Kids have developing minds. Their malleable minds are being wired and rewired, and as parents, the experience you would give your child will determine the structure of their brains.
How much of the brain your kid is utilising will be a factor in your kid’s success when they are into STEM education, coding for kids, and robotics for kids.
The importance of adopting a strategy that helps your kid develop a whole brain comes in, and your parenting style will play an important role.
Integration for the Whole Brain
The brain has several different parts, each assigned to perform particular roles. While one part is concerned with memory and forming connections and relationships, the second is devoted to instinct, ethics and morality. The left side of the brain enables us to think logically, while the right side of the brain deals with emotions and non-verbal cues.
What‘s essential to understand is the brain has different personalities ranging from rational and reflective to irrational and reactive.
Given this situation, the way to thrive is to make these individual parts work together, i.e. integrate them. The integration will link the individual elements to create a well-functioning whole. It ensures the parts are coordinated and a balance between them.
A lack of integration in kids’ brains can be observed in the form of emotional outbursts, chaos and confusion, and a lack of ability to respond calmly to tricky situations.
Integration happens in two ways:
1. Horizontal Integration
2. Vertical Integration
Horizontal integration will ensure that the left brain works with the right brain. In contrast, vertical integration will ensure that the higher parts of the brain responsible for reflective thinking work well with the lower parts of the brain that mainly deal with instincts and survival.
Brain is Plastic
New developments in neuroscience have discovered that the brain is plastic and malleable and keeps changing through one’s life, not just in childhood. The brain develops, i.e. forms new connections when there are new experiences. The neurons fire upon each unique experience; this firing happens even as we age and the brain keeps getting rewired.
When it comes to kids, parents can determine how the kid’s brains are rewired by providing them with the right experiences.
Genetics does determine how a kid’s brain develops. However, psychological studies suggest that kids’ brain gets affected by the music they hear, the books they read, the emotions they feel and the disciplining from parents.
Integration is about providing children with experiences that help them create and reinforce connections between different brain parts. It will allow kids to use their mental faculties to their full potential.
What you can do As Parents
When we say that the brain keeps developing throughout life, it means our brains need time to form those connections. So, in the case of kids, you may have to wait. The links will not develop all at once. It is a gradual process toward maturation. Genetics will determine the growth rate, but you can also influence the integration rate through everyday parenting.
Studies have shown that parents who regularly talk to their kids and encourage them to share their experience enable their kids to have better access to their memories of their experiences. Children whose parents speak to them about their feelings possess better emotional intelligence and develop empathy and sensitivity towards others’ feelings.
Here’s what you can do to provide those everyday moments to your kids towards a whole brain:
1. Give the kids the right opportunities to your kids so that they can exercise their brains to develop diverse elements in different areas of the brain.
2. Next is to integrate those diverse elements into a whole functioning brain.
What’s essential is to be there for your child. A whole brain will help the kids thrive intellectually and emotionally. An integrated brain promotes better decision-making, stronger relationships, and success at school.
Playful Parenting for the Whole Brain
Increasing the fun factor within the family and making your kid’s time with you enjoyable is one of the effective strategies to develop a whole brain within your kid.
Playful parenting builds on what kids are naturally wired to do – explore and learn through play. Playful parenting prepares your kids for relationships and motivates them to connect with others. What drives them to do that is a positive experience with the ones they spend the most time with – their parents.
Play games with your kids, crack lame jokes and show interest in your kids. Playtime with kids reinforces the benefits of being in a loving relationship. The more kids enjoy their time with you, the more they value relationships with others.
Engaging in a satisfying relationship also releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Dopamine is a reward chemical that is fired even when one is engaging in an unhealthy habit. Releasing dopamine leads to wanting something more or maintaining a specific habit or addiction. However, dopamine can also reinforce healthy behaviour, such as play and fun.
Another benefit of playful parenting is that it leads to better sibling relationships among kids. Studies had shown that one determinant of good sibling relationships as adults is how much fun the sibling had together when they were young. Even if your kids are fighting with each other and there is conflict, as long as they are having fun together, it will balance it out.
So, what you need to do for a close long-term relationship between your kids is to give them activities that will generate positive emotions and memories, creating strong bonds between them.