Love protects. It sounds cliche and feel good – almost like a Hollywood ending – but it’s true. When you break it all down, what is love but a series of chemical reactions in our brain?
It feels like I’m stating the obvious, but surely the point is still being lost when children are spending entire days either at school or in after school tuition classes. When I hear about teachers who have told parents that their child in Year 1 requires tuition classes, I am outraged.
I understand the desire to want to give our children the best start we can in life. I understand wanting to give them every opportunity to have an edge that might mean greater success in their future. But we must not lose sight of what is really important – the child. The whole child. And ensuring that our children grow up in a balanced and nurturing environment where they feel loved and secure.
And we’ve heard it over and over… how love protects and strengthens our children. Did I also mention that love makes them smarter?
At the end of World War II, orphaned babies were either sent to sterile hospitals with “stainless steel cots, in hygienic wards and getting 24-hour feeds of special infant milk formula from nurses in crisply starched, white uniform” or they were sent to “remote mountain villages where they were raised in the arms of the village women, surrounded by children, goats and dogs, and they drank goat’s milk and eventually ate from the communal stockpot”. When they went around to check on the infants, they found the ones in the villages thriving better than those cared for in the hospitals because they received more “love”.
Love is good for our immune system:
- Isolation can also suppress immune function. Infant monkeys separated from their mothers, especially if they are caged alone rather than in groups, generate fewer lymphocytes in response to antigens and fewer antibodies in response to viruses. – Harvard Health Publications
- Studies have shown that people who feel connected to friends – whether it’s a few close friends or a large group – have stronger immunity than those who feel alone – WebMD
James Fallon was a neuroscientist who had all the genetic markers for aggression, violence and low empathy – all features of a psychopath. He also had the inclinations of a psychopath and he had a family history with seven alleged murderers. Yet, he turned out “okay” and he believes this was because he was raised in a loving family.
This is because a baby who feels secure and safe in the envelope of his parents’ love is free to divert attention away from the business of survival and focus fully on learning.
Love makes children smarter
From Live Science:
- In a study of 46 baby chimpanzee orphans, Kim Bard of the University of Portsmouth in England and her colleagues demonstrated that primate babies that have tight relationships with mother figures do much better on cognitive tests than babies who receive only the basics of food, shelter, and friendship with peers.
Why growing up in a loving home boosts children’s brains and makes them more intelligent:
- Children whose mothers are more attentive during infancy go on to develop more nerve cells in their hippocampus, a region of the brain which plays a key role in memory and emotion. Although the findings do not prove that the mothers’ behaviour caused the improved brain size, measured during later childhood, they suggest supportive parenting could play a role in brain development. – Telegraph
- A lack of care and attention left children with stunted growth, substantially lower IQs and more behavioural and psychological problems than children who had been better cared for. – The Guardian
See also: The Bucharest Early Intervention Program