As we age, we are pressured to seek out the next best thing, to be on the cutting edge of innovation, to be the first to adopt a new technical gadget, or to be the first to try the next new hair style or fad.
But did you know that as parents, predictability is preferred?
According to researchers at the University of Turkua, Finland and the University of California-Irvine, higher predictability of parent-child interactions lead to the child’s “increased ability to better control and regulate their own actions and emotions.”
Further, the study “supports the idea that it is important to have have peaceful and uninterrupted moments of interaction with infants every day.”
This research supports the findings of a 70-year longitudinal study of 70,000 children called the British Birth Cohort. It found that there were certain parental behaviors that aided child development and the eventual success of children for the long term. Some of the behaviors were:
- Communicating directly and openly
- Listening actively
- Affirming positive statements of their future
- Emoting in an open and receptive manner
- Informing them of the rudimentary basics (numbers, letters, reading, writing)
- Taking them on trips
- Keeping a regular bedtime routine
- Reading to them each day
If we reflect upon this simple list of eight items; they can be distilled to to one or two words: predictability and/or dependability.
Going back to the initial study, “poorly predictable or intermittent interactions were associated with a poorer self-regulation in the child.” Taken further, another study by NEJM Journal Watch Psychiatry demonstrated how, later in life, teenagers of unreliable, inconsistent, undependable or unpredictable parents are contributing factors to their impulsive and addictive behaviors which can lead to substance abuse and a host of other problems.
So the next time you berate yourself about being too predictable, take heart. Your children will thank you.
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