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​News | Parenting stress may affect mother’s and child’s ability to tune in to each other

Published on: 29-Aug-2019

Neuroscience News

A study led by NTU Singapore has revealed the effects of the stress of parenting in the brains of both mothers and their children. The researchers analysed the brain activity of 31 pairs of mother and child from Singapore while they were watching children’s animation clips together. They found that mothers who reported higher levels of parenting stress had less synchrony in brain activity with their child (all aged around 3 years old) than those who reported lower levels of parenting stress. Senior author of the research Asst Prof Gianluca Esposito, from the School of Social Sciences who leads the Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab (SAN-Lab) at NTU Singapore, said, “Our study shows that parenting stress may very well weaken mother-child communication early in the process of social interaction. Our observations likely stem from the stressed mother’s reduced ability to share her child’s perspective. This inability to appreciate the child’s viewpoint may reduce the quality of parental engagement and undermine the mother-child relationship in the long run.” The paper’s first author Ms Atiqah Azhari, a PhD candidate at the SAN-Lab at NTU, said, “Our study brings us a step closer to uncovering how parenting stress weakens the mother-child relationship on a day-to-day basis. We did not expect to find a clear relationship between parenting stress and brain synchrony when the mother and child did something as simple as watching animation together. This suggests that the mother’s mental wellbeing is important for optimal mother-child engagement at the cognitive level.”

Read the article here.

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