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Emotional bonds with your child helps with handling stress as an adult

Harold Mandel's picture
Mother and child

Researchers have determined that emotional bonds with parents or a caregiver may be the basis of our ability to regulate our emotions later in life.


The ability to handle stressful situations as an adult may be influenced by our experiences as a child. It seems that a lack of supportive emotional nurturing as a child is associated with serious problems dealing with stress as an adult.

Variations on how adults respond under stressful situations as adults often appear to be due to how they were treated as a child. Researchers believe that the type of emotional bonds which are developed between a child's primary caregiver or parents in early childhood may be the primary basis for the ability to regulate emotions well as adults reports Frontiers.

Dr. Christine Heinisch, who is one of the authors of the study, says it has been determined from past studies that the history which we have of attachment has a direct influence on how we behave in social situations. There have been concerns about our reaction to a stimulus which is neutral under emotionally charged conditions.

Consider that some people make more errors than others when approaching a traffic light under emotional conditions. There appears to be variations in how people's actions are impacted by emotions depending on whether or not they had caregivers or parents who were emotionally responsive during childhood.

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According to the "attachment" theory in psychology it is actually early experiences in life with caregivers and parents which influences our ability to regulate our emotions in adult life. Dr. Heinisch has explained that a significant variable which influences our emotional regulation is our attachment experience.

This study has been published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. In order to test their theory the researchers did a study on adult subjects who had different experiences with caregivers in childhood. The participants in the study performed a task wherein they were asked to identify a target letter from a series of flashing letters. This task was done under conditions which evoked a positive, neutral, or negative emotional state of being. Task performance and EEG recordings were than analyzed.

The subjects who did not have caregivers who were emotionally responsive during childhood had significantly more trouble performing their task under conditions which were emotionally negative than those who had emotionally responsive caregivers. There was also lower brain activity seen under negative emotional conditions in insecure-attached subjects than in those who were secure-attached during childhood.

It has been shown repeatedly that cognitive processing capacities are affected by the induction of emotional states. The findings from this study support assumptions dealing with moderation of emotional information processing via variations in attachment representation. It has been shown specifically that there is a restriction of emotional processing due to negative emotional information in people who lacked emotionally responsive caregivers as children.

It is therefore clear that emotional experiences in childhood have long lasting consequences on our ability to handle tasks later in life. Caregivers and parents who are truly interested in nurturing children to develop the capacity to handle stress well later in life should take some extra time to bond well emotionally with their kids.