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Watch: The Science of neglect


Humans are born biologically primed for stimulation!


World renowned child psychiatrist, Dr. David Feurerstein says, for a child to thrive, one of the most important things they need is one loving adult in their life.


Dr. Melodie de Jager (PHD in neurological integration in the learning process) gives us a few examples of what a loving adult entails:

  • Turn everyday activities into interactive games
  • Create time to have fun together, e.g. hide-and-seek
  • Make sure your child is not too busy. For example, too many extramural activities
  • Limit your child’s screen time
  • Limit your own screen time and rather spend time with your child
  • Be a firm, consistent, and loving adult

For a huge percentage of children living in harsh environments, a loving adult is a luxury. It is a known fact that children living in orphanages don’t receive enough interaction and touch from a loving adult. Professor Andy Bilson (Professor in social work at the University of Lancashire) says, 8 million orphans worldwide don’t get a bedtime story, hugs, laughter and chats that are generally part of a normal loving home.

Being a researcher for more than 30 years, Professor Bilson says that the most gut-wrenching sound she has ever heard is the silence in a ward full of children in an orphanage. Babies have learnt not to cry because they realised no one will comfort them. They’re ignored, forgotten, silent.

When children are not picked up, they internalise their pain. They go silent and experience tremendous stress without anyone noticing.

What are the effects of babies and children not experiencing touch, affirmation, affection or love?

Delays in IQ , language, speech and vocabulary
Failure to produce essential hormones that stimulate brain development
Ultimately the brain fails to develop the way it should
High levels of stress produces high levels of the hormone, cortisol
View References

View References

Bilson, A. 2017. The Babies who suffer in Silence: How Overseas Orphanages are Damaging Children. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/babies-suffer-silence-overseas-orphanages-damaging-children/ Date of access: 22 March 2018.

UMass Boston - Still Face Experiment: Dr Edward Tronick.  (video).  2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apzXGEbZht0  Date of access: 15 Oct. 2018.

De Jager, M. & Victor, L. 2013. Speel Leer Slim, ‘n Kind is ‘n mens in wording. Welgemoed: Metz Press

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