The science of love in childhood

Conversations with leading experts in childhood love, adversity and mental health.

A smiling child flailing happily in the arms of her parents
04 January 2021

Why is love so important in childhood?

In this ground-breaking new series by UNICEF, Laura Mucha – author, poet and children’s advocate – interviews some of the world’s leading experts to find out. 

The series sets out to cover how adversity impacts us as children and the adults we become, what we can do to protect and improve young people’s mental health, and why safe and loving relationships are so vital for children’s health, development and wellbeing throughout life.

Dr. Vikram Patel, Professor of Global Health, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Patel explains why our mental health is our greatest personal asset, and how it impacts a range of human experiences including our thoughts, feelings, behaviours and decisions. He explains how poor mental health can affect anyone, in any society, and also explores some of the common, universal interventions to promote good mental health for all.

Cornelius Williams, Associate Director and global Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF

We hear about Cornelius’s experiences in delivering child protection programmes and interventions around the world. He talks about the importance of changing both attitudes and laws to prevent violence against children, and how investing in support for children and families in the early years is one of the best investments governments can make to improve the health, wellbeing and productivity of societies.

Dr. Bernadette Madrid, Director of the Child Protection Unit of the University of the Philippines Manila - Philippine General Hospital

We hear from Dr. Bernadette Madrid about the impact of adverse childhood experiences on children’s mental and physical health and life outcomes. She explores some of the risk factors contributing to adversity in childhood, both before and after birth, and how universal support for parents is vital to help break the inter-generational cycle of neglect and abuse.

Aaron Greenberg, Senior Regional Advisor for Europe and Central Asia, Child Protection, UNICEF

Aaron shares how his upbringing and experiences helped to inspire his work advocating to reform childcare and protection systems around the world. He explores ways that governments can support vulnerable parents and caregivers and help keep families together, by building trust and providing tailored services within the community.

Dr. Daniel Siegel, child psychiatrist, professor and author

Dr. Siegel explores the idea of love as a vital force of life which is essential for helping children grow and thrive. He explains how our attachments with parents and caregivers in early childhood can affect our relationships throughout life, and why we need to invest in more caring and collaborative communities to support children and their families.


> Explore more articles on the UNICEF Parenting Portal