Research by Narvaez Says a Dad's Touch Helps Babies Learn Self-Control

June 15, 2016Bill Schmitt

Darcia Narvaez Al Web

Notre Dame psychologist Darcia Narvaez, recently named a fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), has published findings that reveal one way to prevent kids from becoming anxiety-plagued adults. She advises parents to cuddle with their babies.

The research, as detailed earlier this year in Applied Developmental Science, concludes children who receive affectionate touch, with their parents picking them up and playing with them, are generally less anxious in adulthood.

“We want to keep that child close,” Narvaez said of parents in a June 13 piece in The Huffington Post“Follow that instinct,” she advised, adding that mothers and fathers should “hold, play, interact” so that their children don’t grow up to be anxious.

The Huffington Post’s United Kingdom edition quoted from the journal article titled “The Evolved Development Niche in Childhood: Relation to Adult Psychopathology and Morality.”

Meanwhile, Narvaez, who is an Institute for Educational Initiatives fellow well known for her studies of developmental psychology, added an extra dimension to her counsel for parents in her own “Moral Landscapes” blog published by Psychology Today.

She emphasized in a June 12 blog post that development of socially well-adapted children is (literally) in the hands of both mothers and fathers.

“Dads, like moms, help children learn the ways to ‘be with’ others,” Narvaez wrote in the post, “Why Babies Need Dads, Too.” She continued, “Learning reliable alternative patterns [of relationships with moms and dads] prepares the child for a varied social life.” 

She added that “dads can help baby stay calm with skin-to-skin carrying” and other behaviors that combine touch and movement.