Mental Health

Young children who are close to their parents are more likely to grow up kind, helpful and ‘prosocial’

A new study indicates a strong connection between early parent-child relationships and the likelihood that children will grow up to display socially-desirable characteristics like kindness and empathy. Using data from 10,000 people in the UK, researchers found that children who have a warm and loving bond with their parents at age three are not only less prone to mental health difficulties, but display heightened ‘prosociality’ by the time they reach adolescence. This refers to socially-desirable behaviors such as kindness, empathy, helpfulness, generosity and volunteering. Conversely, children whose early relationships with their parents were difficult or abusive were less likely to develop prosocial habits. The researchers argue that this strengthens the case for developing targeted policies to support young families within which it may be difficult to establish close early parent-child relationships.