Three things you need to know about the brain development of children
How critical are the first three years of your child's life? Creating an optimal environment for him while he is still young can do wonders for his brain development.
Your child’s brain is all set to develop from the time of his birth. From then until he reaches three years of age, his brain starts growing at a dramatic rate.
So, what should you do to help your child during these critical years? Here are a few things to take note of.
Brain development of children: best practices
1. Provide meaningful experiences
According to the Harvard Centre on the Developing Child, 700 to 1,000 neural connections are formed each second in a child’s first few years. By age three, a child would have 1,000 trillion neuronal connections in his brains.
This therefore means that the first three years is the best time to expose your child to a platter of experiences, be it picking up different languages, tasting a variety of food or exposing him to adventurous outdoor activities.
It is also a perfect time to instill good habits in children, since they easily pick up what they see, with little resistance. So mummies, if you want your child’s room not to look like a tsunami has just passed by, you should start making cleaning after himself a habit as early as you can!
2. Add a little music to your child’s life
Starting music and movement lessons for your little one may just make him a better reader. According to some researchers, musical training of more than one year causes positive changes in your child’s nervous system, enabling greater neural processing.
What musical training does is that it focuses your child’s attention on meaningful acoustic cues, thus heightening his ability to discern differences between sounds in language. This is especially true for children who have speech difficulties, enabling them to be better able to distinguish between similar-sounding syllables.
Do consider enrolling your toddler in a music and movement class, for a fun and meaningful musical experience.
What else do you need to know about the brain development of children? Read on.
3. Help your child out
Although a little stress is normal and can even be healthy, some kinds of stress can take a toll on your child’s mental health. When your child repeatedly has adverse childhood experiences such as threats to safety , he can develop “toxic” stress. As its name suggests, this kind of stress can be very harmful, affecting the way your baby’s brain develops.
Why is this so? Such chronic stress leads to frequent “fight-or-flight” responses, triggering chemicals in the body, and adversely affecting your child’s brain development in the long run. This could mean that he would be more likely to suffer from deteriorated mental health such as depression.
It is important to ensure that your child grows up in a warm environment where he feels safe with his caregiver. You would need to ensure that your child does not go through a change of caregiver every other month. And, you or your child’s main caregiver would do well to set up a daily routine and also engage your child by laughing and playing together with him.
Bear in mind, though, that a little stress is still important, so do allow him to go through some difficulty while learning to cope with the environment. Just be there to lend him a hand when he needs one.
The building of new neural circuits may be most effective in the critical years of a child’s life. However, do not despair if you have an older child who you feel may have missed the boat.
It is certainly not impossible to develop new neural circuits in later years. It just requires more work on the part of your older child. The brain is more resilient that you may think, and learning and intervention can take place at all stages of your child’s life.
What are some things you do with your little one to enhance brain development of children? Share your comments with us here.