Each of us try to figure out why our children do what they do. A child may throw a fit for no apparent reason so we naturally try to come up with an explanation for the fit. How we come up with those explanation will make a big difference on how we react as parents. Most of the time, our reaction and explanations for our child’s behavior is based on our personal experiences, development centered parenting is geared to educating parents on what is going on with their child based on their brain’s current growth stage. The goal is to help parents understand why their kids do what they do based on their age and development.
It is so much easier for a parent to deal with issues both big and small if you understand how your child’s brain works. For example, you may notice that your toddler throws their food on the floor every day at dinner, or purposely spills their milk at breakfast. Most people would think that this is bad behavior and punish their child, but in reality, a toddler’s brain is trying to figure out how everything works. They don’t understand what gravity is, but they are trying to figure it out, so they continuously want to see things fall. A good way to avoid this problem is to give them opportunities to drop appropriate items from their high chair. Right before dinner, you could take 2 minutes and give them a ball to drop to the floor. Talk to them about what is happening:
”Balls fall to the floor, but food stays on our plate!”
“The ball fell down!”
“The ball was up and now it’s down!”
This technique is called redirecting. Our goal is to replace a negative behavior with a positive behavior. It is important to remember that none of us are born knowing what is and isn’t appropriate behavior. Our focus as parents and early childhood teachers should always be to help children learn what appropriate behavior looks like. The only way we can accomplish this is by understanding basic development.
Did you know that in the early childhood years, the body is actually teaching the brain? Young children learn through their brain stem and experiences help their brain form synaptic connections which are responsible for the development of the brain. Brain growth is primarily happening in the right hemisphere of the brain during the first 5 years of life, which focuses on social, emotional, musical, artistic and basic personality and temperament traits.
So many of the activities you see your toddler or preschoolers do that may seem silly, are actually helping the brain grow! Here is an example of some of these activities and how they help the brain grow:
Grasping, Pushing, pulling, stroking, reaching lead to better hand-eye coordination and toning fine motor which are the building blocks of hand writing
Spinning, Swinging, Rolling, Tumbling, Dancing, Balancing and Listening lead to better coordination and sporting abilities. These area also to learn skills children will need to learn how to read and write.
Stacking, sorting, mixing, and mimicking all lead to building memory, math logic, vocabulary, fluency and general problem solving.
Play is work for the young child. What seems like fun and games is actually a brain in formation!
Here's an interesting fact, school teachers are not required to have any child development training. Unless they personally choose to become educated on child development or brain development, they may never learn how a child's brain develops, learns and grows. On the other hand, preschool teachers focus a lot of time and training on child development during the early years.
Many people don't seem to understand how babies, toddlers and young children's brains develop and they often fall for marketing techniques that sell a product that may seem to give a child a jump in their education, but is actually not good for their brain development. Tools like flash cards, tracing sheets and any Television education program are not developmentally appropriate for children under 5.
During the first 5 years of life, the brain is developing in specific areas. These areas are often referred to as 'sensitive periods'. During these periods, parents and caregivers should focus on what the brain is trying to learn and make sure each child is given plenty of opportunities to develop these areas. I will go into more detail about theses areas and their specific ages in more detail during the next few posts.