How your parents respond to you up to age 3 can be a predictor of your success in life.
A new longitudinal study from authors at the universities of Delaware, Minnesota and Illinois says "sensitive caregiving" plays a role decades later in a person's academic and career performance, as well as their romantic and social relationships.
Sensitive caregiving can have a variety of interpretations but it really seems to boil down to how you react when your child has needs and whether you react promptly. It involves being positive with your child and providing a secure base for your child to explore his or her environment.
The researchers looked at an earlier study that examined maternal sensitivity in the first 3 years of life and its association with social competence and academic skills through age 15. The new study wanted to go one step further and take it into adulthood, not stopping at adolescence.
Luckily for them there was an even earlier study called the The Minnesota Longitudinal Study that tracked children from just before birth to age 32. The researchers used information from 243 individuals who were born into poverty, and came from a range of racial/ethnic backgrounds. They collected a great deal of information about development that the authors were able to use.
Although families' economic resources were important predictors of children's development, these variables didn't fully account for the persistent and long-term influence of early caregiving experiences on individuals' academic success.
The new study's authors say that after collating all the date, they have determined that our first three years are key to what the future holds for us in terms of relationships and career performance.