“It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” — Frederick Douglass
Throughout the life span windows of opportunity open and shut. Brain science reveals a crucial window in which the brain of a baby is wide open for growth. Given the right conditions, the baby’s brain has the greatest potential to lay down a complex array of neural networks. These neural networks are foundational for life long learning and mental/physical health. When babies don’t have access to a “good enough” primary caregiver/mom, a lot of opportunity for brain growth can be missed. It’s like missing out on the deal of a lifetime, literally.
There is a lot that is known, but has not always been accessible to the general public. All that has changed. For only $10.00 (free for non-profits) one can purchase the DVD: Changing Brains: Effects of Experience on Human Brain Development.
It informs parents about what they can do based on the latest in brain science. Parents learn how to give their baby specific experiences that optimize the development of baby’s brain. Special segments address how to optimize brain regions affecting vision, hearing, motor skills, attention, language, reading, math, music, emotions and learning.
Optimal brain growth is all in the experience.
Visit changingbrains.org to purchase your copy.
Investment in those first 36 months of life can reap a whirlwind of benefits for Kentucky’s future workforce productivity.
Babies who get what they need for optimal brain growth in their first three years will improve our state’s workforce productivity. They will be smarter, more flexible in learning new skills, better motivated and will be more resilient in the face of stressful life events.
Investment in these crucial years is key to spurring on our economy and developing an edge that will keep us competitive by attracting high paying jobs to the state.
See this clip:
Skills Beget Skills – How Early Childhood Investment Pays Off
Click this link: Skills Beget Skills
“The strategy that is best is to try to foster an environment in the home and in the immediate environment of the child that promotes both social, emotional skills, plus cognitive skills.” Dr. James Heckman
Here is a video you have got to see. We all need a little service, sort of like a car tune-up, when it comes to seeing the seemingly hidden emotional life of another.
If only we had glasses to bring into focus the inner life of a baby or small child. We would not have to rack our brains to figure out just what we should do when the baby won’t stop crying. We would not be as apt to discipline a child for a behavior that is developmentally typical. Our internal states could move from a place of frustration and confusion to a place of empathy and compassion.
Thank goodness, brain science has opened up a lens through which to understand the minds and hearts of our youngest. Through this understanding we can more accurately gauge the needs of infants and children and meet their needs accordingly.
…the surprising truth about what motivates us:
The offer of challenge, mastery, and contribution will energize Kentucky’s reservoir of care to be the difference that makes the difference in young Kentucky lives.
Who is this reservoir of care? More to come….
I recently heard that of all the states in the nation, that Kentucky, due to its geographical access to numerous bodies of water (multiple lakes, rivers, and artesian wells) has the least to worry about ever having to ration water.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Kentucky’s access to deep pockets, pots of gold, or the keys to Fort Knox’s reserves of gold. So good luck to all those who clamor, legitimately so, on behalf of funding for programs that benefit the early brain development of babies and toddlers. Even though spending one dollar investing in the early years of life can save sixteen dollars of future public spending, it does not matter if there is no money to spare in our state coffers. Absent a ground swell of folks clamoring to have their taxes raised, I don’t foresee things changing much.
Granted, Kentucky as a state has made great strides in doing a lot with a little. Multiple state agencies who work on behalf of children have aligned their goals and streams of funding to maximize the impact of state dollars on the positive development of children in those crucial early years.
Even philanthropists across the state have joined arms to strategically focus their energies and resources on Kentucky’s youngest citizens. Begun in 2008, the Kentucky Commission on Philanthropy formed a partnership with the state to address the needs of children through supporting programs that work and to stimulate the development of innovative solutions.
…more to come
Check out the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child http://developingchild.harvard.edu/initiatives/council/ ….for more
Unbridled Spirit is our state motto. Every brain an unbridled brain, unfettered by stress, is my vision, especially when it comes to babies and their development.
Creative things you can do to make it happen in the bluegrass:
- Offer an act of kindness to the mother with child, anything that would help lower her level of stress.
- For example, if you are comfortable and a hug would be appreciated and welcome by the mom-to-be it takes only 20 seconds of a good warm embrace to release the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin counters the effects of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Offer to run an errand for her.
- Give her an encouraging word.
- Please comment. …add your own “unbridled” suggestions to this list.
Usually its a time to celebrate, being #1 among all states in the nation.
In our case, it is not.
Kentucky leads the nation, in deaths due to child abuse and neglect.
Just this past year, 24 babies died in Kentucky from shaken baby syndrome or what the medical community refers to as abusive head trauma. This is a time to stand up, assess the damage, and build walls of protection around our youngest citizens and those who care for them.
Two women, interviewed this morning on Louisville’s WAVE 3 Live, have done just that. One is Dr. Erin Frazier, a pediatrician, and the other is Therese Sirles, RN and Director of Child Advocacy at Kosairs Children’s Hospital. In collaboration with the Child Abuse Task Force, they and others are beginning to pave our way out of this awful predicament.
Thanks to the wisdom of women like these, moms who give birth at Norton’s Hospital in Louisville have the opportunity to participate in a parenting class. It’s designed to help moms and dads anticipate and cope with all the ups and downs associated with parenting a newborn. The class is part of a pilot study that has expanded to UofL Hospital as well.
If you’ve lived long enough, I’m sure there have been times when you’ve experienced moments of extreme stress. Maybe you’ve surprised yourself. You may have said or done things you never would have imagined you could have or would have ever done. Most people don’t plan on saying something hurtful or making a fool of themselves, let alone shaking their newborn baby. We all benefit from help in anticipating and dealing with the potential overwhelm of the unexpected.
Sometimes frazzled parents who are never prepped to expect the bumps and sometimes craters in the road of parenthood find themselves thrown into a tail spin. Others never feel the permission to reach out for help in times of stress. They may be fearful they will be labeled as an inadequate parent or may not know that help is out there. That is why these classes are so important.
These classes are not about blame and shame. It is about acknowledging that parenting a newborn can push one to his or her limits. It is about acknowledging a feeling so strong that if unleashed can do real harm. Even the good doctor, Erin Frazier, mother of 3, admitted to feeling its strong pull when she had her own newborn.
It is people like Dr. Frazier and nurse Theres Sirles, RN who keep Kentucky strong. Count yourself among them. Be especially sensitive to the stresses and strains of new moms and dads. Offer to be there for them.
Tips to give the new parent/caregiver:
- Put the baby down in a safe place and walk away.
- Regain a sense of calm.
- Call a friend or loved one.
- Tell them to call 1-800-children to speak with someone who understands and can help.
Do you know of others who are doing the good work of supporting families and their young children? Please take the time to comment. And give them a good shout out!