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Many children live in homes where they don’t have what they need to do well in life. These children who face a lot of difficult things might not grow up to be all that they could be. Studies show that a hard life can slow down brain development. We wanted to know how parents and other caregivers could protect children’s brain development, even in tough conditions.

We did a study on the lives of hundreds of children who grew up in Brazil and South Africa in the 1990s and 2000s. We found that when children had parents or caregivers who listened and talked with them in a loving way and helped them learn things when they were 4 years old or younger, they grew up to be smarter teenagers and able to care for themselves.

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