gloomy_kids_happier_with_good_parenting.jpgIf you have kids who seem perpetually gloomy, make sure you give them constant encouragement and bring them up in a positive environment at home. A new study published in the Translational Psychiatry Journal shows kids born with a gene that lowers the amount of serotonin in the brain--which could cause them to be sad--can develop happier dispositions if they're being parented positively.

The researchers, who examined almost 1,900 children with a shortened 5-HTTLPR gene from ages nine to 15, also found out that kids whose parents didn't guide them properly experienced less instances of being happy. They got the same results in three different experiments. The first had parents discussing their methods for bringing up their children; the second involved watching the parents and kids interact in a laboratory; and the third had the kids talking about what they believed was "warm, positive parenting."

Benjamin L. Hankin, lead author of the study and associate professor of clinical child and developmental cognitive neuroscience psychology at the University of Denver, compares how both genes and parenting affect children's growth to to how plants develop. "A weed will grow anywhere," he is quoted as saying on Healthday.com, "but if you're an orchid, you're probably more reactive and responsive to your environment. If you have a really negative, punishing environment, you're probably not going to grow up to be a beautiful orchid."

While a lot of individuals are completely unaware of whether or not their children have the shortened 5-HTTLPR gene, Hankin says "chronically moody" kids have a high possibility of having it. "So if you're a parent, and you have a kid who has a difficult temperament, your parenting matters a lot," he adds. "Being a positive parent can accomplish a lot."

Whether or not your children have this gene shouldn't matter in the bigger picture, as the results of the study show just how important it is to bring your children up in an encouraging environment. So pay attention to how you interact with your kids and give them the support they need. Fostering love in the family will help them grow into emotionally healthy adults in the future.


Want more parenting tips? Check these out:

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(Photo by ericmcgregor via Flickr Creative Commons)

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