Reposted from MindShift:
The first study, published Thursday in Child Development, found that the type of emotional support that a child receives during their her first three and a half years has an effect on education, social life and romantic relationships even 20 or 30 years later. Lee Raby, a psychologist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Delaware collected from 243 people who participated in the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk. All the participants were followed from birth until they turned 32. “Researchers went into these kids’ home at times. Other times they brought the children and their parents to the university and observed how they interacted with each other,” Raby said.
Of course, parental behavior in the early years is just one of many influences, and it’s not necessarily causing the benefits seen in the study. While tallying up the results, the researchers accounted for the participants’ socioeconomic status and the environment in which they grew up. Ultimately, they found that about 10 percent of someone’s academic achievement was correlated with the quality of their home life at age three. Later experiences, genetic factors and even chance explain their other 90 percent, Raby says.
A second study, also published in Child Development, found that children’s early responses to experience help predict whether or not they end up developing social anxiety disorder as teenagers — but only for those who were especially sensitive and distrustful as babies. For this study, researchers from the University of Maryland observed how 165 babies interacted with their parents. When separated from their parents, some got upset but quickly recovered when they were reunited. Other babies had a harder time trusting their parents after a brief separation, and they weren’t able to calm down after being reunited. Those extra-sensitive babies were more likely to report feeling anxious socializing and attending parties as teenagers.