A new study found that modern parenting is not good for children. According to researchers from the University of Notre Dame, modern parenting is preventing healthy brain and emotional development in children.

“Life outcomes for American youth are worsening, especially in comparison to 50 years ago,” says Darcia Narvaez, a professor of psychology at the university, specializing in moral development in kids and how early life experiences can affect brain development. “Ill-advised practices and beliefs have become commonplace in our culture, such as the use of infant formula, the isolation of infants in their own rooms or the belief that responding too quickly to a fussing baby will ‘spoil’ it.”

The new research says that some nurturing practices or parenting practices, which were usual in hunter-gatherer societies, can result to healthy emotional outcomes. The study also suggests that it is perhaps time to change some modern child-rearing practices.

“Breast-feeding infants, responsiveness to crying, almost constant touch and having multiple adult caregivers are some of the nurturing ancestral parenting practices that are shown to positively impact the developing brain, which not only shapes personality, but also helps physical health and moral development,” points out Narvaez.

The researchers say that responding to a baby when it is crying can positively influence the development of conscience. Positive touch also influence empathy, impulse control and stress reactivity in children. Moreover, having other caregivers besides the mother can also affect ego, empathy and IQ.

According to the researchers, in the US, these characteristics have been in steady decline. Now, babies spend more time in carriers, car seats and strollers instead of spending more time being held.

Only 15 percent of mothers in the US are breastfeeding their babies the researchers also point out that extended families are broken up. Parents also limit the amount of free play the child gets, which can influence a child’s social capacities.

This may explain why anxiety, depression, aggression and delinquency are common in young children nowadays. The researchers also say that they observe decreased empathy or compassionate behavior among college students. In spite of this, other relatives and children’s teachers can still provide positive effects to them as long as the child feels safe in their presence.

The team says that we can make up early deficits later on. “The right brain grows though full-body experience like rough-and-tumble play, dancing or freelance artistic creation…a parent can take up a creative activity with a child and they can grow together.”

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