Isn’t it wonderful when you get simple information that can make a big difference in understanding your child? Sometimes the concept of brain development can seem too complicated or overwhelming. What if I told you optimal brain development can occur very easily through every day experiences?

It is really exciting to have technology providing the study of the brain, like we’ve never seen before. Scientific research demonstrates that a child’s early development is determined by the environment and experiences, rather than genetics alone. For us to provide the best for children, we must understand how a child’s brain develops.

…..And it isn’t complicated!

Early Experiences Wire a Brain

The experiences children receive in the early years of life are crucial to overall brain development. When a child has an experience, connections are formed between brain cells. The cells are dependent on experience to create these connections. After eight months a child exposed to a nurturing and stimulating environment may already have 1,000 trillion connections created. These connections physically grow and develop the brain. It is primarily the early experiences that largely determine the basic strength and function of the brain’s wiring system. It is that simple!

Warm and consistent parents, who cuddle and talk to their children and provide fun learning experiences, promote healthy brain development for their children. It is so refreshing for many parents to learn that beyond meeting a child’s basic needs and providing good nutrition, all a developing brain needs most is loving interaction and play.

The Brain Adapts to Any Environment

Because the brain develops based on experience, a young child’s brain will adapt to a negative environment just as easily as it will adapt to a positive environment.

Prolonged, severe, or unpredictable stress-including abuse and neglect-during a child’s early years can result in negative impacts on the child’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social growth. Babies who do not get responses to their cries, and those whose cries are met with abuse, develop brain connections to prepare them to cope in that environment. As a result their ability to learn and respond to nurturing and kindness may be impaired.

It is Repetition That Makes Strong Connections.

The brain organizes through a “use it or lose it” process. The brain eliminates and strengthens connections in an effort to become more efficient. So, experiences that are repeated frequently lead to brain connections that are retained. Connections that are not used often due to lack of repeated experience are eliminated. This is how a child’s brain adapts to the experiences in daily life.

Consistency is key. The brain feels comfortable when it knows what to expect. When children learn through repetition that you will be there for them when they need you they can relax and feel safe. When you provide loving interaction, adequate amounts of sleep, healthy nutrition, time playing outdoors, physical activity, and lots of creative play, and exploration that includes all of the senses you are contributing to a very healthy brain.

Through understanding how quality experiences impact brain development we can make a real difference. This is what children want all of the adults in their lives to know. It is my goal to make this common knowledge. We can all play an important role in making this happen for all children. Now that you know, relax, have fun and tell everyone you know how easy it is to positively wire a brain.

By Deborah McNelis, Owner/Creator of braininsights

She is the author of The Brain Development Series, Love Your Baby, Fun While I’m One, More To Do While I’m Two, Play With Me While I’m Three, Help Me Learn More While I’m Four.

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