Keeping your child’s brain healthy by giving it what it needs is a top priority to ensure that your child is learning and performing to the best of his or her ability.
Lauren Zimet, M.S.,CCC/SLP, NDT-certified Speech Language Pathologist, and Better Brains for Babies Educator, offers these five suggestions for success!
Your child’s brain will thrive if you design menus around meals prepared from scratch with natural and organic ingredients. A diet high in fruits and veggies serves the brain and body well and does not contain the artificial colours and flavours used in popular processed foods.
It may take some creativity to make fruits, whole grains, and vegetables appealing—both in taste and appearance. Invest in a kid-friendly cookbook that features healthy recipes they can help prepare! Don’t forget to keep the kids hydrated with pure drinking water.
It starts with sleep. Set up a nightly routine that is rewarding and nurturing. During the hour prior to bedtime, avoid stimulating activities and instead focus on calm, soothing, consistent rituals such as listening to relaxing music, deep breathing, meditation, journaling, drawing, storybook reading, or quiet conversation.
Remember that children learn how to relax from watching the adults in their life, so modelling this is important. Our busy world teaches adults and children alike to push beyond our capacity. This leads to stress, which can contribute to a number of challenges, ranging from learning difficulties to digestive problems. These bedtime rituals will become your child’s “toolbox”—relaxation strategies and techniques for self-regulation and self-soothing they can pull out and use when the going gets tense. These tools will last a lifetime.
The brain loves oxygen. One way to get more oxygen is through exercise. Physical and mental stimulation are both important. Engaging in puzzles and playing games that challenge the child are better activities than watching TV.
Taking music lessons or joining a chess club are the kinds of activities that help create new neural pathways and support brain function Hone in on what kind of brain challenge your child would like to undertake, and support their exploration and efforts.
FAT FOR FAT
Your brain is composed of healthy fats. These need to be replenished through the food you eat and through purified dietary supplements. Two omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA are important for proper growth, particularly for neural development and maturation of sensory systems.
Especially important in children, these fats are necessary for cognitive development. Many families choose supplements to ensure the brain is getting enough omega-3s. I have witnessed positive changes with the addition of supplementation in both children and adults.
REWIRE THE HARDWIRE
Children need help in acknowledging and working through bad, sad, mad, frustrated, and negative thoughts. Demonstrating positive self-talk in front of your child lays a blueprint for how they may handle their own problems. Avoid blame. Negative thoughts and mistakes are opportunities for learning and growth.
Teaching your child to label emotions and recognise feelings helps connect the nonverbal and verbal pathways in the brain. Strengthening these pathways can improve a child’s ability to take on another’s perspective. Emotional wellness is key to all types of learning situations.