Knowledge and Resource Hub
09 December 2019

Young children develop in an environment of relationships

This paper from Harvard University discusses the importance of children's “environment of relationships” for the development of a child’s brain architecture. This architecture then lays the foundation for later outcomes such as academic performance, mental health, and interpersonal skills. Governments however, often fail to consider the importance of adult-child relationships for child well-being. Growth-promoting relationships are based on the child’s continuous give-and-take (“serve and return” interaction) with a human partner who provides what nothing else in the world can offer—experiences that are individualised to the child’s unique personality style; that build on his or her own interests, capabilities, and initiative; that shape the child’s self-awareness; and that stimulate their emotional and cognitive growth.