The bond between kid and parent is stronger than fear | Science News

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Parents’ presence promotes a child’s pluck

Kids who are near a caregiver when exposed to an off-putting noise aren’t afraid of it later

By
6:30pm, March 27, 2018
fearful child

BRAVE IT OUT  Taming fear when a parent is nearby gives kids the confidence to be brave on their own. New research suggests that a caregiver’s presence dials down the brain’s threat-processing regions. 

BOSTON — The bond between parent and child is powerful enough to override fear. New research shows that if a parent sits with a young child during a potentially scary situation, the child isn’t as afraid of it later.

The study is in line with research suggesting that during particular stages of development, a strong connection with a caregiver tamps down activity in the amygdala, the brain structure that helps process fear and spurs the fight-or-flight response.

“Fight or flight is pointless if you are tiny,” said developmental neuroscientist Nim Tottenham of Columbia University, who presented the work March 26 at a Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting. For young kids, the bond with a caregiver not only helps ensure survival but also makes kids feel safe, enabling them to approach the world with confidence, Tottenham said. “Attachment is a strategy that

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