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Turku Uni: Continuous interaction with parents helps kids regulate emotions

Research study finds that uninterrupted parental attention improves children's ability to control their own feelings.

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Busy lives can prevent continuous interaction between a parent and a young child, and hamper the child's development. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

A joint research study conducted by the University of Turku and the University of Irvine in California has found that uninterrupted interaction between a parent and a child, and the predictability of that interaction, enhances a child's ability to control his or her own feelings later in life.

The quality of child-parent interaction is of paramount importance during the first few years of children's lives, when their brains are still particularly sensitive to environmental influences, according to the findings of the study.

However, in today's world, interruptions and distractions such as those from mobile phones or the internet can harm the parent-child relationship. Assistant Professor Riikka Korja of Turku University explained that parents who lead busy and stressful lives might be prevented from having consistent interaction with their young child, and may hinder the child's emotional development

"Parents with young children should be provided with every possible support to reduce stress. The parent's innate ability to regulate their lives, and the ability to settle in a family with a baby is linked to the current situation in life," Korja said in a press release from the University of Turku.

The same result was found in data from both the Turku and California sample groups, and the outcome was not influenced by socio-economic or cultural factors, researchers said.

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