The following is excerpted from an online article posted by StudyFinds.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge have found that kids who reported having a loving, strong bond with their parents around age three tended to be more kind, empathetic, and generous by adolescence.
In other words, researchers say parents should do their best to cultivate a meaningful, close relationship with their children as early as possible during their lives together. While the notion that fun times spent with mom or dad at age two or three could lead to more kind, prosocial behaviors years later may seem farfetched at first, researchers explain that parent-child relationships and closeness are incredibly important to an adolescent’s development. That process begins pretty much as soon as the family’s new addition comes home from the hospital. It’s never too early to start spreading the love in your household.
The research team analyzed a massive dataset encompassing over 10,000 people born between 2000 and 2002.
Study authors eventually concluded people who experienced warm and loving relationships with their parents at age three not only tended to have fewer mental health problems during early childhood and adolescence but also exhibited better prosocial tendencies, which refers to socially desirable behaviors that help others (kindness, generosity, empathy, volunteering, helpfulness).
While the noted correlation between parent-child relationships and later prosociality must be validated by additional research projects, this work certainly suggests a compelling and sizable association is at play here. On average, researchers say that for every standard unit above “normal” levels that a child’s closeness with their parents was higher around age three, their prosociality was higher by 0.24 of a standard unit by the time adolescence set in.
The project was undertaken and led by Ioannis Katsantonis and Dr. Ros McLellan, both from the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge.
In conclusion, the study authors say this work highlights the importance of parents building a strong loving relationship with their kids as early as possible.