Helping and Stepping Back

A baby’s drive to learn sometimes brings tears when she can’t manage to reach a goal she’s set her sights on. Every parent knows the urge to step in and help a frustrated baby. Yet sometimes holding back and letting your baby work it out is more helpful over the long term.

Recent data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has found that 2 parental traits—warmth and what researchers term “low intrusiveness”—are linked to academic achievement in first grade:

•  Warmth, that is, showing affection and emotional support, is important to encourage a baby or toddler to explore, persist and learn.

•  Low intrusiveness, or letting a child play and to try to solve small problems on her own, also adds to cognitive growth. Sometimes being supportive means moving a desired toy within a baby’s reach, rather than handing it to her.

And sometimes learning requires a moment of frustration. A study showed that anger was associated with active attempts to overcome an obstacle, while sadness was related to giving up.

So, while it may be hard to watch, know that when your baby gets angry when she can’t do what she wants, it’s a healthy response.

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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