The Power of Proximal Parenting: Impact of Being Close to Your Child on their Growth

Written by Daisy
Last updated:
Reviewed by Margaret
Proximal Parenting

Have you heard of proximal parenting? As a parent, you may sometimes wonder if you’re doing everything you can to help your child grow and develop. Something as simple as staying close to your child can have a powerful impact on their well-being. Proximal parenting emphasizes physical closeness between the parent and child.

In this article, I’ll explore all the benefits of this special approach. I’ll also show you how to incorporate it into your parenting style.

Let’s start!

What is Proximal Parenting in Psychology?

Proximal parenting means staying close to your child. Psychologists believe that being close to a child is super important. That’s especially the case during the first few years of their life. It can help their development.

When a child feels safe and secure, they are more likely to explore the environment and learn new things. Proximal parenting can help to build a strong foundation for a child’s future growth and life.

Proximal Parenting Examples

Wondering how proximal parenting looks in reality? Here are some examples:

Skin-to-Skin Contact

Skin-to-skin contact is when a parent holds their baby on their bare chest. It has many benefits, including regulating the baby’s breathing and heart rate. Additionally, skin-to-skin contact helps to promote bonding between parents and their babies. It’s a great way to establish security and comfort.


Babywearing is a great way for parents to keep their baby close and still have their hands free. This involves using a sling or carrier to hold the baby while the parent goes about their day. Not only does it make it easier for parents to do things, but it also helps them bond with their babies. Babywearing has numerous benefits for both parents and babies. 

For instance, it reduces stress, promotes breastfeeding, and improves the baby’s development. It’s a simple and effective way for parents to provide comfort and care to their little ones. My baby loved a sling so much, and I recommend it to everyone!

Responsive Feeding

When a baby is hungry, they show it in different ways. Responsive feeding means watching for these signs and feeding the baby right away. This can help babies feel safe and learn healthy eating habits.

Crying is often a late sign of hunger, so watching for earlier cues is essential. 

Here are some signs that show that your baby is hungry:

  • Smacking their lips.
  • Sucking on their hands.
  • Rooting around looking for something to suck on.

When parents respond promptly to their baby’s hunger cues, it helps the baby feel secure. 


When a baby sleeps close to their parents, it’s called co-sleeping. This can be in the same bed or nearby. Co-sleeping helps babies feel secure, and lets parents respond to their needs.

However, remember that co-sleeping can also pose certain risks. One of these risks is the potential for accidental suffocation. Provide a safe environment to enjoy sleeping moments with your kid. 

What Type of Children Does Proximal Parenting Tend to Produce? Effects of Proximal Parenting on Child Development

Proximal parenting helps make children feel more secure, independent, and have better self-esteem. These children are usually empathetic, understanding, and compassionate toward others. That results in positive social interactions. Studies have found that children who experience proximal parenting have the following:

  • Better cognitive and social development.
  • Improved language skills, memory, attention span, and problem-solving skills.
  • Better physical health due to increased skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, and responsive feeding practices.
  • Increased emotional and behavioral regulation.
  • Higher levels of trust.
  • Self-soothing abilities.
  • Reduced stress level.

Implications for Parents and Caregivers

Proximal parenting allows parents to develop stronger bonds with their children. It also helps them better understand their child’s needs, emotions, and behaviors. Finally, it results in happier and healthier children. Parents who practice proximal parenting can also:

  • Develop their parenting skills.
  • Become more responsive to their child’s needs.
  • Understand their child’s personality.
  • Benefit from reduced stress levels and increased feelings of happiness. 

What is Distal Parenting in Psychology?

Distal parenting emphasizes independence and separation from the child. It also values 

achievement and success over emotional closeness and bonding. 

This style can lead to feeling emotionally distant and disconnected from the parents. Examples of distal parenting include parents who:

  • Focus more on their goals and achievements than their child’s emotional needs.
  • Spend less time with their children and are less responsive to their needs.
  • Are more likely to use punishments or rewards. That’s their way of motivating children rather than providing emotional support.
  • Prioritize their child’s academic success over their emotional well-being. Unfortunately, this can result in children who are more anxious and less confident.

Proximal vs. Distal Parenting

Proximal parenting emphasizes close physical and emotional contact between parent and child. Contrary, distal parenting emphasizes independence and separation. 

It’s important to note that every family is unique, and there is no “right” way to parent. 

However, distal parenting may lead to emotional distance, anxiety, and reduced confidence in children. So before choosing how to raise a child, consider all options carefully.

Proximal Parenting


What Are The Four Main Types of Parenting Styles?

There are four main parenting styles: 

  • Authoritarian
  • Authoritative
  • Permissive
  • Uninvolved

These styles have different levels of control and warmth toward children.

Let’s go through each of them:

Authoritative parents are firm but warm and provide structure while allowing flexibility. They set clear expectations and boundaries. But they also take into account their children’s opinions and feelings.

Authoritarian parents have strict rules and expect obedience without providing warmth or understanding. They often rely on punishment as a way of discipline.

Permissive parents are friendly and understanding but lack structure and discipline. It can lead to children struggling with self-control and difficulty following rules. 

Uninvolved parents do not provide adequate emotional or physical support. They may neglect their child’s basic needs and fail to offer guidance or attention. 

What is Autonomous Parenting?

Autonomous parenting encourages independence and self-reliance in their children. Parents who use this style set clear expectations for their children. They also provide them with the resources and support to meet those expectations. This style leads to children who are confident and independent. These children are usually capable of making their own decisions.

What is Helicopter Parenting?

Helicopter parenting is a style in which parents involve a lot in their children’s lives. They hover and intervene in their child’s activities – often to the point of micromanaging. This style can lead to children who are anxious and lack self-confidence.

What is Slow to Warm-up Parenting?

Slow-to-warm-up parenting takes a more cautious approach to child raising. These parents may hesitate to try new things or push their children out of their comfort zone. This style can lead to children who are hesitant to try new things. They also often have difficulty adapting to new situations.


Parents can make informed decisions by understanding different parenting styles. In summary, proximal parenting is a great way in fostering a strong parent-child bond. 

However, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, but balance and support are important. The right balance can help children become confident, capable, and independent adults.

Whatever option you choose, make sure you and your child are happy!

Photo of author
Daisy Martinez, a Certified Financial Planner and mother of two, blends finance expertise from Ohio State and Anderson School of Management with hands-on parenting insights. Founder of "" and "", she's passionate about guiding parents in financial and parenting realms.

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