A Child’s Early Years What Should Parents Do?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

WHAT a person learns or does not learn during childhood can affect his future abilities. What, then, do children need from their parents to develop into balanced, successful adults? Consider what some have concluded based on research done in recent decades.
The Role of Synapses

Advances in brain-imaging technology enable scientists to study brain development in greater detail than ever before. Such studies indicate that early childhood is a critical time for developing the brain functions necessary to handle information, express emotions normally, and become proficient in language. “Brain connections are being wired at an extraordinarily rapid rate in the early years, as the landscape of the brain is shaped by moment-to-moment interactions of genetic information and environmental stimuli,” reports Nation magazine.
A baby

Scientists believe that the majority of these connections, called synapses, are made in the first few years of life. This is when “a baby’s potential future wiring for intelligence, sense of self, trust and motivation for learning is laid down,” according to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, a professional in the field of child development.

A baby’s brain grows dramatically in size, structure, and function during the first few years. In an environment that is rich in stimulation and learning experiences, synaptic connections multiply, creating a broad network of neural pathways in the brain. These pathways make thinking, learning, and reasoning possible.

Baby left alone

Infants left alone without stimulation may not develop as well as others

It may be that the more stimulation an infant brain gets, the more nerve cells get turned on and the more connections are made between them. Interestingly, this stimulation is not merely intellectual, acquired through exposure to facts, figures, or language. Scientists have found that emotional stimulation is also needed. Research indicates that infants who are not held and touched and are not played with or stimulated will form fewer of these synaptic connections.
Nurturing and Potential

Eventually, as children get older, a sort of pruning takes place. The body appears to discard synaptic wiring that may be unnecessary. This could have a profound effect on a child’s potential. “If a child does not get the right kind of stimulus at the right age,” says brain researcher Max Cynader, “then the neurological circuits will not develop properly.” According to Dr. J. Fraser Mustard, the result can be lower IQ, poor verbal and mathematical skills, health problems as an adult, and even behavioral problems.

So it seems that the experiences a person has as an infant can have a definite effect on his adult life. Whether the person is resilient or fragile, whether he learns to think in abstract terms or is lacking in this ability, and whether he becomes empathetic or not can be influenced by his early childhood experiences. So the role of parents is especially important. “One of the most critical aspects of this early experience,” notes a pediatrician, “is a sensitive parenting figure.”

That may sound simple enough. Nurture and care for your children, and they will prosper. Unfortunately, parents know that understanding how to care for children properly is not always so simple. Effective parenting is not always intuitive.

According to one study, 25 percent of parents polled did not know that what they did with their child could enhance or hamper his or her intelligence, confidence, and love for learning. This raises the questions: What is the best way to develop your child’s potential? And how can you provide the right atmosphere? Let us see in the fellowing article. to get the next article please post a comment or subscribe for new hits okay.

How Important Is Early Child Training?

A woman who was 40 years old and desperately wanted a child. During her pregnancy, however, a doctor warned her that her baby could be born with a learning disability. She refused to give up, and she gave birth to a healthy baby.

Shortly after the birth of her son, she began reading to him and talking to him at every opportunity. As he got older, they played games, went on outings, practiced counting, and sang songs. “Even during bath time we played something,” she remembers. It paid off.

While still in his mid-teens, Stephen graduated from the University of Miami with honors. Two years later, at age 16, he finished law school, and according to his biography, he later became the youngest lawyer in the United States. His mother, Dr. Florence Baccus—a former teacher and retired guidance counselor—has devoted much time to the study of early learning. She is convinced that the attention and stimulation she gave her son in his infancy changed his future.
Nature Versus Nurture

A subject of important controversy among child psychologists in recent times has been the role in a child’s development of “nature,” that is, what the child has inherited, and “nurture,” the rearing and training it has received. Most researchers are convinced that a child’s development is influenced by a combination of these two factors.

Little girl typing on a computer

Early life experiences
can influence how a
child’s brain develops

Child-development expert Dr. J. Fraser Mustard explains: “What we clinically now know is that the experiences the child is exposed to in the early years of his life influence how that child’s brain develops.” Professor Susan Greenfield likewise states: “We know, for example, that violinists develop more brain territory for fingers on the left hand than other people do.”
What Training to Provide

Taking a cue from these findings, many parents not only go to great lengths to send their children to the right day care but also spend lavishly on music and art classes. Some believe that if a child practices everything, when he gets older he will be able to do everything. Specialized tutoring programs and preschools are proliferating. Some parents are willing to do whatever they possibly can to give their children an advantage over others.

Young boy playing with paints

Play stimulates creativity
and develops a child’s skills

Does this type of devotion prove entirely beneficial? While it may seem to offer children an upbringing with boundless opportunities, in many cases these children miss the crucial part of the learning experience that comes through unstructured play. Spontaneous play, say educators, stimulates creativity and develops a child’s social, mental, and emotional skills.

Some development experts believe that parent-led play is creating a new type of problem child—micromanaged children who are stressed and emotionally volatile, cannot sleep, and complain of aches and pains. One psychologist observes that by the time these children reach their teenage years, many have not learned to develop coping skills and are “burned out, antisocial and rebellious.”

Thus, many parents are in a quandary. They want to help their children to reach their full potential. Yet, they can see the folly of pushing small children too hard, too fast. Is there a way to strike a reasonable balance? What capacity do young children have for growth, and how can it be nurtured? What can parents do to ensure that their children will be successful?

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