Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size

Good Parenting Ups Kids' Mental Skills

Study Shows Better Parenting Skills Sharpen Minds of Kids in Poverty

Poverty and Brain Development continued...

The systems in a child's forming brain most vulnerable to toxic stress are those involved with language and attention. These things are not hard-wired by genes. A child develops verbal abilities and concentration in early childhood, and this development is highly influenced by the child's experiences. Bad experiences harm development, but by the same token, "it has potential to be enhanced," Stevens says.

Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, PhD, co-director of the Institute for Child and Family Policy at Columbia University in New York City, says the most helpful ways to even the odds for poor kids are preschool education and efforts to improve parenting practices. She says the policy institute she leads has "very specific recommendations on parenting practices," which agree with what the Oregon researchers taught. 

Shonkoff argues that the importance of programs to aid poor children and their parents can't be underestimated because the effects last a lifetime. "The earlier we intervene, the better," Shonkoff says.

"We don't have a simple recipe" for good parenting, Stevens says, but the methods parents learned in the study were well founded in scientific research, and families benefited not long after beginning to try them.


Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
mother and daughter talking
child brushing his teeth
Sipping hot tea
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
rl with friends
tissue box
Child with adhd