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Parenting stress affecting child development - Samms Vaughan

Published:Thursday | February 21, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Samms Vaughan

Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer

Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission, Professor Maureen Samms Vaughn, has raised concerns about the high level of "parenting stress" which she says has smeared the development of many preschool children across the country.

"It was a recent study and we found that parenting stress was exceptionally high within Jamaica and what we do know that once you provide parenting support, the stress level will be reduced," she told The Gleaner following a meeting of the private-sector stakeholders and international funding agencies that was held at the Wyndham hotel on Tuesday.

"Parents have to realise that by the time the child hits preschool, they have had three years of brain development already, and all of what happens at home is important because that is the most rapid rate of a child's development," declared Samms Vaughn.

She further stated: "It (stress) comes in different ways. For some, it can result in (imposing) high levels of discipline and for others it causes depression which results in them not interacting with the child and both extremes of these stress levels are disruptive to children's development."

She also pointed out that the commission has been doing a number of programmes to help parents to better understand their roles as they improve early-childhood education in Jamaica.

Dr Joan Lombardi, a leading expert on child development and social policy, also emphasised the importance of having a good environment for children.

"Aiding in the development of children is the interaction between parent and children. When a child does something, we need to respond and parents ought to understand the importance of that link," she said while addressing the meeting.

"We don't need to have our children experiencing toxic stress. Far too many children have encountered intense situations at home and parents tend to neglect the early years, but it is very important that we create a good environment for our children," said Lombardi.