We are used to reading different studies and articles on the best way to parent a child. However, there is actually very little evidence that suggests that a particular parenting style is optimal. So, what is the the key to enhance a child’s chances for success?
The experiences in the first two years of life have the power to alter a child’s future. This window of opportunity is critical. There are several things that can be done to enhance a child’s chances for success – high quality education, motivating teachers, opportunities, access to good mental health services, etc.
A parenting strategy is not going to define a child’s future. Rather, learning about your baby’s psychological development has the potential to improve parenting skills. The key is reaching a higher audience so parents all over the world can engage in effective quality interactions. Media technology is an effective way to deliver information on a grand scale and greatly intervene in people’s lives.
There is a study that confirms the huge benefits that come along with parent intervention. In 1986 in a few of the poorest neighborhoods in Kingston, Jamaica, a team of researchers conducted an experiment aiming to change our thinking about how to motivate children to succeed, especially those that live in poverty. Its take home message was the following: Help children by supporting and coaching their parents about their baby’s development.
The research divided families of 129 infants and toddlers into groups. The first group received one-hour home visits once a week from trained researchers who motivated and coached parents to spend more time actively playing with their children. These activities ranged from reading books and singing, to playing peekaboo. The second group received a kilogram of milk based nutritional supplement weekly. The control group of children did not receive anything. The study ended two years afterwards but the researchers followed these children ever since. Not surprisingly, the intervention that most impacted the children’s lives was the first intervention, which encouraged the parents to actively play with their children. What were these marvelous effects? The children did better throughout childhood, on IQ tests, showed less aggressive behavior, and more self control. As adults, these children earned an average of 25 percent more per year than those children whose parents didn’t receive any home visits. The impact of parent coaching can be powerful on many levels.
If we want to improve children’s opportunities for success, the most compelling influence for change is through the behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes of the adults who interact and surround them everyday. Supportive, personalized coaching aids in identifying and reinforcing these small interactions such as critical face-to-face exchanges otherwise known as “serve and return” interactions that further encourage attachment, warmth and trust between a child and a caregiver. Not only does this provide higher rates of secure attachment, but the child’s ability to process stress also improves.
Kinedu’s main focus is to improve parenting skills, providing parents with activities and specific insight on their baby’s development. Parents can reflect on their baby’s past achievements and set goals for their next milestones. Caregivers are then able to turn everyday moments into effective brain building ones. When parents learn all these amazing facts about their baby’s psychological development, it can drastically transform the way they see them. Offering parents knowledge about what their babies can or cannot do will make them more attuned to their babies’ specific needs.
These positive influences in children’s early lives have profound effects on the development of “non-cognitive skills”. These skills include deep rooted character, grit, and fortitude; key elements for success. These skills enable children to negotiate life effectively inside and outside of school: the ability to understand and follow directions; to focus on a single activity for a longer period of time; to interact calmly with other students in the future; and ultimately to cope with life’s enduring experiences.
To help children succeed – the best strategy is parent intervention. Although these long term impacts seem intangible, every dollar invested in quality learning care has a return on investment of at least 4 times the invested amount! As Jane D. Hull once stated: The most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.