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Kids Who Get Hugged Grow Up to Be Well-Adjusted Adults



August 9, 2010

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - An affectionate hug or quiet time with a parent can have positive psychological benefits that stretch far beyond a person's childhood. Results from a recent study that tracked nearly 500 infants into their 30s, found babies who receive above-average levels of affection and attention from their mothers are less likely than others to grow up emotionally distressed, anxious, or hostile as adults.

For Nashville-based IMAGO counselor Rod Kochtitzky, the results confirm what he sees in his practice — that children given consistent affection and attention have fewer psychological problems.

"I think kids need two things — reliable warmth, and they need reliable availability. The caregiver doesn't have to be warm all the time, but they need to be reliably warm. They don't have to be available all the time; they need to be reliably available."

Kochtitzky says attachment issues that begin at one or two years of age present themselves at several times during childhood and adolescence, but the main principles involving reliability also continue through these stages.

"The issues come up six or seven years later, and attachment issues are reworked again with parents during adolescence."

Kochtitzky says the findings, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, make a good argument for programs that encourage positive interactions between parents and infants.

Randy O'Brien, Public News Service - TN