, which can develop into psychopathy.
Typical callous-unemotional traits include cheating, lying and a lack of remorse.
While the connection is well-known in males, this is one of the first studies to include females.
Ms Bridget Joyner, the study’s first author, said:
“Most studies that have looked at similar associations have not included females in their samples; it’s been strictly males.”
The study included over 4,000 young people whose callous-emotional traits were assessed along with any childhood maltreatment.
The results showed that while both sexes tended to develop callous-emotional traits when treated badly by parents, the link was weaker among females.
Callous-emotional traits are a precursor to psychopathy, which is linked to criminal behaviour.
Professor Kevin Beaver, study co-author, said:
“We know that males tend to respond to adverse experiences in more external ways, through behavior and other visible traits.
Females are more likely to internalize.
That can mean developing things like chronic stress, anxiety and depression.”
Callous-emotional traits are thought to be one way that young people cope with their harsh upbringing, said Ms Joyner:
“The development of these traits is thought to make them more withdrawn and help to protect them from being hurt again.”
If childhood maltreatment could be identified earlier, it may be possible to slow or stop the development of undesirable personality traits, said Ms Joyner:
“It’s important to be able to identify the risk factors that tell us how to look at and treat these individuals and to impede the development of these traits.
And when we can’t impede them then we need to treat them for it so the pattern isn’t repeated.”
The study was published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect (Joyner & Beaver, 2021).
Adults who grew up with this childhood personality trait earn more money now.
How video games affect children’s behaviour and development.
Fears about what video games are doing to young minds have been growing for years — not least because now 97% of teenagers play them.
They’re said to reduce socialising with real friends, damage psychological adjustment and the violence depicted in many games may be corrupting.
On the other hand, some studies have suggested benefits like improved thinking skills, hand-eye co-ordination, perhaps even greater attention and creativity.
What should parents — and society at large — make of all this conflicting talk?
Now a study, conducted by Oxford University psychologist Dr Andrew Przybylski, of almost 5,000 young people in the UK has looked at both the positive and negative effects of video games together (Przybylski, 2014).
The results, published in the journal Pediatrics, are cautiously positive about video games, but still support the old saying: everything in moderation.
Across the children, who were between 10- and 15-years-old, the results showed that the best adjusted children did play video games, but usually for less than one hour a day.
These children were most likely to report:
Doing worse on these measures were teens that didn’t play any video games and those who spent at least half of their daily free time on video games (over 3 hours).
For moderate players of video games — those who indulged for somewhere between 1 and 3 hours a day — there were no positive or negative effects on their psychological adjustment.
However, even the negative effects of playing video games too much were relatively insignificant compared to the effects of material deprivation or family conflict.
Dr Andrew Przybylski explained:
“These results support recent laboratory-based experiments that have identified the downsides to playing electronic games.
However, high levels of video game-playing appear to be only weakly linked to children’s behavioural problems in the real world.
Likewise, the small, positive effects we observed for low levels of play on electronic games do not support the idea that video games on their own can help children develop in an increasingly digital world.”
By the same token, there was little evidence that playing video games was doing children that much good.
“Some of the positive effects identified in past gaming research were mirrored in these data but the effects were quite small, suggesting that any benefits may be limited to a narrow range of action games.”
So, despite all the worry and hype, this study at least suggests the effects of video games on teenagers’ psychological adjustment are relatively neutral.