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The Informed Parent

Ten Tips That Promote Healthy Brain Development In Children

by Carolyn Warnemuende, M.S.
Published on May. 06, 2002
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This month’s article is excerpted from the presentation kit, “Rethinking the Brain” of Families and Work Institute, 1998. The source was Child Care Connections, November-December, 1999.

As I read these ten tips I thought they represented a concise summary of some of the articles I have written in the past for The Informed Parent. They seemed like a pertinent review of what is important in informed parenting.

  1. BE WARM, LOVING AND RESPONSIVE.
    When children receive warm care, they are more likely to feel safe and secure with the adults who take care of them and will become attached to them.
     
  2. RESPOND TO THE CHILD’S CUES AND CLUES.
    Being responsive includes understanding what the child is saying and then responding. It may be responding to a child emotionally, (when hurt), or socially (getting along), or intellectually (bringing him a book about bugs when he has become fascinated with bugs).
     
  3. TALK, SING AND READ TO CHILDREN.
    It’s not just reading a story but reading a story in a way that gets a child to participate. It’s not just listening to music but singing to the child so that he or she sings back.
     
  4. ESTABLISH RITUALS AND ROUTINES.
    Teach young children to know when it’s time for bed by developing routines such as singing a song and pulling the curtains. Daily routines and rituals create memories children will have forever.
     
  5. ENCOURAGE SAFE EXPLORATIONS AND PLAY.
    As infants grow, they begin to explore the world beyond their caregivers. Encourage this exploration. Children actually learn through playing.
     
  6. MAKE TELEVISION WATCHING SELECTIVE.
    Watch television with the child and talk about what is being seen. Don’t use TV as a babysitter.
     
  7. USE DISCIPLINE AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO TEACH.
    In addition to consistent and loving adult supervision, teach children limits. Never hit or shake a child.
     
  8. RECOGNIZE THAT EACH CHILD IS UNIQUE AND EXPECT CHILDREN TO SUCCEED.
    Children grow at different rates. Their ideas and feelings about themselves reflect, in large measure, parents’ and caregivers’ attitudes toward them.
     
  9. CHOOSE QUALITY CHILD CARE AND STAY INVOLVED.
    Frequently visit child care providers and seek someone who responds warmly and responds to the children’s needs.
     
  10. CAREGIVERS NEED TO TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES.
    They need nurturing, too. When parents and caregivers are exhausted, irritable, depressed, or overwhelmed, they may have a harder time meeting the needs of young children.



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