TOOLS FOR GROWING THEIR BEST BRAINS

WAYS TO CONNECT MORE WITH YOUR CHILD

Humans are born to connect with others. It is the one and only survival mechanism of a newborn so they do a damn good job of it. One tiny, powerful gaze into the eyes of their mother, father, grandparents, aunties and uncles triggers feelings of protection that ensure the survival of that tiny human.

I remember becoming an aunt for the first time. My brother handed me his son, who was just a few days old, and after staring at this tiny baby for only seconds I had a powerful realisation; I would step in front of a bus, if needed, to save his life! It surprised me and made me aware of the natural instinct one has to protect their family, which is a deep form of connection. 

Connection triggers the chemical oxytocin which makes babies, children and adults feel safe, secure and protected. A strong connection between a baby and their primary caregiver is the single, most effective way to create a happy, healthy human. If we feel disconnected and unsafe, cortisol floods our system. Nathan Wallis, the Kiwi neuroscience educator, describes cortisol as a weed killer for the developing brain. Therefore, oxytocin becomes the nutrients and fertiliser to help it to flourish.

I WANT TO HELP YOU TO CONNECT MORE WITH YOUR CHILD. We know that babies need connection for their survival but children need lots of connection too. Children SEEK connection! If a parent takes the time to connect with their child by sitting, talking, reading, moving or playing together SEVERAL TIMES PER DAY, even for 5 minutes at a time, then the child learns that they are worthy of their parent’s time and they feel good about themselves because their needs are being met.

Sometimes, I’ll be preparing food, working from home or trying to get the washing done and my kids will be saying things like, 

“Mum, do you want to do a puzzle with me?”

I turn down their offer because I feel like I don’t have time, I have to get some other things done. Human children are clever though, so they will keep interrupting me with different ways to get what they need.

“Mum, do you want to come on the trampoline with us?”

I have realised that these questions are their way of telling me that they need my attention. Their connection cup is getting empty and they need a refill to keep them going. If I stop and do that puzzle or bounce on the trampoline (while tightly squeezing my internal muscles) for 10 or 15 minutes, then their connection cup gets filled! They get what they need then are ABLE to play, bounce and draw while I get my other stuff done. It actually saves me time!

So next time your little darling is being persistent about getting your attention, tell them, “YES, I’ll do that with you and THEN I’ll prepare dinner.” Another approach is to deliberately ‘fill their connection cups’ at specific times of the day, so that they can keep going for longer, much like filling a car with fuel.

-first thing in the morning
-just before leaving the house for school
-as soon as you get home in the afternoon/evening
-right before going to sleep

My Amazing Brain was created because I realised that modern life is so busy for parents and the busier we are, the less time we have for quality connections with our children. Every activity in My Amazing Brain will help you to connect with your child for the duration of the activity and the benefits of this will last much longer.

If you are looking for simple, effective ways to connect more with your child visit www.brainessentials.nz for more information or to order your copy of My Amazing Brain.