A child’s brain is wired for learning and storing information. So in the early childhood years, up to about the age of 8, our kids’ brains are taking in information that will help in its development, or that will cause a good bit of harm. When our children have positive experiences and spend time in positive environments, that sets them up for stronger, more healthy development. And of course, that’s what we want for them. So as parents, let’s consider the power of positive experiences for our kids. And let’s look at how we can help provide this for them.
What positive experiences do for our kids’ brains
Positive experiences, relationships, and environments influence brain development, with heightened activity happening between birth and the age of 3. When our kids’ brains are able to develop well, they are more likely to be successful in the future. They are more likely to read well and to finish school. Kids with healthy brain development in early childhood tend to stay healthier physically and mentally, and they are more likely to avoid risky activities like substance abuse. That’s the power of positive experiences.
So how do we provide positive experiences for our kids?
When we think about positive experiences, we might start with really big ideas like trips and events. And these kinds of experiences are definitely valuable. We can take our kids to the beach to play in the waves, or we can hike with them in the woods or in the mountains. These experiences are meant to help our children see the world and appreciate the beauty of nature.
We can take their appreciation for nature a step further with activities like camping. Some of us are great about camping with our kids and some of us participate grudgingly because we know it really is good for them. And some of us avoid it altogether. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, consider camping at least once with your kids. They will talk about it for years.
Another positive experience that will expand our children’s view of the world is going on a trip. Road trips are growing experiences for all of us. But despite the potential for grumpiness, they are definitely epic adventures for our little ones. Bigger trips are also big adventures for our kids. Air travel, trains, buses, subways – they all seem amazing for our kids. No matter how you get there, it’s a very positive experience for our children to see any other part of the world, even if it’s just a few hours away.
When we do travel, let’s help our kids be aware of different people, cultures, and lifestyles. Let’s help them to see how varied our world is in its cultures, and let’s teach them how to appreciate and enjoy the differences.
Causes are another type of big experience we can provide our kids. When we participate in a cause, let’s include our children. They love to help with volunteer efforts. Volunteering and helping other people does a lot for our child’s ongoing participation in such things. Kids who are comfortable distributing food to those in need will become adults who are comfortable distributing food to those in need.
It doesn’t have to be a huge event
Although the positive experiences above are really great things for our kids to experience, everyday positive experiences are just as crucial. They are key to the power of positive experiences. Doing only big events won’t provide the stability and love children need at home.
Our kids need our love and care. They need us to listen and to count what they say as important. When they are hurt, they need us to respond. If we mess up, they need to hear us apologize. Let’s correct with kindness and lead with patience. And let’s make it right when we don’t. (We will need to do this, because somehow, when we have children, we lose the ability to be patient.)
And don’t worry that messing up as a parent might ruin your child’s brain development. When we mess up and make it right with our kids, that’s a positive experience. And it teaches them how to handle it when they mess up, which brings more developmental growth.
In your day to day positive experiences, My Signing Time can help. When children learn to sign, it helps not only in their communication skills, but also in early reading skills. And if your child can sign, they are prepared to assist others in communication in the future.
You can find instructions for tons of signs in the free Signing Time Dictionary. And your kids can learn straight from the original Signing Time series, plus through our other shows on My Signing Time.