Is a Child's Brain in Control?

Saturday, September 27, 2014



Sometimes it may seem that your child is being just “awful” and that their behavior is out of control. The thing is, their behavior actually may be “out of control”. 
The brains of children are still maturing. The part of the brain that regulates behavior and emotions is the last area of the brain to fully finish development. When this highest functioning brain area is developed, it helps to take control over big emotions and thus resulting behavior.
 
So, children REALLY need the adults in their lives to understand and to help them through this process. They need adults to help calm them and guide them through difficult emotions that feel so overwhelming. 

Hunger and tiredness are two factors that have an impact on the level of control children have over their behavior. When children do not get the sleep and nutrition their brain needs to function well, it makes it even more difficult to control all they are feeling.


Tips to Try:
Do what you can to provide the sleep and nutrition the child’s brain needs every day.

·   When a child has had enough sleep this helps keep brain systems in balance. Keeping bedtime and nap time at about the same time each day also contributes to better behavior.   
·   Providing a healthy breakfast that includes adequate amounts of protein also greatly helps behavior. When the brain gets the nutrition it needs to function well the brain is less stressed and this results in children with a more stable mood.

For more tips to easily help you during your busy life with the age of your child get Brain Development Activity Packets at: 
www.BrainInsightsonline.com

The Development of Empathy... An Essential Life Skill!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

       

Development of Empathy - An Essential Life Skill!  - https://braininsights.blogspot.com/
                                                                   

Emotion has an enormous impact on imprinting memory in our brains. I had an experience when I was 6 years old that included emotion and have the memory of it all of these many years later.


It was a 6 year old birthday sleep over party. There were 7 girls invited that lived near each other and played together most days. A girl new to the neighborhood was invited only due to the requirement of the birthday girl’s mother. I was also invited.I lived a block away but did play with these girls fairly often. Being an extremely shy girl I really liked being accepted by this group and was excited to be included in the party.
The party progressed and it was now time to begin preparing for sleep. The new girl found a spot and laid out her sleeping bag on the family room floor. As she did this, one girl ran into the other room exclaiming how she was not going to put her sleeping bag anywhere new this new girl. The other girls followed running into the other room expressing the same plan. Even though I was silent, I also followed the group into the other room. As I stated it was very important to me to feel a part of this group.

Once in the other room, I turned around and saw the girl sitting all alone on her sleeping bag looking very dejected. At that moment an intense feeling of empathy overcame me. With this strong feeling, I picked up my sleeping bag, went into the other room and laid it out right next to the girl who was being excluded. To my surprise, the other girls followed and the party resumed.

The ability I had to see things from her perspective and the resulting empathy I had for this girl in this situation strongly overcame my need to be accepted by the group.
Brain research demonstrates that even very young babies have a capacity for empathy. This is an extremely essential life skill and is at the heart of social skills and success in life. It is a skill like any other, it needs to be developed.

As Dr. Bruce Perry, an expert on the development of and need for empathy, states:

 "One of the most important aspects of being a human being, is being able to be in a relationship. Being able to successfully form and maintain a relationship. And at the heart of that capability is the capacity to put yourself in somebody else's shoes, to see the world how they see it. That capacity is empathy."

As my career unfolded, I became extremely interested in early brain development research and now have the goal of making it commonly understood…. and that goal is only to have it understood by EVERY adult in this world! The impact of early relationships is an area of major focus in this work.

Development of Empathy - An Essential Life Skill!  - https://braininsights.blogspot.com/


The brain is experience dependent, meaning development doesn’t just magically happen. A brain develops based on the combination of the genes a child is born with and the experiences that a child has after birth. The pre-school years are like the fourth trimester in rapidly connecting the 100 billion brain cells we are born with. Experiences create a direct and physical impact on the way a brain is wired. And the repetition of experiences strengthens these essential neural connections.

The brain is designed to adapt to whatever type of experiences are repeated most frequently…. whether positive or negative. Even though it takes many years for the brain to fully mature, these early months are the time for the most rapid amount of growth and development of the brain… with 85% of growth by age three.

