To Raise Confident, Independent Kids, Some Parents Are Trying To ‘Let Grow’

Walking through the woods alone can be a scary prospect for a kid, but not for 7-year-old Matthew of Portland, Oregon. He doesn’t have much of a backyard at his condo, so the woods behind his house essentially serve the same purpose. He spends hours out there: swinging on a tire swing, tromping across the ravine to a friend’s house, and using garden shears to cut a path. He lays down sticks to form a bridge across the small stream that flows in the winter.

And he does all of this without any adult supervision.

Matthew’s mom, Laura Randall, wants her son to gain the sort of skills and confidence that only come with doing things yourself. But she didn’t just toss her 7-year-old out the door with some hiking boots and garden shears one day. They worked up to it gradually with what Randall calls “experiments in independence.”

Full story at npr.org

Parent touch, play and support in childhood vital to well-being as an adult

Did you receive affection, play freely and feel supported in childhood? Childhood experiences like these appear to have a lot to do with well-being and moral capacities in adulthood.

In a forthcoming article in the journal Applied Developmental Science, University of Notre Dame professor of psychology Darcia Narvaez and colleagues Lijuan Wang and Ying Cheng, associate professors of psychology, show that childhood experiences that match with evolved needs lead to better outcomes in adulthood.

According to Narvaez, one of the reasons that the well-being of children in the United States lags behind that of children in other advanced nations is because “we have forgotten that we are social mammals with specific evolved needs from birth.”

Full story of parents support in childhood vital at Science Daily

Mindfulness protects adults’ health from the impacts of childhood adversity

Adults who were abused or neglected as children are known to have poorer health, but adults who tend to focus on and accept their reactions to the present moment — or are mindful — report having better health, regardless of their childhood adversity. These findings, to be published in the October issue of Preventive Medicine, are based on the first study ever conducted to examine the relationship between childhood adversity, mindfulness, and health.

Led by Robert Whitaker, professor of public health and pediatrics at Temple University, the researchers surveyed 2,160 adults working in Head Start, the nation’s largest federally-funded early childhood education program.

Survey respondents, who worked in 66 Pennsylvania Head Start programs, were asked if they experienced any of eight types of childhood adversity, such as being abused or having a parent with alcoholism or drug addiction. In addition, respondents were asked questions about their current health, as well their mindfulness, meaning their tendency in daily life to pay attention to what is happening in the moment and to be aware of and accepting of their thoughts and feelings.

Full story of mindfulness and adults health at Science Daily