Young Brains and Nurturing Environments

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Raising healthy and happy kids doesn’t just depend on exercise, a good diet, and proper shelter. Experts say a loving and nurturing environment is also crucial during the first years of a child’s life.

We’ll explore the latest research on childhood brain development and learn how it’s being implemented in Kentucky on the documentary special Safe and Sound: Raising Emotionally Healthy Children in a Stressful World. The program airs Monday at 9 p.m. on KET.

Studies indicate positive early experiences are critical for children to develop long-term mental health, while experiences of trauma or constant stress can have serious repercussions for a child’s development. Those working to help Kentucky parents improve their child-rearing skills include Health Access Nurturing Development Services (HANDS), a state-run program offered to new parents in all 120 counties. We’ll also visit a Lexington family learning Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), which strengthens the parent/child bond through dedicated playtime supervised by a professional counselor.

One of the experts featured on Monday’s program is Dr. Otto Kaak, a professor of psychiatry, pediatrics, and social work at the University of Kentucky. He’s also Associate Director of the University’s Center on Trauma and Children, where he works with families under investigation for child abuse or negligence.

To preview the documentary broadcast, Bill Goodman will speak with Dr. Kaak on Sunday’s edition of One to One. In the conversation, Dr. Kaak explains that a caring and positive home environment is key to creating strong neural pathways in a child’s brain.

One to One with Dr. Otto Kaak airs Sunday at 1 p.m. on KET. The documentary, Safe and Sound: Raising Emotionally Healthy Children in a Stressful World, airs Monday at 9 p.m.

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