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Once upon a time, it was only speculated that a parent’s influence was entirely detrimental to their child’s overall development. However, it is no longer a theory- it is a scientific fact.

From the time our little ones are born, they need our love and attention. They crave and instinctually desire nothing more than to be held and to be fed and loved. Outside of those needs, there is very little they will ever ask of us in their infancy. There is a reason for this, and it’s because we are a very important aspect of their development. For them to correctly develop, they need us to provide them with love and affection.

This was verified by a recent study carried out by the non-profit known as Child Trends which found that affection was intrinsically linked to better academic outcomes, better parent-child communication, more long-term success, higher self-esteem, and fewer behavioral problems. However, this is not the first study of its kind.

A 2010 Duke University Medical School study found that babies with more affectionate mothers were happier, more resilient, and less anxious in their adulthood. This study observed 500 people who were followed around from infancy until their 30s. Researchers observed the mothers with their children in their infancy and also took developmental tests.

Into their 30s, they were given surveys to rate their emotional health. The ones whose mothers gave them more love were far less likely to be anxious and stressed.

Other studies have found similar outcomes, with some going as far as to measure skin-to-skin contact between mother and child to see what the outcomes were. The outcomes were, of course, improved with more skin-to-skin contact, due to oxytocin (the bonding hormone.)

For many of us, bonding with our child comes as second nature, but that isn’t always the case. For those who had mothers who did not freely give her love, it may be less obvious, or for those who have endured trauma. However, if you are reading this, please know how important affection is. Something as simple as regular cuddles and hugs with your child can make all the difference in the world. And as they get older, dancing with your child or playing games with them is also a good way to bond.

If you are someone who struggles with this, see a counselor. So many counselors help young mothers with overcoming their neglect or abuse, so they can be the best mothers they can be.

Life can get busy, and it can be overwhelming, but being a parent is one of the most important jobs we will ever do. We are setting an entire generation up to take over the world one day, and if we want them to have a good life and be a good human, we need to be preparing them by loving them the way they deserve. It might sound cliché’ but it’s not. Children do develop based on how we treat them