It has now been proven neuro-scientifically that the brain is far more supple and pliable than we believed possible. This is incredibly exciting news because it means that by offering the right educational and relationship experiences, we can wire, shape and grow the child’s brain in a positive way. We can now trash the idea that the brain the child is born with is the brain they are stuck with forever more.
So what does this mean if you are a mom or dad?
First let me tell you about a startling piece of research conducted at Harvard Medical School with a group of adult volunteers, none of whom could previously play the piano. They were split into three groups. The first group were taken into a room with a piano and given intensive piano practice for five days. The second group was taken into an identical room with an identical piano and was told that for the next five days they had to just imagine they were practicing piano exercises. The third group was taken into an identical same room with the identical piano but had nothing to do with the instrument at all.
The results of the brain scans after the five days were extraordinary.
Not surprisingly, the brains of those who simply sat in the same room as the piano hadn’t changed at all. Those who had the piano lessons showed clear structural changes in the area of the brain associated with finger movement. But what was truly astonishing was that the group who had merely imagined doing the piano exercises had changes in brain structure that were almost as pronounced as those that actually had the lessons.
What this tells us is that the power of imagination is not just a figure of speech. Imagination can actually change the brain.
Why am I telling you this, moms and dads?
1. Use the ability of your child’s brain’s to imagine and see things in their mind’s eye.
(i) Be sure to spend time with your kids helping them ‘see’ the picture of the strong, healthy, talented, responsible, compassionate, honest and special kids they are.
(ii) Spend time with your kids helping imagine the wonderful things they can achieve and do as they grow into adults. The rule is if they can see this in their imagination, the brain will wire itself to achieve what they see, and it becomes a reality for them.
2. Be careful of what is going into your child’s brain. What they watch on TV, the movies they watch, the internet and video games they play, the music they listen to are all wiring and shaping your child’s brain! The average kid, ages 8-18, spends over 7 ½ hours a day using technology gadgets according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. This adds up to 75 hours a week! If something as simple as imagining piano lessons can alter the brain, then, as parents we must monitor what they watch and the amount of time how long they spend on this each day.
Be aware, moms and dads that every single experience your child has – whether it is in their interaction with you or with their technology gadgets – this is changing the structure of your child’s brain. It is up to you whether these brain changes are good ones or not.