As a parent, you want the best for your child-the best health, the best schools, and above all, the best possible future. While you may not be able to provide him with everything, you can give him the most important gift a parent can give: a home environment which will enable him to reach his full potential.
It is easy for parents to feel discouraged when they consider the numerous influences-many of which are beyond their control-that affect their children. As a child grows older, it sometimes seems as though television, radio, and friends have more control than parents over his behavior. But there is good news: Throughout decades of research on child development, study after study reveals the remarkable power of positive parenting and a supportive home environment. While science cannot yet-and may never-completely explain the complex ways in which a child's genes interact with his environment to steer his development, research consistently shows that parenting is one of the most powerful environmental influences on both well-being and future outcomes.
This is especially true in the first three years of life, when children are at their most sensitive to positive-and negative-influences. A great deal of brain development occurs during this period, as the brain adapts itself to the child's needs. Experiences during these early years help determine the way the brain wires itself; therefore, they have important and long-lasting consequences. For example, many of the causes of achievement gaps among high school students originate in early childhood and are already present when children begin school.