How well does any parent know their kid? When they come home after school and/or sports and other activities, can they accurately predict how good or bad of a day their teen has had? Depending on the answer, it can actually be affecting their child’s mental and physical health. It is well-known by most parents that neglect or abuse can have serious adverse effects on their emotional, mental and physical health. It has been found that paying enough attention to a child’s day, not only strengthens the parent/child relationship, but also gives the child a healthy outlet to release emotions and thoughts that have built up in their minds.
A recent study produced by Lauren J. Human, PhD. of University of California, San Francisco and her colleagues found that adolescents whose parents had a better understanding of their child’s daily experiences actually had better psychological adjustment. The study was published in the October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Behavioral Medicine which is the official journal of the American Psychosomatic Society.
The study involved 116 parent and teen pairs who completed daily diaries over a period of two weeks. In these diaries, both the adolescents and their parents were asked to rate the daily demands put on the teen, including their amount of work both at school and at home, along with the positivity of the teens day. The adolescent participants were asked to also rate their general depression and stress levels. It was found that the parent’s ratings were more accurate when their teens had more positive days at home and when both teens and parents had more positive days together. This means that the parents who more accurately perceived the positivity of their teen’s day reported that their teens had lower levels of depression and stress. At the same time, teens and parents who agreed on whether they both had a good or not to good day together ended up with teens that had better psychological adjustment. Better psychological adjustment means that these teens are able to encounter change and adversity and handle it better than some of their counterparts, a trait which ultimately lowers their risk of problems such as conduct disorder, anxiety or depression.
The study also found that parental accuracy had a good effect on the physical health, or the biological mechanisms relevant to health, of their adolescent as well. When testing the adolescents immune functions which were involved in inflammation which included the cellular response to the teen’s stress hormone. It has been found that adolescents who are emotionally or physically neglected have a higher rate of not only mental health disorders but also physical health problems. In other words, they have more chances to become sick more often. In contrast, the study results indicated that those parents who were accurate about their teen’s daily experiences had teens whose immune cells where more sensitive to anti-inflammatory signals which help to prevent or lower their risk of cardiovascular disease.
This study provides evidence that shows parents that how well they pay attention to their adolescent’s day-to-day experiences can play an important role in their psychological and physical functioning. This can provide groundwork for further studies on how perceptions about a person’s daily life are linked to their immunological processes which are connected to their health. It can also help to provide parents with new tips that can help them take their adolescents’ mental health into account.
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Written by Sovereign Health Group writer, Brianna Gibbons