According to Dr. Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame, childhood physical and emotional support all contribute to something called the evolved developmental niche.
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It includes includes key elements such as responsiveness to a baby's needs, constant physical presence, extensive breastfeeding and playful interactions with caregivers and friends.
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Her research found that adults who received more physical and emotional support as children reported lower incidences of depression and anxiety, and showed more compassion towards others.
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Those who received less had poorer mental health, were distressed in social situations and were less able to understand another's point of view.
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Narvaez said that when children experience a "toxic" childhood, they become stress reactive, which makes it harder to be compassionate.
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Sadly, children in the United States currently lag behind children in other developed nations when it comes to the evolved developmental niche and the support required for them to develop into healthy adults.
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The moral of the story? Snuggling (and lots of other ways to show love and support) is vitally important. So snuggle away, parents!
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