If a baby is malnourished, neural cells can become weak or damaged and this can cause lowered brain function. If a child has little interaction with their caregiver, it can change how emotional and verbal pathways develop and impact their ability to learn. This may have consequences for brain functioning in later life.
Our brains develop from before birth and into adulthood
What happens in a child or young person’s life during these periods can have a significant effect on their brain development.
Positive experiences throughout childhood help to build healthy brains, while experiencing childhood trauma and abuse can harm a child’s brain development (Shonkoff et al, 2015)
Just as adults get stressed, so do young children. However, they may not have the coping strategies yet to handle it. Children may display stress through mood swings, difficulty sleeping, bedwetting or displaying signs of feeling physically unwell such as tummy aches. They may also change their behaviour and habits, becoming more clingy or sucking their thumb.
When you see signs that your child is stressed, it is important to communicate with them on what may be the source of the problem. Firstly, identify the triggers, then help them to build a strategy towards overcoming the issue. Let them know that it is okay to be anxious or upset, and help provide vocabulary for what they are facing as well as calming techniques. I reccomend you to use pep cards.
2. Make Time for Play/ have fun with your child/ren
Routines are a source of comfort for children, so help build and maintain routines that you can adhere to consistently. Knowing what to expect helps children to feel secure and loved, whilst reinforcing good behaviour and developing positive habits such as washing hands or brushing teeth. It also removes anxieties surrounding the unknown or change.
3. Healthy food/habits
A nutritious and balanced diet and regular exercise are essential in maintaining your child’s physical and mental health. Introducing good eating habits when they are young will continue as they grow older, and ensures that they have had the proper fuel to support their development.
4. Develop Self-esteem
For older children in particular, issues such as popularity may impact their wellbeing and stress levels. Therefore, it is important to help them develop self-confidence, so that they can handle change and uncertainty with ease. Make sure to praise your child, celebrating their success and progress. In addition, help them understand that failure is inevitable and often beneficial, as it can help understand what to improve.