Neglected Children At Risk of ADHD, Lower IQ Says Study

Neglected Children At Risk of ADHD, Lower IQ Says Study

Disorders such as ADHD and autism have been attributed to neglect from the findings of this study.

Findings from a recent study provide evidence that children raised in an environment of neglect and deprivation grow up with smaller brains.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by researchers at King’s College London.

The researchers investigated the impact of early-life neglect and institutional deprivation on brain structure. In particular, they looked at orphanages in Romania following the end of Nicolae  Ceaușescu’s era in 1989, where many children were adopted into these institutions that the study’s lead, Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke at King’s College London, described as “hellholes”.

67 Romanian adoptees who experienced neglect in these institutions between 3 and 41 months were compared to 21 adoptees who didn’t suffer from neglect in the early stages of their lives.

The study found that neglected children’s brain size was 8.6% smaller on average compared to children who grew up in healthy environments.

Researchers also found that the former showed signs of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as a lack of fear of strangers in their adulthood.

Professor Mitul Mehta, one of the researchers on the study, told the BBC, “We found structural differences between the two groups in three regions of the brain.

“These regions are linked to functions such as organisation, motivation, integration of information and memory.”

The researchers suggest that these findings provide a causal link between neglect during childhood and lower IQ and higher rates of ADHD in adults.

5 tips to create a loving and compassionate environment for children

Looking after a child full-time can be exhausting, with many parents wishing for more me-time. And while having time for yourself is definitely advised, it shouldn’t come at the cost of your child’s wellbeing. 

Leaving your little one for extended periods of time can be detrimental to your child’s development. It can lead to lower self-esteem, unable to express emotions confidently, and unsure of fulfilling their potential.

Taking the time to show your care and appreciation to your kids can easily remedy the effects of neglect on child development.

Here are five simple tips to create a loving environment where your children are never neglected.

1. Tell your child you love them

effects of neglect on child development

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Make sure to let your kids know you love them the old-fashioned way—by telling them.

The best thing about this is you don’t need any context to say it. When you drop them off at school, while you’re making dinner, or tucking them into bed, it’s fair game to drop a little “I love you”! 

2. Acknowledge their feelings

effects of neglect on child development

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It’s hard for your children to open up about their feelings.

So when one of your kids tells you how he/she feels, take a deep breath before you respond.

It’s okay to acknowledge his/her feelings. Many of us would instinctively dismiss them since we’re grown-ups who have a lot more life experience.

But you want to teach your child that it’s okay to share his/her feelings. Avoid shutting him/her down before he/she gets a chance to tell you what’s going on. It’ll teach your little one how to better cope with these emotions in the future.

3. Teach them to love themselves

Neglected Children At Risk of ADHD, Lower IQ Says Study

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Loving yourself has gotten a bad rep over the years. We don’t mean you should teach your children to be narcissistic.

However, your little ones look to you for approval in all things. Including your love.

This might involve engaging in risky behaviours in order to earn your praise.

Instead, guide your child to accept himself/herself for who he/she is. Every child is unique and different and these differences should be celebrated, not shunned.

If your child received lower test scores than a friend, use that as a learning opportunity to praise him/her for the effort and think about how to improve.

Your child will gain an understanding that it’s okay to not be all things to everyone, which in turn allows your little one to work on his/her strengths in the future.

4. Put down devices

effects of neglect on child development

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There are a lot of studies looking at the effects of screen time on our little ones, such as underdeveloped language skills and addiction.

However, adults have just as much of a problem! In fact, they spend nearly as much time staring at their phones as they spend time with their kids!

If you’re talking to your children or spending time with them, resist the temptation to split your focus by putting down your phone and giving your whole attention.

Your child will notice and appreciate that you’re fully there with him/her at that moment and strengthen your relationship.

5. Set time apart as a family (dinner time, reading time, fun nights)

effects of neglect on child development

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Many Singaporeans feel they don’t spend enough time with their families but are willing to give up watching the latest series on Netflix to make up for it.

Start scheduling a specific time where you are doing something together as a family. This might mean dinner time or board game nights.

Just make sure you have specific time together so it doesn’t feel like you’re all strangers living in a house together!


Sources: BBC