To Create Successful Kids Should We Help Them Focus and Specialize On Their Interests?
This past weekend, our Ask The Expert Family Therapist, Marcela had the amazing opportunity to meet Dr. Adele Diamond who is the top Cognitive Developmental Neuroscientist at UBC and considered the best in the world in her field! So of course we went on a mission to find out as much as we could about how to help our kids reach their full potential!
- What did the neuroscientist reveal about the vital role of parents in our kids ability to learn?
Children primarily develop their language skills not by the books we read to them but by the conversations we have with them.
Dr. Diamond found that it was NOT early academic instruction that prepared kids to be ready for school! She advised parents to take advantage of EVERY opportunity to engage in dialogue with your kids.
Children from ages 3-5 need active hands on learning play. For more on this topic see her TED talk HERE!
2. What are the top skills she sited that kids need to develop to find success and happiness in life?
–Self control, resisting temptation,to think before we speak or act. A good barometer for teaching our kids is to ask if this action and words are bringing us closer to people or pushing people away?
-Being able to wait before we make up our minds so we don’t jump to a wrong conclusion.
–Disciple & perseverance: having the discipline to follow through on something even when you are bored or frustrated. Continuing to work even when the reward may take a long time to see
–Creativity and being able to play with information in your mind.
–Mental flexibility: being able to navigate around new or old information. Being able to admit we were wrong
We absolutely loved these tips from Dr. Diamond! Take a minute to think of the most successful person you know and chances are these are the traits they exude! As parents we can have FUN with our kids by making games out of cleaning up, making sure that we do not punish them if they make a mistake- instead recognize that they tried and encourage them to try again, and to make sure we encourage them to problem solve instead of solving problems for them.
3. So as we nurture our kids to develop these skills, how can we improve their executive skills?
Do we protect them as not to cause stress or do we encourage them or do we push them?
The above examples of Self Control, Problem Solving and Mental Flexibility are all examples of executive functions.
Executive functions are key to successful careers, health & relationships. Basically everything we want for our kids
Because executive functions belong to the newest part of our brain, it is also the most sensitive.
Executive functions can be improved or harmed.
Harmed: feeling lonely, sad, tired, not getting enough sleep, feeling isolated, stressed or not physically fit- EF’s will be the first to the suffer and suffer the most
Stress can have such an impact on the brain of a child that it can actually look like ADHD.
So if all these things affect EF’s the flip side helps them.
Tying back to one of our last shows: one of the biggest sources of stress for kids is the feeling that they are not smart and cannot succeed.
It’s very important to have an unwavering faith in our kids that they will succeed. Reaffirm for our kids that they will figure out whatever comes their way!
The things that Dr. Diamond believes support EF both by how they train the brain but also reduce the things that harm the brain, are: Storytelling, dance, music, positive sports, theater, art & play.
And this is her big take away from a neuroscientists perspective after studying thousands of kids:
Bottom line, she discussed that if you want your child to be successful academically, socially and emotionally in life- nurture their WHOLE being.
The connection a child has with their parent, feeling heard. Them knowing you are there for them. Love them unconditionally.
Love your child, spend time with your child and RESPOND to them when they need you.
That’s what they really need.
At ihelpmoms.com we believe there are as may different ways to be a mom as there are mothers in the world. If you need advice, support or help along your journey make sure to check out our family therapists for FREE at www.ihelpmoms.com!
Watch our full episode on Dr. Diamonds tips to successful kids HERE!
See you on Thursday at noon on ihelpmoms.com Facebook for our next Ask The Experts Segment as we bring moms the top family professionals to help Make Motherhood Easier!