The study, headed by biological anthropologist Leslie Seltzer, tested a group of girls aged 7 through 12 by having them answer math problems and give impromptu speeches in front of a panel of strangers, says this article on PsyOrg.com. The girls' level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone, rose dramatically. Once they'd reached a high stress level, a third of the test subjects were offered comfort by their mothers in person, a third were given motherly love via telephone, and a third watched a emotionally neutral video.
Results showed that the girls who got to receive physical or verbal encouragement from their mothers showed reduced stress levels: the levels of oxytocin, which is also known as the "love hormone," increased as the levels of cortisol decreased.
The findings of this study, which were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal, show the importance of the bonding between mothers and daughters. Even very early on in life, mothers should make it a point to show their love and encouragement of their daughters both physically (through hugs and other affirming gestures) and verbally.
Below are some of FN's suggestions on how to show your daughter some love:
FREQUENT AND HEARTFELT HUGS
Hug them long and often, especially when they're still young. As they get older, it may become a little less cool to be hugged by Mom in public, but we assure you, these hugs will still be welcome at home or during private moments (read that as when she knows she doesn't have to defend her "coolness" to anyone present).
A PAT ON THE SHOULDER
This doesn't have to be literally a pat on the shoulder; an encouraging squeeze or even a smile or a thumbs-up gesture may do as well. Just make it a point to show with your whole body that you are 100 percent behind her.
REWARD FOR A JOB WELL DONE
Words like "good work" or "I'm proud of you" when your daughter has done well will show that you're aware how hard she's worked to accomplish something. Make even token gestures to reward her, such as by cooking her favorite dishes or by taking her out to a much-loved restaurant when she brings home that straight-A report card. You can even opt for monetary rewards.
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION IN TIMES OF CRISIS
When your daughter is going through a tough time, you need to show your support and concern rather than adding to the load. Even a simple "I believe in you" or "we'll get through this" (the latter effective because you're also letting her know she's not alone) will go a long way to reviving her spirits so she can face what's ahead. For example, if she's facing a big exam, give her some verbal encouragement the morning before or tell her to cal you right after. Show her you're here to help by asking her, "How can we fix this?" or "What do you need that I can give you?" Punishment for wrongdoing is one thing, but very often, using positive reinforcement works just as well, if not better, and it will be much more pleasant for both of you.
(Photo source: sxc.hu)
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