In today’s world, there’s a lot of societal pressure for parents to make the “right” choices when it comes to their child’s education, after-school activities, nutrition, and sports. Yet study after study confirms: the “right” choice is simply being present and involved in your child’s life. By doing so, you create emotional stability and build self-esteem that can empower your child to succeed in all facets of life.

A research project by Sarah Bayliss (1984), involving third graders in England, included children whose parents participated in a “parent-involvement program,” found that the children from poor working class families closed the gap in education between themselves and their wealthier, upper-middle class counterparts. In fact, the pupils from the poor working class families, whose parents were involved and supported their children, outperformed those pupils from wealthier families – even those who were given private tutoring – from professionals. The only variable in this study was that the children from poorer families were spoiled by parents who were involved in their daily activities.

The Missouri Project

Another example is from The Missouri Project, a three-year study of 300 hundred families, in which Dr. Burton White demonstrated that children thrived when parents are taught about child development – including how to structure discipline without suppressing natural curiosity and the impulse to explore. The children whose parents were involved in the study also excelled in linguistic and cognitive abilities, and reached higher than average ranges by age three. As a result, Burton White’s study led to one of the most groundbreaking programs for parents interested in parental involvement in early education.

Because the Missouri Project convinced officials that parents were the most powerful force in early education, Missouri funded Parents as Teachers, an education and advocacy organization that helps organizations and professionals work with parents during the critical early years of their children’s lives to foster their growth and wellbeing. The longitudinal results of the P.A.T. programs, in California and Missouri, indicate that those children whose parents are actively involved in their nurturing and education from birth to age three score significantly higher than comparison children on almost all levels, including language, cognitive, social, and academic abilities.

Building Trust and Stability

Thus, if your child can look back and see you as he explores his world, or call for you and hear you, even as you cook or pay the bills, you create emotional stability. Your young explorer solidifies the progress made in each foray. The secure feeling that comes from strong bonding lowers anxiety, leading to strong self-esteem and emotional maturity – which is why your child will learn more at his mother’s knee than anywhere else. When children learn to trust their parents, they trust themselves. At no other point in your child’s life will be your presence be such a viable and invaluable gift.

The bottom line is that when you are present, emotionally available, and focused on your child, he is more likely to feel emotionally secure. Emotionally secure children do better at everything: they focus more effectively, stick to problem-­solving longer, and extend beyond the borders of their knowledge with ease. The very support that encourages your child’s self-motivation and his ability to take calculated risks also contributes to that which helps him learn rapidly and work well with others.

When you understand the developmental stages of childhood and how to support your child through them, you can best support your child’s intellectual, social, and emotional growth. Therefore, the most important ingredient to ensure the successful execution of this process is not only you, but also the environment that only you can create. This is how your child reaches and even pushes beyond the perceived boundaries of his potential.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.