Study Confirms Just How Important Mum Is To A Child’s Development

While your kids may get their looks from their dad, a world first study concludes that a child’s social and cognitive skills (such as communicating, problem solving, listening and reasoning) come from spending time with Mum.

pregnant mum reading to daughter

Mum’s the Word

Conducted by the University of Essex and University College London, this unique study confirms that spending time with Mum at a young age is critical for a child’s development. This is especially the case for children between the ages of three and seven and for first born children, the study finds.

The study investigated the direct relationship between mother and child in terms of social and cognitive development. It examined 8,000 children and their mothers and discovered that children who spent more time with Mum ended up with higher social skills and cognitive development. Fathers were not included in this specific study.

“Our results emphasise that the time spent by mothers with their children has a noticeable influence on early child development,” said one of the co-authors of the study, Professor Marco Francesconi.

The study does not confirm just how many hours a mother should spend with her child each week but does suggest activities such as reading, puzzles and other educational games contribute to these lifelong skills.

single mum with kids

Education Matters

Another surprising thing that the study discovered is that a mother’s level of education also had an effect on a child’s early years’ development.

Children with mothers who have been educated beyond the minimum school-leaving age fared better in terms of communication and verbal skills than children whose mothers were less well educated.

The SAHM/Working Mum Debate

Although the study does not intentionally try to bring up the stay-at-home-mum versus working-mum debate, it inadvertently has done so and most likely triggered guilt in working mothers as well as mums who have not furthered their education.

But one thing to remember, regardless of your education or working situation, is that often it is all about quality, not quantity, when it comes to time spent with your little one.

This study has been published in the Economic Journal. 

written by:

Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna traded in the cold mountain air for the laid back lifestyle of Australia nine years ago. She is now a mum to one son, one daughter, one dog and one cat, all of whom live with her and her partner in Cairns, QLD. When not writing about the ups and downs of parenting, she is usually outside doing some form of physical activity or indulging in a glass of antioxidant-infused fruit drink. Okay, it's wine.