Development of Empathy - An Essential Life Skill!  - https://braininsights.blogspot.com/



We are biologically designed for relationships. We are born with a primary need to get someone to care for us. We are completely dependent on at least one relationship with another person. Through the ideal situation of having someone lovingly and consistently respond to meet our needs in a nurturing way brain pathways for empathy are being created.

If an infant is responded to repeatedly and predictably in a caring way, this is going to create the feelings of safety and pleasure that her brain craves. This will begin the wiring in her brain for relationships with others in her life. So when infants consistently experience the give and take of a responsive relationship the basis for developing the skill of empathy occurs. Interestingly research conducted indicates that the brain areas for both empathy and violence are partially similar. These findings lead the researchers to state:

"We all know that encouraging empathy has an inhibiting effect on violence, but this may not only be a social question but also a biological one -- stimulation of these neuronal circuits in one direction reduces their activity in the other."

As a result a more empathetic brain will have more difficulty behaving in a violent way. While attending the sleep over party, my brain pathways likely fired in a way that found it too difficult to be mean to the new girl.

Various versions of interesting studies reveal that babies as young as 5 months old can demonstrate empathy skills. However, due to a variety of situations and circumstances some children do not experience the ideal serve and return relationships early in life. A child that does not experience the give and take of a relationship is simply not going to develop the brain connections for seeing things from another person’s point of view.

However the wonderful news is, the brain is always learning, re-organizing and making new connections throughout life. This is called, plasticity. This provides us with the extraordinary opportunity to make changes later. Of course it is best to develop a brain as optimally as possible in the first place, but it is significant to realize changes can be made through learning and repetition at other times in life. One remarkable program that is making an incredible difference in this way is a program called, Roots of Empathy.

Development of Empathy - An Essential Life Skill!  - https://braininsights.blogspot.com/


This project is based simply on a mother visiting a classroom with her baby on a monthly basis. The children are taught perspective taking through their interactions with the baby. The results have been dramatic. Humans are contagious beings. So, part of the effectiveness of this program is likely due to our contagious make up and these kids are “catching empathy experiences”. This contagious aspect seemed to be the case in the slumber party experience where the other girls joined me after I showed caring to the new girl. The repeated experiences of feeling empathy for a baby in the Roots of Empathy program are actually changing the brains of the children and this essential life skill is being learned.

Indicators are revealing that empathetic behaviors are in decline in many societies. There are numerous factors contributing to this occurring. So, since we are neuro-biologically meant to be connected to others, this needs to be realized and an emphasis of time spent on the development of relationships is critical.

In summary, valuing the time parents have to spend with their infants and young children and supporting parents in establishing a nurturing relationship is essential. Additionally, for daycares and schools to have an effective way to help children for success in life, is to have low teacher child ratios to increase the opportunity to foster relationships with every child. And then use the understanding that the brain is experience dependent t. Children in schools can be engaged collectively in a caring climate and create activities that benefit other human beings.

Development of Empathy - An Essential Life Skill!  - https://braininsights.blogspot.com/


Children have the capacity to learn to read, write and do arithmetic … children also have the capacity to empathize. If we truly want to help children thrive in life ….and want to have an incredibly positive impact on our world, it is VITAL that we place the emphasis on the development of relationships with other human beings … This is where it all begins! After all it IS the primary need of the brain!

Development of Empathy - An Essential Life Skill!  - https://braininsights.blogspot.com/

This was a presentation I gave at Parenting 2.0 Talks 2014 Dublin, Ireland. September 2014

To book a presentation toward making a difference for your school, organization, agency or company send an email to: deb@braininsightsonline.com

For further information go to:  BrainInsightsonline.com

Effects of Lead Poisoning on Learning, Behavior and Health over the Life Course

Monday, April 28, 2014


Of course I prefer talking and writing about the most positive influences on the healthy brains of children. However, there is a an important influence that can have a very detrimental  affect on a developing brain that I have neglected
to write about previously. 
Lead poisoning is an area of awareness I worked on quite a bit as did my daughter several years ago. With appreciation to Reghan Walsh, I am very passionate about sharing the article below. Hopefully you will be motivated to use it in an effort to create greater understanding and touch the hearts and minds of others toward preventing more innocent children being affected. 

