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How YOU Play A Crucial Role In Building Your Child's Brain
  • Every parent has to face managing different types of child behavior, may it be refusing to follow orders, or throwing tantrums. It is challenging to deal with, and that is why it's important to understand that behavior is comprised of internal and external forces that affect how a child acts, and it includes her neurological development.

    According to an article Philip Perry wrote in 2017, parents become better at child-rearing when they understand the stages of their child's brain and senses and what it means for learning and behavior. Neurological development or has four main stages.

    Sensorimotor stage

    The first stage is the sensorimotor stage, which takes place between birth and 2 years. This is when a child gets to master the world around them through their senses and with trial and error. After a child's first year, he learns about object permanence, the concept that an object still exists even when it's not seen.

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    As stated by Sarah Lytle, Ph.D., from the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA, many parents are not aware that babies are already developing socially and emotionally even if they are not speaking yet. Have you tried interacting with a baby you don't know? You'll notice that the baby will look towards her parent's direction to see how to respond. This is called social cognition or social referencing. When parents respond when a child looks to them, a child becomes more confident and independent.

    A baby will start muttering words around 6 months of age. According to Dr. Lytle, it's okay to use a baby-talk tone, but make sure you speak in full sentences and correct grammar. When introducing a new word to your baby, highlight it with your eyes by moving them slowly as your baby follows your gaze.


    Preoperational stage

    When a child hits the period of age 2 to 6, he enters the next stage, which is the preoperational stage. His language skills shows marked improvement. He develops understanding symbols, numbers, and starts to recognize the past and future. He will still find it difficult to understand abstract ideas.

    Most parents are aware that 2-year-olds have a self-centered point of view, which makes it hard for them to share and care about other people. A child throwing a tantrum is part of a toddler's socio-emotional development. It's how he expresses anger and frustration about not getting what he wants or simply seeing the boundaries his parents have set. He can't control their emotions that much in short. Notice how he get distracted easily when you hand over a toy they love if they're throwing a fit.

    A child's understanding of other people's perspective doesn't develop until the age of 3 or 4. Parents can read stories to their kids, where they have to put themselves in the character's shoes.

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    Concrete operations stage

    From age six to twelve, a child enters the next stage, which is the concrete operations stage. Seven is ideally the age of reason. In this stage, a child interprets abstract concepts, perceive sequences of events, and show empathy to others. As suggested by Dr. Lytle, parents must keep in mind the child's emotional development at this stage. Children will most likely be affected by any marital issues or a parent suffering from depression. Parents need to be reminded that these kids feel it, too.

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    Formal operations stage

    The final stage is the formal operations stage, which covers age 12 throughout the teen years. The child, now a young adult, establishes a greater scope for hypothetical thinking, abstract reasoning, and deductive reasoning.

    During the teenage years, kids will be moody and hypersensitive due to their hormones. It is really a challenge for parents to deal with teens because of how their brains work. The brain develops from front to back, and during the teenage years, it is the midbrain that is highly active.

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    The midbrain is in charge of memory, emotion, and sexuality. The prefrontal cortex, the rational part of the brain, isn't fully developed until age 25. This is responsible for decision-making, planning, impulse control, and risk avoidance.

    The amygdala or emotional center aid teens in assessing situations. This is the reason why they're likely to be overwhelmed by their feelings but find it difficult to express them. They always tend to be in risky situations.

    As parents, make it a point that you have time to speak to them about sensitive topics like drugs, alcohol, sex (including unprotected sex), etc. Instead of scolding a teen, try to use logic to let him/her realize what should have been done to avoid the mistake. Let the teen find it out from his/her own words. This can guide them through decision-making in the long run.

    Parenting isn't always going to be easy, but that doesn't mean it's always going to be difficult. A clear understanding of what neuroscience is would be a big help.


    Click here to learn about the foods that will boost brain development in your child's first year of life.

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