Parenting, Plasticity, and Neural Connections

“Where ATTENTION goes

neuro-firing flows

and neuro-firing GROWS” 

-Dr. Dan Siegel

HCDC_Levitt-Plasticity-Curve_SHARE-1024x720.png

As a school counselor, it was amazing to see kids cumulative folder.  The cumulative folder is the one that follows them from elementary through high school.  Parents never see it, but they do know everything inside.  It holds their report cards, list of schools attended and transcripts, and sometimes their school picture from each year ( it is seriously fun to see a grumpy teenagers elementary pictures).  In my experience, what I have seen is that the kindergarten teachers remarks are so frequently very parallel to the high school teacher’s remarks about the child.  Certainly they are usually (hopefully) different to reflect maturity and development, but usually a child’s personality is relatively static.  For example, if a kid was so frequently disorganized that the kindergarten teacher had to note it on their report card, typically that kid still struggles with organization in some way at the high school level.

The sooner you become a more intentional, positive, proactive, and learned parent the easier the child rearing process will be.  Early childhood brain development sets the foundation for later development and you can reap the most benefits by learning how to parent while your child is very, very young (or even before birth).  All people develop something called neural connections.  Neural connections are the framework for learning.  Neurons are information transmitters and the better they are connected the better the child learns.  Building connections takes learning experiences like teaching your child: how to be soothed and how to self soothe, how to fall asleep, basic routines, how we behave at the table, how we communicate when we are upset, how we show someone we are listening, etc.  The brain is most plastic (malleable) while kids are very young (3 years old or younger) so the sooner you lay the foundation for those concepts the easier it will be to build on those connections and on to more relatively sophisticated skills.  It would be extremely difficult to teach your teenager listening skills, for example, if they never were taught and expected to use them before.

Do yourself and your children a favor by learning how to parent early on, addressing issues head on, and being honest with yourself.  It is dreadfully hard to admit our weaknesses–especially relative to our children because we want the best for them, always, but sometimes we just aren’t the best.  Don’t give up–keep your chin up and ask for help.  I can work with your family to give you the skills to feel confident and empowered to lay the foundation for well-adjusted children.

(c) 2016, Nurture: Family Education and Guidance

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