I’m reading so much these days about how parenting has become uninvolved as children seem to vie for attention with the latest social media tweet, Instagram pictures or Facebook post. In fact it’s very easy to become lost in the world or lives of others in a social media dominated culture where the minority are the ones who don’t use these mediums in their day to day lives. But how is this impacting on children’s emotional welfare?

There are four types of parenting styles that are recognised by experts: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and neglectful. In the above hypothesis, the parenting style becoming more prevalent is that of neglectful. With the potential neglect falling in areas such as affection, attention and touch.

Usually it is authoritative parenting that is advocated as this is about being warm, responsive, setting clear boundaries and allowing for independence as well as autonomy for each child’s needs. This style allows for the most feelings of security too.

Taking that a step further, a study done at Notre Dame University in 2015 showed that children who received affection from their parent/s became happier adults. They showed more compassion, which is a character trait, also known to help with social interactions due to greater understanding of others and had lower depression and anxiety levels generally.

Parental affection

Parental affection is also thought to immunise against childhood stresses and protect self esteem. The hormone oxytocin which also releases though bonding such as touch and eye contact is thought to be released more frequently in children who have parents who are openly and actively affectionate.

So taking a proactive parenting stance which is authoritative doesn’t just lead to happier children but impacts them across the lifespan and buffers against stress, depression and low self esteem. A sense of compassion also stems from pro active parenting.

When this is limited or absent what is instead observed is high levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone leading to heightened anxiety, depression and social phobias amongst many other problems in both childhood and across the lifespan.

Make sure children are loved

Is it time to step away from the screens and ensure that children are feeling loved, heard and understood? Eye contact, feeling heard and physical touch are all good ways to bring about positive changes and effects. Not only will this impact emotional and mental health, but also children who feel that their parents have more time for them are far less likely to act out behaviours intent on gaining any attention, such as misbehaving and tantrum throwing in toddlers through to addiction and self harm at the extreme end of the scale in teenagers.

We also know how that it isn’t just children affected by this rise in eyes glued to screens, adults have also been found to be more likely to suffer depression and low self esteem as well as physically impacting health through posture problems, a rise in repetitive strain injuries and poor sleep due to disruption of the circadian Rhythm through too much blue light preventing melatonin being released by the brain. We are also more likely to compare ourselves to others, feel socially isolated and experience low mood. Some great reasons to get outdoors more, spend more time with our children being actively engaged and savor life.

Here’s to a positive parenting revolution.

About the author: To find out more about Caralyn Cox MAPP, please click here.


The Positive Psychology People is co-founded and sponsored
by Lesley Lyle and Dan Collinson,
Directors of Positive Psychology Learning and authors of the
8-week online Happiness Course

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