Positively Parenting

Spare the rod, spoil the child? NO.

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Kids grow up so fast these days. Literally. Stress can actually accelerate their aging process through genetic changes. And that comes with increased health risks. How can we slow down?

For kids who’ve experienced trauma – like poverty and violence – psychologists encourage sensitive and responsive caregiving called POSITIVE PARENTING. Does it work?

Alexandra Sullivan and team at University of Vermont investigated.

They recruited SIXTY-TWO parents of children with disruptive behaviors and rated their experienced adversity. Researchers also assessed parenting behaviors and provided coaching and interaction therapy for TWENTY weeks. The kids provided saliva samples to measure aging-linked proteins.


FREQUENT positive parenting slowed the acceleration of genetic changes in children facing the most adversity! Reducing criticism and belittling comments ALSO slowed the rate of accelerated aging. These findings affirm interventions to prevent future health problems in kids experiencing early-life adversity!

So parents, be nice. Ice cream helps too.

Reference: Sullivan A.D.W., Bozack A.K., Cardenas A., et al. Parenting Practices May Buffer the Impact of Adversity on Epigenetic Age Acceleration Among Young Children with Developmental Delays. Psychol Sci 34, 1173. https://doi.org/10.1177/09567976231194221