Playing With Your Children Can Save Their Mental Health

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Using the television or video game console to babysit your child might be more detrimental than you think. The results of a two decade study show that actively participating in your child's life could save them from severe personality disorder.


While psychologists have pinpointed many of the adverse elements that go into a child growing up afflicted severe personality disorder, not much has been done to research the factors that could go into helping prevent them from occurring. until now. A study in the current issue of the Development and Psychopathology journal reports that spending quality time in close proximity to an important adult figure can be fundamental in helping children better handle to world around them and how it changes in relation to them as they grow.

"The strong interpersonal connectedness and social skills that children learn from having active, healthy engagements with adults fosters positive psychological development," said lead study author Mark F. Lenzenweger. "With it, a child develops his or her affiliation system – their connection to the world of people. Without it, the way a child connects with other human beings can be severely impaired. And as I found out, it is this impairment that predicts the appearance of schizoid personality disorder symptoms in emerging adulthood and beyond."

A deep and fulfilling bond with an adult helps establish a child's willingness to communicate and connect with others. IA lack of this willingness to communicate is found in many patients suffering from personality disorders.

"Through a rich degree of proximal processes, or more simply put, interactions generally associated with a caring and strong interpersonal relationship, a significant adult - typically a parent but who could also be a caregiver or role model – can help a child to progress to a richer, more differentiated, and fuller psychological experience," said Lenzenweger.

The study indicates that even the most difficult of children saw a benefit from strong parental relationships, showing that the willingness of the parent is a core factor in developing these strong relationships; the child's overall likeability isn't much of a factor.

A professor of clinical science, neuroscience and cognitive psychology at Binghamton University, State University of New York, Mark F. Lenzenweger is in a unique position to comment and speculate on the mental development of children. He began his Longitudinal Study of Personality Disorders in 1991, and has spent the better part of two decades keeping up with the research in that study.


Time is a key factor in Lenzenweger's study. Many long-term psychological studios focus on two points in time. Subjects are measured once at point A, then again at point B, and the results are compared. Lenzenweger instead performed a multiwave analysis, tracking various stages of development over an extended period of time.

As the Longitudinal Study of Personality Disorders progresses it will give psychologists unprecedented insight into how the problems common to adult life aid in the development and prevention of personality disorders. Lenzenweger is spending his lifetime studying lifetimes to give the world a better idea of how to maintain a healthy mind.

"This new approach, which would include genetics, will give us a much better idea of how subjects are doing as they encounter the complex things that happen further along in the course of life," said Lenzenweger. "This includes marriage, divorce, sickness, health, childbearing, career, unemployment, and economic challenges. A focus on these factors, both biological and social, will provide a clearer window on how personality and personality disorder changes across the lifespan, and give us a clearer insight into territory that remains largely unexplored."


even though his study has a long way to go, Lenzenweger and his colleagues have already given us an invaluable piece of information. Don't just let your children play. Play with them. It'll better equip them to deal with all of the craziness adult life has waiting for them.

Play with your kid, for their mental health's sake []



Have you ever tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children, and hitting them?