Laughter and smiles are one of the most basic human behaviors. Babies smile within hours of being born in response to a warm sensation or a sweet smell, but laughter takes a bit more time to develop as it’s mechanisms are more complex.
As you probably already discovered, babies and toddlers learn a lot through imitation, and the development of a sense of humor is no different. Research has shown that a sense of humor is nurtured at home and each silly event helps foster this wonderful trait.
The benefits of having a sense of humor include the development of a healthy self-esteem, empathy, and friendships; and it helps one laugh at themselves and become accepting of imperfections. Not only that, but research has shown that people with a sense of humor are happier and more optimistic, can handle differences and adversities well, experience less stress, and are at a lower risk for depression. What’s more, experts have identified that a robust sense of humor is a natural immune system booster.
What do you want in life for your children? Success? Intelligence, achievements, and prestige? What about internal values? We can’t build a life based on external achievements without giving ourselves a chance to explore our deepest parts. Happiness is not mentioned as often as it should. So, what about it? How do we define happiness and how can we instill happiness in our children? It turns out happiness is not a thing to be found, not something that can be created, but it can be synthesized instead. We have the capacity to create the very commodity we are constantly seeking. The latest research on happiness tells us that happiness turns out to be less a result of luck and external circumstance than a product of our mental, emotional, and physical habits. So, how can we radiate our children’s inner light?
Here are 10 scientifically proven secrets to having happier kids!
Remember the last time you heard your baby cry? What did you do to comfort him? If you are like most parents, you probably tried feeding, rocking, burping, distracting, and “sh”-ing him, right? How long did it take for any of them to work?
Although these techniques might have worked, you have yet to try another very powerful and quite simple tool to calm your baby — singing.
“Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato
Recent research using fMRI and PET scan technology have found that listening to music lights up multiple areas of the brain as sound was processed and all this happens in a matter of seconds. Further research has revealed that playing music takes the brain a step further, stimulating a full body workout for the brain. Now, teaching babies or toddlers to formally play instruments is not developmentally appropriate, but that doesn’t mean that an infant and toddler can not engage or benefit from music. On the contrary, listening to people sing, playing with everyday objects or toys to create sounds, and singing and dancing with caregivers are wonderful for your little one’s brain development.
During the first three years of your child’s life, neural connections form at their fastest rates. Exposure to music in early childhood fosters and helps develop many skills including speech development, audition, coordination, emotional development, and even social skills. Below are some of the ways music benefits this rapid development and growth, and a few activities to try at home. Continue reading →
When do our cells start learning? When does learning begin? The nine months we spend in the womb are crucial. We learn about the world around us without being in it yet.
Gene expression makes us who we are, and gene expression varies depending on how we live. We interact and are in a constant conversation with our environment. Our feelings, how lonely or happy we feel- these feelings go deeper than our skin- these feelings control our cells. So when do these cells start learning? When does learning begin? The nine months we spend in the womb are crucial. We learn about the world around us without being in it yet. These heritable changes in gene expression that do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence are otherwise known as Epigenetics.
What does a baby learn in the womb?
A baby can start hearing its mother’s voice at four months of gestation. The sounds of the outside world travel through the mother’s abdominal tissues and through the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus. The fetus is constantly hearing its mother’s voice and once this fetus is born, it quickly recognizes it. The baby prefers this voice over anyone else’s. Babies become so used to hearing their mother’s voice that it can even be said they are born crying in their mother’s native language. A study was conducted where they found that French babies were born crying on a rising note while German babies ended on a falling note, much like the patterns the languages follow. Babies are born imitating the melodic contours of their future language. This learning has a purpose – babies prefer their mother’s voice because that person will protect them and they cry like their mother to create a stronger bond with them. Not to mention, gaining a head start on language development. Continue reading →
Sarah Walker once said that becoming a mother is like discovering the existence of a new room in the house you have always lived in. This description seems precise; after all, motherhood unveils neural pathways in your brain that you haven’t yet discovered.
So, what are these brain changes and why haven’t you discovered them?
These changes mold a mom’s brain in unexpected ways and shift the ways she thinks and her outlook on the world around her. Scientists are now pointing to changes occurring in the brain, especially in areas involved in emotional regulation, empathy, and social interaction. These are largely neurological changes that mothers experience during pregnancy and postpartum, accompanied by a flood of hormones that help strengthen the bond between a new mother and her baby, creating a powerful attraction. Overwhelming love, strong protectiveness, and constant concern all begin with biochemical reactions in the brain. Continue reading →
Can you think back to your earliest memory? Chances are it may date back to when you were 3 or even 8 years old. Understanding your baby’s memory, however, is a different story. It develops in stages and even though it began to develop the moment your little one was born, it works more for recognition and familiarity, giving him a sense of comfort when he experiences something he recognizes.
More specifically, during your baby’s first 2 months, he will be able to recognize familiar faces and voices, especially those he sees every day. In fact, newborns can recognize their mothers’ voice at birth and will also recognize her smell after one week! This kind of recognition is the first indication of memory.
There are lots of things you can do to help your baby strengthen his memory and attention skills. Here are some tips and suggestions you can try at home:
“Let’s turn the mirror inward and ask ourselves, why are these reactions being triggered? Children will wake up this emotional baggage that is buried deep in our unconscious but we need to set them free from the burden of fixing our unresolved issues.”
How do we normally define ourselves? Is it our experiences that shape who we are today and if so, what kinds of experiences? Who gives the meaning to the way we perceive love and affection? What emotions are the ones that paralyze us and how can we recover from these associations we have mentally constructed? These stories tend to turn to childhood and our experiences. We hold on to our childhood long into adulthood and we carry this blueprint with us every day. This first blueprint runs wild inside us and it becomes the way we define ourselves and in turn how we perceive life and others. Continue reading →
Many parents know the benefits that learning more than one language can have for a child’s future. However, many parents are not aware of the additional benefits that learning a second language can have! The language-learning experience changes the brain, and with it, alters the course of development. There have been multiple studies that attempt to understand the effects of bilingualism, and the surprising conclusion is that learning a second language (or even third or fourth) has an effect on development beyond the linguistic realm.
The social brain
The idea of theory of mind is central to getting a glimpse into what we now know about how bilingualism can affect social processes. Theory of mind (ToM) is defined as one’s assumptions or ideas of how others think of something. ToM requires the mental representations of both your own self and others’ – and realizing that your mind and knowledge is separate from others’.
In an important study on the effects of bilingualism on social cognition, researchers Nguyen and Astington compared groups of children of 3 to 5 years of age on a series of measures, including a false-belief task to test theory of mind. In this task, also known as the Sally-Anne test, a child is shown a story in which Anne moves Sally’s toys when Sally is not looking. The child is then asked to point to where Sally will think the toys are. A child that demonstrates theory of mind will recognize that Sally will still think the toys are where she left them originally, because she doesn’t have all of the information that Anne, and the child, has. In the study, one group of children had been exposed to both English and French from birth or before the age of 8 months, while others had mostly been exposed to either French or English. The study found that bilinguals significantly outperformed monolinguals on the False-Belief tasks after controlling for age and language proficiency. Working memory was also significantly increased in bilinguals.
Babies naturally slow us down – in a good way. They look at us in awe and instantly half a million neurons fire and absorb everything we do and say. Every time we connect with them, their eyes and brains light up simultaneously. Once we take the time to live and enjoy these moments, we allow ourselves to slow down. After all, that’s what babies do – they lose track of time and expand their awareness. Continue reading →