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Most Common Maternal Behaviors That Affect Child Development

by Eliza Martinez

There's no question that moms have a huge impact on how their children develop. You don't have to worry about every little thing you do, but some behaviors play a bigger role in how your child turns out. Some of them are positive and others not so much, but if you understand how they contribute to gains or delays in development, you'll be better able to stick with the good behaviors and refrain from the bad ones.

Working

There's no way around having to earn money to take care of your kids, especially if you're a single mom. Children of women who work full time suffer mild setbacks in terms of cognitive development, reports a child care study conducted at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The effects occur all the way into first grade, but the same children benefit from a working mom because their household income is higher. This means moms have access to better child care and schools. The study found that working moms were also more responsive to their children when they were together than stay-at-home moms.

Love and Affection

Moms usually have no trouble displaying how much they love their children. It turns out that these loving behaviors have a large impact on your child. Affection toward your child boosts brain and emotional development, according to the Facts for Life website. Holding, cuddling and kissing a young child and hugging, giving a high five or putting your arms around an older child are simple ways to show your love. Reading, singing, playing, bathing, eating together, watching movies, taking a walk or just spending time together are other easy ways to show your child that you love him while helping him develop cognitively and socially.

Feeding

Kids have to eat, but not just anything will do. Children's bodies and brains develop optimally when they get a well-balanced and varied diet made up of foods from each food group. MayoClinic.com recommends breastfeeding your baby as long as possible for a healthy start to life. Once your child moves to big kid foods, offer fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, protein and whole grains, which provide his body with the nutrients he needs to grow healthy bones, muscles, organs, eyes and brain. This ensures normal cognitive and physical growth.

Risky Behaviors

Keeping your child safe is one of your primary jobs as a mom. However, if you engage in risky behaviors, you increase the risk that your child might too. Smoking in front of your child, for example, sends the message that it's okay. Even if your child never picks up a cigarette, breathing in secondhand smoke can interfere with development as well. Regular exposure can lead to issues with learning and behavior, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Other risky behaviors, such as substance abuse, can interfere with your ability to keep your child safe and healthy, which can delay his development if he's not getting enough to eat and is fending for himself on a regular basis.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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