Help Your Child Make The Connections
I’m sitting, waiting for an appointment. I look over and see a mother and a toddler. The mother is holding a phone’s screen in front of the child. The child is looking at it silently, and not showing any expression on her face. The mother is not saying anything, not looking at the child. This lasts for about 25 minutes.
You’ve got your little one on your lap, or sitting close next to you. You are reading to him or her, or singing, or talking together, or listening to what she or he says. And, you are looking at your child’s face, not trying to do something else at the same time.
SOMETHING MAGIC IS HAPPENING.
You are choosing to behave in a way that is helping your child make CONNECTIONS!
It has long been known that the first years of life are crucial in brain development. In this post by UNICEF it is stated:
“In the first years of life, neurons in our brain form new connections at the astounding rate of 700–1,000 per second – a pace never repeated again. . .The first 1,000 days have a significant effect on a child’s future. We have one chance to get it right.”
Scroll down in this UNICEF post, and find the video, 360-Degree Video– Every Second Counts, on how a baby’s brain is developing as parents are caring for, talking to, and nurturing their children. I love the visual that vividly shows the connections in the child’s brain expanding with each loving, nurturing interaction.
This UNICEF post is not the only one that addresses children’s brain development. There are now hundreds of articles that talk about the importance of early, close interaction between child and parents and brain development like this article by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It points out the importance of reading to young children.
I’m stopped at a light. A man and a woman and a small child are standing at the city bus stop. Both adults are busy looking at their phones. The child is looking at the little flowers in the flower bed behind them.
Reading, talking, listening, and singing to your young children bring about increased brain connections during a time in their lives that has extreme brain growth potential for language development. This, in itself, is good reason to take time to do those things. There is, however, an equally important, maybe even more important, reason for parents to commit this time and effort. This close, warm, loving time you are spending with your very young children on a daily basis is creating some other important connections that will be crucial to their future well being — human connections. You are building a steady base, a home connection, that is letting them know that they are loved, and that they will always be loved.
They will never have the opportunity to get this with the same intensity again!
It is the foundation upon which they are able to build the next 70 or 80 years of their lives.
Please, please, don’t hand it over to a screen.