"these things get embedded in us."
A recent University of Georgia study looked at whether protective parenting can help or hinder children when they eventually become adults.
According to the study, growing up in an area where heat and power are unstable and violence is prevalent might cause pain and other physical health issues as an adult.
Nevertheless, the study suggests that being active in your child’s life, such as learning about their friends or the places they hang out after school, might help mitigate negative consequences.
Kelsey Corallo, lead author of the study and a recent doctoral graduate from UGA’s Department of Psychology said:
“Early life experiences affect physical and mental well-being throughout our lifespan.
“Even if we don’t have a lot of tangible memories from very early on in life, we know how we felt, we know how loved we were and how supported we were, and these things get embedded in us.”
According to the study, establishing boundaries and letting youngsters know you are watching them lowers their chance of developing physical and mental health problems as adults.
Associate professor at the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and co-author of the paper Katherine Ehrlich said:
“This isn’t just the direct ‘know where your kids are’ type of parenting, and it’s not helicopter parenting that makes a difference.
“Communicating love and the desire to be part of your child’s life, I think, is probably part of the magic ingredient of vigilant parenting that benefits the child.”
The immunological and regulatory systems may be compromised by stress during childhood.
The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, conducted by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, included over 4,825 respondents.
The researchers discovered a link between physical health restrictions as an adult and growing up in a less secure environment.
The researchers are concerned about this discovery.
Corallo, who is now a research associate at the Georgia Health Policy Centre at Georgia State University said:
“There is a lot of research to show that stressful experiences.
“For example, feeling unsafe, not getting the basic resources that you need in life or being exposed to neglect or abuse – those things change how your body functions.
“The stress from those types of experiences can make it difficult for the body to regulate itself.”
“If that sustained level of stress is experienced during childhood or infancy, it can cause lifelong issues with immune function or hormone regulation.”
According to the experts, the stress from those kinds of encounters might make it hard for the body to control itself.
If that prolonged amount of stress is present throughout youth or early childhood, it may have a long-term negative impact on the immune system or hormone balance.
Corallo continued: “Young people and children tend to be healthy, so the fact that we’re seeing a statistical association between physical limitations and childhood environmental risk is pretty incredible.
“It shows that these things do matter, and they have an overt effect on health even in early adulthood when chronic illnesses often haven’t even set in yet.”
Parents who are engaged in their children’s lives can have a favourable impact on their health.
Participants in the study who grew up in less secure circumstances but had involved parents did not suffer from the same health problems as those whose parents were not watchful.
Vigilant parenting was also linked to fewer adult mental health issues.
According to the researchers, it’s likely that the children whose parents enforced curfews and kept an eye on their friendship groups were better protected from risky behaviours like smoking or binge drinking.
Corallo noted: “In more dangerous settings, it may be more difficult for parents to be that involved, for example, if they’re working multiple jobs.
“But even if they’re not physically home, keeping track of and making sure their children know that their parents are aware of and care about what they’re up to make a big difference.”