Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Please don't squish the spaghetti in between your fingers...

Sound familiar?  If not, come and pay our household a little visit sometime.  You'll be sure to hear these and similar ritualised pleas which my wife and I tend to hurl at our daughter from time to time.  Sometimes I think to myself why is she being defiant...why won't she just use her fork and save me the hassle of cleaning up afterwards - notice how I make this about me :).

On second thoughts, is she really being defiant?  In my previous blog, ...but the blueberries are too sour, I briefly explored the notion that your child is an agent of his / her own environment; they will discover the world around them through exploration.  Whilst this very much focuses on environmental nurturing, it is also interesting to recognise the biological changes which are occurring.  Neuroplasticity is the brain's idea of playdough.  The brain literally develops and changes in response to your child's interaction with his or her environment.  Every time your little one discovers something new, new neural pathways are formed in the brain.  In other words, the brain is creating a new "understanding" based on what your little one touches, tastes, sees, hears, etc.  Touching the pages of a storybook for the first time is something new to the brain.  Feeling sand between their toes or the squelch of mud under their little wellies when jumping in muddy puddles are all new sensations that the brain is now making sense of.  Just as that poor muddy puddle has changed in that half of it now resides on your newly-washed denims, so too has the structure of your child's brain.

Interestingly, research shows that the brains of young children who are cognitively (thoughts and thinking) challenged are heavier than those who are not.  This is because there is physically more brain matter in a brain which is experiencing new things.  So, turn off the television for a while, build a fort, stack some books inside it and let your child go wild in their new lair.


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