The Primal Happiness Show

This week's show is with Darcia Narvaez, Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame. Darcia publishes extensively on moral development and education. Author or editor of 13 books, her most recent authored books include Embodied Morality: Protectionism, Engagement and Imagination, and Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom, which won the William James Book Award from the American Psychological Association.  She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Educational Research Association. She is executive editor of the Journal of Moral Education. She also writes a popular blog for Psychology Today (“Moral Landscapes”).

Her academic scholarship has moved from work on nonconscious moral rationality, to moral character education in the schools, to the neurobiology of moral development, to the study of evolved parenting practices, and the study of small-band hunter-gatherers who represent the type of society in which humans evolved.

All this comes together in a moral developmental systems theory that emphasizes the ongoing epigenetic plasticity of how we develop our humanity and our morality. We are co-constructed by our families and our experiences. Ultimately, Darcia's concerns are for developmental optimization and fulfilling human potential—actionable communal imagination.

In this show we spoke about Darcia's studies around the best environment and practices for raising children.

What you'll learn from this episode:

  • Natural childbirth - keeping the mother and baby together, low lighting, and a calm environment - provides both mothers and babies with the best start.
  • The baby should really be in the womb for another 18 months in terms of its development compared to other mammals. We can support babies in this crucial time of development through providing a calm, loving environment and responding quickly to their cries. This means lots of positive touch (nearly constant carrying and cuddling) meeting a baby’s needs before they get upset and their brain is flooded with stress hormones.
  • Breastfeeding is important until at least 2 years, ideally to 5 years. Breast milk provides the foundation to children's immune system.
  • Children benefit from being cared for by multiple adults - people who love and care for the child in addition to the mother and father and who can help create a positive social environment for the child.
  • Play is crucial! Children need lots of play with playmates of all ages. Studies show that children who don’t play enough are more likely to have mental health issues. We can’t go back and do those early years of parenting again but we can all start playing more now!
Direct download: Darcia_mixdown.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 12:26pm EDT