Social Policy, Brain Architecture, Serve and Return, Stress, Resilience
Harvard Center on the Developing Child, December 2009
Healthy development depends on the quality and reliability of a young child’s relationships with the important people in his or her life, both within and outside the family. Even the development of a child’s brain architecture depends on the establishment of these relationships. Growth-promoting relationships are based on the child’s continuous give and take (“serve and return” interaction) with a human partner who provides what nothing else in the world can offer – experiences that are individualized to the child’s unique personality; that build on his or her own interests, capabilities, and initiative; that shape the child’s self-awareness; and that stimulate the growth of his or her heart and mind.