Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Brain development in children

It's so easy to get mad at your toddler when they do things that don't please you. Spilling the milk on the carpet (or spilling anything!), doodling the walls, bedsheets and even the TV screen, scattering dirty clothes everywhere and millions of other things. Gahhh!

But a toddler's main goal is to explore the world and learn how things work so it's impossible not to make a mess along the way. I mean, mana ada budak yang duduk diam memanjang kan? An active child is after all, a healthy child. I read about Nurturing Your Baby's Brain on this website and it says "Between the ages of 18 months and three years, what kids really want to do is dump and pour".

Dump and pour. Well that explains it.

Ayra loves water so much. One time, I was getting ready to bathe her and left the bathroom door slightly ajar while I went to get something. When I came back, Ayra was already in the bathroom and was having the time of her life filling the bucket and tub with water, splashing, playing with the running faucet and soon the bathroom floor was flooded and the floor outside the bathroom had splashes of water as well!

I almost wanted to scream, "Ayraaaa what have you done??!!" but didn't when I saw how curious she was. It struck me that this little girl is actually learning. She is exploring the cool running water, what happens when the faucet is turned this way and that way, what happens if she jumps in the water. And before you know it, I was in the bathroom playing water with her! It was actually quite fun. Of course after that I told her we need to clean up after playing so I took kain lap and we were on all fours, wiping the floors together.

She kind of understands now that whenever she made a mess, she needs to clean up after that, even at the restaurant.

I remember reading what you do in your child's early years affects her future learning, feeling and behavior so it's very important to nurture your child with love, care and attention. You don't need to do big things; small moments that parents experience when they interact with their child can build a healthy development in a child's brain. Connections between the brain cells form as the child experiences her surroundings. Here are some examples taken from

  • If a baby cries and you meet that cry with a dry diaper or milk, then she learns that crying is key to communication (until she learns words). Thwirrrrp! A connection is made! Wiring is starting to happen.
  • If a baby learns that they can smile at you and that you will smile back and look pleased … thwirrrrp! A connection is made. Smiling is a preferred behavior. Wiring is starting to happen.
  • If a baby cries from her bed for an hour and the next day for two hours and nobody comes to attend to her … thwirrrrp! A connection is made that my cries won’t be answered so why try?
  • If a toddler is hit for touching the toilet water and told she is bad … thwirrrrp! A connection is made that I am shamed for exploring the feel of the cool swirling water. Wiring is starting to happen.

One of the many many reasons why breastfeeding is the best is because breast milk contains the highest amount of Gangliosides, which is an important brain nutrient that helps brain cells connect for faster learning and also improves cognitive function in a baby's development. But don't worry if you don't breastfeed your child because some formula milk also contain Gangliosides.

Besides nutrition, other factors that influence early brain development include genetics, love, parents' responsiveness, daily experiences and activities.

If there's one thing I know about parenting, it's that we all want nothing but the best for our children! So let's talk, smile, dance, sing, read and play with our children because the development of their brains holds the key to their future.

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She slipped off her pink stilettos at 8:00 PM |