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The More 'In Sync' You Are With Your Baby, the Quicker Your Child Learns
  • No doubt moms and their babies have a special connection. Previous studies have shown that a mother’s voice alone can make a child’s brain respond more strongly compared to other voices and a mother’s touch provides lifelong benefits. Now a new study from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society suggests that your little one’s brainwaves “literally sync” with mom’s when they are learning from them through play. The more “in sync” you are with your baby, the quicker your child learns, according to The Bump.

    Researchers studied how a mother’s emotional response toward certain toys affected their infant’s decision to interact with the toys. They equipped both mom and baby with wireless EEG and let the babies observe their moms. If mom likes a toy, she would show a positive reaction — she would smile and say, “I like this.” If mom doesn’t like the toy, she would show a negative reaction — she would frown and say, “I don’t like this.” The babies will then choose the toy they want to play with. More often than not, it would be the item that elicited a positive reaction from their moms.

    Researchers analyzed the level of “neural synchrony” (brainwaves between two people that follow predictable patterns) of mom and baby and found that social signals like eye contact boosted synchrony and improved social learning.

    The study’s authors hope their findings will encourage parents to be more “present” with their babies. “There is no substitute for being physically present and in the moment to connect with an infant,” said Victoria Leung, co-author of the study.

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    Laughter benefits your child

    Because your baby takes cues from your positive reactions, it’s all the more reason to continue showing it to them. Did you know that laughter is a critical part of a child’s development?

    “Having a sense of humor plays an important role in developing self-esteem, learning to problem solve, and honing social skills,” explains Louis Franzini, Ph.D., author of Kids Who Laugh: How to Develop Your Child’s Sense of Humor to Parents. “It’s one of the most desirable personality traits and parents can, without a doubt, help foster it.”

    Don’t be surprised if your toddler suddenly becomes obsessed with making you laugh. “Kids as young as 8 months old know that getting our expectations up and then changing what they do, disrupting those expectations, can actually make us laugh,” says Dr. Emma Byrne, author of Swearing is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language to Romper. “Holding things out and pulling them away, blowing raspberries” are just some of the things they will do to elicit a reaction from you. If you play, “Where’s your nose?” they might even deliberately point at the wrong facial feature just to make you laugh.

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    “The fact that they are trying to get you to smile is a big deal. They’re expending energy… to try to make you smile,” says Byrne. Just like the study above, kids want to stay “in sync” with their parents and form a deeper connection.

    Having a sense of humor not only boosts your child’s personality — it also encourages them to be better people. According to Romper, a 2016 study found that “funnier people have higher nonverbal and verbal intelligence” while Psychology Today says positive humor can improve relationships.

    Humor also helps kids cope with stressful experiences, according to psychologist Tom Cottle, Ph.D., in an interview with Parents. It also makes them more confident. “Since children with a good sense of humor tend to be more popular and form friendships more readily, they generally feel better about themselves,” says Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist and author of Understanding and Promoting the Development of Children’s Humor.

    Even if you don’t find your child’s jokes LOL-worthy, you should still encourage them to develop their sense of humor. Help them along with your own knock knock jokes, funny stories, and antics. And remember to always react positively. “Showing that you appreciate their effort, that you recognize that they are trying so hard to make you happy, to make you smile” will help them further build that sense of empathy, says Byrne.

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