Nurturing to Improve Attention
by Peter| Guest blog | From Play attention
Science has determined that the brain is not a static entity, but a highly adaptive organ. It constantly changes due to environment and stimulation. Can a loving, kind, nurturing parent actually affect an inattentive, impulsive child?
Dr. Oriana Linares, lead author of a study appearing in the March issue of Pediatrics says that nurturing and kindness play significant roles in reducing inattention and impulsivity. Linares is an associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
Linares and her colleagues studied the lives of 252 children who had been placed in foster care because of abuse or neglect. All of the children exhibited inattention and impulsivity. Over the course of four years, Linares and her researchers gathered information from biological parents, foster parents, classroom teachers and the children themselves.
“Were they always on the go? Always overactive? Climbing on things? Couldn’t stop? Had to have things now? Inattention, forgetting where things were?” Those were some of their questions, Linares said.
Both biological and foster parents confirmed that hyperactivity and inattention improved after the first year in a new foster home. However, teachers did not necessarily see that same results at school. This may suggest that the setting and relationship with the caregiver are influential.
Most importantly, Linares noted that, “Children whose parents reported higher parental warmth — how much do the parents like the child, how much affection the parent reports towards the child, how much time they spend together — showed fewer ADHD symptoms while children whose parents reported hostility — being annoyed at the child, thinking the child a burden, being angry at the child — showed more ADHD symptoms.”
Linares also found that children who were moved more frequently had more pronounced ADHD symptoms.
“And we’re talking about symptoms associated with a disorder that has a proven biological component to it so it is important to understand that, even with these types of symptoms, the social environment of the child matters tremendously,” Linares said.
Linares’ study, like others, strongly correlates nurturing, kindness, and love to a healthier, more attentive, less impulsive brain.
While we do not get a manual to teach us to parent, it is advisable to develop strategies that will promote a more attentive, less impulsive child. This is not necessarily easy as ADHD children often try our patience to the extreme. However, being a nurturing, loving parent coupled with a consistent, structured environment can produce incredibly good outcomes. Nurture, kindness, love, consistency, and structure are your greatest allies as an ADHD parent.
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