In addition, Rehgan shared the following exciting news with members on the Worldwide Brain Team forum:

"Another passionate lead poisoning prevention advocate is Tamara Rubin. She is making a full-length documentary about how lead poisoning has such a damaging effect on young children and the struggles of families with children who have been lead poisoned."

Please click above to see the movie trailer.  It is worth checking out!

Effects of Lead Poisoning on Learning, Behavior and Health Over the Life Course
Childhood lead poisoning is the number one environmental disease in the United States. The detrimental effects of lead exposure in children have been known for over 100 years. Early research identified high levels of lead as particularly detrimental to children's intellectual and behavioral development. However, new studies have discovered that lower levels of lead, levels once thought to be safe, also cause considerable damage to children's developmental outcomes.


Young Children with Lead Poisoning Lead interferes with the normal development of a young child's brain resulting in lowered IQ, learning disabilities and developmental delays.
  • The discovery of the biological mechanism of lead exposure explains why lead is so destructive. Lead affects the internal working of the neurons, the communication between neurons and the overall structure of the brain.
  • Lead poisoning in young children can result in impaired infant brain development, lowered IQ, hearing loss and developmental delays such as speech impairment.
  • Lead poisoning affects learning ability as a child ages and is a powerful predictor of school disciplinary problems. Lead poisoning is associated with a greater likelihood of behavior problems like aggression and hyperactivity.
  • Children who were lead poisoned were three times more likely to fail fourth grade reading and math tests and more likely to be suspended when compared to children with minimal lead exposure.

Teenagers Who Were Lead Poisoned as Young Children Teens who were lead poisoned as children are more likely to have learning, behavioral, physical and mental health problems resulting in significant negative outcomes.

  • Studies show that lead exposure causes depression and panic attacks in adolescents.
  • Lead exposure in young children is associated with higher rates of teen pregnancy, high school dropout and juvenile delinquency, especially violent crime.
  • Teenagers who were lead poisoned as children are 5 times more likely to use tobacco in their teenage years. Research posits that early lead exposure may increase sensitivity to tobacco addiction and contribute to continued tobacco use.
  • Lead interferes in the normal development of the brain, resulting in a reduction in volume in the frontal lobe. This is the region of the brain that reasons, judges, solves problems, and controls impulses and emotional responses.
  • Teens who were lead poisoned as a child are more likely to have problems with their upright balance that may result in falls or discourage their participation in sports activities. Lead affects the central nervous system affecting children's long-term injury risk by harming their balance, coordination and other neuromuscular skills.
  • Children who were lead poisoned are more likely to develop kidney disease as adolescents.

Adults Who Were Lead Poisoned as Young Children Lead poisoning continues to predict negative behavioral, physical and mental health outcomes for adults who were poisoned as children.

  • Violent crimes committed by young adults are strongly associated with prenatal and childhood lead poisoning. For each increase of 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in blood as a child, an individual's risk of being arrested for committing a violent crime as an adult increases by 50%.
  • Childhood lead poisoning increases the risk of early death from stroke and heart attack as adults. Childhood lead exposure is also linked to adult kidney disease, cognitive deficits such as memory loss and Alzheimer's disease.
  • Childhood lead exposure has strong associations with depression, panic attacks and general pessimism about life as adults.
  • Childhood lead poisoning can cause reproductive problems in both men and women. Men who were lead poisoned can suffer from sexual dysfunction and testicular cancer. Adverse birth outcomes such as increased risk of spontaneous abortion, preterm delivery and infant low birth weight are related to childhood lead exposure. Women are more likely to develop hypertension when pregnant.  
Excerpted from “Response to 2009 Wisconsin Senate Joint Resolution,” prepared by the Wisconsin Childhood Lead Poisoning Elimination Implementation and Oversight Committee, submitted to the Legislature, December 2010. Department of Health Services, Division of Public Health, Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, Wisconsin Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.


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