The ACE study has demonstrated how impactful adverse childhood experiences are on an individual; impacting mental, emotional and social growth as well as negatively affecting physical health. In recent years professionals have turned their focus to the prevention of ACEs and one thing stands out. We must address the intergenerational transmission of these adverse experiences. But how do we do that?
One of the answers lies in our parenting skills. Research has shown that early life experiences play a critical role in how the brain develops. A 2016 study demonstrated that “Children whose mothers were nurturing during the preschool years, as opposed to later in childhood, have more robust growth in brain structures associated with learning, memory and stress response than children with less supportive moms.” Brain scans showed that children who had nurturing mothers during early life had a larger hippocampus, the region of the brain that is linked to learning, memory, and emotional regulation. Researcher Joan Luby, MD noted “it's vital that kids receive support and nurturing during those early years."
Chair of the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Washington University, Deanna M. Barch, PhD stated "This finding highlights the critical importance of caregiving in sculpting aspects of brain development that are important to how children function as they mature."
Attachment Parenting International (API) agrees that a nurturing relationship between parent and child has a long-lasting positive impact. A term coined in the 1980’s, attachment parenting focuses on fostering a nurturing, responsive relationship between parent and child, encouraging parents to listen to their intuitive knowledge and provide empathetic care to their infants and children. API’s Attached at the Heart curriculum helps parents learn the Eight Principles of Parenting, focusing on a healthy relationship starting from conception by preparing for pregnancy, birth, and parenting, and demonstrating a nurturing relationship through early life. Teaching parents about the attachment process through feeding, sleep, touch, discipline, and more. All parents can benefit from the lessons taught throughout the curriculum which can be integrated into on-going support for families.
You can become a certified Attached at the Heart Parent Educator and join others from around the world in learning the skills and gaining the tools to teach these classes in your community. CEUs are available! Visit the API website www.attachmentparenting.org/parented for upcoming trainings or contact Tina McRorie at email@example.com to discuss hosting a training in your area!