Role of parents in a child’s formative years

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Role of parents in a child’s formative years

Wednesday, 03 April 2024 | raghav Himatsingka

Role of parents in a child’s formative years

The first five years of a child’s life are termed ‘golden period,’ a pivotal phase where parents play a monumental role in shaping its future

The first five years of a child’s life are a unique opportunity for parents to nurture and guide their child’s development so that they can realise their full potential and become the best version of themselves.

This period is often referred to as the “golden period,” a critical and transformative phase that lays the foundation for all their future development, learning, and well-being. Let’s understand why.

Unraveling Synaptic Pruning

Every baby is born with about 100 billion brain cells which are largely not connected with each other. As the baby comes into the world and experiences the world through sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feel, these brain cells start firing and connecting with each other at an astounding rate to form “synapses”. But, starting around the age of 2, the brain wants to be efficient and it starts pruning off brain connections (synapses) that it thinks are not strong or important enough by a process called synaptic pruning. It’s almost as if the child starts losing their talents even before they have a chance to fully develop them. 

Pivotal Role Of Parents in Early Childhood

For parents, it’s crucial to understand the significance of synaptic pruning in the early years of a child’s brain development, and it highlights the importance of providing rich, engaging learning experiences for their baby right from birth. By offering diverse and holistic learning experiences - that includes physical play, creative stimulation - parents can help ensure that the most beneficial synapses are strengthened in their child’s brain, setting the foundation for a lifetime of talents and skill development.

Sooner, the Better

During the first five years the brain is exceptionally malleable, and experiences leave a lasting impact on cognitive, emotional, and social development. Maximising positive experiences and interactions during this critical phase sets the foundation for a child’s future success in various aspects of life. The younger the baby, the faster they learn, and wider the window for them to explore their fullest potential. 

Practical Tips for Parents:

1.Quality Interactions: Your young baby or toddler is capable of amazing feats, much beyond your imaginations! Treat them not as a helpless being, but as a fearless and curious learner! 

2.Deliberate Stimulations:  Create deliberate opportunities to provide your baby or child with the right stimulations to grow and develop their physical, intellectual, social, cognitive, creative, logical, and problem solving skills through play. 

3.Consistent Activity: Get into an easy-to-follow routine, where you are not stressing out daily about researching and reading on what to do with your child, but can follow a done-for-you program that tells you what activities to do with your child on a daily basis for their all-round development.

4.Meaningful Playtime: Try and give many opportunities to your child to play with kids of their own age to help develop compassion, confidence, social skills and even a higher IQ. It is as important for them to interact with other kids as it is for them to interact with adults, and we can’t neglect one over the other!

5.No Screentime: Yes, it’s easy to feed your child while watching a video on mobile! But, screentime may lead to long term impact on your child’s brain development, and may also lead to speech delays, so avoid screentime as much as you can!

Bill Gates has said that the first five years of a child essentially shape how the next 80 years turn out to be. Parents thus have a huge responsibility towards their children to understand the significance of synaptic pruning and recognise this golden window of opportunity. Through love, engagement, and thoughtful nurturing, parents can contribute to the flourishing of strong neural connections, laying the groundwork for a bright and promising future.

(The writer is Co-founder, Raising Superstars; views are personal)

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