New research suggests a large number of youngsters do not enjoy the healthy relationship with their parents which is necessary for success in later life.
The Sutton Trust reports that as many as four in ten children fail to develop the strong emotional bonds with their parents that are crucial to later achievements. As a result, disadvantaged children could face educational and behavioural problems.
Aggressive behaviour, defiance and hyperactivity are traits likely to develop in people who do not form strong bonds with their mothers and fathers.
This is the conclusion of the review of international studies of attachment, Baby Bonds, by Sophie Moullin (Princeton University), Professor Jane Waldfogel (Colombia University and the London School of Economics) and Dr Liz Washbrook (University of Bristol).
Of the 40 per cent who do not develop strong bonds, 25 per cent avoid their parents when they are upset and 15 per cent resist their parents because they cause them distress.
Conor Ryan, director of research at the Sutton Trust, said: "Better bonding between parents and babies could lead to more social mobility, as there is such a clear link to education, behaviour and future employment.
"The educational divide emerges early in life, with a 19-month school readiness gap between the most and least advantaged children by the age of five."
He went on to say that forming good attachments has a key role to play in narrowing the school readiness gap and improving children's life chances.
The report finds that unsatisfactory attachments can be a problem for all social classes, but where families suffer a range of problems, two-thirds of children have weak attachments.
Poorer language and behaviour are common before in children with insecure attachments before they begin education. The effect persists into later life - such people are more likely to leave school without further education, employment or training.
The Sutton Trust is making a number of policy recommendations on the back of the report, urging the government to do more through health visitors and children's centres, with their emphasis on outcomes for disadvantaged families.
Posted by Alan Douglas