We’re all dealing with big fears and challenges right now, whether we’re on the front lines or doing our part at home. It is stressful. Our relationships and support systems are disrupted.

Our research at the Nurture Science Program has shown that when we don’t connect with others, our brains can’t develop optimally, or function well. That makes us more likely to have conflict, behavioral problems, and anxiety and depression.

But there are things we can do to establish and maintain emotional connection during this difficult time. Over the next few weeks, we will share stories, tips, and exercises to strengthen emotional connection so you can calm your bodies and minds.

The Nurture Science Program at Columbia University Medical Center is a unique research program rooted in a new, evidence-based understanding of the critical role emotional connection plays in healthy child development.

Our multidisciplinary team is committed to rigorous research, and continues to develop and test nurture-based therapies that support emotional connection to help children and families address, and even avoid, emotional, behavioral, and developmental challenges.


Emotional connection and autonomic
co-regulation drive behavior and development.


The power of nurture is evident from molecular biology to clinical research.


Translating research findings to evidence-based care can help children and families everywhere.

What We Hope to Achieve

Millions of children suffer from emotional, behavioral, and developmental disorders that can be addressed or prevented. Current treatment strategies often are not effective. The Nurture Science Program’s work can help children and their families.

Over the past 10 years, the Nurture Science Program has amassed considerable evidence to support interventions that advance the child-family emotional connection that is critical to healthy child development. Imagine the possibilities when all children and families have this kind of support.

Connecting Emotionally Despite COVID: Singing

Some ways of emotionally connecting require touch, but others don’t, like singing. Here are some simple ways you can connect with each other in this time of crisis, whether you’re on the front lines, confined at home together, or a video call away.


Emotional Connection During Crisis

We’re all dealing with big fears and challenges right now, and maintaining emotional connection is more important than ever. When we don’t connect with others, our brains can’t develop optimally, or function well. One-on-one time can help: here’s how.


2020 Vision: A Milestone Year

In 2020, the Nurture Science Program will reach milestones in research on Family Nurture Intervention in the NICU, Family Nurture Intervention for preschool families, and studies on the use of WECS and WECS+.


Family Nurture Intervention for Preschool-Aged Children

The Columbia Nurture Science Program has been studying Family Nurture Intervention with preschool families to understand how supporting emotional connection can help address emotional and behavioral problems. Follow up assessments and data analysis are ongoing, but there has already been positive feedback from parents and Head Start staff.