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Warm parenting can buffer tweens and teens from harmful effects of daily stress, according to a study in Health Psychology. Researchers collected daily telephone reports and saliva samples from 132 children and teens, ages 9 to 17, over a period of eight days. They asked the youth about daily stressors, emotions and physical health symptoms; measured their cortisol levels; and conducted in-home interviews to asses parental warmth in the families. On average, children and teens had more negative emotions on more stressful days. However, those with less warm parents had more negative emotions, and higher cortisol levels associated with stress, even on days with lower-than-usual stress. Children really do need a soft place to land to help lower stress levels.

Many studies have shown that warmth in the parent-child relationship is related to positive outcomes for children. Higher self-esteem, better parent-child communication, and fewer psychological and behavior problems have been linked to warmth and affection between parent and child. Parental warmth and affection is also positively related to adolescent academic competence and negatively related to teen pregnancy and associations with deviant peers. Parental warmth is even found to encourage children’s use of social support and proactive, problem-focused coping styles. Conversely, receiving insufficient levels of parental support can foster feelings of alienation, expressions of hostility and aggression, diminished self-esteem, and antisocial and risk behaviors. Other trends relating to parenting warmth/affection can be found on www.childtrends.org.