Mom Is A Good Medicine For Many Childhood Problems

Mom Is A Good Medicine For Many Childhood Problems

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Many years ago, across the Atlantic, it was observed that Romanian orphans who were adopted into English families tended to be hyperactive. Psychiatrist Michael Rutter of the Institute of Psychiatry in London linked it to the absence of parental love and warmth in the orphanage.

According to a study published in the spring 2004 issue of Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Psychologist Terrie Moffit found that low-birth-weight children raised in a warm and loving relationships with their mothers were less likely to have attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD).

Moffit's study also suggests that high levels of maternal warmth tend to protect children from behavioral problems associated with low birth weight.

High maternal warmth is defined by such behaviors as the mother expressing love. warmth, enthusiasm, interest in and enjoyment of the child.

Psychological research generally studies impact of negative parental behaviors such as abuse, neglect and emotional deprivation, but rarely do studies investigate the impact of a positive home environment such as high maternal warmth, pride and joy in the baby.

I too am guilty of that bias. I write ten times more about parental monitoring, control and consistent discipline than I do about the positive effects of demonstrative and explicit expression of love for children.

The fact is that children who are not assured of parental love are likely to resent any kind of disciplinary measures. That is why we advise a step-parent undertaking the disciplinary responsibilities until a trusting and positively reassuring relationship is established.

Human touch is magical. It is a well-known fact that with human touch, a premature baby can gain more weight in the incubator.

Infants form attachment to caregivers regardless of the behavior of the latter. This is seen across the mammal species. According to a study published in Behavioral Neuroscience this year, infant rats formed attachments to familiar smells even when those smells were paired with electric shocks. Their brains are primed to ensure rapid attachment to their mothers regardless of how the mother treats the infant.

A grandmother one day, no matter what she did just couldn't soothe the grandbaby she was babysitting. At her wits' end, something occurred to her. She found a shirt belonging to the baby's mother, and covered the baby with the shirt. The baby went to sleep in a matter of just a few minutes.

Formation of attachment and its fulfillment by caregivers' love is wired in the brain for survival. If provided at the right time of the development, child-parent bonding can prevent many physical and mental health problems.

According to psychologist Paul Pearsall, a large percentage of successful people have "toxic success" - they crave more money, status, responsibility and admiration but don't have the time or energy to love, enjoy and appreciate what they already have. Pearsall says, "It's not about time management, it's about attention management." When you are at home, pay attention to your attention. Ask yourself, "Where is my attention? What's on my mind?" It should be on love and positive expressions of attention. "Healthy work and healthy family" is the true criterion of success.

Talking about being a nice and wholesome person, how about following the Hawaiian Law? Believe it or not, the State of Hawaii has a law related to it. It's of course an encouragement law rather than an enforcement law. Nonetheless, the law entitled "Aloha Spirit" is on the books.

I am paraphrasing the spirit and content of the law. According to "Aloha Spirit," each person must feel and express good feelings to others. In respect for the life force, 'Aloha,' Hawaiians must develop the following personal characteristics:
"Akahai" means kindness. Express kindness with tenderness.
"Lokahi" means unity. Work towards unity and harmony.
"Oluolu" means to be agreeable. Be agreeable and pleasant.
'Haahaa," means humility. Express humility with modesty.
"Ahonui" means patience. Be patient and persevere.

What a state manifesto that is! These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii's people. It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii.

I was once told that "ha" means breath of life. So, the Hawaiian greeting literally means that I give my breath of life to you. That is the greatest gift one person can give to another!

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Copyright 2004, Mind Publications 
Posted May 2004


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